Tunnel vision

New film about Hardee's legendary club

A new documentary about Malcolm Hardee’s legendarily tough comedy club, the Tunnel Palladium, has been nominated for an independent film award.

The half-hour film The Tunnel features interview with the likes of Simon Munnery, Harry Enfield, Mark Lamarr and Vic Reeves who braved the famously fierce hecklers of the South London venue, as well as vintage clips of performances there.

Director Jody VandenBurg has been working on the project for four years – even though he never went to the club or saw Hardee perform.

He told Chortle: ‘It began with me first hearing Mark Lamarr's story of Malcolm pissing on somebody asleep in the front of the audience at the Tunnel Club. Not many people know about this crazy little weird place in the middle of nowhere or about the influential guy who ran it.

‘Everybody's heard the story about the Comedy Store and the Comic Strip countless times but there were a few other clubs that were going at the time and the Tunnel seems to have been the maddest of these clubs that existed during the transition between alternative cabaret becoming alternative comedy before going mainstream.'

Producer Naomi de Pear added: ‘The Tunnel and Malcolm Hardee seem to epitomise everything that is brilliant about British live comedy especially at the start of the alternative circuit. We believe it is an important and untold piece of British comedy's story.’

Hardee opened the club, near the mouth of the Blackwall Tunnel, in 1984, and it closed in 1991 following a police raid on a rave held in the same building on a different night of the week.

De Pear and VandenBurg, and co-producer Domenico Favata, are also working on a feature-length film about Hardee, who drowned in the Thames in 2005, called All the Way From Over There.

Meanwhile, The Tunnel has been nominated for a Film London Best of Boroughs Award, which has a jury and an audience prize.

Click here to watch the half-hour film online – although Film London had to censor the familiar scene of Hardee exposing himself on the grounds of taste – and register with the site if you wish to vote.

Published: 8 Jun 2010

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