We're still chuckling after all these years

TO me to you ... for years comedy favourites the Chuckle Brothers have been making people laugh.

Wednesday, 26th September 2007, 12:37 pm
Updated Friday, 28th September 2007, 8:02 am

The brothers - born and bred in Rotherham - have been described as Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard and Russell Brand rolled into one.

And this week, their smash hit BBC TV kid's programme Chucklevision has celebrated its 300th episode.

Next year's shows are already in the can.

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But, after 20 years of rib-tickling slapstick routines, brothers Paul and Barry say they have still not run out of ideas.

Barry, 63, said: "It doesn't seem like 20 years. It feels like two or three. After so long, we are still coming up with new ideas, which is amazing."

The gags, the falling on your backside or walking into a door or lamppost, is age-old comedy - but Paul and Barry say kids just love it.

And the catchphrase 'from me, to you' has become their trademark.

"If we don't use it in our stage show, we know there's going to be trouble," said Paul, 60. "Kids will say to us 'you didn't say it. They really want to hear it".

"We've used it ever since we were kids at home, if we were moving a chair or something," added Barry.

"Then we did it in the first series of ChuckleVision, and people suddenly coming up to us and saying it."

The brothers - real names Paul and Barry Elliot - reckon they have used their famous catchphrase in more than a third of their shows - but can't remember how many times they have fallen over as part of their comedy routines.

Since 1987 Chucklevision has taken the brothers to the moon and in search of the Loch Ness Monster. They have been golfers, plumbers, and even turned their hand to chimney sweeping.

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Today they are a little greyer but their enthusiasm is still undimmed. There is vague talk of retirement, but they admit they know little else.

Paul and Barry come from a family of entertainers. The father, Gene Patton, was a comedian, their mother a dancer, while two of their older brothers, Jimmy and Brian, still have their own long-running double act.

They tell people they went to RADA - not the real one but the Rotherham Academy of Dramatic Art - and they are lifelong Millers fans. Showbiz, they say, runs through them like lettering on a stick of seaside rock.

Paul and Barry's act won the ITV talent show New Faces in 1974, but contractual problems meant they could not take up TV offers. By the time they could, producers had given up trying.

So they made a living peddling their end-of-pier style show around provincial theatres and pantomimes, eventually landing their big TV break in Ashton-under-Line the mid-1980s.

"We were asked to do a tour with Ward Allen, a ventriloquist with a big dog," said Paul.

"So we went to Ashton-under-Lyne and, one afternoon, there were 28 people.

Chuckle Brothers' official website.

Chuckle Brothers videos. We thought we’d just go out and enjoy ourselves, which we did.

“What we didn’t know was Martin Hughes and Peter Risdale Scott from the BBC were in the circle upstairs. We got a call the next day asking to meet us for lunch, and it has just gone from there.”

The brothers bounded onto children’s TV in 1985 dressed as giant furry dogs in Chuckle Hounds. That show was a hit, and two years later it was renamed as Chucklevision.

Paul said: “Anyone can laugh at our type of comedy - it goes back to Roman times. The gags and the funnies, the falling on your backside or walking into a door or into a lamppost is age-old. If you hurt yourself, people think it’s funny.

“As people get older they get talked into what they think should be funny by their peers. You are talked into finding things funny, instead of just watching. If something is funny, it’s funny, if it’s not, it’s not. You can’t do that with kids. You can’t tell kids what is funny. They tell you.”