Life and work of Michael Flanders celebrated with a green plaque

Celebrated humourist – one half of Flanders and Swann

The life and work of Michael Flanders, the humorist and disability campaigner who was one half of the famous Flanders and Swann comedy duo, is being recognised with a green plaque at 63 Esmond Road W4, where he lived from 1971 to 1975 with his wife Claudia and daughters Laura and Stephanie.

Flanders and Swann were hugely successful in the 1950s with their repertoire of comic songs such as Hippopotamus (‘Mud, mud glorious mud, there’s nothing quite like it for soothing the blood …’), The Reluctant Cannibal and The Gas Man Cometh.

Michael Flanders (1922 – 1975) was the lyricist, actor and singer, Donald Swann (1923 – 1994) the composer and pianist. They first worked together in a school revue in 1939, wrote more than 100 comic songs together and over the course of 11 years, gave nearly 2,000 live performances in shows such as At The Drop of A Hat.

As he lived in Chiswick in the final years of his life, Michael Flanders is being celebrated also at the Chiswick Book Festival. His two daughters, now both prominent journalists, will discuss their father’s impact on comedy and the world of disability with Comedy Chronicles writer Graham McCann and the Festival director, Torin Douglas.

Stephanie Flanders, the former BBC economics editor, made a Radio 4 programme about her father in 2007 and wrote about it for BBC News in an article, ‘Rediscovering my father’:

“I think the fact you’ve got Michael Flanders in a wheelchair sitting up on stage is pretty pioneering,” his biographer and archivist, Leon Berger told her. “I can’t think of a single example, certainly not in the UK, of a public figure who’s been disabled.”

Graham McCann has called Flanders & Swann “the most influential British double act” in comedy, ahead of Morecambe & Wise, The Two Ronnies and Peter Cook & Dudley Moore. He wrote:

“Michael Flanders and Donald Swann have had a profound and lasting impact not only on British comedy and music, but also on just about every other major point and place in the panorama of British entertainment over the last sixty years. The sad thing is: it’s sort of a secret. Flanders and Swann just don’t get mentioned much these days”.

‘Celebrating Michael Flanders (& Swann)’ will be held at 7pm on Wednesday September 14 at the ActOne Cinema in the Old Library, Acton, not far from the Michael Flanders Centre in Church Street, which Claudia opened in his honour after her husband’s death.

Tickets, price £8, are on sale on the Chiswick Book Festival website: ticketsource.co.uk

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Yeats sculpture to be unveiled Tuesday 6 September

See also: Siân Phillips and Stephen Greif to perform a second show at Theatre at the Tabard

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