Jokers Wild on DVD

Sunday, 30 January 2011 12:31

Running for nine series from 1969 to 1974, Jokers Wild was a lively, panel game in which two trios of comedians competed for laughs from the studio audience. While team members delved into their repertoires for winning jokes based on topics drawn randomly from an oversized pack of cards, bonus points could be scored by opposing team members if they interrupted mid-gag to complete a punchline.

Hosted by comedy legend Barry Cryer, the show’s line-up often read like a ‘Who’s Who?’ of British comedy talent – later series would see the likes of John Cleese, Bob Monkhouse, Arthur Askey, Diana Dors, Eric Sykes and Sid James taking part. This first series, featuring Les Dawson, Ted Ray, Charlie Chester, Jimmy Edwards, Alfred Marks and Roy Hudd, shows the development of the format.

Jokers Wild - Season One comes to DVD exclusively from NetworkWe start off with a chance to see the pilot episode, never broadcast, and it’s just a little different from the format to come.  No digital scoreboard in front of Barry Cryer, instead he is flanked by a pair of ladies, Ann Coates and Louisa Ravaiotti, who flip over the scores on sets of numbered cards on Barry’s desk.

For the next few episodes, Barry is joined by actress Isabella Rye, whose only function, aside from sitting next to the host, is to escort one of the comedians to a podium. This is when they have been chosen to milk as many laughs as they can in one minute from the audience.  Below is a clip from a later episode, when Ms Rye had been dispensed with, where Les Dawson demonstrates how best to do this.

Incidentally, Isabella turned up as a Secretary in Are You Being Served?, a Policewoman in The Howerd Confessions, and had a small role in British Sex Comedy “Come Play With Me”. If anyone knows anything about her other major credit, Fanya in 1980’s “S-H-E: Security Hazards Expert”, then do tell!

 

The beginning of September 1969 saw the first screening of colour episodes of Jokers Wild, to tie in with the launch of colour on ITV. However, not all the episodes in-the-can up to this point had been made in colour, so we see the appearance of monochrome episodes later that month. This shuffling of screening orders is also why Isabella Rye appears some weeks and then not, which gives a big clue as to the order they were recorded in – Isabella only being in early episodes.  In addition, you can see that two episodes were recorded at each recording session, as the team panels are duplicated across much of the show’s run.

Compared to more recent televisual sparring of wits such as QI and Eight Out of Ten Cats, Jokers Wild hasn’t dated very well.  Virtually all of the competitors, and indeed Barry Cryer, have cigarettes on-the-go most of the time, which just seems so much of an anachronism these days. The other matter is an aspect of the set, eventually solved by the end of the season, where you can see under the desks that everyone sits at.  Unfortunately you constantly get distracted looking at their socks and shoes rather than listening to their banter!

The team members struggle in the first couple of episodes to get the hang of the format, and indeed comedian Ray Martine (The Taxi Driver in The Avengers episode “The Girl from Auntie”, and the host of the 1963-65 run of variety show Stars and Garters) continually takes it as a personal affront when a rival team member buzzes to finish off his joke – part of the format, for heaven’s sake. 

The shining light throughout the season is Les Dawson, who regularly had spats with Martine on the show (even referring to him as “Fey Ray”!). You can sense the tension between them.

It’s difficult to know how much the comedians had to tone down their material for television, but the humour is very child-friendly, so it may well be that 5-11 year olds will actually enjoy seeing how this style of television used to be. It would be heart-warming if some of the vintage gags began being told across playgrounds once more!

This three DVD set has a running time of 475 minutes approx, is Exempt from Classification, and has a RRP of £20.41 or less, available exclusively from www.networkdvd.net


JOKERS WILD – Season One Summary

(IR) = Episode with Isabella Rye. Episodes in colour except where stated as (B&W).

 

00. Unscreened Pilot – Ted Ray, Les Dawson, Bobby Pattinson, Charlie Chester, Ray Martine, Jimmy Marshall. (Ann Coates and Louisa Ravaiotti). (B&W)

01. 9 July 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Don Maclean, David Nixon, Les Dawson, Bobby Pattinson. (IR). (B&W)

02. 16 July 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Lennie Bennett, Charlie Chester, Les Dawson, Paul Andrews. (IR). (B&W)

03. 23 July 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Lennie Bennett, Charlie Chester, Lew Dawson, Paul Andrews. (IR). (B&W)

04. 30 July 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Ken Earle, Charlie Chester, Les Dawson, Kenny Cantor. (B&W)

05. 6 August 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Lennie Bennett, Charlie Chester, Les Dawson, Paul Andrews (IR) (B&W)

06. 13 August 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Ken Earle, Charlie Chester, Les Dawson, Kenny Cantor. (B&W)

07. 20 August 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Mike Burton, Alfred Marks, John Junkin, Tony Stewart. (B&W)

08. 27 August 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Mike Burton, Alfred Marks, John Junkin, Tony Stewart. (B&W)

09. 3 September 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Ray Cameron, Alfred Marks, John Junkin, Dave Allenby.

10. 10 September 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Ray Cameron, Alfred Marks, John Junkin, Dave Allenby.

11. 17 September 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Mike Burton, Alfred Marks, John Junkin, Tony Stewart. (B&W)

12. 24 September 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Don Maclean, David Nixon, Les Dawson, Bobby Pattinson. (IR). (B&W)

13. 1 October 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Bobby Dennis, Jimmy Edwards, Les Dawson, Bobby Pattinson. (IR). (B&W)

14. 8 October 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Lenny Bennett, Ted Rogers, Les Dawson, Ken Earle.

15. 15 October 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Lenny Bennett, Ted Rogers, Les Dawson, Ken Bennett.

16. 22 October 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Don Maclean, Roy Hudd, Les Dawson, Paul Andrews.

17. 29 October 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Don Maclean, Roy Hudd, Les Dawson, Paul Andrews.

18. 5 November 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Ray Cameron, Ted Rogers, Les Dawson, Norman Collier.

19. 12 November 1969 – Ted Ray, Ray Martine, Ray Cameron, Ted Rogers, Les Dawson, Norman Collier.

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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