In the ’70s and 80’s I grew up with this very funny man, he was on TV every Saturday night, and his show was amazing. I think he deserves a mention here, he is in his 90’s now, long live Stanley Baxter.
Stanley Baxter (born 24 May 1926) is a Scottish actor and impressionist, known for his popular British television comedy shows The Stanley Baxter Show, Baxter On…, Time For Baxter, The Stanley Baxter Picture Show, The Stanley Baxter Series and Mr Majeika.
Baxter began his career as a child actor on BBC Scotland. He has also written a number of books based on Glasgow.
The son of an insurance manager, Baxter was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He was educated at Hillhead High School, Glasgow, and schooled for the stage by his mother. He began his career as a child actor in the Scottish edition of the BBC’s Children’s Hour. He developed his performing skills further during his national service with the Combined Services Entertainment unit, working alongside comedy actor Kenneth Williams, film director John Schlesinger and dramatist Peter Nichols, who used the experience as the basis for his play Privates on Parade.
After the war, Baxter returned to Glasgow taking to the stage for three years at Glasgow’s Citizens’ Theatre. Following success on the radio with Jimmy Logan, Howard & Wyndham Ltd invited him to star in pantomime at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow followed by the Half-Past Eight Shows, and their successors the Five Past Eight Shows at Glasgow’s Alhambra Theatre. He moved to London to work on television in 1959.
In 1969 he performed in the original production of Joe Orton’s then-controversial farce What the Butler Saw at the Queen’s Theatre in the West End with Sir Ralph Richardson, Coral Browne and Hayward Morse. Baxter nurtured the stage careers of Alyson McInnes and John Ramage. Baxter remained a great favourite on the Scottish pantomime circuit, especially at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, up until his retirement in 1992. He starred, in pantomime, with popular Scottish stars, Jimmy Logan and Una McLean.
During the 1960s, Baxter had his own show on BBC Radio Scotland. In 1994 he returned to radio, taking the role of Noël Coward in the BBC World Service Play of the Week, Marvellous Party directed by Neil Cargill. Written by Jon Wynne-Tyson, it also starred Dorothy Tutin as Coward’s lifelong friend, Esme Wynne-Tyson (Jon’s mother). Also with Cargill, he read Whisky Galore and Jimmy Swan – The Joy Traveller for BBC Radio, providing the voices of all the characters.
After a lengthy spell in self-imposed retirement, he appeared in 2004 in a series of four half-hour radio sitcoms for BBC Radio 4, entitled Stanley Baxter and Friends; the success of this has led to further series entitled The Stanley Baxter Playhouse in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2016, and Two Pipe Problems with Richard Briers in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Two further plays in this series were broadcast in 2013 with Geoffrey Palmer taking the Richard Briers role. In 2009 Eddie Izzard presented The Stanley Baxter Story on BBC Radio 2. A further series of ‘Playhouse’ commenced airing on BBC radio four in November 2018.
Baxter was known for his impressions of famous people, particularly the Queen (referred to in the context of the shows as ‘the Duchess of Brendagh’). The Stanley Baxter Show ran between 1963 and 1971 on BBC One, and the Stanley Baxter Picture Show from 1972 to 1975 on ITV; the six-part Stanley Baxter Series was made by LWT in 1981. Eight one-hour TV specials were made by LWT and the BBC between 1973 and 1986.
Baxter guest-starred in an episode of The Goodies and later appeared in the lead role in Mr Majeika, developed from the books by Humphrey Carpenter, a children’s show about a magic teacher, expelled from Walpurgis (the wizard land) for failing his professional examinations. He later stated that he had wanted to retire after his spectacular hour-long shows had been axed and that the move to children’s television was a “purely financial” arrangement. In Bing Crosby’s final Christmas special, taped for CBS in the UK just a few weeks before Crosby’s death in 1977, Baxter played multiple roles, including a butler, cook and – in one skit opposite a cracking-up Crosby – the ghost of Bob Hope’s court jester ancestor. Having retired in 1990, Baxter returned for a one-off Christmas 2008 special for ITV, containing a mix of archived and new material, with celebrity comedians commenting on Baxter’s influence on their lives and careers.
Baxter appeared in a number of films, including Geordie (1955), Very Important Person (1961), The Fast Lady (1962), Crooks Anonymous (1962) and Father Came Too! (1963), the last four alongside James Robertson Justice, together with the animation Arabian Knight (1995).
He has written a number of books based on the language of Glasgow, as developed in his Parliamo Glasgow sketch, and on the humour of the city;
Bedside Book of Glasgow Humour ISBN 978-0094672703, may be same as ISBN 978-1841582467
Parliamo Glasgow Omnibus ISBN 978-1841587745 and ISBN 978-1874744009
Let’s Parliamo Glasgow Again – Merrorapattur ISBN 978-0862280734
Stanley Baxter’s Suburban Shocker : Featuring Rosemary Morningside and the Garrulous Glaswegian Mr. Ballhead
Baxter was brought up in the West End of Glasgow, in a tenement. He lived there from the age of five until he married Moira Robertson at 26 years of age. He later lived in Highgate, north London. He was married for 46 years until his wife’s death in 1997.
In August 2014, Baxter was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in September’s referendum on that issue.