Tag Archives: John Ward

Does John Ward have THE No 6 badge from cult TV series “The Prisoner”…??

Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award designer John Ward has got in touch with me about the cult TV series The Prisoner, which starred Patrick McGoohan

John Ward wrote:


Patrick McGoohan made The Prisoner down the road from you at MGM Borehamwood in 1966-1967.

Patrick McGoohan, the Prisoner badge, the MGM envelope

I wrote to him when it was screened to say I thought the series was a cracker and a few weeks later a signed photo plus a Number 6 penny farthing badge came in the post…

Could this be THE badge that was used in the show? – Or just one of them? 

I suspect that a few were made in case of cock-ups during filming – or to send out to fans. But, on the back of the badge I was sent – in the pin attachment – are visible grains of sand.

Some of the location stuff was filmed along the beach area at Portmeirion in Wales.

Years ago I did try to find out how many badges were made, but no joy.

In the 1980s, I ‘loaned’ my badge to the Six of One fan club for a Channel 4 programme Six Into One – The Prisoner File. I saw an article in the TV Times asking for anybody with any memories relating the original showing – 1967-1968.

So I wrote in.

Next thing I knew I had a ‘highly educated’ man calling me on the phone to say how wonderful it was that I had this ‘memento’ from the show.

The more he asked, the more he seemed to be drooling over it.

Could I send it, together with the envelope with the MGM logo, by recorded delivery, to him?

I duly did his bidding and got back a pile of their Six of One promo stuff about membership etc… and then… nothing, really.

I was never told when the programme was going out. By chance, I spotted it in the telly listings. 

And then it took so much hassle getting it back from them! 

I got the impression they thought I was going to give it them. 

They eventually succumbed to sending the badge back to me in a registered envelope after loads of phone calls from me to them. 

However…

MGM envelope franked

…the MGM envelope they had requested “to prove its authenticity” that I had sent together with the badge was not there – So back to the phone I went and told him in no uncertain terms I was not best pleased.

The MGM envelope appeared about a week later in a Royal Mail Registered envelope, with no apology or anything else, hence I have no time for the Six of One clique in any shape or form.

And, despite all this aggro the badge was not actually used in any context in the programme.

What is interesting is I cannot find any reference to the badge I have. 

Okay, there are loads of shit copies on eBay, yes – But no mention of anybody saying they have the original badge at all.

Years ago our local newspaper – the Northants Evening Telegraph – ran an article on it but no joy. One idiot said he had bought ‘the badge’ while on holiday and he paid 50p for it in… well… in Margate..

He came round to see me, but it was a simple button type badge with a pin about the size of a 50 pence piece.

I may well take my badge along to an Antiques Roadshow at some point as I think, with the original MGM logo envelope, it has provenance, as they say.


The entire 50-minute opening episode of The Prisoner is currently available to view on YouTube… speeded-up so it lasts just 2 mins 33 secs…

…and there is 8mm film footage of the first episode being shot at Portmeirion

Leave a comment

Filed under Cult, Eccentrics, Entertainment, Television

Mad inventor John Ward, a very stupid copper and the search for hidden guns

A week ago, I posted a blog was about mad inventor and Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards designer John Ward’s interest in guns. 

(John Ward would like it pointed out he is not actually mad, but I cling to it as an attractive clickbait adjective.)

In last week’s blog, John W mentioned he used to keep guns and ammunition in his home. He had an FAC (a Fire Arms Certificate) and occasionally a policeman would come round to check the guns were being securely locked-up. 

But there is more to this story, as John Ward explains here:


As part of the renewal process for an FAC, you had a visit from a member of the local police force, our own local ‘beat constable’, who checked the security boxes – one for the weapons and one for the ammunition.

In over twenty plus years in my case, the system worked well and each time I passed the requirements with ‘flying colours’ and no untoward comments.

Then it was decided that the local Crime Prevention Officer (CPO) should undertake this task.

However our CPO left a lot to be desired.

A police inspector friend whispered in my ear that, if you were a clueless copper and capable of just about screwing anything up, you were ‘promoted’ to the rank of CPO to keep you out the way – You just did basic stuff like going round and telling shopkeepers how to lock their front doors etc.

It seems our CPO was a bumbling idiot but not far off his pension so, out of kindness, he had been ‘promoted’ to end his days in this most prestigious position for, as my inspector chum pointed out, “There is no way he would ever get up to the rank sergeant – no way….no way…”

Anyway, PC Bumbling rang our doorbell one teatime. I answered it to find him on the doorstep, with his clipboard.

I asked him if he had got a bus ticket inspector’s job – like Blakey, the character in ITV’s sitcom On The Buses.

I could tell he was not amused.

He told me he had come to check my security as my FAC was soon coming up for renewal.

I pointed out that the normal, recognised procedure was a phone call first to arrange an appointment to visit.

I also pointed out that I was just going to sit down to have my din-dins that the lady of the house had cooked, so he could lick the end of his pencil and put a date down agreeable to us both to come back to do his visit.

He hummed. He aahed. And then the call came: “Dinner on the table!”

So I shut the door on him.

