There's something incredibly sad about hearing someone say they've never heard of Laurel & Hardy. Maybe it's because I grew up with them. They were a big part of my childhood in the 70s and they seemed to be on TV all the time back then. Even into the 80s, the BBC regularly showed the Laurel & Hardy classic shorts on BBC2. I think what attracted me personally to Laurel & Hardy as a young boy, apart from the visual aspect of their comedy, was their close relationship. The way they looked after each other in the face of diversity and no matter how dire the situation, they always managed to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and carry on without a care in the world. Their iconic characters come across as big kids and in my mind, they were my pals. A bond I still feel when I watch them today.
When people ask me how kids of today respond to being sat down to watch a black and white film that was made almost 100 years ago, it surprises them when I explain that they generally react in the same way I did when I first saw a Laurel & Hardy film. Why wouldn't they? Black and white films were generally regarded as 'old' from as far back as I can remember, but it didn't deter me from watching Laurel & Hardy on Saturday mornings in between all the modern day kids programmes. The slapstick element appeals to the smaller children and sceptical teenagers get over the whole black and white issue very quickly because of the complete absurdity of the situations the boys get themselves into, not to mention the timeless one-liners and the hilarious visual comedy. Laurel & Hardy are the original Dumb and Dumber.
Alas, it's now 2015 and the last time Stan and Ollie appeared on BBC television was 25th December 2005 on BBC2 with The Music Box. The last big revival of Laurel & Hardy was back in 1975 when they reached number 2 in the UK charts with Trail Of The Lonesome Pine, the hit song from their popular feature film Way Out West. They were held off from the number one spot by Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Since those days, apart from loyal fans from The Sons Of the Desert (the international L&H appreciation society) flying the flag, there has been virtually nothing in recent years to introduce younger generations to Laurel & Hardy.
Now for the good news, mainstream cinemas around the UK and Ireland are screening Laurel & Hardy films from 20 October. Even more exciting is the fact that the films will be screened in high definition for the first time ever in cinemas.
Following the success of 19 screenings in cinemas back in June to coincide with the 125th anniversary of Stan Laurel's birth, cinemas are doing it again. Every screening in June sold out and more screens had to be added due to public demand. It was so great to hear kids belly-laughing out loud along with their parents and every screening ended with a round of applause from the audience. I don't remember witnessing a reaction like that to any other film I've seen in a cinema. Now cinemas have taken a giant leap by putting on 100s of screenings of Laurel & Hardy double bills. The first to be screened will be Towed In A Hole and Way Out West, showing on 20 and 25 October. A second double bill, The Music Box and Block-Heads will be screened on 15 and 17 November.
Watching Laurel & Hardy on the big screen is a truly unique experience for fans of all ages. The aim of these national screenings is to invite families to come out to the cinema. Grandparents, great grandparents, mums, dads and the kids. It's a great opportunity for people to put down their smart phones, tablets and laptops for a couple of hours and come along to enjoy good family entertainment in the company of Laurel & Hardy... in a cinema... with a packed audience! The way they were made to be seen.
TICKETS AND INFO ABOUT THE LAUREL & HARDY CINEMA SCREENINGS CAN BE FOUND AT