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Naked Vicar
THE NAKED VICAR SHOW

by PETER TATCHELL (reprinted from LAUGH MAGAZINE #14, 1996)

By the 1970s, Australian sketch comedy had all but disappeared from television. The glory days of Mavis Bramston (and her various clones) were gone and there was nothing to prick the sacred cows of politics and the local entertainment scene. On radio, humour had long been relegated to one-lin­ers in the breakfast session, but things were set to change.

The catalyst was the introduction (on January 19th 1975) of the A.B.C.’s progressive new rock station 2JJ, aimed pri­marily at the under-25s. In amongst the jocks and muzos. management decided to add a sprinkling of humour and signed such names as Graham Bond, Rory O’Donohue and Gary McDonald (from Aunty Jack), Mavis alumnus Noeline Brown and a stable of lesser-known performers and writers to pro-duce a series of bogus commercials and segments.

One of the station’s early successes was the breakfast show serial called Chuck Chunder (starring Brown, Roger Newcombe. Alan McGirvan and voiceover veteran Ross Higgins). Somewhat akin to Kenny Everett’s Kremmen Of The Star Corps, it ran for over 200 three-minute episodes with scripts by advertising copywriters Gary Reilly and Tony Sattler. The pair also wrote the serial Doctors And Nurses for JJ (again, with Noeline Brown).

By the year’s end, Reilly and Sattler had decided to ex­pand their comedy talents to writing and producing a series of half-hour broadcasts to be called The Naked Vicar Show, which would feature Brown and Higgins and another well-known commercial voice Key Golsby. Inspiration for the title apparently came from a brief news item about a naked bishop who had been found on the steps of a Parisian brothel coupled with the popularity of a book titled The Naked Stranger.

The first two editions were recorded in front of an invited audience five days before Christmas 1975 and RS Productions were on their way to a decade of multi-media success.

The programme’s format was a mixture of over-the-top sketches and satirical digs at popular television shows, commercials and political figures, interspersed with guest pop vocalists. It wasn’t long before newly-elected prime-minister Malcolm Fraser and controversial Queensland premier Jo Bjelke-Petersen became regular targets.

An A.B.C. technician agreed to remove his clothing and be photographed for publicity shots as the “naked vicar”, al­though Ross Higgins took the role of the recalcitrant reverend in the opening segment of each broadcast. The vicar was just one of a gallery of colourful characters who inhabited the series throughout its twenty-six episode run on A.B.C. radio.

Audience favourites included the dentally-impaired gar­dening experts Ces and Cyril, kiddie-host Princess Joyce (ever eager to partake of her medicinal “pick-me-up”) and the shy-but-questing customer-from-hell Bruce who aspires to be everything from a mountie in the Yukon to a private dick. Pythonesque pepperpots Lois and Narelle recounted the tragic misadventures of their unfortunate husbands and arts guru Peter Mascara showered us with segments from his Glitter Time.

For no apparent reason, the first seven editions also included a brief opening message from Aunty Jack, Bill Peach or Buffy Saint Marie before the device was abandoned. From episode eight, the show switched from being an RS/JJ to an RS/ABC production, although all the early editions were also played on regular A.B.C. stations throughout the country when the series was premiered in March 1976 (JJ had to become JJJ FM some years later before being available to listeners outside Sydney).
By the end of its initial 13-episode series The Naked Vicar Show had become an Australia-wide success, and the A. B.C. commissioned a follow-up season. To capitalise on the programme’s success, EMI Records released an LP of highlights.

In August Reilly and Sattler received a parcel of sketches from an accountant with the N.S.W. Education Department, Doug Edwards and within a week he’d joined the scriptwrit­ing team for the new series.
The second season saw the return of the Vicar, Bruce and the gardeners Ces and Cyril (all of whom could be found in almost every edition), with Chuckle Corner and Glitter Time making an occasional reappearance. Added to the roster were the trendy trio Craig, Val and Geoffrey (who endeavoured to keep up with all that was fashionable and chic) and a couple of irritatingly dotty pensioners who delighted in doing battle with the Social Security, the Police and even P.M. Malcolm Fraser (in a strangely similar fashion to the grotesque creations of Marty Feldman and Tim Brooke-Taylor on Feldman’s 1960s B.B.C. series).

