Frankie Howerd

Graham McCann

The rambling perambulations, the catchphrases, the bland brown suit and chestnut hairpiece: such were the hallmarks of a revolution in stand-up comedy that came in the unique shape of Frankie Howerd. His act was all about his lack of act, his humour reliant on trying to prevent the audience from laughing (‘No, no please, now…now control please, control’). This new biography from Graham McCann charts the circuitous course of an extraordinary career – moving from his early, exceptional, success in the forties and early fifties as a radio star, through a period at the end of the fifties when he was all but forgotten as a has-been, to his rediscovery in the early sixties by Peter Cook. Howerd returned to television popularity with ‘Up Pompeii’, which led to work with the Carry On team. In his last few years he became the unlikely doyen of the late eighties ‘alternative’ comedy circuit. But his life off-stage was equally fascinating: full of secrets, insecurities (leading at one point to a nervous breakdown) and unexpected friendships. Graham McCann vividly captures both Howerd’s colourful career and precarious private life through extensive new research and original interviews with such figures as Paul McCartney, Eric Sykes, Bill Cotton, Barbara Windsor, Joan Simms and Michael Grade. This exceptional biography brings to life an unique British entertainer.

Reviews of Frankie Howerd

  • ‘Never has the sheer awkwardness of the human condition been so comically, or beautifully, conveyed.’ Daily Mail

    ‘As with his masterly account of Dad’s Army, this is an objective and scrupulously researched study, unlikely to be superseded.’ Roger Lewis, Spectator

    ‘McCann’s lively biography is rooted in those post-music-hall days, his portrait of the period is vivid.’ Alex Clark, Sunday Times

    ‘Graham McCann’s straightforward, affectionate biography attempts to underline Howerd’s place in the pantheon of British comedy greats.’ Glasgow Herald