Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Remembering Larry Grayson

What a pity that the William White public house in Nuneaton has closed down. Apparently the place had an infestation of vermin. "This place is alive!" Larry Grayson would have exclaimed with disapproval. Larry Grayson was William White, and, possibly Nuneaton's most famous inhabitant since George Eliot.

The pub used to display some Larry-related artwork on one of the walls.

There are other clues regarding Grayson's connection dotted around this Midlands town. The streets of terraced houses where William White grew up. The working mens clubs where he performed for many years before becoming a household name and television star. A small permanent exhibition of Larry's theatrical items is on display in the museum on the park.

In 2016 there was a touring exhibition devoted to Larry at venues in Nuneaton and Bedworth. The latter was created to coincide with the first biography of Grayson, Seems Like a Nice Boy, written by his nephew Mike Malyon.

Larry Grayson's talent should not be underestimated. In his early ITV series he manages to get away with some relatively anarchic humour. This is not always asexual camp. Take a look at some of his early ITV sketches and you'll see what I mean.

Yet at the same time he was able to endear himself to millions of television viewers. This demonstrates how broad minded his family audience of the 1970s and '80s was.

His particular talent was that he managed to be utterly endearing and bizarre in equal measures. His monologues verge on the nonsensical. It is difficult to actually say what the content is of some of his stand up sketches. In the Music Hall tradition, they consist of pieces of idle gossip about his ailments and his imaginary friends, Everard, Slack Alice and Apricot Lil. Even the mention of the name 'Everard Farquharson' will elicit squeals of delight from his audience. 

He was also very down to earth.  The very essence of a working class Midlander.

Here's a picture of yours truly with Larry at a public appearance in Loughborough...
Souvenir book of matches from public appearance in Ashby, 1980s

Larry is buried in the cemetery next to the train line that passes through Nuneaton. His real name William S. White, and his stage name are carved on the memorial stone.

  • Further reading: Malyon, Mike, 2015, Seems Like a Nice Boy, Apex Publishing

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