Beryl Reid Says… Good Evening: Performing queer identity on British television

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Beryl Reid Says… Good Evening (1968) was a comedy revue series broadcast on BBC television in the late 1960s that showcased the talents of a renowned British character comedy performer. Beryl Reid’s career spanned music hall, variety theatre, dramatic acting, radio comedy, film and television. She was a celebrity figure from the 1950s to her death in the 1990s but never became a ‘star’ as such. Reid’s work is addressed as a form of queer performance, both in roles that reference lesbian sexuality and roles that depict eccentric femininities. This television series was one of the few attempts to showcase her talents, and it is discussed here as an example of how character comedy queers heteronormativity through its camp attention to the everyday.

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This chapter unpacks M&W’s use of queer humour in four distinct periods: in the 1940s and 1950s as they trained in Variety and presented their first television show, Running Wild (B, 1954); in their first highly popular television series, Two of a Kind (I, 1961–1968); in their acclaimed work for the BBC in The Morecambe & Wise Show (1968–1977); and, finally, in their Thames Television programme, The Morecambe and Wise Show (I, 1978–1983). Lesbianism, dragging up as Marlene Dietrich, gay marriage, queer aesthetics, and more emerge as ripe subjects for a queer humour that helps to normalise homosexuality.
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