One ‘Digger Dave’ tells me on my Facebook page that the legendary banger-up-the-bum routine made infamous by comic Chris Lynam and The Greatest Show on Legs originated when some aggrieved criminal in jail with Malcolm Hardee threatened to shove a stick of dynamite up Malcolm’s arse for selling him a jamjar full of wheat seeds in exchange for three packets of tobacco and telling him that the wheat seeds would turn into whisky.
As a result, Malcolm was transferred to Exeter prison farm for his own protection and later, on his release, turned the explosive threat into a spectacular entertainment.
Digger Dave also reckons a dodgy bloke in a Catford pub once threatened to shoot all the members of The Greatest Show on Legs after seeing their “Scotsman striptease” (I’m not quite sure which routine that is, but I’m open to enlightenment.)
For what it’s worth, Malcolm told me that the banger-up-the-bum routine originated when The Greatest Show on Legs were trying to come up with some even more spectacular act to follow their naked balloon dance routine and someone said: “Well, you’re wasting your time. You can’t follow the naked balloon dance. You might as well stick a firework up your arse!”
Malcolm either took this as a sensible suggestion or as a challenge and he was the first person to try out the banger-up-the-bum routine which involves holding a large firework – preferably a three-stage Roman Candle – between your clenched buttocks and lighting it to the musical accompaniment of Ethel Merman singing There’s No Business Like Show Business (other tunes are far less effective though the copyright holders of the Ethel Merman version won’t legally let it be used with the routine). Tragically, Malcolm told me, he lacked the necessary buttock control and, as a result, the lit firework drooped and set fire to his pubic (or should that be derriere) hair. According to Malcolm, fellow Greatest Show on Legs member Chris Lynam had tighter buttock control, successfully did the act as part of their show and has become the living legend he is today.
Which of these two stories – if either – is the true origin of the banger-up-the-bum routine I know not. Personally, I prefer the prison threat story… When in doubt, particularly where Malcolm is concerned, print the legend.