With the conclusion of a second 13-episode run, Reilly and Sattler produced Naked Vicar revues for theatre restau­rants in Sydney and Melbourne, and EMI released another LP of sketch highlights. Next on the agenda was a transfer to television, but overtures from Reg Grundy Productions were rejected in favour of RS retaining control of the enterprise.

Eventually the Seven Network won out over the A.B.C. to screen a series of hour long programmes (which they chose to schedule on an irregular basis over an eighteen month pe­riod). The original cast of Brown, Higgins and Golsby was augmented by the addition of radio voice Col McEwan and actress Julie McGregor.

The television format was much the same as the radio ver­sion with more lampoons of commercials and series and a Bramston-like news bulletin at the beginning and end of each programme (replacing Higgins’ sermon as the Vicar, who was no longer featured). Regulars Bruce, the arty-crafties Craig, Val and Geoffrey and gardeners Ces and Cyril all made the transition and many classic sketches were simply redone in vision.

The Seven editions also saw the introduction of car-wor­shipper Ted Bullpitt and his wife Thel, who quickly became favourites and eventually spawned their own sitcom Kingswood Country. Another popular seqment updated the radio duo of Lois and NareIle, though apart from a brief reworking of the Oath K’ Noath routine in their first appearance, the pair were now almost totally different characters. Instead of gossipy housewives, they became a man-hungry typist who relates her romantic misadventures to the office tealady. Taking over the Narelle Hudson role from Ross Higgins. Julie McGregor created one of Australian television’s most enduring charac­terisations and scored a personal triumph.

It was unfortunate that McGregor left the series at the end of the first season following a dispute with the production team (though she subsequently achieved enormous success in writer Reilly’s long-running Hey Dad sitcom several years later). She was replaced by Laurel McGowan.
By the end of 1978 (and some twenty-one editions) the writers were eager to devote their talents to production of sitcoms and it was decided to end the series.

The Vicar did have one final hurrah, however, when the A. B.C. celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1982. A special one-hour edition was broadcast from the Sydney Opera House with Brown, Golsby and Higgins joined by special guest Gra­ham Kennedy (who had recently starred in the Reilly-Sattler radio series Graham Kennedy’s RS Playhouse). The Vicar’s Fiftieth Birthday Party concentrated more on satirising poli­tics and the A. B.C. itself than reviving favourite segments, with the only regular characters to reappear being the Craig/Val/Geoffrey trio.

And so The Naked Vicar Show retreated into video his­tory to act as a link between Mavis Bramston in the sixties and Fast Forward in the eighties. And like its predecessor, a commercial video of the better moments is long overdue.