He did come back on a designated, agreed date and, being the complete prat he was, then asked me for my name and address and asked had it changed since my last FAC was issued.

Bearing in mind he knew my name and that he was standing in the very address as printed on the said FAC, I asked him: “What do you think?”

Next was: “Where do you keep these listed firearms? They must be in a prescribed steel box… blah..blah” and so on.

I replied that they were in a box but well hidden.

He asked where and I opened the door to our under stairs.

I told him: “In there, in the steel box.”

He looked inside, shone a torch and said he could not see anything that looked like a steel box.

I said: “Just think… If you were a burglar and looked in and thought the same, you would look elsewhere… Yes?”

I pointed out that the steel box was hidden behind a large box of Lego toy bricks that the kids played with.

I said there had been no reported cases, as far as I was aware, of anybody locally housebreaking and stealing boxes of kids’ Lego bricks but he could correct me on that.

He didn’t… I pulled the ‘decoy’ box away.

He asked me to unlock the steel box so he could see my weapons, to check their serial numbers.

He then asked what the thickness of the steel box was as he – looking at his crib sheet – said it must be 10-gauge (a metal thickness measurement) to which I said it was 6-gauge.

His eyes lit up and he said: “This is illegal!!!!! – It’s got to be 10-gauge!’

I then explained to him that the gauging of metal is on a sliding scale; the higher the number, the thinner the metal. So my 6-gauge was thicker – much like a CPO – than actually required by law… Plus others before him were more than happy about it.

I pointed out that, by having the 6-gauge, it would take a ne’er-do-well longer to break into… plus it was screwed to the floor AND bolted to the wall as well.

“Where is the ammunition?”

“Upstairs in the attic, away away from the weapons.”

He followed me upstairs and the first thing he said was: “Aha! – There’s no lock on the attic door!”

To which I explained as best I could that, until I told him there was ammunition up there, in a steel box, safely hidden from view… putting a lock on the said attic door would infer that there was something in there of value.

The previous three inspections, with different personnel doing them, had all thought it a brilliant idea.

He then went for Gold: “Some burglars would straight away go to look in the attic (!?)”

I explained that the only way I could get up there myself was by using a ladder that I kept in the shed outside the house… Maybe there were ten foot tall housebreakers I was not aware of. But, unless he had a list of approved burglars that carried their own ladder with them on their ‘jobs’, I was less than convinced.

I said, short of having a flashing neon sign over the front door saying GUNS AND AMMO KEPT HERE to take the guesswork out of the situation, did he have any bright ideas – excluding the flashing sign that is – to add to the ‘security’ I already had?

Answer there came not.

He cleared off.

I got my FAC renewed.

I brought the matter up a while later with my inspector chum. He replied with a sigh: “He is a twat. It’s a safe bet there are trees in forests still standing that are not as thick as him.”

I agreed with him… not wishing to cause trouble you understand…


NOTE TO BURGLARS AND POLICEMEN: John Ward no longer keeps guns or ammunition in his house, loft or shed.

A John Ward designed toilet accessory with gun, silencer and loo roll

Leave a comment

Filed under Eccentrics, guns, Humor, Humour, Police

Mad John Ward and the UK gun laws…

John Ward interviewed by a Russian TV reporter (don’t ask)

Mad inventor and Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award designer John Ward used to be a member of a local shooting club. It was local – thank the Lord – to him, not to me.

He used to keep guns in his house.

“Normal people,” (I use the term ‘normal’ loosely when talking of John Ward) “are not allowed to keep guns in their house now?” I asked him. “What was the deal back then? I think you had to have a securely lockable safe in your house and a policeman came round to check on you every year?”

He told me:


It was every five years in ‘my day’ – but it may have changed by now…

It’s not strictly true you can’t keep guns in your home – rifles and shotguns can be kept at home but, once again, in a steel, approved, gun box or safe.

Any supposedly ‘normal person’ who goes hunting, target shooting etc. can apply for an FAC – a Fire Arms Certificate – but it’s down to if you fit the criteria of the local PC Plod in your area as it is ‘open to interpretation’ by each individual force – The fact you are the local hit man or drive-by shootist for the Borehamwood Massive might not go down too well and could provide assorted “Tut-tut, oh what have we got ‘ere then, petal?” sessions in the local Nick.

When I was pistol shooting years ago – before we all had to hand in our weapons following the Dunblane massacre – we honest, law-abiding, licence-owning target shooters said that, once you outlaw guns, it will be only the outlaws that will have them and, as things have turned out, it has happened.

However, I always wanted a Luger pistol because I liked the sheer mechanical side of it – the complex toggle-loading action appealed. Typical German engineering at its finest.

I did actually handle, but not fire, one as a visitor to our (licensed) gun club brought one along to show us. 

The temptation to fire it at our targets was there, but I declined.

My reasoning was that it was of the WW11 era and, as such, it may well have been used to take a human life – or lives.

In those days, before legal target pistol shooting was prohibited, it was possible to buy a second-hand Luger legally from bona fide licensed firearms dealers – for about £400 or so upwards.

