Blackwall Tunnel southern approach, SE10, 1997. Photo © David Secombe.
David Secombe writes:
The mock-Tudor building in front of the gas holder in the picture above is the former home of the 1980s comedy club The Tunnel Palladium, so called because the building sits only a few yards way from the mouth of the southern entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel. The club was run by the legendary local comic and promoter Malcolm Hardee, and it played host to many key figures in the alternative comedy circuit at the start of their careers.
Amongst the legions of anecdotes concerning Malcolm Hardee, three are worth retelling here . . .
1) At the 1983 Edinburgh Fringe, he became annoyed by excessive noise from an adjacent comedy tent where Eric Bogosian was performing, and retaliated by stealing a tractor and driving it, naked, across Bogosian’s stage during his performance.
2) He stole Freddie Mercury’s 40th birthday cake and gave it to an old people’s home.
3) He pioneered a stage routine (later taken up by Chris Lynam) in which the performer sings There’s No Business like Show Business whilst holding a lit firework between his buttocks.
Malcolm Hardee died in January 2005, drowning in Greenland Dock, where his houseboat was moored; the Coroner’s verdict was that he had fallen into the dock whilst drunk. According to the police constable who retrieved Malcolm’s body from the water, he was found still clutching a bottle of beer in his right hand.
… for The London Column.