It’s easy to make fun of old fashioned, end-of-the-pier, family friendly entertainment. When you have a podcast that looks back at kids TV from 30 years ago, it’s very easy to do that. But putting away the cynical Millennial lens through which we view our subject matter on a weekly basis, it’s also important to acknowledge the value of genuine entertainers. People who have a natural gift to make others smile, who bring joy to children, and who always provide a friendly face.
The Chuckle Brothers have been a mainstay of children’s TV for as long as I’ve been watching it. Whether they were dressed up in giant dog costumes as the "Chuckle Hounds" or causing endless frustration to "No Slacking," they are synonymous with British entertainment and have made generations of children laugh. Paul and Barry provided good clean fun, eternally optimistic characters with a rare innocence that it’s easy to mock but difficult to emulate without irony.
Barry has now passed away, and it has had a significant impact. Not just for their current audience, but anyone who ever watched the Chuckle Brothers. The nation gave itself a hug in disbelief - the Chuckle Brothers were supposed to be ageless, timeless, immortal. They were seemingly always there, to laugh with and occasionally be laughed at. Their universal appeal became starkly apparent in the hours following Barry’s passing - not many people can say they would get messages of condolence from puppet fox Basil Brush and hip hop rapper Tinchy Stryder. But Barry did.
The power to make people laugh is special. It deserves to be celebrated. We have laughed at the Chuckle Brothers both as innocent children and as cynical adults. One of the most sustained laughs we had on When Wagon Wheels Were Bigger came from the Chuckle Brothers app. I would highly recommend it.
Although our laughter didn't always come from the kindest place, I like to think that it would have been appreciated regardless. That’s what being an entertainer is all about.
Here’s to you Barry.