In much the same way, I would have liked to have owned a Walther P38 – German engineering again – but the above same reservations I had about a second hand Luger applied.

My ownership of a real Luger was never to be realised.

I stopped with post war American and Italian made firearms in my collection because, that way, I knew each round I fired down at the club range was less likely to have caused anybody’s abrupt demise in the past.

Call me old fashioned.

(…CONTINUED HERE…)

Leave a comment

Filed under Eccentrics, guns

Mad inventor John Ward discovers the many perils of having a famous face

I received this recent anecdote from John Ward, designer of the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards.


It was a much normal day as such – weather atrocious outside – so I made myself busy indoors.

The doorbell rang.

I went to find a courier there holding a parcel.

On seeing me at my door, he asked for my address.

Then he asked for my name but he spoke in broken English as it was not his native tongue.

He looked at the parcel, then at me, then at his handheld wotever with an LCD screen. He checked to see if the details tallied and handed the parcel over to me.

It was  my ‘dead cat’ microphone for my Sony camcorder to use alongside in lieu of the maker’s own mic when conditions are not too clever when filming outside etc.

I thanked him and closed the door and went back inside.

Before I had a chance to open the box up to see if it really was the item as ordered, the doorbell rang again.

It was the same courier.

He said he was sorry to disturb me and then said: “I know who you am!” in an excited tone.

Now armed with a big, beaming grin, he asked for my autograph.

Ever happy to oblige, I picked up a yellow coloured plain display card, A4 size, that was lying about and did the doodle/cartoon I normally do and signed it with: ‘Best wishes to Pieter’.

He seemed overjoyed, shook my arm out of  its socket near enough and off he went.

A moment or two later, the doorbell rang yet again.

It was Pieter.

He stood there, pointing at the card: “Who dis?” he asked

“Me,” I said.

“No, no I want your real name!” he replied.

“That is my real name,” I told him. “I had this arrangement with my mother and father soon after I was born, so can’t really say too much about it with regard to my input on the matter as I was not consulted about it at the time.”

“Who dissa John Ward?”

“It’s me, the same as on the parcel you just delivered to me… John Ward.”

He looked slightly bewildered. He was not alone on that one. 

“Is it you stage name thing you do when not doing you real work?”

“No, my stage name is Wells Fargo but I never really use it much, unless I am travelling overland.”

“I want you real name – Christopher Biggins!”

Christopher Biggins (not John Ward)

“I am not him.”

“Why you not him?”

“I never said I was him.” 

I could see he was even more confused as he slowly looked me over and said: “I now go.” 

Off he went.

Back I went to my parcel and, as I was finally unwrapping it, yet another ding-dong on the doorbell.

Yes, once again, I beheld Pieter standing there with a lady who I assumed was in the lorry cab with him.

“I want excusing as this is Sandra, my vera good friend.”

He wanted her to meet me, whoever I was or might be. 

By this point, I was feeling quite unsure myself to be honest.

Ken Morley (Pic: Allstar/GlobePhotos Inc)

They looked at me, then at each other, then they mumbled to each other – I was not included at this point – and Sandra then spoke in perfect English:

“He is not Christopher Biggins!”

On hearing that, I was most relieved. But that was short-lived. 

“It is,” she added, “that Ken Morley bloke who used to be in Coronation Street on the telly… But I thought he was dead!”

I said I had things to do as they turned and left to wander back to the lorry.

But, just as I shut the door, I heard Sandra suggest: “He could be that Brian Blessed bloke, though… He’s got the ears for him I think….”


Below: the irrepressible Brian Blessed and the inimitable John Ward as himself (almost)

Leave a comment

Filed under Celebrity, Eccentrics, Fame, Humor, Humour

John Ward and the stupid TV people…

John Ward in a photograph where it is probably best if you supply your own caption…

I first worked with mad inventor John Ward – designer of the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards – on the TVS/ITV series Prove It! for which he supplied bizarre weekly inventions. That was back in 1988. We paid him a fee, put him up in a local hotel and covered his travel costs. He presented his inventions in a sort-of double act with the show’s presenter Chris Tarrant.

For one show in the series, he conceived and built a ‘TV Dining Machine’:

A couple of blogs ago, John Ward shared the quirkiness of one recent BBC approach to him about his frequently ‘unusual’ inventions.

The posting of that blog reminded John of another incident, back in 2007. He told me: “The crass silliness of clueless staff was/is not restricted to just the Beeb.”

Back in 2007, he received this email (which I have edited) from the member of an ITV production team:


We are currently producing a new entertainment show hosted by (two famous UK personalities).

The show has been an instant success. It features celebrity chat, the hottest music acts and the presenters’ ‘take’ on the week’s events.

Each week we like to feature new inventions and gadgets and I have seen
online your various inventions and was hoping that I might be able to speak with you about the possibility of featuring some of them on our show. 

I think it would be fantastic for our show.

I would be really keen to discuss this opportunity further.

