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Stanley Baxter

Stanley Baxter
Born Stanley Baxter
(1926-05-24) 24 May 1926
Glasgow, Scotland
Occupation Actor
Spouse(s) Moira (died 1997)
Awards British Comedy Awards
1997 Lifetime Achievement Award
Oldie Camper of the Year, 2008
BAFTA for Light Entertainment Performance, (1959, 1972, 1981)

Stanley Baxter (born 24 May 1926) is an award-winning Scottish actor and impressionist, known for his highly popular British television comedy shows The Stanley Baxter show, Baxter On..., Time For Baxter, The Stanley Baxter Picture Show,The Stanley Baxter Series, Mr Majeika.

He began his career as a child actor on BBC Scotland. In a long career he has worked with some celebrated colleagues in a wide range of productions in radio, theatre, television and films. He has also written a number of books based on Glasgow.


  • Early life 1
  • Radio 2
  • Television 3
    • Parliamo Glasgow 3.1
    • Other television roles 3.2
  • Film 4
  • Books 5
  • Personal life 6
  • Awards 7
  • DVD releases 8
  • List of film and television appearances 9
    • Stanley Baxter TV series 9.1
    • Stanley Baxter TV specials 9.2
    • Other TV appearances 9.3
    • Films 9.4
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early life

The son of an insurance manager, Baxter was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He was educated at Hillhead High School, Glasgow, and schooled for the stage by his mother. He began his career as a child actor in the Scottish edition of the BBC's Children's Hour. He developed his performing skills further during his national service with the Combined Services Entertainment unit, working alongside comedy actor Kenneth Williams, film director John Schlesinger and dramatist Peter Nichols, who used the experience as the basis for his play Privates on Parade.

After the war Baxter returned to Glasgow taking to the stage for three years at Glasgow’s Citizens' Theatre. Following success on the radio with Jimmy Logan, Howard & Wyndham Ltd invited him to star in pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow followed by the Half Past Eight Shows, and their successors the Five Past Eight Shows at Glasgow's Alhambra Theatre.[1][2] He moved to London to work in television in 1959. In 1969 he performed in the original production of Joe Orton's then controversial farce What The Butler Saw at the Queen's Theatre in the West End with Sir Ralph Richardson, Coral Browne and Hayward Morse.

His exacting and demanding nature gave Scotland some of its most glittering pantomimes and Baxter nurtured the stage careers of Alyson McInnes and John Ramage. Baxter remained a great favourite on the Scottish pantomime circuit, especially at The Kings Theatre, Glasgow, up until his retirement in 1992. His glorious costumes were, as in his TV shows, renowned. He starred, in pantomime, with popular Scottish stars, Jimmy Logan and Una McLean.


During the 1960s, Baxter had his own show on BBC Radio Scotland.[3]

In 1994 he returned to radio, taking the role of Noël Coward in the BBC World Service Play of the Week, Marvellous Party[4] directed by Neil Cargill. Written by Jon Wynne-Tyson, it also starred Dorothy Tutin as Coward's lifelong friend, Esme Wynne-Tyson (Jon's mother). Also with Cargill, he read Whisky Galore[5] and Jimmy Swan - The Joy Traveller[6] for BBC Radio, providing the voices of all the characters.

After a lengthy spell in self-imposed retirement, he appeared in 2004 in a series of four half-hour radio sitcoms for BBC Radio 4, entitled Stanley Baxter and Friends;[7] the success of this has led to further series entitled The Stanley Baxter Playhouse in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014, and Two Pipe Problems with Richard Briers in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Two further plays in this series were broadcast in 2013 with Geoffrey Palmer taking the Richard Briers role.

In 2009 Eddie Izzard presented The Stanley Baxter Story on BBC Radio 2.[8]


Baxter's self-titled series of comedy shows were seen by very large audiences and the later shows were memorable for the high quality of their production. He was known for his impressions of famous people, particularly the Queen (referred to in the context of the shows as 'the Duchess of Brenda') and his shows were known for their spectacular and technically demanding set pieces. The Stanley Baxter Show ran between 1963 and 1971 on BBC One, and the Stanley Baxter Picture Show from 1972 to 1975 on ITV; the six-part Stanley Baxter Series was made by LWT in 1981. Some eight one-hour TV specials were made by LWT and the BBC between 1973 and 1986.

