Harry Enfield

Harry Enfield

Date of birth: 30-05-1961
A former milkman, Harry Enfield started his comedy career as an impressionist on Spitting Image, but shot to fame Channel 4's Saturday Live, first in the guise of Greek kebab-shop owner Stavros, then with the iconic Eighties builder Loadsamoney.

He appeared both as Loadsamoney and his peniless Geordie counterpart Bugger-All-Money at he Nelson Mandela Birthday Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium in 1988, before the character was killed off as Enfield felt he was becoming a hero, rather than a parody,.

He landed his own BBC show in 1990, first with Harry Enfield's Television Programme, and then Harry Enfield and Chums, the change in title acknowledging the contribution of co-stars Paul Whitehouse and Kathy Burke. Characters included Tim, nice but dim, Smashie and Nicey, Wayne and Waynetta Slob, Mr Cholmondley-Warner and Kevin the Teenager - who would star in his own film, 2000's Ibiza-set Kevin & Perry Go Large.

Many of Enfield's characters have gone on to front advertising campaigns, and he created a spoof life coach for a series of TV commercials for Burger King in 2005.

In 1992, he played Dermot in the first series of Men Behaving Badly on ITV. But it was not considered a success and the commercial broadcaster did not recomission it. When the BBC picked it up, Enfield was replaced by Neil Morrissey.

He has also made a number of one-offs, including Sir Norbet Smith - A Life for Channel 4 in 1993, and Norman Ormal– A Very Political Turtle for BBC one in 1998. He also presented a guide to opera, one of his passions, for Channel 4 in 1993.

Enfield's successful partnership with Whitehouse ended in the mid-Nineties, with his partner going on to create The Fast Show. In 2000, Enfield signed a lucrative deal with Sky One to create a new batch of characters for Harry Enfield's Spanking New Show - but it failed to replicate the success of his BBC shows.

In 2002 Enfield returned to the BBC with Celeb, based on the Private Eye comic strip about ageing rockstar Gary Bloke, but it only lasted one series.

Enfield's awards haul includes the 1998 British Comedy Award for top BBC1 Comedy Personality and Silver Roses of Montreux in 1990 (for Norbert Smith), 1995 (Smashie And Nicey - End Of An Era) and 1998 (Harry Enfield and Chums).

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© BBC/Balloon Entertainment/Colin Hutton

The Windsors: Endgame

West End theatre review

On TV it portrays the Royal Family as a heightened soap opera; in the new stage version, The Windsors mixes in elements of Shakespearean historical drama and pantomime, too.

Camilla is the Lady Macbeth, manipulating her feeble-minded husband in her plot for absolute power once he takes the throne after his mother’s abdication. That the Duchess of Cornwall is depicted as an even bigger villain than Prince Andrew may seem a little harsh, but wild exaggerations are built into the genes of this broad comedy.

Meanwhile, it’s down to Wills and Harry and their wives to put their feuds behind them to tackle the existential threat to the nation posed by the new King and his scheming consort.

So much for a plot that, though thin, creaks under its preposterousness at times. However, no one’s really here for story. The caricatures are broad and scurrilous, the insults pointed, and the gags rude and crude - all making ribald fun in a show that takes itself even less seriously than the archaic notion of Monarchy itself.

Topical jokes abound, right down to the ‘Noncegate’ headlines from that very morning about Prince Andrew being sued by Virginia Guiffre, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims. 

The scandal forms the B-plot, as Bea and Eugenie try to clear their father’s name, so convinced of his innocence they’ll sing it from the rooftops – one of several jaunty, if forgettable, musical numbers here. The running joke, as on TV, is that the Sloaney York siblings, played by Jenny Rainsford and Eliza Butterworth, are so posh they can barely pronounce common words, a gag that - perhaps surprisingly - doesn’t get old.

Needless to say, this is not a show for Royalists. The roars of derisory laughter that greet Harry and Meghan from the moment in yoga poses demonstrate just how much of a laughing stock their new-agey utterings have made them, even before George Jeffrie and Bert-Tyler Moore’s script can wreak its full mischief.

The star of the show is Harry Enfield, reprising his role as Prince – now King – Charles. Donning the finest prosthetic ears in the West End, he largely walks around in a daze of benign bewilderment, perhaps wishing he was chatting to the hydrangeas, but occasionally emitting an intolerant bark about some subject or other. A perfectly pitched performance in other words. 

Tracy Ann Oberman as Camilla in The Windsors

But the spotlight is stolen by Tracy-Ann Oberman,  camply evil as the pantomime baddy. Meanwhile Matthew Cottle exudes an eager underdog vibe as Prince Edward, trying to relive his time working for Andrew Lloyd-Webber. He’s sometimes bit-part actor, sometimes chorus fleshing out the story.

With a strong sense of impish contempt throughout, every real-life reference is warmly received, from Andrew’s Pizza Express alibi (‘Woking’ is rhymed with ‘groping’ in the lyrics) to the reported bad blood between Meghan and Kate.  

Windsons Kate in bed with Harry

The show’s probably less strong when it deviates from reality to service the plot, but needs must – and often these scenes are played out with a slapstick glee, from the young royals’ ‘snogathon’ in a tent to a catfight between the two Duchesses (Kara Tointon and Crystal Condie). This is not subtle, even by the show’s  lax standards, yet even in their grotesques, the family members have surprisingly endearing humanity.

It’s patchy, but mostly frivolous fun, right down to the curtain call, when Enfield demands the tables be turned and the audience bow at the cast, as royal protocol surely demands. 

• The Windsors is at the Prince Of Wales Theatre until October 9. Tickets.

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Published: 11 Aug 2021

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