Wednesday 24 July 2013

Jimmy James and company

This goes back a long time - the great Jimmy james performing his 'Lion in a Box' sketch, back in the days of regional broadcasting, in this case Tyne Tees Television in (I guess) the early 1960s. But the act originated long before, and seems almost Victorian in its cruel whimsy. 

James looks quite remarkably like W. H. Auden - so much so that I wonder whether he shared Auden's rare condition, Guillain–BarrĂ© syndrome, which causes lugubrious, heavily creased facial features

The two stooges are the magnificently-named Hutton Conyers (on the left in the clip) and Eli Woods (right, then appearing under his stage name of Bretton Woods). The marvellously strange Woods - who has always mesmerised me - was born John Casey, and known to his friends as Jack. He's one of the minor treasures of English variety.

Here it is: five minutes of spellbinding surrealism, and some elegant smoking gestures too. The only known recording of Lion in a box

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