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Great Cockney Parodies from British Television History

Surely the most successful team of comedians in British television history are those from Monty Python and among their best sketches, is the hilarious send-up of two notorious East End villains.                        

Ronnie and Reggie Kray, were infamously known as the “terrible twins” and had recently been sentenced to life imprisonment – for their reign of terror over London’s East End – when the “Piranha Brothers” was broadcast in 1970.                                

Written by these Pythons as part of BBC2’s hugely entertaining Flying Circus comedy series, the “Piranha Brothers” is an amusing sketch, that centred around a play on words; Cray fish are far less vicious than their amphibious cousins – the deadly, man-eating piranhas!                

Doug and Dinsdale Piranha are a pair of thugs who had been intimidating the London criminal underworld, with “violence and sarcasm” bringing the city to its knees, thus John Cleese introduces the sketch via their documentary called Ethel the Frog.  

The real life story of the Kray brothers and their gangland rivalry with the Richardson firm in the 1950s and 60s, is alluded to in this short funny film, with “Snapper” supposed to be “Nipper” who was the actual Detective Superintendent involved in the investigation that finally brought these gangsters down.                            

This comedy sketch would touch base with anyone from that era and must have helped enhance the media circus that followed the activities of the Kray Twins, thus it is a good job Ronnie and Reggie were never released to settle the score with this group of hard-faced, Footlights graduates, who were essentially making fun of organized crime; after all, George Cornell was shot dead in the Blind Beggar pub for being cheeky about Ronnie Kray in 1966!        

Who better to make fun of cockney criminals than a Mancunian? Steve Coogan was clearly not “born within the sound of the Bow Bells” himself, but nevertheless that doesn’t mean he hasn’t got a sense of humour.            

Alan Partridge was a fictional presenter who parodied commentators and game show hosts in the 1990s; Alan would famously introduce his guests to the studio audience with the lines: “Knowing me Alan Partridge, knowing you Terry Norton, Ahha.”    

Alan’s guest on this show – Terry Norton – had recently been cleared of garrotting a nightclub owner in Leicester Square and was welcomed on to the program to talk about being an innocent man.                           

Terry was the quintessential, cockney wide-boy. He talks about many things: getting sucked in, getting involved in the world, owning nightclubs, boxing, villa hideaways in Spain, dark alleys and all the stereotypical personality traits you would expect from your average cockney villain!.              

Alan Partridge himself, narrowly avoids a pasting for being a bit too cheeky in this highly amusing comedy chat show, that many people actually believed to be for real when it was broadcast on the BBC in 1995.