Funky Moped

English comedian, actor, television presenter and personality Jasper Carrott OBE (Robert Norman Davis was born in Acocks Green, Birmingham, England on 14 March 1945. In February 1969 he started his own folk club, “The Boggery”, in nearby Solihull with his friend Les Ward. Here, Carrott performed folk songs and MC duties. Before long, his banter with the audience overtook the actual songs; he became known more as a comedian than a singer. He toured the UK, appearing in rugby clubs. He independently recorded an album, financed by himself, called Jasper Carrot – In the Club, which he sold from the back of his van, and contained the original “Magic Roundabout”. Released in 1973, the LP is quite rare, although it mainly consists of material later used in his first three official LPs (such as “Hare Krishna”, “Car Insurance”, “Bastity Chelt”, and “Hava Nagila”) plus the Fred Wedlock song “The Folker”.

He had a surprise UK Top 5 chart hit in August 1975 with the novelty record “Funky Moped”, written by Chris Rohmann and produced by Jeff Lynne. The B-side of this single was a risqué monologue parodying the animated children’s TV series The Magic Roundabout. This track was banned by the BBC, which is widely believed to have contributed to the single’s commercial success, which in turn, ironically, led to his appearance on the BBC’s Top of the Pops. By the late 1970s, Carrott had developed a number of anecdotal sketches which he still performs in similar form some thirty years on. Often these sketches purported to be auto-biographical; many of them celebrate Birmingham accent and culture, including his support of his beloved Birmingham City. His sketches were captured on records such as Jasper Carrott Rabbitts on and on and on… and Carrott in Notts which were recordings of live performances. Notable hits were “Bastity Chelt” a complete song in Spoonerism, “The Football Match” describing a visit to Old Trafford, “The Nutter on the Bus” including the well known cry of “Has anybody seen my camel?”), “The Mole” (“There’s only one way to get rid of a mole – blow its bloody head off!”) and “Zits” – an explanation of an American slang word for spots that brought the word into use in England In 1979 he published A Little Zit on the Side, which purported to be a humorous autobiography.

The follow-up, Sweet and Sour Labrador, mixed sections of his stand-up routines with similar autobiographical material, much of it related to his world travels. His first appearance on television was a half hour show for BBC Midlands on August 11th 1975 in a programme about local football called “The Golden Game”. Then in 1976, A Half Hour Mislaid with Jasper Carrott recorded at Pebble Mill. His big break came two years later when he was invited by Michael Grade to make a pilot for LWT. It was well liked by Grade; a five further shows were recorded and became his first TV series, An Audience with Jasper Carrott, in 1978, this successful partnership with LWT lasted until 1981, The Unrecorded Jasper Carrott (1979) and Beat the Carrott (1981) are the two best known live stand-up performances from his time with LWT. This was followed by a move to the BBC and Carrott’s Lib – a Saturday night comedy show broadcast live – and then by a string of BBC shows. The most notable of these were Carrott’s Commercial Breakdown, which broadcast weird and wonderful adverts from around the world, and the sketch and stand-up shows Carrott Confidential, 24 Carrott Gold, The Jasper Carrott Trial and Canned Carrott, some of which also gave TV exposure to the comedy partnership of Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis.

In addition to his television work, Carrott made a foray into cinema, when he played Heinrich in the 1987 British comedy Jane and the Lost City.Canned Carrott also featured a regular police drama spoof called The Detectives, co-starring Robert Powell, which was spun off into its own series. In 2002–2004, he starred in the sitcom All About Me. He performed in several of the Secret Policeman’s Ball charity concerts for Amnesty International, and returned to the stage in 2004 for several sell out shows at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham featuring classic routines from his career. He returned to a singing role for the musical Go Play Up Your Own End (written by Malcolm Stent, songs by Harvey Andrews).In 2005, he appeared in and put on the first of Jasper Carrott’s Rock With Laughter concerts. He appeared alongside performers such as Bill Bailey, Bonnie Tyler, Lenny Henry, Bobby Davro, the Lord of the Dance troupe and Bev Bevan. This has become a regular event at the NEC in Birmingham, usually staged in December and some times alternating with his “Jasper Carrott’s Christmas Crackers” events, but there have also been a few summer shows too.

Jasper also was one of the comperes for the Birmingham Heart Beat Charity Concert 1986, which featured many local bands such as Electric Light Orchestra and the Moody Blues, with a finale that included George Harrison from the Beatles.On 15 September 2007 he was inducted into the Birmingham Walk of Stars at a presentation as part of the Arts Fest 2007 celebrations. The award was presented by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. Carrott is the second inductee, following Ozzy Osbourne. Jasper Carrott was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the British Comedy Awards on 6 December 2008. he also hosts the Endemol-produced game show Golden Balls for ITV1. Promising ratings led to a recommission, and the second series began in January 2008. A third series began in April 2008, and a fourth series started in October 2008. A fifth and six series were shown in 2009. He was the host of the Sunday night interactive national pub quiz, and was 20th in Channel 4′s 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians show.

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