April 3rd, 2008

Hughie Green, Most Sincerely

Quite why Hughie Green should have been included in a series of plays about the desperate private lives of well-loved comedians is a question I haven't seen answered anywhere, though lots of people have posed it. (A) Hughie Green wasn't a comedian and (B) he isn't well-loved. What he was, was the smarmy host of a series of game shows and talent shows- a man who defined on-screen insincerity. Where all the other plays in the series have shown the shadow side of their subjects, Green was so obviously hollow and horrible that the only way to go- and create interesting drama- was to dig around and expose his good points.

Like he wasn't a racist. Erm, is that it? Yes, pretty much.

Green was given a foil in the shape of Jess Yates, presenter of Stars On Sunday- a God-bothering variety show that, in its heyday, featured performers of the calibre of Bing Crosby and Peter Sellers, singing hymns.  To make Green seem faintly attractive, Yates had to look really bad, so they clapped Mark Benton in a hideous bald wig and told him to act all sneery and sleazy.  Add in a set of rotten dentures, and he could have been playing Mr Quilp or Wackford Squeers.  

Green was the real father of Yates' putative daughter Paula- who went on the be a TV presenter herself, marry Bob Geldorf , have a very public affair with Michael Hutchence and commit suicide at 41. Green's story rode piggy-back on hers. If he's remembered now it's as her secret dad. Were his final years dominated by wistful yearning after the daughter he never knew? Actually- given that he was a man who let nobody close- I very much doubt it. But it makes for a pretty story, right?

It's the injustice to Jess Yates that bothers me most. He was backroom boy of the entertainment world- producer, director, presenter- a man with a lot of solid if unspectacular achievements to his credit. Presumably he has surving relatives; what do they feel about their late lamented being presented as an amoral bottom-feeder?

Yates was a keen photographer. Amateur Photographer's online site has a portfolio of his work- including a nice picture of a very young Paula Yates in Piccadilly Circus and- Whovians please note- one of Jon Pertwee surrounded by floozies. I can't get the link to work, but Google Jess Yates, click on the third item on the list and you'll be taken to the file.