Paul Merton is to make a new TV documentary about largely forgotten Fifties comedian Arthur Haynes.
Haynes was one of the first comedy stars of TV, but he died in 1965, aged 51, and little footage of his shows – which usually went out live – survives. However, some unseen footage has been unearthed for the BBC 4 programme.
Merton will be working with his Just A Minute foil Nicholas Parsons on the show. He was Haynes’s straight man, but was fired shortly before his death because, Parsons believes, the comic was perturbed by the attention his straight man was getting.
The Arthur Haynes Show – seen as ITV’s answer to Tony Hancock – ran for 158 shows over 15 series in the Fifties and Sixties, making Haynes one of the best-paid entertainers of his day.
Merton – who fronted a Channel 4 Heroes Of Comedy documentary about Haynes 15 years ago – will interview Parsons in front of a studio audience about the life and times of the show.
BBC4 controller Richard Klein said: ‘Haynes performed live mostly but we've found some old footage that hasn't been seen before. Six of his shows were recorded for export to Australia.’
Here are Haynes and Parsons in action: