As far as transatlantic comedy goes, it really hasn’t ever been any funnier than The Muppet Show.
Jim Henson’s amaxing creations had been entertaining kids around the world in the educational Sesame Street before ATV supremo Lew Grade offered Henson a deal that would see the show filmed at Elstree in England, networked to ITV stations around the UK and then sold overseas via Grade’s ITC Entertainment.
The result was television and comedy gold. Once ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev had appeared with the Muppets, the series turned into a marionette Morecambe and Wise Show, with big names flocking to appear; John Denver, Elton John, John Cleese, Alice Cooper, Liberace, Raquel Welch, Danny Kaye, Sylvester Stallone, Lynn Redgrave all appeared, all were gently mocked, and all were remembered for it.
I could go on with the list; eventually the biggest movie stars of the day – the cast of Star Wars, even Superman himself and the James Bond of the day turned up for the Muppet Show treatment.
Disgraced comedy writer and performer Chris Langham worked as the only British scriptwriter among a largely American cast and crew, and also bizarrely appeared as the guest in one episode when Richard Pryor was busy setting himself on fire.
The Muppet Show is still just as funny today as it was from 1976-1981, and deserves serious reappraisal. The 1990s attempt at a remake, Muppets Tonight was initially well received, but sadly failed to make any real impact.
DVDs are available too!