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Barry Humphries: The Last Laugh (ITV Sunday 25 December 2023)

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Join ITV1 as they pay tribute to the legendary comic, Barry Humphries, in this poignant and insightful documentary. Featuring interviews with friends and fans, including Sharon Osbourne and Nick Cave, we delve into Barry’s life and work, celebrating his extraordinary talent and iconic characters.

An Extraordinary Comedy Legacy

Barry Humphries: The Last Laugh is a poignant and insightful documentary that pays tribute to the life and comedy of the legendary comic, Barry Humphries, also known as Dame Edna Everage. A pioneer and a rebel, Barry’s journey to worldwide fame was fraught with challenges and hurdles.

In December 2023, the Sydney Opera House hosted a state memorial for Barry Humphries, and ITV1 is honoring his legacy with this special documentary. The show features interviews and reflections from a star-studded lineup of friends and fans, including Sharon Osbourne, Jonathan Ross, Nick Cave, Jason Donovan, Joan Bakewell, Dara Ó Briain, Lord Jeffrey Archer, and more.

Barry Humphries: The Last Laugh takes audiences on a trip down memory lane by reliving classic moments from Barry’s iconic characters, Dame Edna and Sir Les Patterson. These characters became household names, and their distinct personalities and hilarious antics brought joy to millions. The documentary also unearths hidden gems from interviews where Barry spoke candidly and humorously as himself, providing further insight into his genius.

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Barry Humphries blurred the lines between his characters and his own personality, which posed a challenge for interviewers hoping to unravel the man behind the laughter. This documentary aims to offer an intimate, personal, and honest look at Barry’s life and work, shedding light on the man hailed as one of the funniest and most iconic performers of our time.

The show traces Barry’s career from his upbringing in suburban Melbourne to his move to Sydney in the 1950s, where his act as Edna Everage faced initial resistance. However, it was in London where Barry found success and captivated audiences with his colorful personality and flamboyant style. His friend Joan Bakewell recalls Barry’s unforgettable presence: “Barry was a dandy – he liked clothes and he liked color, he expected you to notice when he walked into a room – and you did.”

While Barry’s performances were brilliant, they came with their share of challenges. Heavy drinking was a problem that prompted him to become teetotal. As Jonathan Ross shares, Barry would issue a warning to those offering him a drink: “I’ll have one with you if in six hours’ time you don’t complain when I’ve torn down all those curtains and done a s*** in that vase.” This decision marked a turning point in Barry’s life and paved the way for his iconic character, Dame Edna, to find her own identity.

Through interviews and anecdotes, the documentary explores the impact of Barry’s work, including his sketch show in 1976 that featured appearances from Dame Edna. The show pushed boundaries and tested the limits of acceptability, with Barry venturing into territory that was rude and almost unacceptable. In 1987, Barry’s groundbreaking program, The Dame Edna Experience, showcased his comedy prowess as he interviewed famous guests on his chat show.

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The documentary also delves into Barry’s other major comic creation, Sir Les Patterson, a character designed to provoke and challenge societal norms. While both Dame Edna and Sir Les could be offensive, Barry used these characters to address sensitive issues, including racism. Rustie Lee, who experienced being the only Black woman in a Dame Edna audience, acknowledges that Barry’s ability to make people uncomfortable was a catalyst for change: “He hit the nail on the head. It was good for people to open their eyes and see that this picture isn’t right.”

Barry’s health began to decline in early 2023, and in April of this year, he passed away. Friends and admirers, such as Lord Jeffrey Archer, offer heartfelt tributes to Barry, highlighting the profound impact he had on their lives.

Barry Humphries: The Last Laugh is a touching and informative documentary that celebrates the life and comedy of an extraordinary entertainer. Tune in to ITV1 on Christmas Day at 10:00 pm to gain a deeper understanding of the man behind the comedic genius and to reminisce about the unforgettable characters he brought to life.

Barry Humphries, Sharon Osbourne, Jonathan Ross, Nick Cave, Jason Donovan, Joan Bakewell, Dara Ó Briain, Lord Jeffrey Archer

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Featured Image Credit: ITV


Isabelle aka Izzy Jacobs is the UK previews specialist at memorabletv.com. Isabelle is particularly drawn to crime dramas, but she also has a not so secret love for all things reality TV. In addition to her work at memorabletv.com, Isabelle is also an avid traveler and a devoted foodie.

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