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Dave Allen: God’s Own Comedian

Mon Apr 29, 9-10pm, BBC2

He frequently broadcast to the nation with a fag hanging out of his mouth. But that’s pretty much the only thing about Dave Allen’s act that looks dated. This long-overdue appreciation documents a real free spirit: a man working entirely to his own agenda. Accordingly, while Jim Davidson was blithering on about ‘Chalkie’, Allen was relentlessly taking the piss out of the Catholic church and lampooning Apartheid. He had a pretty successful stab at ‘straight’ TV too – Louis Theroux may well have taken the odd cue from his ‘Eccentrics at Play’ series.

The assembled supplicants include many comedians of the old school, but the presence of the likes of Mark Thomas is testimony to his generation-spanning appeal. Then there’s his missing finger: even Allen’s son seems to have genuinely no idea how he lost it – the comedian delighted in spinning a new and outlandish yarn every time the subject came up. A fittingly mischievous coda to a tribute that’s simultaneously dry and affectionate. Just what he would have wanted…