We love being entertained ....
This section is reserved for our interest in the various forms of Entertainment other than Films and Television (which appear elsewhere on this site) and this introductory page will primarily feature an old Music Hall Act based on a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Egyptian Hieroglyphics by :
New Colour Footage
1949 colour home movie of Wilson, Keppel & Betty. Jack Wilson, Joe Keppel and Patsy Knox (the original Betty’s daughter) filmed by Bob Hosier in December 1949, during rehearsals for Aladdin at Dudley Hippodrome. Thanks to Doug Collender.
Wilson and Keppel rehearsing the sand dance (scattering the sand from an urn-like container) in fetching deep plum sheath-costumes, the video also shows them in dark olive green burnouse-like coverings.
'Too Naked for the Nazis' makes the shortlist for & wins the 'Oddest Title of the Year' Award - 2016
The 38th Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, administered by The Bookseller.
l to r - Reading from Behind / Paper Folding with Children / Behind the Binoculars / Reading the Liver / Soviet Bus Stops / Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space / Too Naked for the Nazis
Channel 4s 'Toast of London' - 2015
"About the programme : Comedy series following Steven Toast, an eccentric middle-aged actor with a chequered past who spends more time dealing with his problems off stage than performing on it ."
In this episode (transmitted on 9th December 2015) we are treated to a full-length reproduction of the iconic 'Sand Dance' featuring Matt Berry as Steven Toast and Harry Peacock as Ray Purchase in front of the most fabulous Pyramid backdrop ever!
l to right Harry Peacock and Matt Berry - images courtesy of Channel 4
See how they recreated the poses originated by Wilson and Keppel here
BBCs 'What a Performance - Pioneers of Popular Entertainment'
The BBC have just transmitted a three-part series about the Pioneers of Popular Entertainment spanning some 40 years of Vaudeville and Music Hall acts - amongst them the immortal and still incredibly popular Wilson Keppel and Betty! From the final programme of the series :
Variety Finds a New Home
Frank Skinner and Suzy Klein examine what happened to British popular entertainment - its stars and its audiences - during the Second World War and beyond.
In the third programme of this insightful and entertaining series about the history of popular entertainment, comedian Frank Skinner and music presenter Suzy Klein examine what happened to British popular entertainment - its stars and its audiences - during the Second World War and beyond.
They explore how it braved challenges from an American invasion called rock and roll, a whole lot of nudity and how, in the 50s, it faced its biggest threat as a new form of entertainment appeared in our living rooms. They bring the period wonderfully alive by studying the lives and acts of some of the major stars of popular entertainment of the day, and recreate in a final performance an act close to their hearts. For Suzy, this means attempting to replicate the formidably powerful sound of American super-group the Andrews Sisters - an act she has loved since she a child. Frank takes on an act a little closer to home - Max Miller was a legendary British comic, who went on to influence generations of stand-ups, Frank included.
Wilson Keppel and Betty - 2015 - New Book by Alan Stafford 'Too Naked for the Nazis'
Just loving the title! Thanks to FantomFilms for the image
Wilson Keppel and Betty
A comprehensive and very entertaining history of WKB compiled by Luke McKernan is available as a .pdf file here.
The Portrait of the entertainers featured above shows them at the height of their popularity and out of their accustomed 'disguises'.
The Daily Mail runs a section which encourages Questions and Answers on any subject - in this case the question is "What happened to Wilson, Keppel and Betty, a music hall act who dressed as Egyptians and performed a comic dance routine?" - Sally Short of Twickenham responded to this question and a copy of the article can be found here. Further proof of their long-lasting popularity in this comprehensive response dated December 22nd 2010.
From the Victoria and Albert Museum web-site : 'Wilson, Keppel and Betty formed the greatest eccentric dance act of all time. Wilson and Keppel were two doleful, gangling, moustachioed, skinny-legged and obviously English men. They wore parodies of Eastern dress, usually a fez and a short nightshirt, revealing their scrawny legs. The third member of the team was the glamorous Betty. To the popular music ‘Egyptian Ballet’ by Luigini, they performed a sand dance based on poses familiar from Egyptian tomb art, with Betty as the central seductress. Their complete seriousness added to the hilarity. The dance only became funnier as Wilson and Keppel got older and more emaciated. Music hall spawned many comedy dance acts but no other has become part of the general public consciousness like Wilson, Keppel and Betty. A comedian or performer only has to turn in profile and raise a hand in ‘Egyptian’ style for audiences to know the reference. They even turn up (or their costumes do) as Gulli, Gulli and Betti in Terry Pratchett’s Jingo – once the fez and nightshirt were out of the bag, no reader needed the parodied name to get the reference.'
