Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The comedian Kenny Everett is a hero of mine.

Not for the content of his humour (I like clean stuff), but his style. Always bursting with enthusiasm, and energy, and fun. Throwing away broadcast conventions by shooting in the control room, pushing the vision-mixer to its limits, and replacing the studio audience with just his sniggering camera crew. When he would rip down and destroy the Thames Television logo at the start of his shows, he meant it.

A week ago I came across this biopic of Kenny Everett when it was already about five minutes in.

This of course is the best time to enter a biopic because, for some reason that I've never understood, they are almost always told in flashback.

So it's now a week later and I've just caught up on what I missed, and I'm so pleased. The opening merrily told me everything that was coming up, without any power to rob me of being told the story.

Not that there really is that much story here. I have to admit that the main reason why I watch biopics of dead funnymen is because I just want to have them back for one more evening. I hate to say it, but The Best Possible Taste doesn't seem entirely sure what its agenda is.

Sure, we get laughs out of Kenny's legacy again, mainly thanks to actor Oliver Lansley. Some of Everett's vocal range may be a bit of a challenge, but he keeps up the barrage of voices and mannerisms pretty well with barely a pause.

But that turns out to be part of the oddness of this revisitation of the Kennyverse. The thing is, that while I do remember many of these characters, when I think of Everett himself, I tend to think more of the DJ who I saw and heard being interviewed on numerous occasions. Clive Bull interviewed him on LBC once about his archive of jingles. He did a sketch on his TV show in which he played himself quite seriously as a set-up to something ridiculous. And then there's that famous clip of him being interviewed the morning that he went public that he was suffering with AIDS. In all these instances he was quite chuckly and good-natured, and normal.

But not in this film though. The picture that emerges is that of a man who could hardly even be himself with his friends, and perpetually hid behind his comedy voices.

Which for me sat awkwardly, because the greater part of this biopic concentrates on his love life. In other words, we get a fairly ordinary story about a man's homosexuality, rather than exploiting the thing that made Kenny's life so different, which was his unique brand of comedy. The ups and downs of his battle to get his maverick humour on air were what I really wanted to cheer on for here, so I guess I just wasn't the right type of audience member for this programme.

And yet, I can't help thinking that all those who wanted to see the serious side of his personal life missed out too. Not just because these scenes were played with so much silliness to hide his true feelings, but also because the movie stops before the diagnosis of his terminal illness. Why sure, of course that is none of our business to pry into, but then neither is much of the rest of what else is covered here. Like I say, I'm not really keen on hearing about his private life to begin with.

The best possible taste? Well obviously that's subjective.

What's never in any doubt here is the respect that the makers have for the man. Kenny is portrayed throughout as a guy who we can both sympathise with and root for, which is refreshing given the character-assasination that so many dead comedians are forced to go through in these retrospectives.

Kenny Everett made the world a much more insane place, in such a great way. It is only a minor shame that he didn't really get to do that again here.

Available here.


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