Presented by Howerd himself, who is seen revisiting various places associated with his growing-up, as well as being interviewed, "Oooh er Missus" tells the story of the comedian. He was born in York, but his family soon moved to Eltham, South London, where he first began to perform at the Civic Hall (now the Bob Hope Theatre). After a wartime spent defending the Essex town of Southend, Howerd got his break as a member of a concert party, leading to a regular spot with the radio program VARIETY BANDBOX. A star at a comparatively young age, Howerd enjoyed a successful career until the late Fifties, when he suddenly fell out of favor. He ended up being involved in absolute turkeys such as Michael Winner's THE COOL MIKADO (1963), a modern update of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, in which he had to sing (and dismally failed). It was only when Peter Cook booked him for a season at the Establishment Club that his career revived; from then on, he became a regular fixture on stage and television, with such hits as THE FRANKIE HOWERD SHOW (1966) and UP POMPEII (1970).
In later life Howerd's reputation enjoyed something of a revival, as he became a cult among much younger audiences, most of whom had not been even thought of when he had performed at the Establishment Club. At the time this documentary was made (1990), he had just been engaged in a one-man show at London's Garrick Theatre, playing to packed houses.
What was perhaps most interesting about this documentary was Howerd's evasiveness; at no point did he seem particularly keen to discuss the highs and lows of his career. Rather he chose to change the subject, focusing on less contentious topics. It was only from friends and colleagues - including Eric Sykes, Max Bygraves, and June Whitfield - that we learned something of the complexities of Howerd's personality.
This documentary offered an interesting counterpoint to the biopic FRANKIE HOWERD: RATHER YOU THAN ME (2008), with David Walliams, which focused on the comedian's frustrated sexuality. This profile made no real reference to Howerd's private life, and by doing so underlined how reluctant the comedian was to talk about himself. Everything had to be focused on his public persona; the bumbling, apparently random monologues which were cleverly and intricately constructed, with every pause and caesura scripted and learned before Howerd went on the stage.
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