Kind regards,


John Ward explains what happened next…


The ITV guy duly rang me up and, after a lot of patronising twaddle, he explained, once we finally got round to it, what my ‘involvement’ would be:

  1. I was not to be appearing on the actual programme – quite why he didn’t say.
  1. What he/they wanted was for me to send to them – at my cost! – assorted inventions I had made so that one could be displayed and talked about (i.e. taken the piss out of) each week during a filler moment on said show.
  1. I was also to source the boxes/containers etc. to pack them up in and then pay to send them – quote: ‘by courier would be nice’ (!)

I did pose the question as to how I would get them back afterwards, but this query seemed to fall on rather stony ground. I got the overall impression that I would be ‘donating’ them to the programme.

Finally, he asked… Could I supply a list of suitable small inventions that would not take up too much space in the studio?

He then explained there was no fee, but I would be ‘rewarded’ by having my name in the end credits along the lines of: ‘Inventions supplied by John Ward’.

I pointed out that this supposed ‘reward’ would be meaningless at the end of the programme because, within seconds of the end credits rolling, they were then either squeezed to one side or reduced in size – or both – to promote the next programme.

He then went into autopilot mode and waffled on about ‘the prestige’ of being ‘connected’ with this series featuring such ‘iconic personalities’ and that I should be ‘grateful for being considered’ for a part in the production.

I think my response was fairly straightforward.

I posed the question:

“Are there still two ‘L’s in bollocks?”

He put the phone down rather swiftly after that intellectual exchange.


That poor 2007 ITV man missed-out on showcasing John’s originality – as we did on ITV’s 1988 series Prove It!

For the episode below, he had invented some very adaptable shoes:

Leave a comment

Filed under Eccentrics, Inventions, Television, UK

BBC investigative reporting at its best…

Yesterday, mad inventor John Ward, who designed and makes the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards for the annual Edinburgh Fringe, sent me this email:


The other week in my Ward’s World column in the local Spalding Guardian newspaper, I made reference to ‘Our Annie’ a shopkeeper whom my mum knew. Annie would not sell ‘straight’ bananas as they had to be curved – Nothing else would do for her loyal customers.

I mentioned in the column that I once made a ‘Banana Gauge’ – basically a piece of wood with one side curved and the other straight. There was no photo in the column but here is one of my original ‘invention’.

I had forgotten about this particular newspaper column when the phone rang this morning and a young lady spoke.

“Is that Mr Ward? – the inventor John Ward?”

She worked for the BBC and, while researching assorted sources for possible news or items of interest, she had come across the said Ward’s World column.

Our conversation went roughly thus:

Q: Was the gauge digital? 

A: Nope, it was made mainly from wood. The hole was made with a drill

Q: Did it come from sustainable forest supplies?

A: Not a clue as it was a wood off-cut

Q: Where does the Off Cut tree grow? In what country?

A: Not really sure but, as far as I know, Sir David Attenborough has not mentioned it as being in danger, otherwise a film crew would have been dispatched by now.

Q: On the environmental issue, do you think it could be in danger of becoming extinct soon, though?

A: Not sure, to be honest.

Q: So what made you, as a highly regarded (she said it, not me) inventor, decide to build this gauge?

A: I had the wood from the Off Cut tree to hand… Plus a curved banana to use as a model to get the curve right.  

Q: I see… So did the straight side prove to be a challenge or what did you use to get that right?

A: I used the edge of a door which, to be honest, I had to open first. Then I held the gauge up to the edge and drew a pencil line downwards to get the angle right.

Q: I see…umm.. I assume this did not happen the first time, so how many prototypes did you construct before standing back to say: “This is the one. This is THE gauge” – Did you have your very own personal eureka moment?

A: I only had the one stab at it to be honest.

Q: So you knew straight away that this was THE one?! – That’s really remarkable, if I may say.

A: You may, you may. But it was really due to the fact it was the only bit from the Off Cut tree I had at the time… plus the local DIY store had shut by then so I could not do another as I had no material to use.

Q: I find your ‘low key’ approach to inventing quite incredible. You see the need, then you use your skills, you devise it in your mind. You don’t do any drawings or blueprint things?

A: You have hit the nail on the head, as we say in the business.

Q: Has there been any interest from any commercial concerns about marketing this device so far?

A: It depends largely on if the bananas are home-grown or imported.

Q: Really.

A: Oh yes…

She said she would get back to me “in due course”, as she feels “there is something here” that shows the British bulldog spirit thing is very much alive in these current traumatic times.

John Ward: designer, inventor, manufacturer and bendy banana enthusiast

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Eccentrics, Humor, Humour, Journalism

It is not as easy nor as quick as you might think to build a squirrel feeder

Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award designer John Ward has occasionally been described in this blog as “mad inventor John Ward”.

There is a reason for this.

I have recently had some emails for him, cobbled-together by me below:


I have just finished construction of ‘Top Nut’, my latest squirrel feeder – as seen in Moulton-Seas-End (which is nowhere near the sea). It is based on Star Wars type stuff and cobbled together from all bits and bobs.

A few years ago now when I saw the squirrels we had running about in the garden I realised that a trail of nuts would lead their inquisitive minds to the pile of nuts or whatever I have built for them.

It has taken a week or so to get them to investigate Top Nut, but they are now getting used to it. 

