Titter Ye Not: The Frankie Howerd Story. Frankie Howerd. Copyright: Unique Productions
Titter Ye Not: The Frankie Howerd Story

Titter Ye Not: The Frankie Howerd Story

  • Radio documentary
  • BBC Radio 2
  • 2009
  • 1 episode

A one-hour Radio 2 documentary on the life and work of Frankie Howerd. Features Clive Anderson, Dennis Heymer, David Walliams, Griff Rhys Jones, Laurence Marks and more.

Key details

BBC Radio 2
Clive Anderson, Dennis Heymer, David Walliams, Griff Rhys Jones, Laurence Marks, Maurice Gran, Barry Cryer, Bill Lyon-Shaw and more
Simon Jacobs

Clive Anderson presents a one-hour documentary on the life and work of Frankie Howerd, examining his influences and the extent to which his style of performing revolutionised stand-up comedy in post-war Britain.

The programme includes a range of new interviews, including the last interview from Howerd's partner of 40 years, Dennis Heymer, who died in May this year. This is only the second interview in which Heymer talked about Howerd.

Clive also takes a tour of Wavering Down, the home that Heymer shared with Howerd in Somerset; he reveals Howerd's thoughts on being gay and how he was "hidden away" during the early years of their relationship.

Dennis Heymer said: "He once said to Cilla Black: 'I wish I wasn't gay', he just didn't want to be a homosexual. When I first met him and moved into the house, I was always hidden away. I was in another room whenever anybody came to talk to him, a producer or anybody in the profession or writers, even his sister."

Other new interviewees include David Walliams, who recently played Howerd in the BBC Four drama, Frankie Howerd: Rather You Than Me; contributors include Griff Rhys Jones, who produced The Frankie Howerd Variety Show, and Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran who also wrote for it.

Barry Cryer talks about writing for Howerd, producers Bill Lyon-Shaw and David Croft discuss working with him on shows such as Up Pompeii, as does actress Jean Mockford who appeared alongside him. His former agent Beryl Vertue recalls how she helped him revive his career in the early Sixties while his last producer, Trevor McCallum, shares his final conversation with Howerd.

Finally, biographer Graham McCann argues the case for Howerd's revolutionary impact on British comedy.

Clive Anderson comments: "Heavy brows above and dark bags below, his eyes could flash enjoyment excitement or even aggression, but the set of his jowls was always gloomy. Like a naughty bloodhound endlessly seeking sympathy but instead providing endless entertainment he provoked fun because the way he said things or even despite the way he said things."

Additional details

Part of

Radio 2 Comedy Greats Documentaries


Broadcast details

First broadcast
Tuesday 15th September 2009 at 10:30pm on BBC Radio 2
Episode length
1 hour

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