Parliamo Glasgow

Perhaps Baxter's best-known series of sketches is Parliamo Glasgow. They were produced in collaboration with the Glasgow journalist Alex Mitchell, and were later published in book form. Conceived as being written by a fictitious scholar visiting Glasgow, the sketches took the patois of the city and developed it to comic effect. The first sketch was included in one of his BBC Scotland series in the 1960s and was based on the corporation's first venture into language programmes Parliamo Italiano ('Let's speak Italian'). A memorable scene sees him at the local market, asking the trader "Zarra marra onna barra, Clara?", which he then translates as "Is that a marrow on your barrow, Clara?". Another introduced the Glaswegian word "sanoffy", as in "Sanoffy caul day" ("It's an awfully cold day").

Other television roles

He guest-starred in an episode of The Goodies and later appeared in the lead role in Mr Majeika, developed from the books by Humphrey Carpenter, a children's show about a magic teacher, expelled from Walpurgis (the wizard land) for failing his professional examinations. He later stated that he had wanted to retire after his spectacular hour-long shows had been axed and that the move to children's television was a "purely financial" arrangement.

In Bing Crosby's final Christmas special, taped for CBS in the UK just a few weeks before Crosby's death in 1977, Baxter played multiple roles, including a butler, cook, Charles Dickens and - in one skit opposite a cracking-up Crosby - the ghost of Bob Hope's court jester ancestor. Having retired in 1990, Baxter returned for a one-off Christmas 2008 special for ITV, containing a mix of archived and new material, with celebrity comedians commenting on Baxter's influence on their lives and careers.[9]


Baxter appeared in a number of films, including Geordie (1955), Very Important Person (1961), The Fast Lady (1962), Crooks Anonymous (1962) and Father Came Too! (1963), the last four alongside James Robertson Justice, together with the animation Arabian Knight (1995).


He has written a number of books based on the language of Glasgow, as developed in his Parliamo Glasgow sketch as above, and on the humour of the city;[10]

  • Bedside Book of Glasgow Humour ISBN 978-0094672703, may be same as ISBN 978-1841582467
  • Parliamo Glasgow Omnibus ISBN 978-1841587745 and ISBN 978-1874744009
  • Let's Parliamo Glasgow Again - Merrorapattur ISBN 978-0862280734
  • Stanley Baxter's Suburban Shocker : Featuring Rosemary Morningside and the Garrulous Glaswegian Mr. Ballhead

Personal life

Stanley was brought up in the West End of Glasgow, in the third block of a set of mansion flats. He lived there from the age of 5 until he married at 26 years of age. He later lived in Highgate, north London. Stanley Baxter was married for 46 years. His wife Moira died in 1997.

In August 2014, Baxter was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[11]


  • BAFTA for Light Entertainment Performance (1959)
  • BAFTA for Light Entertainment Performance (1981) for the Stanley Baxter Series
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (British Comedy Awards) (1997)
  • BAFTA for Light Entertainment Performance (1972) for the Stanley Baxter Picture Show
  • Oldie Camper of the Year - For continuing to endear and delight his audiences with original comic material by The Oldie Magazine (2008)[12]

DVD releases

All six of Baxter's hour-long ITV specials were released on a two-disc DVD set in 2005 as The Stanley Baxter Collection[13] with a further two-disc DVD set being released in 2006 under the title The Stanley Baxter Series & Picture Show featuring both of his series of half-hour shows for ITV.[14] In 2008 a five-disc DVD box set was released titled The Stanley Baxter Television Set. The set includes both half-hour ITV series that Baxter made for ITV and six of his ITV specials. It also includes two of the feature films he made with James Robertson Justice The Fast Lady and Father Came Too!.[15]

List of film and television appearances

Stanley Baxter TV series

  • The Stanley Baxter show (BBC, 22 x 30-minutes, 1963–71)
  • Baxter On... (BBC, 1964)
  • Time For Baxter (BBC Scotland, 1972)
  • The Stanley Baxter Picture Show (LWT - four x 30-minutes, 1972)
  • The Stanley Baxter Series (LWT - six x 30-minutes, 1981)[14]

