[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 11 March, 2005, 15:02 GMT
'No subject was taboo for Dave'
By Ken Rock
Comedy writer

Dave Allen
Dave Allen would say things that other comedians would not go near
Ken Rock, who wrote for BBC TV series Dave Allen At Large in the 1970s, tells the BBC News website what it was like to work with the late comic.

Dave was a rebel who covered new ground.

He liked to push the boundaries of taste, which was liberating for his writers.

Dave's shows went out only just after the watershed but he was not afraid to do outrageous things.

The BBC sent out a memo when they commissioned writers, including a list of the subjects he would tackle.

It was made clear that he was a cutting edge comic and nothing was taboo. Comedy writers knew that he would say the things that many comics would not go near.

You could not send Dave the sort of material you might send to The Two Ronnies. It wouldn't be strong enough for him.

Ken Rock
Only Dave Allen would go as far as actually playing Catholic figures as depraved characters
Ken Rock
Writers like me would go through their files looking for all the material they had written and thought too strong for TV - and send it to Dave Allen.

People had done jokes about big subjects like religion before but he was the first to break taboos like impersonating the Pope.

I also wrote for Dick Emery in the same 1970s period.

Dick was another big TV star and he liked to do jokes about religion but he only went as far as playing a silly vicar.

Only Dave Allen would go as far as actually playing Catholic figures as depraved characters.

He was the first person to dare to play the Pope as a womaniser on TV. He also played the Pope enjoying himself out drinking in a nightclub.

It may not seem controversial now but at the time, there was no-one doing anything as strong as that.

Some of the stuff I wrote for him was quite near the mark and caused outrage, particularly among Catholics.

Dave Allen
No-one today does the mix of taboo sketches and stand up like he used to do
Ken Rock
The BBC had strong letters and complaints from religious groups about the way the Catholic church was portrayed.

It meant people tuned in not knowing what he would say next.

He was a refreshing voice to write for. He was very happy to work with new writers and gave people opportunities.

With his stand up, he wasn't really a joke teller with one-liners. He liked to develop stories, mostly about the ironies of life.

No-one today does the mix of taboo sketches and stand up like he used to do.



RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific