Kenny Everett (December 25, 1944-May 26, 1995) was a popular British entertainer, both on Radio and Television.
Born Maurice Cole, Kenny came to prominence in the 1960s on the pirate radio station, Wonderful Radio London. In 1967, the BBC started its own pop music station, Radio 1, and Kenny was among the first intake of new DJs recruited from the pirates. Kenny developed a unique style of humorous presentation from the start, using zany characters and voices, along with jingles, drop-ins and trailers of his own. However, he soon got himself into trouble by making an unguarded remark about the transport minister's wife's inability to pass the driving test, and was subsequently sacked from the station in 1970. He was reinstated in 1972, but at that time, the government had legislated for new commercial radio stations in the UK, and the first of these, Capital Radio, began broadcasting in 1973. Kenny was given his own show on the new station, where he further developed his own distinctive format.
During his time at Capital Radio, Kenny was given a copy of a new single from Queen, by the group's lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Kenny was a good friend of Freddie and when the singer requested that Everett give the B side of the single more of an airing, Kenny agreed. He liked the B side so much, that he played it several times a night on his show, to the extent that the song - Bohemian Rhapsody - shot to number one and gave Queen a major boost.
Besides the radio programmes, he had two television series, The first, in 1968, was a production for Granada Television called "Nice Time", co-presented by Germaine Greer. In 1978, he started a new venture in television, with his ground-breaking Kenny Everett Video Show. This was a vehicle for Kenny's characters and sketches, interspersed with pop hits of the day, which were often presented through the very risqué (for the time) dance group, Hot Gossip (see also Sarah Brightman). It also featured an animated cartoon version of his popular radio spot, Captain Kremmen - a thinly disguised Kenny travelling the galaxy with his voluptuous sidekick Carla. Other memorable characters were Cupid Stunt ("all done in the best POSSIBLE taste!"), Angry of Mayfair, Sid Snot, Gizzard Puke and Marcel Wave. The Video Show, made by Thames Television, ran for four series on ITV, and was incredibly popular, being required viewing for any teenager of the time. Kenny continued with Capital Radio while also doing his television work.
Due to Kenny falling out with Thames - he was unhappy about the rescheduling of the show against the BBC's Top of the Pops on Thursday evenings, among other things - the show transferred to the BBC in the early 80s, but in a version that arguably never quite captured the anarchic spirit of the ITV series. In this incarnation it was called the Kenny Everett Television Show and had a more conventional sketch show format with a studio audience. Cleo Rocos was a regular. Guest stars included Billy Connolly, Terry Wogan, Lionel Blair and Joanna Lumley. Barry Cryer was a co-writer. Initially Thames tried to claim Kenny's characters as their copyright, forcing him to invent new ones for the BBC show (Cupid Stunt and Gizzard Puke are two examples which were never part of the Thames series). Ultimately, Thames's action failed, and most of the characters eventually made the transition unchanged.
In the 1983 electoral campaign, Kenny was invited to the Conservative Party conference in a bid to attract the youth vote, and made the unfortunate remark "Let's bomb RUSSIA!". His support for the Tories (originating in the 1960s when the Tories, in opposition, criticised the heavy handed way that the Labour government dealt with the pirate stations) and the remark alienated many of his more politically aware fans, though he later admitted that he wasn't terribly political, and greatly regretted the incident.
While his radio shows continued in the same vein and were as popular as ever, by the late 80s the TV show format had run its course, and Kenny's personal life was becoming increasingly complicated. His homosexuality was something he never fully came to terms with, and he suffered bouts of severe depression. He died of AIDS in 1995.