Comedy duo the Chuckle Brothers celebrated 50 years in television at a Yorkshire Centre event in mid-October. Their children’s show for the BBC, ChuckleVision, ran for 21 series from 1987 to 2009.
The brothers, Paul and Barry, were interviewed on stage at Holy Trinity Church in Leeds by the author and light entertainment aficionado Louis Barfe.
The brothers’ father, Gene Patton, was a well-known Gang Show performer who had worked with a teenage Peter Sellers. Indeed, the brothers think that some of the characters later performed by the chameleon-like Sellers bore a striking resemblance to their father.
Their own careers started when they won Opportunity Knocks in 1967. They then went on to win another telly talent show, New Faces, in 1974. However, further TV appearances were hard to find and they spent most of the 1970s and 80s touring the pubs and working men’s clubs of Great Britain.
In the mid-80s their talent for clowning was spotted and they were offered a regular TV slot – in dog costumes – with the pre-school BBC show, The ChuckleHounds, their first TV incarnation.
Paul Chuckle revealed that the idea for their comedy dog characters came when the brothers were given the run of a warehouse containing props and costumes left over from Opportunity Knocks.
They selected two dog costumes and the rest is television history. For the next 25 years, the Chuckle Brothers were a mainstay of UK children’s TV.
The Chuckles retain a loyal following – indeed, many of them turned up at the event in Leeds, including one young man who had had his photo taken with them as a child in the 90s. Super fan Shaun Hope, who claims to have spent more than £25,000 on Chuckle Brothers memorabilia, was also in the audience.
At the end of the night, it became clear why the Chuckle Brothers are held in such affection – the duo stayed around for almost an hour posing for photographs and signing autographs.