I have taken some ‘grabbed’ photographs through the kitchen window so they’re not that clear. Now I know how Attenborough’s lot must feel sitting it out, waiting…

How did all this come to pass? I hear you ask.

The wheelbarrow we used in the garden had collapsed – it’s always the metalwork that rots or rusts through it seems. So what was left was the heavy duty plastic barrow part plus the wheel.

The more I looked at the shape, the more I wondered what it would look like upside down.

Inspired by what it DID look like upside down, the plan was to build another squirrel feeder – You can’t have enough squirrel feeders I always say, moreso as we live rural.

The barrow bit was cleaned and large holes cut into it based on when we get winds – it blows straight through – a lesson learnt years ago with the bird table that was blown over and basically destroyed… So that was sorted.

Next the ‘deck’ or floor was a discarded off-cut from a sheet of MDF, the miracle TV ‘makeover’ show product that seems to be used for just about everything in building anything in this day and age.

It was shaped to fit the upside down barrow bit leaving a narrow, half inch margin all round so that rain water can escape so as not to flood it – and it works very well I am happy to say. Tick the box marked ‘Forward Planning’ here.

I also applied five coats of waterproof vanish to seal it against the elements, which took over a fortnight, on and off, to allow each coat to cure or dry properly hence being waterproof (I hoped…).

Next was a stable but firm base. This was achieved by cutting an industrial type slotted racking support in half to make a ‘V’ shaped support, then welded to a metal plate to partly form the base.

This was bolted to an old office chair base that was being thrown out by a local company that I ‘rescued’ from their skip (with their knowledge – although they didn’t quite seem to believe what I was building).

To gain squirrel access to the craft, I made a ladder from a plastic PVC off-cut from somebody who was having new soffits (the bits that hold the guttering up) and double glazing put in. The treads are plastic packers as used in the building trade to even brick/woodwork up… cut down to scale and stuck on with superglue.

Next up was making the superstructure. The rear ‘motors’ are four old 35mm film slide projector reels, reversed then glued/screwed end to end.

They were then attached to two loudspeaker ‘horns’ to form the ‘motive power’ with the actual top being an old industrial size fluorescent plastic based light unit, cut in half and glued together to form the ‘upper hull’ section.

The various ‘wings’ on top are parts from a discarded electric buggy/wheelchair.

The ‘flight deck’ is made from an old desk ‘odds and ends’ tray cut in half and miniature ‘seats’ handmade using an old black imitation leather shopping bag for covering and inserted into small square type flower pots to form ‘bucket seats’ that are about to scale considering the size of our semi-resident squirrels – Sid and Shazz.

The controls are assorted colour beads and anything lying about. The ‘gear stick’ is based on a 1987 model British Leyland Maestro car. The ‘handbrake’ based on a Ford Sierra of the same era.

Between the seats at the rear is a scale model fire extinguisher. Should there be anything untoward happening on the flight deck, then this won’t make the slightest bit of difference, but it looks good!

The outside solar power and heat transfer modals are waffle plates – one per side – from a sandwich/waffle maker that somebody donated to the construction as they never used them as they only use the sandwich, toasty plates so they are brand new, unused.

The ‘front screen’ is an empty space with thin elastic threaded through drilled holes to form the ‘screen surrounds’ similar in appearance to WW2 planes.

The ‘Sid and Shazz’ sun visor – going back to the 1970s – where it was the thing to have the driver and passenger’s name in the sun visor over the windscreen – is a separate piece of Perspex with their names stuck on with letters from Poundland.

PS: in the first video, and possibly in a photo or two, there is a sign with ‘Painting by Carl’ on it.

He is the paint sprayer for a local engineering firm who was silly enough to ask if he ‘could do anything towards your project’ and so he sprayed the exterior of Top Nut in the machine grey you see.


John Ward is available to customise any totally insane projects you may have.

Leave a comment

Filed under eccentric, Inventions

The making of The Comedians’ Choice Awards at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe

I have mentioned the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards in the last couple of blogs. The actual trophies were designed and made by mad inventor John Ward who is particularly keen (via an email this morning) that I mention he lives in or near Moulton-Seas-End in Lincolnshire.

If you go to Wikipedia, you will find there is an article on Moulton-Seas-End currently illustrated with  a sole photograph (below).

John Ward clearly is, indeed, a man out standing in his own field.

Moulton-Seas-End, home of John Ward  (Photograph supplied by Kate Jewell via geograph.org.uk)

I suspect he may be trying to drum up tourist trade for Moulton-Seas-End, which is nowhere near the sea.

Having established specifically where he lives, onwards more generally to this year’s Comedians’ Choice Awards.

These, like the Malcolm Hardee Awards, are currently organised by the British Comedy Guide with trophies designed by John Ward but, in this case, there is sponsorship from London’s Museum of Comedy.

The Comedians’ Choice Awards were founded in 2014 and aim to help highlight “the amazing work of those at the Fringe who may well otherwise go unrecognised, as judged by those who understand their efforts the best: their peers.”

Every comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe is eligible to both cast a vote and to be voted for.

