Arthur Haynes

Arthur Haynes

Arthur Haynes (19 May 1914 in Fulham, London, England19 November 1966 Ealing, London was an English comedian and star of The Arthur Haynes Show, a comedy sketch series produced by ATV from 1957 till his death in 1966. Haynes' most popular character was a working class tramp - created by scriptwriter Johnny Speight who went on to write the iconic BBC Television working class sitcom series Till Death Us Do Part in the same year Haynes died of a heart attack. Speight said he got the idea of the tramp from a real tramp who climbed into his Rolls Royce when it was stopped at a traffic light.

Early life

Arthur Haynes was the only child of a Fulham (south-west London) baker. He started off in a number of odd jobs, doing painting, plumbing and joinery till the Second World War broke out. He then became an entertainer while serving with the Royal Engineers during the war. He appeared with Charlie Chester in the concert party "Stars in Battledress". He continued to work with Chester after the war in the BBC Radio series Stand Easy (1946-49). On 21 February 1956, Haynes appeared in the first edition of ATV variety show series Strike a New Note. After several appearances in this and subsequent variety series Get Happy (written by Dick Barry, Johnny Speight and John Antrobus), he was given his own show in 1957.


His ATV shows, networked on ITV, made Haynes the most popular comedian in Britain. There were 95 thirty minute shows, 62 thirty five minute shows and one fifty minute show spread over fifteen series. Haynes usually worked with Dermot Kelly who played another tramp who was not very smart. The shows were played out on a stage and basic scenery and props were used where for instance the audience could see outside and inside a house as there was no wall on their side. The shows would also feature guest stars to play music and sing like The Springfields in 1963 and Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen in 1964 and Joe Brown and the Bruvvers in 1965.

Haynes received the Variety Club's award as ITV Personality of 1961 and appeared on the Royal Variety Performance in the same year. The shows also made a minor star of Nicholas Parsons, who tended to play Haynes' straight/pompous neighbour/authority figure in the comedy sketches.


The Arthur Haynes Show was also a success on BBC radio, recorded before live audiences. It ran through four series from 1962-1965. He also recorded Arthur Again. Both series were scripted by Johnny Speight.


In 1965 Haynes appeared in the Rock Hudson/Gina Lollobrigida movie Strange Bedfellows and in 1966, the British film Doctor in Clover. However his potential film career was cut short by his sudden death. He died at the height of his career with his full potential unfulfilled.


Censorship on sex was very strong in those days but other things got through which would nowadays give a producer a heart attack if he read such things in a script. Johnny Speight, who later wrote the very controversial Till Death Us Do Part, wrote one such sketch for Dermot Kelly (Haynes was not involved). Kelly had rooms to let (as was common in those days) and a black man turned up and (as was common in those days too) Kelly turned him away because of his colour. Next, two Irishmen turned up and Kelly was very pleased to get two of his own countrymen, so let them have the room. Later he decides to see how they are getting on and goes up the (stage) stairs and peers through the keyhole at them (we see with the camera what he saw) and out of their suitcases the two men are taking bombs of the round black kind with fuses on top. Kelly is shocked that his own people would do this, people who, in this case, are obviously members of the Irish Republican Army.

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