There is an old joke about repeats on television at Christmas, but sometimes the old ones really are the best, like the unique Tommy Cooper, and the most famous double act in British comedy.
Twenty years after his death, Tommy Cooper was voted Britain's all time favourite comedian by an authoratative poll. Cooper had a unique ability, he could tell the most pathetic, weakest, unfunny joke and have them rolling in the aisles. His magic tricks performed wearing his trademark fez were a wonder to behold. Like Michael Barrymore, he was a family entertainer, and like Barrymore, Cooper had his demons, in particular drink, something that is not entirely unknown in showbiz circles.
On April 15, 1984 he died on stage, literally, the only time he ever did. Six weeks later, Eric Morecambe also died of a heart attack; his partner and straight man, Ernie Wise, died in 1999. Both Tommy Cooper and Morecambe & Wise appear on Channel 5 tonight in their own Christmas shows. If you've missed them by the time you read this, check them out on Channel 5's Demand 5. God knows there's little enough to laugh about in the world besides.