Your friends the stars – 5
George, with his newspaper and his pipe, struck a new vein of comedy in the none-too-rich TV field. So far he has shared with Norman Wisdom the boon of making only occasional appearances on TV. This is not to say he could not support a regular series; indeed, he did once bring that off. But his popping up only now and then is peculiarly advantageous to his type of inconsequential humour, always refreshing after the normal run of gag-cracking comics.
From the Army town of Aldershot, George and his two brothers made a comedy trio which entertained the troops at home and in Europe. An accident broke up this act, and George returned to engineering work in the local Army workshops. But his heart was on the stage, and his young wife encouraged him to drop all security and really go and have a try to “get it out of his system.”
George took an audition at London’s Windmill Theatre, and, having no money for the fare home after it, spent that night in a bombed building. They had asked him to call back at the Windmill next morning, and when he did so they promised him a trial run there—and gave him £10 to go on with then and there. The Martin act, in those days, was comedy with an accordion and songs. It was Val Parnell, ruler of London’s Palladium, who told George that his originality was in his comedy, and advised him to drop the instrument and most of the singing.
This he did, and when TV sneaked him in one night as a last-minute addition to Music-Hall, George Martin established himself in seven minutes. So much so that music-hall, concert and pantomime appearances have kept him fully engaged ever since. So Mrs. Martin was wrong to think he would get it out of his system, but very right in letting him have his go. With a new house at Aldershot, and a bonny family, she is very pleased she did.