RADIO VERSION

Series 1


3LO March 21 to June 13 1976 (13 x 30min)
starring Noeline Brown, Key Golsby and Ross Higgins
1/1 (with Aunty Jack, Allison McCallum and Terry Cadd)
Sermon: Spiritual Refreshment/Getting Rooted: Sapsucker/Lois And Narelle: Whale Wrestling/Logies/Shop! : Holiday
1/2 (with Aunty Jack, Allison McCallum and Terry Cadd)
Sermon: Newspaper Expose/Chuckle Corner: Turtle and Goldfish/Getting Rooted: Fertilizers/Suicidal Vox Pop/Glitter Time: Moviemaker Graham Darling/Wham-O advert/Joylene and Carlene: TV Soaps/El Wunderfullo
1/3 (with Aunty Jack and Ricky May)
Sermon: X-rated Adam And Eve/Cleavage advert/Joylene and Carlene: World Tour/Police Report On Gambling/Shop! : Ciga­rettes/The Funnel Web/Blue Hills/Jesus/Chook Smuggling/Censorship Bleeps/It’s Elementary
1/4 (with Bill Peach, Mickey Layton and Brenda Kristen)
Sermon: Funeral/The Melbourne Club/Getting Rooted: Climbing Cabbage/Women’s Libbers/Glitter Time: Ballet Star Rafe Bullpitt/Ben Hall Tour/Shop! : Fizzy Drink/Financial Sex And Violence/How To Talk Like A TV Star/Malignant Cigarettes advert
1/5 (with Bill Peach, Doug Parkinson and Christy Lane)
Sermon: Burning Bush/Bob and Dolly Breakfast/Getting Rooted: Motoring Query/Malignant Cigarettes advert (2)! Hospital Mechanic/Joylene and Carlene: Duck/Ladies Drinkies/Glitter Time: Movie Producer Daryl F. Flashbuck/This Is Your Life - Beryl Hump
1/6 (with Bill Peach, Brenda Kristen and Mickey Layton)
Sermon:  Melbourne Cup/Bumbling IRA Bombers/Women’s Libbers/Pole Sitter/A Hiccough To Romance/Lois and Narelle: Superheroes/One-Eyed Cricket Commentary/The Prune/The Black Helmet
1/7 (with Buffy Saint Marie, Doug Parkinson and Christy Lane)
Sermon:  Fallen Parishioner/Lois and Narelle: Mafia/Chuckle Corner: Political Jokes and Funnelwebs/ The Church Of Daryl/Sudsy advert/Hair By Yellow Pages/Outback Festival/Blue Hills
1/8 (with Kerrie Biddell)
Sermon:  Youth Service/Getting Rooted: Wrinkled Bulbs/John Flaws/Lois and Narelle: The $75 Man/ Vice Regal Report/The Fergies
1/9 (with Kerrie Biddell and Paul Baker)
Sermon:  Vice Squad Raid/Shop! : Job Wanted/Did You Know?/Chuckle Corner: Pinched By Mr. Plod/The Inventors/Glitter Time: Ballet Patron Kenneth J. McIntyre/The P76 Brothers (Mike and Mal)
1/10 (with Heather Mae Redding and Ricky May)
Sermon:  Bubbles and L’Amour/Churn advert/Lois and Narelle: Oath K’Noath/Joan Sutherland Critiques/Peter Ferret/Police Frog Brian/Election Roundup/Last To Leave/Shop! : Lonely Heart/ Confession
1/11 (with Heather Mae Redding and Paul Baker)
Sermon:  Book Of Numbers/Chuckle Corner: Mr. Plod’s Wife/Glomo advert/Glitter Time: Paranormalist Vernon Lyle/Rent- A-Celebrity/Getting Rooted: Swingin’ Ces/Phoning Home/
Nervous First Timer
1/12 (with Fay Lewis and Barry Leef)
Sermon: A Change Is Needed/Lois and Narelle: Escapolo­gist/Church Of Daryl: Oriental Mysticism/Shop! : Bikie Bruce/Getting Rooted: Dead Plant/Man Or Rabbit?/A.M. Phones Peking
1/13 (with Fay Lewis and Barry Leef)
Sermon : Covering Overheads/Chuckle Corner: Minding Rover/The One Day Of The Year/A Date With Doreen/Timbercutter/Glitter Time: Admaker John Simpleton/Ciggy advert/Beauty Quest


