Arthur Smith: In Conversation With Beyond The Title
  • West End

For over forty years, writer andcomedian Arthur Smith has been at the forefront of new and emerging comedy. Nowfor the first time ever, the self-proclaimed Night Mayor of Balham talks openlyto fellow comedian Phil Reid and writer Josh Barry about his unprecedentedcareer in British comedy. Making history in May 1979 as the first comedian tomc the iconic Comedy Store, Smith pioneered the underground Alternative Comedyscene alongside his peers French and Saunders, Alexi Sayle and Rik Mayall andAdrian Edmondson. Becoming one of the resident MCs at the Comedy Store for themajority of the eighties, Smith introduced some of the freshest and excitingemerging comedy talent, something which would surround his whole career.

By the mid-eighties Arthur Smith wasone of the most influential figures in British comedy and it wasn't long beforeTV came calling. In 1985 together with his comedy partner Phil Nice, Arthursecured his own mockumentary series Arthur and Phil Go Off for the relativelynew network Channel Four. Surviving for two series between 1985 and 1987,Arthur and Phil Go Off proved to be the only TV vehicle for the short-liveddouble act. Despite a formidable comedy career, this remains one of Arthur'smost celebrated TV vehicles which is surprising for the man with such an activerole in the development of British comedy. Yet Arthur has always preferred theart of live performance and the rest of his career has epitomised this.

In 1991 Arthur teamed up with writerChris England to write the critically acclaimed stage play An Evening With GaryLineker. The popularity of the stage show caught the attention of TV producersand just three years later ITV adapted it into a TV drama starring CarolineQuentin, Clive Owen and Paul Merton. This coincided with the 1994 World Cup inthe USA which famously England didn't reach. The drama takes place at the semi-finalof Italia '90 between England and Germany as ardent fan Bill takes his wifeMonica to revel in potential football glory. With brief cameos from John Motsonand the man himself, An Evening With Gary Lineker proved a cult classic.

In recent times when festivals andlive entertainment shows have felt like a thing of the past, we quiz Arthur onhis favourite acts and moments from his forty-year love affair with theEdinburgh Fringe and attempt to bring a slice of Edinburgh magic to Bloomsbury.So, join Arthur, Phil and Josh for an afternoon of comedy, anecdotes andlaughter as we celebrate this icon of live performance.

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