Damien on… Bob Newhart In Britain
In America, the career of Bob Newhart is well known.
It began with two chart-topping albums: “The Button-Down Mind Of Bob Newhart” and “The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back” – then continued with more hit albums – his own show – Vegas headline runs – regular appearances on top shows (Carson, Dean Martin, Ed Sullivan, etc.) – then TWO successful sitcoms in the ’70s and ’80s – plus many film and television spots. At 84, he still occasionally works – he guested on “The Big Bang Theory” only months ago.
But in Britain, his profile is a bit different.
While his two sitcoms and The Big Bang Theory all aired, back in the Sixties (apart from a few clips) his US TV appearances were UNSEEN by British audiences. Then, it was all about his RECORDS.
But while records in America in the Sixties were reasonably priced, in Britain, thanks to PRICE-FIXING by the major record companies, they cost a FORTUNE. His first two albums, released in 1960-1, cost Brits A DAY’S WAGES – EACH.
This meant that those who could afford to buy them – played them through to the FELT.
But for the rest of us, Bob’s gems still got heard. With Pop records of the day rarely being longer than two minutes, when BBC DJs needed a “bathroom break” – they would stick on one of his tracks (Auntie COULD afford to buy albums). The favourite was “Driving Instructor” – which was just over eight minutes long – and later, “Introducing Tobacco Into Civilization” – which ran a little over six.
The result of all this was that when Bob came over to Britain in the early Seventies, when he performed these two masterpieces – HE COULD SEE PEOPLE LIPS MOVING ALONG TO THEM!
However, my personal favourite from those years is a lesser-known classic, “Defusing A Bomb”. It still cracks me up – FIFTY YEARS on. I put it up on YouTube three years ago. It currently has 165,000 hits.
If you want to add another, you can find it on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArMf6xbMsLI – ENJOY!