Fancy a knees-up tonight but don’t live in the East End of London? No problem, me old china: just stick BBC4 on and give Chas and Dave: Last Orders a watch…
Happily, tonight sees the BBC’s most cerebral TV channel paying tribute to the work of these two unique musical performers, and not before time. You see, far from being a novelty act, Chas Hodges and Dave Peacock have occupied a rather unique niche in the world of British popular music over the last half century, working tirelessly to keep traditional cockney sing-a-long tunes alive and in the public consciousness.
Their brand of “rockney” music, with its distinctive boogie-woogie rhythms and trademark “Lahndahn tahn” vocal delivery, marked them out as different to pretty much every other pop act ever to grace the charts and earned them opening slots for Led Zeppelin, prestigious gigs at events like the Glastonbury Festival, and the chance to perform alongside Eric Clapton.
But Chas and Dave weren’t a pair of naval-gazing cockney folk scholars, working solely to preserve the likes of Two Ol’ Girls From Camden Town in aspic for future generations to enjoy. Oh, no. They were enormously popular mainstream entertainers whose musical output also served to liven up all manner of publicity campaigns, adverts and even the opening credits of TV shows.
So before you get settled in for tonight’s documentary, which follows the pair on their final tour, let’s have a look back at some of Chas and Dave’s most memorable TV successes…
In Sickness and In Health
When a theme was needed for arch-cockney Alf Garnett’s post-Til Death Us Do Part sitcom, Chas and Dave delivered a corker. With lyrics written from the moustachioed curmudgeon’s point of view, coupled with a definite barroom sensibility, this theme song couldn’t have been more apt…
Proving themselves canny operators, Chas and Dave adapted the lyrics to their 1979 single Gertcha and re-recorded it as the soundtrack to a famous series of ads for Courage Best beer. So popular were these ads, in fact, that “Gertcha” became a national catchphrase (the “wazzup” of its day, if you will) and some sources credit the commercials with propelling Chas and Dave into the mainstream:
Bangers and Mash
Even kids love to boogie, and the makers of the cheery cartoon Bangers and Mash capitalised on this fact in the late ‘80s when they hired Chas and Dave to pen and perform the show’s theme song. C ‘n’ D also provided the show’s incidental music, and Bangers and Mash ran regularly on CITV from 1989 until 1993:
During the early ‘80s, Chas and Dave hosted a variety series on ITV, and they continued to front seasonal specials throughout the decade. On this Christmas episode from 1986, they were joined on stage by Rainbow characters Zippy and George for a run-through of The Sideboard Song:
In the same way that you can turn out “heavy metal” versions of pretty much any song you care to mention, Chas and Dave proved that most tunes work when done in a rockney style too – such as this rousing rendition of the Crackerjack theme, which the lads performed on the fondly-remembered kids’ show.
Only Fools and Horses
It’s reasonably well known that Chas and Dave were offered the chance to record the theme tune to Only Fools and Horses back in the ’80s. Unfortunately, the twosome missed out on becoming part of TV history because they were touring Australia at the time. But here’s an idea of how the show’s opening titles could’ve looked and sounded if they had got the Chas and Dave treatment:
Chas and Dave: Last Orders is on BBC4 tonight at 9:00pm.