Remembering Kenny

Stars recall Everett at his best

ITV is to screen a prime-time tribute to Kenny Everett, mixing archive footage of characters such as Cupid Stunt, Sid Snot and Marcel Wave, with anecdotes and memories from those who knew him, or grew up watching him.

Michael Parkinson says: ‘He was the best operator on British Television of that there’s no doubt he was as significant then as say Ricky Gervais is today.’

Parky, who appeared in cardboard cut-out form in Kenny’s Cupid Stunt sketches, adds: ‘I thought he’s making a statement here, he’s making a comment about my interviewing style! But I grew to love it because it worked it was funny.’

‘He’s easily the greatest radio presenter of my lifetime,’ adds Chris Tarrant. ‘I just think he is head and shoulders, little head and little shoulders, but miles above everybody else. The greatest strength that Kenny had is that everybody liked him, he was impossible to dislike.’

As a friend and regular on Kenny’s show, Billy Connolly adds: ‘I don’t think they’ll be another Kenny Everett and I don’t think there’s supposed to be.

‘These guys come in ones, they’ll sell units and people always say, “how are we going to replace them”. You don’t replace them. You count yourself grateful you saw it when it was there and if you were dead jammy you actually got to stand beside it when it was working.

‘He arrived as a fully fashioned rebel, did his rebellious work and buggered off.’

Russell Brand agrees: ‘It’s difficult to define genius, of course, but it seems there was an energy about him, a define spark of mischief that consumed his life that was unique to him. In particular that there is no one directly in his lineage, suggest that there was something special about him.

‘The rate that he worked, his desire to innovate seems to conform to the notion of genius as we understand it, so yes. He made a lot of people laugh, alas not himself, again another quality of genius.’

Brand also admits: ‘I did he fancy him a bit when he was being Cupid Stunt I used to think alright he’s got a beard but that’s a hell of a cleavage!”

‘When you’re watching at home you think he’s going to do that leg crossing in a minute and the tension sort of builds. Oh here it comes, he can’t resist the leg cross … Oh he’s done it, he’s moved his legs…God bless you!’

Cliff Richard, who appeared on the show, said: ‘He would take me aside and say “now look you don’t have to do this but we’d love if it you’d let us hang you on television!”’

Then on the show Everett joked: ‘I’ve said we’re going to leave you at a cliff hanger…’

Cliff continues: ‘If somebody said to me put comedy names forward for the title genius I would put his name down, along with Eric Morecambe and Tony Hancock.’

Radio 1 Chris Moyles adds: ‘It’s early Fast Show, its early Little Britain. He’s doing really clever split screen stuff and he’ll talk to himself, now that takes brilliant timing, really perfect timing to do that.

‘What an amazing cool dude, he was mates with Freddie Mercury who was brilliant and quite pally its fair to say with this little band called The Beatles.’

Kenny Everett, who was born Maurice Cole in Crosby, Merseyside, on Christmas Day 1944, died of an Aids-related illness on April 4, 1995.

He started his career on pirate radio in the Sixties, moving to Radio One when it launched in 1967. In 1978, Thames television offered him his own show, which transferred to the BBC three years later. But despite his success and his on-air high sprits, Everett was blighted by depression.

Kenny Everett: Licence To Laugh, airs on ITV1 at 10pm on November 18.

Published: 6 Nov 2007

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