Series 2


3LO November 7 1976 to March 20 1977 (l3 x 30min)
starring Noeline Brown, Key Golsby and Ross Higgins
2/1 (with Alison McCallum and Barry Leef)
Sermon: Sports Day/Condensed Hamlet/Cricket/Search For The Nile/Getting Rooted: Musical Stimulation/Craig, Val and Geoffrey: Afgan-TV-Fiji/Just About Anything Goes
2/2 (with Barry Leef and Alison McCallum)
Sermon: Gambling/Shop! : Casino/Dog-upmanship/Ballet Dancers/Parcel Bomb/Chat Up/Word Power/Queensland Cane Toads/Pensioners: Social Security
2/3 (with Fay Lewis and Mickey Layton)
Sermon: Fire Insurance/Sox/Shop! : Private Dick/Lois and Narelle: Guard Dog/Chuckle Corner: Buck’s Night/Pensioners: Police Station/Vet
2/4 (with Mickey Layton and Faye Lewis)
Sermon: Tidings Of Joy And Sorrow/The Newk advert/Peach’s Australia/Passwords/Church Of Daryl: Pagan Temple/Derek Roving: Police Academy/Dentist/Shop! : Bruce Of The Night Beat
2/5 (with Kerrie Biddell and Leo De Castro)
Sermon: Parish Horse/This Day Tonight/Getting Rooted: Slide Show/Four Corners - Political Image-Makers/Shop! : Bruce Of Botswana/Two Left Feet
2/6 (with Leo De Castro and Kerrie Biddell)
Sermon: Covet Not The Organ/Shop! : Bruce Of Arabia/Grand Final (incl. Lippo and Den-Hair adverts)/Pensioners: Medibank/Yak Fat/Pun Break Time/International Family Fa­vourites
2/7 (with Brenda Kristen and Doug Parkinson)
Sermon: Aggro With Salvos/Avon Calling/Shop! : Bruce The Actor/Getting Rooted: Ces’s Birthday/Trusty The Kelpie/Seek­ers/Job Interview/Ask The Leylands: Sepic River Native
2/8 (with Doug Parkinson and Brenda Kristen)
Sermon: Confessions Of A Deacon/Shop! : Bruce The Vam­pire Killer/Pensioners: Tax Office/Sex Shop/DEF advert/Glitter Time: Action Artist Jean-Paul Braithwaite Montmorency/At The Third Stroke/This Is Your Life - George Smith (incl. Den-Nash advert)
2/9 (with Ron Barry and Kerrie Biddell)
Sermon: Penfriend’s Club/Big Mac/Shop! : Bruce Of Bathurst/Kung Fu Doctor/Getting Rooted: Eclipse and Spuds/Craig, Val and Geoffrey: Antique Furniture
2/10 (with Kerrie Biddell and Ron Barry)
Sermon: David vs. Goliath/Shop! : Bruce The Jungle Cobber/Nude Bathing/Racing Family/Pensioners: Prime Minister’s Office/The Were-Carrot
2/11 (with Leo De Castro and Renee Geyer)
Sermon: New Organ And Other Goodies/Mrs. Sparkle/Condensed Bible/Shop! : Bruce The Cool Trendy/Rip-off Doctor/Getting Rooted: Tips and Historical Gardening/Ballet On The Telly
2/12 (with Renee Geyer and Barry Leef)
Sermon: Police Line-Up/Psychiatrist/Shop: Bruce Of The Brigade/Craig, Val and Geoffrey: Dinner and a Norman Lindsey/Luggage Inspection/Computer Dating/Don Dunstan Disc
2/13 (with Leo De Castro and Barry Leef)
Sermon: Good Samaritan In The Belfry/Go On, Gloria/Shop!: Bruce Of The Yukon/Getting Rooted: Mouldy Punnets/Craig, Val and Geoffrey: Job Refusal and Movies/Monday Conference Investigates Women’s Lib

Special
The Vicar’s Birthday Party
3LO July 11 1982 (60 min)
starring Noeline Brown, Key Goisby, Ross Higgins and guests Graham Kennedy, Doug Parkinson and Renee Geyer.
The A.B.C.’s First Day/Brisbane vs. Aborigines/Bill Collins - New Australian Movie/The Queen’s Anniversary Message/The Frasers At Nareen/A.B.C. Budget Cuts - In The Bedroom With Harry Butler/Therapeutic A. B.C. /Competition Phone-In/A.B.C. Facts And Figures/Craig, Val and Geoffrey (and Roger): Bears and Mineral Water Tasting/60 Minutes/Film Processing/Mike and Mal Meet Ron and Val

