Not Now, Arthur!
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a little bit of Morecambe and Wise, so here’s a tribute to classic comedy.. and a forgotten harmonica hero.
Arthur Tolcher was born in Staffordshire in 1922, and his family theatrical history meant he was destined to tread the boards of music hall. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular tunes and and played a variety of harmonicas, interspersing that with sight gags and jokes. It would do Arthur a disservice to call him a ‘novelty act’ since he was tremendously accomplished and was called upon for sessions whenever a harmonica was required.
Eric and Ernie often toured with Arthur, but as their star rose, his career seemed to stall. However, the two comedians found a little place in the TV spotlight for Arthur. Dressed in full concert garb, harmonica in hand, he would rush on at odd moments (or after the credits rolled), and would just manage a brief burst of the Spanish Gypsy Dance before Eric cut him off with a classic catchphrase.
Here are Eric and Ernie happily explaining Eric’s classic paper bag trick to David Frost (you’ll all be trying this at home) when Arthur dashes on for a quick tootle.
Arthur passed away in 1987 and was the subject of a retrospective on BBC Radio 4 in 2007, his story told by Roy Hudd. Thanks for the memory, Arthur.
Merry Christmas everyone!