Barry Humphries to retire Dame Edna

Goodbye possums!

Barry Humphries says he will no longer appear on stage as Dame Edna Everage as he’s feeling a ‘bit senior’ for the role.

At 78, the comedian also feels it’s time to retire his second most famous creation, the boorish Sir Les Patterson

Announcing Edna’s farewell tour, Humphries said: ‘Edna will crop up on television I guess, but not in a live show. The fact of the matter is that I'm beginning to feel a bit senior.’

Talking to Australia's Sunday Telegraph, he added: ‘It's the best aerobics you could do, leaping around on stage, but it's gruelling when there are other things to do.’

Humphries said he had a contract to write another book and that there were ‘places I want to go, things I want to do’.

He recalled being taken by his parents to a show when he was a child featuing performers who had 'outlived their shelf life'.

‘It was commented that “you should have seen him when he was funny”. I want to avoid that being said about me and know that I can't keep doing it,’ he said.

Humphries created Dame Edna back in 1955 when he was touring country towns in Australia, and she made her first appearance in a Melbourne University revue that year.

Originally, the character was billed as Mrs Norm Everage and live dup to the normalcy of her name: The flamboyant wardrobe and manner would come later.

She was made a dame when appearing in the 1974 film Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, when Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam made a cameo to confer the honour.

Her success grew in the UK throughout the Eighties and Nineties with a series of TV shows, including the talks show The Dame Edna Experience, and has regularly toured Britain, America (where she made a memorable cameo on Ally McBeal) and Australia.

For his part, Sir Les Patterson first appeared in a one-man show in Sydney in January 1974 and starred in the 1987 film flop Les Patterson Saves the World.

Humphries says the farewell tour will also feature a new character, currently under wraps.

Published: 18 Mar 2012

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