Joan Turner: The Highs And Lows Of The Wacky Warbler
Documentary on the operatic comedienne Joan Turner. Lesley Garrett presents
- BBC Radio 4
- Lesley Garrett, Harry Dickman, Roy Hudd, Susanna Page and Joan Turner
- Alan Stafford
- Stephen Garner
Joan was a larger-than-life star who enjoyed a successful stage and television career in the Sixties and Seventies. She was born in Belfast in 1922 and made her debut at the Finsbury Empire as a singing comedienne. Joan could perform pop or opera with her soprano voice, impersonate Judy Garland and Bette Davis, and then change to stand-up.
In her early career she worked with The Crazy Gang, appeared at many Royal events, recorded for Pye Records and became the highest-earning female singer in Britain. After touring all the major music halls she was considered a "female Harry Secombe". In the States she was billed as The Wacky Warbler.
By the late Nineties, Joan had been reduced to the status of a bag lady walking the streets of Las Vegas and Los Angeles searching for work. This downturn in her life and career was a result of a long-term battle with gambling and alcoholism. A few film and television roles saw a short revival in her fortunes but her last live comeback attempt ended in a drunken shambles. She spent her final years in sheltered accommodation in Surrey.
- Production company
- First broadcast
- Thursday 16th December 2010 on BBC Radio 4 at 11:30am
- Episode length
- 30 minutes