An iconic picture of Wilson Keppel and Betty taken in October 1939 and featuring their autographs.
Date: 1980 (painted) Artist/Maker: Tingey, Cynthia (costume designer) Materials and Techniques: Pen and ink and gouache on paper
And if you needed even more proof of their continuing and endearing fascination - Wilson Keppel and Betty have made it onto ebay (December 2011) - here is an 'autographed' picture dedicated to 'Mr Wright':
Another autographed 'gem' from 1941 this time dedicated to 'Dear Olive':
The BBC website promoted the programme as shown below:
Barbara Windsor tells the story of the popular variety act Wilson, Keppel and Betty.
Wilson, Keppel and Betty formed one of the greatest eccentric dance acts of all time. Their names are so familiar and yet amazingly their fascinating story has never been told on radio before. As with many tales of the stars of music hall and variety, it is one which is shrouded in contradictions and myth.
The programme includes new research into their early days as a duo in Australia and America - and reveals how the act was catapulted to stardom when Wilson and Keppel met Betty.
Liverpudlian Jack Wilson and Irishman Joe Keppel were doleful, gangling, moustachioed and skinny-legged. They wore parodies of Eastern dress, usually a fez and a short nightshirt, revealing their scrawny legs. The third member was the glamorous Betty - who over the years was played by several different women.
They performed a side-splitting sand dance based on poses familiar from Egyptian tomb art, with Betty as the central seductress. Their complete seriousness added to the hilarity.
From the early 1930's the trio became an established feature of British variety shows and were chosen for several Royal Variety Performances. Because the act was visual and hence instantly understandable to anyone, they received many offers from Europe.
In 1938 it was reported that whilst performing at the Berlin Wintergarden they upset Goebbels who was disgusted at the display of bare legs, calling them 'bad for the morals of Nazi Youth'. Mussolini, however, is said to have loved the act.
Contributors include Bill Pertwee, Mark Colleano, Jean Kent, Georgy Jamieson and relatives of the trio.
The programme is written by Alan Stafford and produced in Manchester by Stephen Garner.
Morecambe and Wise 1971
How can one forget that Morecambe and Wise got in there first with Glenda Jackson! To see the whole Cleopatra 'play what I wrote' by Ernie Wise you need to catch Morecambe and Wise repeats on the BBC channels or see the clip on You Tube here. It's an absolute classic starting with the credits which state 'Antony and Cleopatra : cast in order of ability' and using a very imaginative casting couch. From Edward G. Robinson as Little Caesar to Engelbert Humperdinck as the First Camel (think about it - Hump - yes?) to rather unkind casting of the 2nd and 3rd Camels. As to the imaginative credits for various production essentials - they have to be seen to be believed. I have attempted to reproduce these and the dance itself from the You Tube upload as with the exception of one black and white image there is nothing on the internet to assist me with the quest to pay proper tribute to this first and most successful portrayal of Wilson Keppel and Betty by such distinguished imitators!
This is the only official portrait of the Antony and Cleopatra sketch (television) that I could find featuring from left to right Eric Morecambe, Glenda Jackson (centre) and Ernie Wise
Eric and his beloved Luton FC makes his entrance
The imperious Glenda prepares for action
Positions .... stage left
Catch up - stage right
Posing in WKB style
And to those hysterically funny and original credit options:
Dancing on Ice 2012
In the first programme broadcast on 8th January 2012 the last celebrity to skate was Andy Whyment accompanied by his professional partner Vicky Ogden - the conclusion of their dance certainly brought Wilson Kepple and Betty to mind! I wasn't the only one to spot this - the commentator who takes us through the highlights also stated their performance was 'reminiscent of the old Music Hall Days and Wilson Kepple and Betty' - maybe we are of the same generation!