There is no panel of judges, no industry specialists. The performers themselves decide who wins. Voting is conducted during August via an online form administered by the British Comedy Guide.

The Comedians’ Choice Awards are presented in three categories:

BEST SHOW at the Fringe.

BEST PERFORMER – The best individual comedy performer at the festival.

BEST PERSON – “A person who the voter feels should get recognition for their contribution to this year’s Fringe. This does not need to be a performer; it can be anyone associated with the comedy industry at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, from reviewers to producers and venue staff.”

The Best Performer and Best Show winners and the Best Show shortlist nominees get invited to take part in a special Comedians’ Choice showcase season at London’s Museum Of Comedy in October.

This year, as a bonus, streaming platform NextUp Comedy will also record some of the Museum Of Comedy nights, with the performer receiving a revenue share.

The actual trophies, as I said, are designed and made by John Ward, who lives in or near the village of Moulton-Seas-End in Lincolnshire. He tells me:


John Ward, from Moulton-Seas-End, with the original Award

Before the Covid, if you recall we met up at Milton Keynes with the then ‘new’ Award that – unbeknown to me at the time – was then given in three classes and not one as I first thought.

Trying to replicate that one this year has been slightly chaotic… Since the Covid malarkey, things have been a bit fraught in acquiring the same materials in the making of.

The materials that went into making that Award are not readily available nowadays – blame the Ukraine business, the 3 Day Week, fluoride in toothpaste, wotever.

John Ward, resident of Moulton-Seas-End, crafting an Award

The new design is more handy for standing on a bookshelf, fireplace or to use as a door stop.

It’s in a mask configuration with the now standard ‘red nose’ being central, with a slanted ‘comedic eye’ on one side with the Comedy Guide emblem opposite making the twin ‘eyes’ as such with raised eyebrows.

The ‘grinning’ mouth has been chiselled out and filled with red ‘sparkly ripple’ type finish inserted and is not symmetrical but, as you look at it, there is a small curl on the left hand side at the top of it.

It is secured to the base with twin screws and a central wooden dowel so, in theory, there is not much chance of it falling apart… but, then again, they said the Titanic was unsinkable..

I have made nine of these: three for 2021 to give to the winners from then, three for this year 2022 and three for next year 2023, with each year being designated its own colour scheme.

The colours per year are: Gold, Silver and Bronze. This year, for 2022, it’s Silver.

Three years’ worth of The Comedians’ Choice Awards


THE COMEDIANS’ CHOICE AWARDS

2022 WINNERS

BEST PERFFORMER

Jordan Gray …performing in Jordan Gray: Is It a Bird?

Sharing the news on social media, Gray said: “This means EVERYTHING to me.”

BEST SHOW

Rob Copland: Mainstream Muck (Gimme Some of That)

In a nod to his unconventional show, when asked what it felt like to win, Copland supplied this statement: “\m/”.

BEST SHOW SHORTLIST

Ali Brice: I Tried To Be Funny, But You Weren’t Looking
Chelsea Birkby: No More Mr Nice Chelsea
Colin Hoult: The Death of Anna Mann
The Delightful Sausage: Nowt but Sea
Elf Lyons: Raven
Luke Rollason: Bowerbird
Siblings: Siblage
Shelf: Hair Stuart Laws – Putting Zoo

BEST PERSON

Martin Willis

He is managing director of show production company Objectively Funny. The company also produces and distributes the Small Book on Mental Health at the festival, to support performers.

Martin Willis said: “It is a massive honour to win an award like this, one that’s voted for by people involved in shows here. It means the world to be recognised by a community that I care so dearly about, and I’m incredibly grateful.

“That being said, it cannot go unmentioned that in the history of this particular award the winner has always been a man. That fact speaks both of the demographics of the voters but also of what we actually see from behind the scenes. For an industry that is historically male-dominated onstage, there is a vast array of brilliant women that have made so much work possible in so many ways – technicians, producers, agents, venue programmers and people that do whatever job needs doing with care and gusto.

“I would like to accept this award on behalf of the Objectively Funny team that has worked so hard to make excellent things happen at this festival: Ellie Brayne-Wyatt, Maddy Bye, Kathryn Higgins, Olivia Phipps and Lois Walshe.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Eccentrics

This year’s Malcolm Hardee Awards: It all ended in tears and a fight by a bus.

Highly unlikely to ever want to rest in peace…

Yesterday’s blog was about the travails of this year’s Malcolm Hardee Awards Show at the Edinburgh Fringe. The show was cancelled on the day (by the Award organisers) at The Counting House venue and then suddenly moved to another venue, Bob Slayer’s Blundabus: a double-decker bus. No reflection on the highly-esteemed Counting House.

Yesterday’s blog sort-of encompassed my philosophy of organising things… 

Anything that CAN go wrong WILL go wrong. 

And anything that cannot possibly ever go wrong WILL STILL go wrong.

The best thing is to prepare everything in advance to the last detail, organise everything with fallback positions and then, when the whole thing suddenly starts to go arse-over-tit despite all that, it is easier to manage the new chaos caused by one single unexpected disaster than have to sort-out this new and impossible-to-predict problem AND all the sundry could-have-been-foreseen-and-planned-for potential multiple problems.