Stanley Baxter TV specials

  • The Stanley Baxter Big Picture Show (LWT - 21 December 1973)
  • The Stanley Baxter Moving Picture Show (LWT - 07/09/1974)
  • The Stanley Baxter Show Part III (LWT - 19 September 1975)
  • Stanley Baxter’s Christmas Box (LWT - 26 December 1976)
  • Stanley Baxter on Television (LWT - 01/04/1979)
  • The Stanley Baxter Hour (LWT - 24 December 1982)
  • Stanley Baxter's Christmas Hamper (BBC, 1985)
  • Stanley Baxter's Television Annual (BBC, 1986)[13]
  • Stanley Baxter Is Back (C4, 1995)
  • Stanley Baxter in Reel Terms (C4, 1996)
  • Stanley Baxter Now and Then (2008)[16]

Other TV appearances

  • Shop Window (BBC, 1952)
  • This is Scotland (STV, 1957)
  • On The Bright Side (BBC, 1960)
  • Comedy Playhouse: "Lunch in the Park" (BBC, 1961)
  • Espionage (BBC, 1963 Guest Appearance)
  • Wednesday Play: "The Confidence Course" (BBC, 1965)
  • Christmas Night with the Stars (BBC, 1970, Guest Appearance)
  • The Goodies (BBC, 1971 Guest Appearance)
  • Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas (CBS, 1977 Guest Appearances as multiple characters)
  • Mr Majeika (Television South, 1988–90, Title Role)
  • Rab C. Nesbitt (BBC, 1991, Guest Appearance)
  • Arabian Knight (Animation, 1995, Voice Only)
  • Meeow (Animation, 2000, Voice Only)
  • The Unforgettable...Kenneth Williams (Carlton, 2001, Interviewee)
  • The Sketch Show Story (BBC, 2001, Interviewee)
  • EX:SThis is Stanley Baxter (BBC, 2001 75th Birthday Documentary)
  • Return of the Goodies (BBC, 2005, Interviewee)
  • The Story of Light Entertainment (BBC, 2006, Interviewee)
  • Comedy Map of Britain (BBC, 2007, Interviewee)
  • Happy Birthday BAFTA (2007, Guest)
  • The Comedy Christmas (2007, Interviewee)
  • Artwork Scotland:When Alan Cumming met Stanley Baxter (2010) [17]
  • The Many Faces of Stanley Baxter (2013)
  • Scottish Television Hogmanay shows (1980s and 1990s)
    • Road To Londonderry



  1. ^ The Kings Theatre, Glasgow: Entertaining a Nation by Graeme Smith published 2008 ISBN 978-0-9559420-0-6
  2. ^ Alhambra Glasgow by Graeme Smith published 2011 ISBN 978-0-9559420-1-3
  3. ^ "Teach Yourself To Speak Scottish - 4 - Parliamo Glasgow". YouTube. 11 January 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  4. ^ ^ Newley, Patrick. "Coward’s confidante - Esme Wynne", The Stage, 4 March 2005
  5. ^ 'Whisky Galore''"'". Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  6. ^ 'Jimmy Swan - The Joy Traveller''"'". 13 April 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  7. ^ 'Stanley Baxter and Friends''"'". Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  8. ^ 'The Stanley Baxter Story''"'". Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Comedian Baxter to make TV return, BBCNews, Accessed 07/11/2008
  10. ^ "Stanley Baxter's bedside book of Glasgow humour (Book, 1986)". []. 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  11. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  12. ^ "In This Issue". Retrieved 6 June 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "Stanley Baxter: The Specials". Network DVD. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Stanley Baxter Series and Picture Show (The)". Network DVD. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Stanley Baxter Television Set (The)". Network DVD. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  16. ^ Leigh Holmwood (2008-11-07). "Stanley Baxter returns to ITV for Christmas | Media". Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  17. ^ "TV review: When Alan Cumming Met Stanley Baxter". The Scotsman. 2010-02-21. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 

External links

  • Stanley Baxter at the Internet Movie Database
  • Stanley Baxter biography and credits at BFI Screenonline
  • Parliamo Glasgow audio clip from BBC Radio Scotland
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