Sad news this week that satirist John Fortune – frequent collaborator with John Bird – died over the festive period at the age of 74.
For me, obituaries are a bitter-sweet opportunity to review the life and influence of a person even though – in far too many cases – by the time they get written, one has largely forgotten and/or taken for granted, the individual concerned.
Fortune had been prominent in British satire since his university days in the 1960s, not least with Peter Cook and Cook’s seminal Establishment club.
Personally, my favourite body of his work were the hilarious George Parr two-handers with Bird – so good that Rory Bremner was happy to give equal billing to the pair of them in his Bremner, Bird and Fortune television series for Channel Four. For a while in the late 1990s, one of the CDs that became most-aired in my car when driving was a collection of the George Parr interviews.
Sometimes Bird played John Parr, sometimes Fortune did. The satire was so brilliant – and seemed so accurate and perfect in its target-hitting – that I wasn’t entirely surprised to read, in one appreciation piece, of Fortune once admitting that sometimes all he had to do to get his laughs was read out genuine government policy statements!
I’m disappointed that some broadcaster – maybe Channel Four, for which Bremner, Bird and Fortune was originally made – hasn’t already paid tribute to Fortune by clearing its schedules and, for example, transmitting either a specific tribute to Fortune and/or a compilation of George Parr ‘greatest hits’. Perhaps someone has something along these lines planned but has yet to deliver.
In the meantime, I take my hat off to The Guardian, which today publishes some links to favourite George Parr sketches, see here – THE GUARDIAN