Classic TV Revisited: The Little And Large Show

Little And Large

Syd and Eddie’s old-fashioned appeal in the Little and Large show first reached our screens on ITV in 1976 before the pair moved to the BBC for their own series which ran from 1978-1991.

Old-fashioned, formulaic double act show which viewers loved at the time but which gets something of a hard time these days.

Why was it memorable?
The formula hardly changed — each week tubby Eddie Large did Deputy Dawg and Cliff Richard impressions. At the same time he always interrupted bespectacled Syd Little who was trying to sing and play guitar.

How did it begin?
Syd Little was playing in a pub in the early ’60s when Eddie Large in the audience began to heckle him and then joined the act.

Weren’t the police called?
No, because the audience loved Eddie’s Cliff Richard impersonation and a new double act was born.

Were they really called Little and Large?
No, Syd is really one-time painter and decorator Cyril Mead and Eddie is Man City fan Eddie McGinnis.

How did they get on to TV?
Their big break was winning Opportunity Knocks in 1971. I mean that most sincerely. As a result they landed an ITV series in 1976 and were snapped up by the BBC for a long-running Saturday night show from 1978. How different it might have been if Eddie Large had not been injured in his youth and given up hope of a football career.

What went wrong?
They were axed by the BBC when their humour went stale.

How popular were they?
They were huge in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Was it just grannies who were fans?
No, whole families watched them — 18.1m tuned in to one show in 1980, more than watch EastEnders or Corrie now.

Why did the critics hate them?
They probably got sick of Eddie churning out Kermit, Top Cat, Rod Stewart and of course Deputy Dawg each week. The routine, based on slapstick, hardly varied from show to show.

What did Syd Little do?
Many critics often asked this question as Eddie Large did all of the impressions. “Supersonic”, as he was known, resembled John Major. He was the straightest of straight men.

Little And Large

Did he ever finish one of his songs?
The joke was always the same — he never finished a song as Eddie heckled him with one-liners. Syd just tried to strum his guitar and looked bemused behind his thick glasses.

How did they compare to other double acts?
They were a poor man’s Morecambe and Wise but they raised more laughs than Cannon and Ball.

How dare you, I liked that pair.
Rock on Tommy, then. They never measured up to The Two Ronnies but were a definite improvement on Mike and Bernie Winters.

What happened to Syd and Eddie?
They appeared live on the club circuit after their TV careers dried up.

Distinguishing features?
Deja vu impressions and gags; cartoon character Deputy Dawg hat and ears; extra-thick glasses; never-ending songs.

Do say:
“18m people can’t be wrong — or maybe they can.”

Do not say:
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful for Little and Large and Cannon and Ball to become a comedy quartet.”

Not to be confused with:
Stuart Little, Long Tall Sally, Dave Allen At Large, Little Richard.