Music hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment that was popular from the early Victorian era circa 1850 and lasting until 1960. It involved a mixture of popular songs, comedy, speciality acts, and variety entertainment.
Herman’s Hermits’ pop hit “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” was originally sung by acclaimed actor Tom Courtenay in The Lads, a British TV play of 1963, and released as a single in the UK.
Most of us outside the UK are familiar only with Herman’s Hermits’ version, which rose to number one on the charts in May 1965.
Courtenay came to prominence as in actor in the early 1960s with a succession of films, including The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), Billy Liar (1963), and Doctor Zhivago (1965). He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for the film adaptation of The Dresser (1983),
The song was written by another British actor, Trevor Peacock, who was also a song and screenwriter.
The actor’s new film – Stanley, A Man of Variety – echoes David Lynch and a dark Ealing classic. Here he tells why he chose to re-create the giants of music hall as ‘English noir’
Timothy Spall has often played characters that stick in the mind – from Barry in the BBC hit series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet to his award-winning performance as the great British painter in Mike Leigh’s 2014 film, Mr Turner. But Spall’s latest film goes several steps further.In Stanley,
A Man of Variety released in cinemas next month, he concocts a blistering string of recreations of several of the great comic variety acts of the past, including Max Wall, George Formby and Noël Coward. It is an extraordinary tour de force, but not a comfortable one to watch. Spall and his collaborator on the film, the director and writer Stephen Cookson, have a deeply unsettling argument to make and they do not hold back [… ]
“Barry Cryer takes a look at the cottage industry of music-hall recording restoration, and at the lives and works of some of the genre’s stars. Thanks to modern computer technology we are able to hear again performances by artists such as Mark Sheridan, Ernest Shand, Vesta Victoria, and Albert Chevalier , material originally recorded at the turn of the last century. The music hall artist Vesta Victoria, who gave the first performance of Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow-Wow in 1892.
This edition of The Archive Hour not only shines a spotlight on the lesser-known stars of the British music hall but also reveals how this cultural phenomenon is surviving, thanks to a team of dedicated archivists who are using their computers to store recordings that go as far back as the 1890s.
Anytime I see a photo of the “Changing of the Guards” in London, I’m reminded of the children’s song “Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace,” inspired by A. A. Milne and made a hit song by young Ann Stephens in 1941.
London-born Ann Stephens (21 May 1931 – 15 July 1966) was the first to record “Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace.” Stephens was a British child actress and singer, popular throughout the 1940s.
Like most many American baby boomers, I first heard this song on the Captain Kangaroo Show. That version was made in 1959 by late British variety performer Max Bygraves.
Bygraves’ onstage catchphrase “I wanna tell you a story,” is only slightly better than Marty Allen’s “Hello Dere!” – but Bygraves is a much better singer. Give a listen to this video we nicked.
Which version do you like better?
Max Bygraves’ 1959 version “They’re Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace”