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Kenny Everett

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Kenny Everett as Sid Snot

Kenny Everett (December 25 1944-April 4 1995) was a popular British entertainer on both Radio and television.

Contents

Early career and controversies

Born Maurice Cole in Liverpool, Kenny came to prominence in the 1960s on the pirate radio station, Radio London. In 1967, the BBC started its own pop music station, Radio 1, and Kenny was among the first intake of new DJs recruited from the pirates. Kenny developed a unique style of humorous presentation from the start, using zany characters and voices, along with jingles, drop-ins and trailers of his own. However, he soon got himself into trouble by making an unguarded remark about the transport minister's wife's inability to pass the driving test, and was sacked in 1970. He was reinstated in 1972, but at that time, the government had legislated for new commercial radio stations in the UK, and the first of these, Capital Radio, began broadcasting in 1973. Kenny was given his own show on the new station, where he further developed his own distinctive format.

"Bohemian Rhapsody"

During his time at Capital Radio, Kenny was given a copy of a new single from Queen by the group's lead singer, Freddie Mercury, a good friend. Kenny loved the song and began to play it several times a night on his show, helping the song — "Bohemian Rhapsody" — to go quickly to number one in the British Top 40.

Work on Television

Kenny Everett Video Show

Besides the radio programmes, he had two television series, The first, in 1968, was a production for Granada Television called Nice Time, co-presented by Germaine Greer and Jonathan Routh. In 1978, he started a new venture in television, with his ground-breaking Kenny Everett Video Show. This was a vehicle for Kenny's characters and sketches, interspersed with pop hits of the day, which were often presented through the very risqué (for the time) dance group, Hot Gossip (see also Sarah Brightman). It also featured an animated cartoon version of his popular radio spot, Captain Kremmen — a thinly disguised Kenny travelling the galaxy with his voluptuous sidekick Carla. Other memorable characters created for this show or the later version he did for the BBC were the giant-breasted American starlet Cupid Stunt ("all done in the best PAAASSIBLE taste!") (see spoonerism), the sexually frustrated businessman Angry of Mayfair, the punks Sid Snot and Gizzard Puke, and the French boulevardier Marcel Wave. The Video Show, made by Thames Television, ran for four series on ITV, and was incredibly popular, being required viewing for any teenager of the time. Kenny continued with Capital Radio while also doing his television work.

Move to the BBC

Kenny fell out with Thames about the rescheduling of the show against the BBC's Top of the Pops on Thursday evenings, among other things, and his show transferred to the BBC in the early 1980s. This version, however, arguably never quite captured the anarchic spirit of the ITV series. In this incarnation it was called the Kenny Everett Television Show and had a more conventional sketch show format with a studio audience. His friend Cleo Rocos was a regular. Guest stars included Billy Connolly, Terry Wogan, Lionel Blair and Joanna Lumley. Barry Cryer was a co-writer. Initially Thames tried to claim Kenny's characters as their copyright, forcing him to invent new ones for the BBC show, such as Cupid Stunt and Gizzard Puke. Ultimately, Thames's action failed and most of the characters eventually made the transition unchanged. At the same time, Kenny returned to BBC Radio, this time on Radio 2, presenting a Saturday lunchtime show from 11am-1pm. This ran up until 1983

Political controversy

In the 1983 electoral campaign, the Young Conservatives invited Kenny to their conference in an attempt to attract the youth vote. Bounding onto the stage, wearing enormously oversized foam rubber hands, he shouted slogans like "Let's bomb Russia!" and "Let's kick Michael Foot's stick away!" (Michael Foot was the elderly leader of the Labour party.) His appearance at the conference and his support for the Conservatives (which began in the 1960s when the Conservatives, in opposition, criticised the heavy-handed way that the Labour government dealt with the pirate stations) alienated many of his more politically aware fans, though he later admitted that he wasn't terribly political, and greatly regretted the incident.

Later career

While his radio shows continued in the same vein and were as popular as ever, by the late 1980s the TV show format had run its course, and Kenny's personal life was becoming increasingly complicated. His homosexuality was something he never fully came to terms with, and he suffered bouts of severe depression. He died of an AIDS-related illness in 1995.

Trivia

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