DISCOGRAPHY

The Naked Vicar Show
E.M.I. LP EMC 2545(1975)
a selection of sketches from the first season ...
Vicar’s Sermon (Fallen Parishioner)
Gardening Show (Sapsucker)
Cleavage Commercial
Shop! (Cigarettes)
Blue Hills
Chook Smuggling
TV Awards
Lois And Narelle (Whale Wrestling)
Vicar’s Sermon (Newspaper Expose)
Chuckle Corner (Turtle and Goldfish)
Gardening Show (Fertilizers)
Glitter Time (Moviemaker Graham Darling)
Shop! : Holiday
Lois And Narelle (Superheroes)
El Wunderfullo
It’s Elemen­tary

Son Of Naked Vicar
E.M.I. LP EMC 2572 (1976)
a selection of sketches from the second season ...
Mack
Cricket
Search For The Nile
Val, Craig And Geoff (Afgan etc)
Ballet Dancers
Word Power
Shop! (Yukon)
Vet
Dentist
Job Interview
Trusty The Kelpie
Ask The Leylands
Shop! Arabia
Yak Fat
Racing Family
Psychiatrist
Derek Roving (Police Academy)

The Best Of The Naked Vicar Show
ABC 2CD 0642 17845 3
highlights from the above two LPs, the soundtrack of the TV version (*) and the previously unissued 1982 special …
Vicar’s Sermon (Fallen Parishioner)
Cleavage Commercial
Blue Hills
Chook Smuggling
TV Awards
Bleep!
Chuckle Corner (Turtle and Goldfish)
Mack
Cricket
Search For The Nile
Ballet Dancers
Word Power
Vet
Dentist
Trusty The Kelpie
Mike And Mal
Sandwich Spreads
Racing Family
*Ted & Thel (Mow The Lawn)
*What Are You?
*Divorce
*Lois & Narelle (Social Chub Function)
*Chocka!
*Ted & Thel (Nudist Colony)
*Swan Lake
The ABC Begins
Theme – Opening Short Bits
Bill Collins – Australian Movies
The Queen’s Congratulatory Message To The ABC
Tammy And Malcom
ABC Budget Cuts
Has The World Gone Mad? (Kill Beeper!)
Prizes – Like What The Commercial Stations Give You
Amazing ABC Facts
60 Minutes
Mike & Mal & Ron & Val
Happy Birthday ABC

 

