Two Ronnies v Ant and Dec: there’s no comparison – Blaise Tapp

Barry and Paul Chuckle
Barry and Paul Chuckle
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Age isn’t a thing,’ said the young chap who sold me a loaf of bread and a ready meal the other evening.

Getting into meaningful conversations with strangers happens to me regularly, much to the dismay of Mrs Tapp, as the most the mundane of tasks tend to take twice as long as they ought, given my penchant for a natter.

But this conversation escalated especially quickly after I casually observed that the enthusiastic youth’s rapier quick reflexes would more than likely diminish with age – he caught the aforementioned loaf as it tumbled from the checkout, before you ask.

It was at this point that he ever so gently rebuked me for the suggestion that things become trickier the older we get. Rather than annoy me, I found his unflinching assertion that the ageing process is a figment of our imaginations rather charming and left the shop with the kind of smug smile which simply says ‘you’re wrong mate’.

Youthful optimism should be cherished for it reminds us that life isn’t just about heating bills, sickly children and the daily grind, but bushy-tailed exuberance isn’t always the answer. If it was, watching Love Island would be compulsory and Ed Miliband would now be prime minister, although I am still trying to figure out if the the latter would’ve necessarily been a bad thing.

As it was, it didn’t take long for my cynical response to be reinforced when we learned the following day that Barry Chuckle, the Yorkshire funnyman, had died. Of course, while devastating for all of his family, especially his brother Paul, the other half of the wonderfully silly duo The Chuckle Brothers, it was also a celebrity death which hit millions of us pretty hard.

As is often the way nowadays, celebrities and members of the public flocked to social media to pay their respects – has anybody anywhere signed a book of condolence in the past 10 years? - and the majority of them spoke of having happy childhood memories of the moustachioed pair.

In the days of two hours of kids’ television an evening, Chucklevision was a must-watch for millions of children who are now grown-ups and who find it hilarious to reprise Barry and Paul’s ‘to me, to you’ catchphrase, whenever moving any piece of furniture.

I am genuinely sad that television has lost yet another great talent, who also served as a reminder of a bygone age before reality shows and video clip programmes which feature bored comedians and minor celebrities talking inanely about footage they have just watched.

With some notable exceptions, television comedy just doesn’t do it for me. If the performer isn’t trying to make a political point, they are telling you a funny story about somebody they ‘met’ on the internet. Observational comedy is no longer cutting edge and sometimes all we want is a daft joke and some slapstick.

I grew up in an age when Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper, the Two Ronnies and Les Dawson were beamed into our living rooms on a weekly basis. These days we have Keith Lemon and Ant and Dec.

Perhaps the saddest part of getting older is realising that progress isn’t necessarily always a force for good.

Sorry mate, age is a thing.