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Billy Burden Local Yokel

Local yokel comedian who delivered dialect and dialogue wherever he went.

Current affairs 1979 12 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


This is an extract from the documentary Send In The Clowns (1979) with a look at the summer season at the Babbacombe Theatre in Devon. Billy Burden's act as the Country Yokel brings intentionally uninsightful wisdom to audiences and to comic effect. Born in Wimborne in Dorset he embodied the local dialect. Dressed in a farmer's smock and chewing straw he would finish his act with Oi shall 'ave to go now - tis a long walk to Dorset and Oi don't do an act as a yokel, I am a bluddy yokel.

On television, he became the go-to country bumpkin of choice and in 1980 starred with Harry Worth in Oh Happy Band! He made guest appearances in Hi-De-Hi as a pig farmer and appeared as a herdsman in Val Guest's The Boys In Blue (1982) before starring in a spin-off of Are You Being Served? called Grace And Favour which made him a star in America. Burden was a regular on The Good Old Days and as part of his act played the piano; he was married to a concert pianist. The Babbacombe Theatre boasts the longest running summer season in the country and gained a reputation for hosting rising stars. Many of them appeared as part of Hedley Claxton Productions' Gaytime which in 1955 and 1956 starred an up and coming Bruce Forsyth.