While Dave Allen was, at the height of his career, one of Britain’s most controversial comedians, he also still remains one of the funniest in my book. The Dublin born comedian regularly provoked the conservative wrath for his frequent pointing out of political hypocrisy and his disregard for religious authority. For the majority of his show, Allen would sit on a high bar stool facing the audience, smoking and occasionally sipping from a glass of what he always allowed people to assume was whiskey, but in fact was simply ginger ale with ice. This would remind me of Dean Martin but, I’m guessing his was, in fact, straight whiskey.
Religion was a focal point for his humor, especially the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, where he generally mocked church customs and rituals rather than beliefs. According to Allen, he was a ‘practicing aethiest’ (he often joked “I’m an atheist, thank God“) and would always end each show by raising his glass and quietly toast his audience with the words “Thank you, goodnight and may your God go with you“.
Unfortunately, very little is available of these original Dave Allen at Large episodes except for The Best of Dave Allen DVD consisting of a compilation of Allen’s favorite gags, routines and observations, selected by Allen himself, from his 30+ years in show business.
That said, BBC Two will honor the Irish comedian with a night of programming in April which will include an hour-long documentary that will feature footage never before broadcast along with interviews with Allen’s eldest son, daughter and widow. The late Sir Bill Cotton, legendary light entertainment executive, BBC One controller and TV producer, will also speak with Dame Maggie Smith, everyone’s favorite Dowager Countess. Look for this really special night in April on BBC Two. Hopefully, it will make it’s way to the States in the not-too-distant future.
Allen died on 10 March 2005 at the age of 68.