Celebrating the first ladies of comedy
Archive events in London
Some of the most influential women in comedy are to be celebrated in a series of London events staged by the British Film Institute.
Joyce Grenfell, Beryl Reid, Diana Dors, Marti Caine, Victoria Wood and French & Saunders are among those to be hailed in the Trailblazers: Queens Of TV Comedy season.
It is split between two venues: BFI Southbank, which will focus on stars of the small screen, and the Hackney Empire, which will host two nights of live stand-up, supplemented by vintage footage from the archives.
Season curator Dick Fiddy explains, ‘Nowadays funny women are a fixed part of the TV landscape but there was a time when very few toughed it out in a male dominated genre.
‘The pinnacle of success was to be given your own show and 2012 is the perfect time to acknowledge those “golden girls” that achieved that Olympian feat.’
The season kicks off on August 14 with a Southbank session centred on Joyce Grenfell, the first woman to get her own TV comedy series – Joyce Grenfell Requests The Pleasure – in 1956. Although this early material no longer exists, her TV career spanned four decades, and material from the Sixties and Seventies will be showcased. The compilation will also include examples from other storytelling comedians such as Victoria Wood, Millicent Martin, Sheila Hancock and Sheila Steafel.
Two days later, Barbara Windsor will introduce a mix of the classic and the contemporary at the Hackney Empire. There will be rare archive footage of the music hall star, Hylda Baker, and clips of Beryl Reid, Hattie Jacques, Dora Bryan and Doris Hare. These will be interspersed with live stand-up from some of today’s top female comedy performers. A similar night takes place on August 23, featuring in particular Marti Caine, who came to prominence when she won the TV talent show, New Faces in 1975, beating both Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood.
Fifties ‘blonde bombshell’ Diana Dors will be celebrated in Girls Acting Up on August 21 at BFI Southbank with rarely seen clips from the Fifties, longside Dora Bryan, Emma Thompson and Peggy Mount; while the final event on August 28 celebrates Smack the Pony, and features a Q&A with series creator Victoria Pile .
The Trailblazers event is part of the 12-week London 2012 Festival of arts events tied in with the Olympics.
Posted: 3 Jul 2012