ChuckleVision has been named the greatest CBBC show of all time by a Radio Times survey. It’s hard to argue otherwise. ChuckleVision may have lacked the glamour of Miami 7, the melancholy of Greenclaws or the childhood-scarring terror of Alfonso Bonzo, but it had charm by the bucket-load.
It helped that it ran and ran – ChuckleVision aired close to 300 episodes over two decades, which meant that it received votes from multiple generations of viewers – but the success of the series lay in the fact it was proudly old-fashioned. ChuckleVision was just two idiots failing at stuff over and over, but it was always executed flawlessly.
This was largely because the Chuckle Brothers were old hands. They won Opportunity Knocks in the 60s and New Faces in the 70s. They ran with classic old-school entertainers, honing their craft alongside figures such as Ted Rogers, Lennie Bennett and Freddie Starr. They weren’t afraid of debasing themselves in the name of entertainment, either. Viewers old enough to remember the short-lived 80s series The Chuckle Hounds will marvel at the way they performed their act in great big dumb dog costumes, accompanied by witless swanee whistle sounds. Even so, their personas were already firmly in place. Watch an episode today and you can still tell which Chuckle Hound is Paul and which is Barry.
But ChuckleVision is where the pair got to shine. Although we didn’t learn an awful lot about them as characters – why did they have a new job every week? Were they on the run? Did they kill someone? – we did get to watch a succession of pratfalls and catchphrases that were deployed with unbeatable skill. This is why people remember ChuckleVision; not for the show, but for the chemistry between the brothers.
The Chuckle Brothers were beloved, so much so that viewers have been able to look past their more unsavoury moments, such as when Barry was punched by the husband of a woman to whom he had been sending lewd emails, or when he shared a Britain First post on his Facebook page. To remain a national treasure after this is incredible. No wonder ChuckleVision topped the list.