You should plan for the foreseeable-knowns; you can’t plan for the unforeseeable-unknowns.

Malcolm Hardee also had a philosophy about First World problems: 

“Fuck it! It don’t matter do it? There are people starving in Africa. Not all over though. Round the edge – fish.”

I am in London. Three people have told me anonymously what happened in Edinburgh on Friday night/the early hours of Saturday morning .

One person, who had arranged to see the 11.30pm show at The Counting House with a group of people from London said: “I saw that the show had been cancelled and assumed that was the end of it. Wish I’d known that Bob had stepped in. Small venue though.”

Someone else, comic Giacinto Palmieri (who actually attended the re-scheduled 01.00am Blundabus presentation), opined: “A show that was so alternative that there was no show… Malcolm Hardee would have appreciated that.”

Apparently the awards were announced from a small stage in front of the double decker bus. When Jerry Sadowitz was announced as winner of the ‘Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid’ Award, there was, I’m told, “a noticeable but small Boo! from the crowd”. 

After the Awards, a vivid verbal contretemps then ensued between two of the people involved in the show which, it seems, can best be described as a non-meeting of minds between, on the one side, ‘very tired & emotional’ and, on the other, ‘very irritated and Woke’. It all ended in tears, as such things are prone to do.

In yesterday’s blog, I wrote that an email sent to me at 02.59 on Saturday morning told me: “The news announcement (of the Award-winners) might be a little delayed… One bit proved quite controversial, so the judges are going to need a chance to decide on the wording first.”

It turns out this referred not to the decision on winners of the Awards but on the wording of the press release mentioning comedian Jerry Sadowitz. 

The press release was eventually issued yesterday afternoon. Here it is (I have added pictures):


For immediate release

MALCOLM HARDEE AWARDS 2022 RESULTS

The results of the Malcolm Hardee Awards 2022 have been announced during a ceremony at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The awards – handed out in the memory of comic, agent, manager, club-owner and prankster Malcolm Hardee – celebrate and promote the spirit of anything-goes comedy anarchy at the Edinburgh Festival.

This year’s winners are:

COMIC ORIGINALITY

Two thirds of The Flop: Dan Lees (left) and Cammy Sinclair (Photo: Stephen O’Donnell)

The Flop: A Band Of Idiots (Dan Lees, Tom Penn, Cammy Sinclair)

Comedy trio The Flop – Dan Lees, Tom Penn and Cammy Sinclair – performed their show at The Banshee Labyrinth at 10:10pm between the 6th and 20th August.

Their brochure blurb explains: “60 minutes, 12 notes and three idiots. Musical mayhem and expert clowning from the greatest band in the whole world… ever.”

Mr Chonkers was also nominated in this category.

Ivor Dembins without Edinburgh Council’s rubbish men (Photograph: Stephen O’Donnell)

CUNNING STUNT

Ivor Dembina

The 2022 Cunning Stunt prize goes to comedian Ivor Dembina, for his reaction to the Edinburgh bin collection strike, promoting the growing piles of uncollected rubbish as performance art.

 

ACT MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A MILLION QUID

Sadowitz: offensive future millionaire?

Jerry Sadowitz

Originally scheduled to play just two shows at the Pleasance’s EICC venue as part of his national tour Not For Anyone, cult comic and former Hardee protégé Sadowitz made national headlines when his show was unceremoniously axed after its first night, with Pleasance claiming both “[we are] a venue that champions freedom of speech and we do not censor comedians’ material,” and “the material presented at his first show is not acceptable… this type of material has no place on the festival”. Coherent, much?

Judges explained: “Ironically, after being cancelled, Sadowitz is seeing a huge increase in ticket sales for the show’s tour, and is now adding a date at the 3,600+ seater Hammersmith Apollo in November.

“The Million Quid is getting closer for the most unlikely of reasons.”

*** *** ***

The usual, anarchic awards show was not able to take place this year, but a results ceremony was held at Bob Slayer’s infamous BlundaBus venue at 1.00am this morning.

The winners each receive a specially made trophy designed by inventor John Ward.

This year’s judging panel was Marissa Burgess, Kate Copstick, Bruce Dessau, Jay Richardson, Claire Smith and Ian Wolf.

The Malcolm Hardee Awards have run since 2005, the year of Malcolm Hardee’s death. They ended in 2017, however having been ‘much missed’ at the 2018 festival, they have now been revived by British Comedy Guide, with the blessing of original organiser John Fleming and the Hardee family.

Find out more about the awards and previous winners at:
https://www.comedy.co.uk/hardees/

6 Comments

Filed under Bad taste, Comedy, political correctness

Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe – organising anarchy

ITV’s Tiswas – Good clean family fun

I was a researcher on the final series of anarchic Saturday morning ITV children’s show Tiswas. It had been going for years at the point and everything ran fairly smoothly. It was broadcast live usually for 2-3 hours. I remember at least a couple of the live shows ran for 4 hours. I think the series I worked on ran for 39 weeks of the year. 

