Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Unashamed populist

85 years ago, a television legend was born.

Sir Bill Cotton (son of the famous bandleader Billy Cotton), as the BBC's Head of Light Entertainment in its 1970s heyday was always determined to promote British stars for British television, and during his time such transatlantic imports as Lucille Ball, Dick Van Dyke and Perry Como were replaced with the likes of Cilla Black, Des O'Connor, Russ Conway, Val Doonican and Bruce Forsyth.

He introduced and nurtured the production of many of the most famous of the BBC's light entertainment classic programmes - including Porridge, Dave Allen At Large, Dad’s Army, Morecambe and Wise, Till Death Do Us Part, Steptoe and Son, The Liver Birds, The Generation Game, Parkinson, The Two Ronnies, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, Last of the Summer Wine, The Likely Lads and The Good Life.

"I am and always have been an unashamed populist," was his famous mantra.

Unsurprisingly his legacy has never been matched, and, in this era of reality/celebrity-dominated television, we mourn the demise of BBC light entertainment to this day.

A perfect excuse, methinks, to show a few reasons why...

Sir William Frederick "Bill" Cotton CBE (23rd April 1928 – 11th August 2008)

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