Who could forget Mandy, the peroxide blonde bombshell with the catchphrase "Ooh, you are awful but I like you"? During the sixties and seventies, it must have been quoted at parties, pageants and playgrounds up and down the land as often as Vicky Pollard's "Yeah but, no but" or Victor Meldrew's "I don't believe it" decades later.
Yet Mandy's creator, Dick Emery, seems to have been largely erased from the nation's comedy memory bank. Unlike Tommy Cooper, Morecambe and Wise and the Two Ronnies, whose work is deservedly kept alive by repeats on Gold as well as the terrestrial channels, the brilliant Emery has been curiously absent from our screens since his death 30 years ago.
None of the contributors to Dick Emery - A Comedy of Errors could account for this glaring oversight, including presenter David Walliams, clearly a big fan in his youth. The best they could come up with was that Emery's success predated the marketing boom of the eighties when artists like Cooper and Morecambe and Wise were immortalised on T-shirts, mugs, greetings cards and the like.
While the documentary was a fitting tribute to an outstanding comedy talent, it also revealed the troubled man behind the many funny faces. Nervous, insecure and incapable of fidelity, Emery's early childhood had been spent on tour with his parents, a variety double act, not the most stable of upbringings.
His love life - five failed marriages, umpteen love affairs - reflected a restlessness and terror of being alone. One of his children, Eliza, now a singer-songwriter, said he sought constant reassurance that she loved him, even though it was probably his kids who needed assuring the most.
Walliams concluded in characteristic Emery style, "What we need is more Dick on our screens," followed rather predictably by a rousing "Ooh, you are awful but I like you".Nick Smurthwaite, The Stage, 1st April 2011
A troubled childhood revealed a lot about the comedian Dick Emery.Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian, 30th September 2009
Didn't he dress up as a gay man, a woman in a fur coat? That's what people say at the start of David Walliams's tribute to "a light entertainment icon". Then, intercut with soundtrack, it sounds as if he's interviewing the man himself. Emery died in 1983, having been a fixture in broadcast comedy for decades. "He was a good old-fashioned pro," says Michael Grade. "He loved going to work." So why did he fall out of fashion? Walliams explores that and why today's comedians, himself and Harry Enfield among them, still admire him.Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 29th September 2009
Fans of contemporary and classic comedy have had plenty to enjoy thanks to Radio 2 and Radio 4 lately. Following profiles of Frankie Howerd and Stanley Baxter, Dick Emery was the latest comedian to be featured in Radio 2's Comedy Greats series. An admirer of Emery, host David Walliams paid an affectionate tribute to a performer whose work seems sadly neglected nowadays. This despite the fact that The Dick Emery Show once pulled in TV audiences of 17 million.
Walliams and the other contributors to the programme made a convincing case for an Emery retrospective. Perhaps some of the material is un-PC or out-of-date nowadays, but that does not stop Carry On movies being broadcast on a regular basis. Time to give Emery a chance, I would say.Lisa Martland, The Stage, 28th September 2009