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Comedy stars head West for Slapstick

Published on Friday, 13th January 2017, contributed by Pam Beddard

A century’s worth of laughter makers, from the early stars of silent cinema to the recently lost Victoria Wood and Rik Mayall, will be among those celebrated when the UK’s biggest festival of vintage screen comedy - Slapstick - returns to Bristol from January 18 to 22.

More than 20 events are being staged during the 13th annual edition of the five-day festival at which guests will include Rory Bremner, Marcus Brigstocke, Simon Callow, Barry Cryer, Pippa Evans, Jeffrey Holland, Roy Hudd, Robin Ince, Neil Innes, Lise Mayer, Shazia Mirza, Alexei Sayle and Lucy Porter.

Highlights of the Slapstick 2017 line-up include:

  • Rory Bremner hosting the festival’s centrepiece Silent Comedy Gala featuring live musical accompaniments by a 25 piece orchestra to films starring Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy and a special appearance by Roy Hudd as music hall star Max Miller
  • To mark Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the USA, an evening of satirical gags and songs built around a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s masterful rant against power and discrimination THE GREAT DICTATOR 
  • Marcus Brigstocke joining cast members Nigel Planer and Alexei Sayle and co writer Lise Mayer on a 35th anniversary revisit to the anarchic 1980s series THE YOUNG ONES (much of it shot in Bristol);
  • Simon Callow hosting an early evening show dedicated to the earliest films of his silent comedy hero, Charlie Chaplin
  • Barry Cryer recollecting his work and friendship with Tommy Cooper;
  • Robin Ince introducing the film which paired Samuel Beckett with Buster Keaton
  • Neil Innes unveiling a newly-found edition of the COLOUR ME POP series starring the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (led by sometime Bristol resident Viv Stanshall)
  • Bill Oddie unveiling a treasure trove of silent comedies accidentally preserved on 16mm
  • Lucy Porter contributing both to Slapstick’s tribute to Victoria Wood and to its salute to an earlier funny lady, Colleen Moore
  • Colin Sell leading a tour through his favourite British comedy film moments in the company of such stars as Hattie Jacques, Peter Sellers,  Alastair Sim and Margaret Rutherford
  • Matthew Sweet quizzing the legendary Roy Hudd about a showbiz career spanning seven decades before sharing a little known 1966 silent in which Hudd starred.

Festival director Chris Daniels says: “Slapstick 2017 is shaping up to be our most varied and star studded yet – offering classic comedy for all tastes and ages, celebrating mirth makers from many different countries and periods and a perfect antidote to the many blues  people are feeling this January."

Venues for the festival are Arnolfini, Bristol Old Vic, Colston Hall and Watershed – all in Bristol city centre. Ticket prices start at £8 and can be booked via the festival’s website: To keep up to date with the plans and special offers, please visit, find Slapstick Festival on Facebook or follow @SlapstickFest on Twitter.

Slapstick is a not-for-profit venture. The festival’s principal funders are Aardman Animations ( and the British Film Institute (