24th April 2004
"If you don't unlock the door Frankie, I'll cut yer ears off"
70 min Colour
If you are after a programme that is a tribute to Frankie Howerd, this is probably not it. This takes a look at the side of Howerd that you never saw on the screen or stage; how Frankie was a sex crazed homosexual who would proposition any man between 15 and 70. But behind all of this, he was really a lonely and insecure man who found it hard to create relationships, and used the propositioning as a way of taking control of the situation, a power-play of sorts.
The programme uses a lot of imagery which just doesn't work in the context of the subject matter; for example whilst the narrator is talking the pictures on screen show 60's London, or perhaps a dog racing track - nothing (directly) to do with the subject in hand, it is like they were using the images to fill the gaps when they didn't have any film footage to show.
The producers of the show talk to stars, writers, producers and journalists of the time, who tell their personal side of the Frankie Howerd story, and a picture forms of the man who took big risks for his sexual kicks, in a time when not only was it disastrous, career wise to be homosexual, but it was also illegal. There was a general consensus within the "establishment" that a star's personal life was kept private, something that would never happen now.
Frankie found his life was empty when he wasn't in the limelight, and took to drugs (uppers and downers) to control the emotional turmoil he felt, even going as far to try experimental treatment with LSD therapy, the consequence of, he claims, his father molesting him when younger.
The programme takes a darker, and less hero worship route to show Frankie, but nevertheless has really done it's research, and the input from the stars adds credibility to the image they portray and as long as you can put up with the lack of relevant footage within the programme, it is a well informed journey.