Because it was allegedly for young-ish children (and university students) all the items were very short because of their short attention span. The only long items were cartoons (about 7 minutes long) and live pop songs (about 3 minutes).

Everything else tended to be I guess no longer than around 30 seconds. 

On a live TV show – with guests, children, rock bands, cameras and crew in the studio, with anarchy being the format and with water, custard pies, electric cables and people moving all over the place all the time on the studio floor – this was a recipe for disaster.

The trick was to have one meeting early in the week with representatives of all the technical and editorial departments involved to pre-spot potential problems… and an editorial meeting late in the week to iron out the detailed practicalities.

One week, at one of these meetings, the producer lamented that everything ran far too smoothly on-screen. It was an ‘anarchic show’ but so well-planned that nothing ever actually went too wrong. How could we add in some genuinely unplanned chaos?

The answer was, really, that we couldn’t. Because the only way to run anarchy on stage or in a TV studio is to plan it carefully in advance, with fall-back positions, and then fly by the seat of your pants. You plan for as many possible contingencies as you can and then it is easier to cope with the ‘impossible’ things that actually happen on the day.

Which brings us to the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe. I used to run them but no longer do – so, when things go wrong, I can comfortably sit back in London and observe from afar.

(L-R) The 2022 ‘Million Quid’, Comic Originality and Cunning Stunt Awards, designed by John Ward

The format is that there are (over the years) 4-6 judges who decide on three Awards – Comic Originality, Cunning Stunt and ‘Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid’. In the past, the Short List of nominees was announced around Tuesday of the Fringe’s final week and the Awards were decided by the judges at Friday lunchtime, then announced and presented during a live 2-hour stage show just before midnight in the ballroom of The Counting House venue, which is part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival.

This involved me getting a taxi down to Leith as soon as the winners were decided… to get the names engraved on the three Awards… and rushing down again around teatime to collect them before the evening show. Meanwhile, acts for that night’s show would be dropping out or changing arrival times or causing creative chaos in sundry ways. 

During the show, acts would also not arrive at all or arrive an hour late or whatever. It was like juggling spaghetti. (Another thing I occasionally included in the show.)

Oh the joy of it all…

The ballroom had a 150 seating capacity and we got in trouble one year because too many people had been standing round the edges of the 150 seated audience. The fire regulations did not allow this.

The next year, we had officials counting numbers in and out of the room. With all seats occupied, no-one was allowed in unless someone went out. This meant, if you went out to the toilet, you might not be able to get back in again. I did wonder if some people just ‘did the necessary’ in situ rather than leave. If so, I suspect Malcolm would have approved.

Action-packed Russian Egg Roulette at the 2012 Awards

The live show was a Hardee-esque variety show of bizarre-as-possible comedy acts plus, in later years, a competitive Russian Roulette contest with eggs (organised by the World Egg-Throwing Federation) in which comedians smashed eggs against their forehead in a knock-out contest to find out which was the sole hard-boiled egg. It was messy.

I never booked the nominees or upcoming winners of the Awards to perform in these variety shows in case their acts were so bizarre the audience hated them…

I stopped organising the Awards in 2017 after ten years. 

There were no Awards in 2018 because I couldn’t find anyone to take them over – and nor could a top UK PR who tried to find sponsors for them.

They returned briefly in 2019 organised by the British Comedy Guide and then, of course, Covid hit. So there were no Awards in 2020/2021 although, in 2021, when there was a sort-of Edinburgh Fringe, Will Mars was given a Cunning Stunt Award.

The Awards re-started ‘properly’ this year, with the Edinburgh Fringe re-emerging from Covid.

The winners were due to be announced last night (Friday) during a live show in The Counting House at 11.30pm.

I am totally uninvolved in the Awards now but, as a courtesy, I am kindly kept in the loop by email, so I know roughly what is going on. 

On Thursday evening at 21.28, there was talk of cancelling the Friday show because “it wasn’t felt there were enough original acts here to put on a show and we’ve left it a bit late to organise a good show even if there were… (We) should be sending over the results and pictures that you can use in your blog first thing tomorrow”.

And, indeed, yesterday, Friday, the Counting House show was cancelled and moved to the upper level of former Award-winner Bob Slayer’s Blundabus venue (a double-decker bus), to start after midnight, around 01.00 .

I woke up this morning to an email sent at 02.59 telling me: “The news announcement (of the Award-winners) might be a little delayed… One bit proved quite controversial, so the judges are going to need a chance to decide on the wording first.”

Around 15.10 this afternoon, the Awards were finally announced: 

COMIC ORIGINALITY: The Flop.

CUNNING STUNT: Ivor Dembina & the Edinburgh bin collectors.

ACT MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A MILLION QUID: Jerry Sadowitz.

The phrase “in light of the present unpleasantness” has been used on Facebook.

At the time of posting this blog, I know no more that you, dear reader.

I suspect more will follow in a further blog… AND IT DOES, HERE


Malcolm Hardee drowned in 2005. Karen Koren of Edinburgh’s Gilded Balloon venue produced this tribute at the time…

Leave a comment

Filed under Anarchy, Comedy