Grateful thanks to ITV and the ITV Player for the images of Dancing on Ice.
'Madge' does 'Wilson Keppel and Betty' at the Superbowl
From the Daily Mail : "She declared she had to put on 'the greatest show on earth, during the greatest show on Earth' and Madonna certainly didn't disappoint.
The singer, 53, put on an impressive performance during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots."
And all I saw was 'Wilson, Keppel and Betty, Ursula Andress as 'She' and the entrances from 'Aida.' or Elizabeth Taylor's 'Cleopatra' - Nothing new then?
With thanks to the Associated Press and Madonnarama for the various images of Madge and her performance.
Strictly Come Dancing 2012
Once again the magic of Wilson Keppel and Betty is reproduced in the form of a Charleston danced to the quirky 'Walk like an Egyptian' and performed by celebrity Denise van Outen and her professional dance partner James Jordan.
From the Daily Mail :
By Sarah Fitzmaurice PUBLISHED: 19:59, 17 November 2012 | UPDATED: 07:59, 19 November 2012
'The dance of the series!' Denise Van Outen picks up the highest score of the series with 39 points after dancing the Charleston as Cleopatra at Wembley on live Strictly show
Given that it was a live performance at Wembley Arena in front of 6,000 fans the pressure was on for the celebrities to perform.
And on Saturday night's Strictly Come Dancing Show Denise Van Outen captured the judges hearts with their Charleston performance, picking up a whopping 39 points - the highest score of the series.
The TV presenter, 38, and partner James Jordan performed the 1920s dance to Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles.
Walk Like an Egyptian: Denise Van Outen captured the judges hearts with their Charleston performance, picking up a whopping 39 points - the highest score of the series - copyright BBC and Daily Mail
Denise arrived onto the stage in a chair being carried by four burly men before launching into the dance.
While her efforts certainly went down well with the audience judging from the loud cheers she commanded, the judges were also impressed.
Len Goodman told the pair: That's the dance of the series so far.'
Nice job if you can get it: The 38-year-old was brought out onto the stage by four burly men carrying her - copyright BBC and Daily Mail
While Craig Revel Horwood gushed: 'The best Charleston ever.'
Len, Bruno and Darcey Bussell all awarded the perfect score of 10 while Craig gave a nine, which left the couple sitting pretty at the top of the leader board.
There was no lack of excitement from the celebrities who were overjoyed to be performing in front of so many people at the famous venue.
Walk the line: Len Goodman was impressed and told Denise she just performed 'the dance of the series' - opyright BBC and Daily Mail
The live show, which was aired in conjunction with the BBC Children In Need campaign, took dances from the 1920s through to the 2000s.
As the performance concluded that 'doyenne' of British Entertainment, Bruce Forsythe paid the couple the ultimate compliment by comparing them to the incomparable Wilson, Keppel and Betty - the legend lives on!
To see the entire performance ands judge for yourselves please follow the link to You Tube here.
Some Action shots for you to enjoy in the meantime - I have tried to capture the essence of Wilson, Keppel and the energy of Betty in this 21st century representation.
I love the pure enjoyment in their faces.
Here's a great classic WKB pose - shame they didn't have a 'third' to complete the look.
A bit more scarecrow than WKB
And perhaps this pose would merit more points as the Swiss / Bavarian 'slap' dance.
Screen shots of 'Strictly' as shown above courtesy of the BBC and You Tube. Original ideas copyright of J Anna Ludlow
Dancing on Ice - 2014
The magic and fascination continues! The final, final ever series of Dancing on Ice features Team Hayley leading (and losing) the Team Challenge using Wilson, Keppel and Betty visual stimulus at its best. Still taken from the ITV Player.
From l to r Celebrities Hayley Tamaddon, Suzanne Shaw and Beth Tweddle strike typical Wilson Keppel and Betty poses during their team competition on Dancing On Ice on 16.02.2014
And the grande finale in fine style with Hayley Centre stage flanked by Beth (left) and Suzanne (right) of picture. The team danced to 'Walk Like an Egyptian'.
The originals and still the best: Wilson, Keppel and one of the Bettys!
Page updated : 29th December 2016