TELEVISION VERSION

Series 1
7 Network (Sydney) May to November 1977 (13 x 50min)
starring Noeline Brown, Key Golsby, Ross Higgins, Col McEwan and Julie McGregor
1/1 May 26 1977 (with Alison McCallum and Barry Leef)
The Newk/Ted and Thel: Mow The Lawn/Honest Wayne/Yak Fat/Lois and Narelle: Tia Maria And Chop Tasting (inch. Oath K’ Noath)/Wombat Christening/Ita Buttrose/A. B.C. Apology (Funnel Webs)/Cocky/Hawkspeak/Did You Know
1/2 June 9 1977 (with Mickey Layton and Cheryl Black)
Strong Tea/Derek Roving Meets The Lodgers/Date With Doreen/Search For The Nile/Psychiatrist/ Cricket/No Mess Charlie/Shop! : Bruce The Bikie/Medigame/Bad Breath
1/3 June 23 1977 (with Colleen Hewitt and Ron Barry)
Solo Man/Job Interview/Nunnery/Train Robbery/Word Power/Weekend Magazine - Pioneer Settlement/You Know News/Craig, Val and Geoffrey (and Roz and Troy)/Getting Rooted/The Fergies
1/4 July 7 1977 (with Doug Parkinson and Brenda Kristen)
Scotch Drinker/Junkie/Trusty The Kelpie/The Long Distance Call/Bricklayer’s Picnic/Confession/ Uneventful Day/Rough Dry Elbows/Kamahl/Have The Rump
1/5July 21 1977 (with Leo De Castro and Diane Horder)
Ask The Leyland Brothers/Bill Collins etc.
1/6 August 2 1977 (with Trevor White and Julie Amlet)
Bad Breath/Cleo/Shop! : Bruce Of Arabia/Phone Home/Nun Tattoo/ParentalInterruptus/Grigor and Doris - Love/Wild Kingdom/Ballet On The Telly
1/7 August 16 1 977 (with Renee Geyer and Barry Leef)
Holden advert/Vet/Joylene and Carlene: TV Soaps/Shop!: Bruce Of The Yukon/Marital Breakup/Drive advert/Four Cor­ners - Mallee Root Bush Academy/The Logies & Miss Australia Quest
1/8 August 30 1977 (with Sue Walker, Trevor White and Renee Geyer)
Girdle/Lois and Narelle: Social Club Function/Dummy Bank Robbery/Chocka On The Couch/The Inventors/Shop! : Bruce Of Botswana/Mum advert/Lift/Phone Home (2)/Ted and Thel: Nudist Colony
1/9 September 13 1977 (with John Farnham and Alison McCallum)
details unknown
1/10 September 27 1977 (with Mickey Layton and Penny Parsons)
details unknown
1/i 1 October 11 1977 (with Fay Lewis and Jon English)
Lois and Narelle: Date With Adam Blake/New Apprentice/Shop! : Bruce The Jungle Cobber/The Sullivans
1/12 October 25 1977 (with Doug Parkinson and Tern McRae)
Kay Trucks/Car advert/Ted and Thel: Craig’s Melbourne Bint/Lois and Narelle: Diet & Romantic Dinner/Michael and Sandy/Chook Raffle/Shop! : Bruce Of Bathurst/Cockroach Anyone?/Police Report/Butcher’s Dog Minding/British Paints advert
1/13 November 1 1977 (with Stuart Wagstaff, Linda George and Barry Leef)
R-R-Rosella/Ted and Thel: Car Crash/Lois and Narelle: 25th Anniversary And Date With Stuart Wagstaff/The Lodgers/Drive advert/Grigor and Doris: Death

Series 2
7 Network (Sydney) February to October 1978 (8x50m)
starring Noeline Brown, Key Golsby, Ross Higgins, Col McEwan and Laurel McGowan
2/1 February 14 1978 (with Jon English and Brenda Kristen)
details unknown
2/2 April 5 1978 (with Doug Ashdown and Diane Horder)
Ted and Thel: Second Honeymoon/Shop! : Bruce The Private Dick/etc.
2/3 May 3 1978 (with Doug Parkinson and Mousetrap)
details unknown
2/4 June 7 1978 (with John Farnham and Linda George)
Shop! : Super Bruce/Pot Black/Bill Collins Golden Years Of Hollywood/Starsky And Hutch/This Is Your Life
2/5July 12 1978 (with Barry Leef and Margaret Roadknight)
Shop! : Bruce Of The Jungle/The Blind Date/etc.
2/6 August 2 1978 (with Renee Geyer and Mickey Layton)
Ted and Thel: Fancy Dress Ball/Shop! : Bruce The Vampire/etc.
2/7 September 13 1978 (with Brenda Kristen and John Farnham)
details unknown
2/8 October 25 1978 (with Linda George and Doug Parkinson)
details unknown

DISCOGRAPHY

The Naked Vicar Show - Live From The Madge Burrows Room!
E.M.I. LP EMC 2671 (1978)
a selection of sketches from the first season ...
Newk
Ted & Thel (Mow The Lawn)
The News . . . You Know?
Mrs. Marsh
What Are You?
Divorce
Lois & Narelle (Social Chub Function)
Chocka!
Checkout
Ted & Thel (Nudist Colony)
War Hero
Telephone Call
Doris & Grigor (Death)
Swan Lake
Introducing Whatsisname (Ted Roberts)

The Best Of The Naked Vicar Show
ABC 2CD 0642 17845 3
in addition to highlights from the radio version, the following TV sketches are featured …
Ted & Thel (Mow The Lawn)
What Are You?
Divorce
Lois & Narelle (Social Chub Function)
Chocka!
Ted & Thel (Nudist Colony)
Swan Lake

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