Did you see… 1980 

18 February 2023 tbs.pm/78436

Did you see…

Monday 18 February 1980




All-round Rushton


All-round Rushton


The new Monday night series Rushton’s Illustrated gives its creator a chance to display his multi-talents as singer, writer, cartoonist and actor. Here, in conversation with Jane Ennis and with illustrations provided by himself, he describes in his own inimitable style some of the facets of Rushton that go to make the all-round television man


I WAS inspired to write my first book, Day of the Grocer, by reading the first four pages of The Day of the Jackal, which I consider to be quite the dullest four pages in English literature.

I don’t like writing. I prefer to draw. My wife locked me in a room for three days to make me finish the Grocer and I swore I would never do another one but I did. I wrote Superpig – a guide for men living on their own and followed it up with Pigsticking.

Private Eye have occasionally asked me to write for them when they have had a hole to fill and I wrote some sketches for dear old That Was The Week That Was but not as many as people think I did. Nowadays, I write for kids’ TV programmes. When my son Toby was born, I started to write for Play School. He’s progressed to Jackanory now and so have I.

The scripts for Rushton’s Illustrated are very loose. If funnier ideas come up, I’m perfectly happy for changes to be made.


I STARTED off as a doodler. I’d scribble all over newspapers, envelopes, anything anyone was foolish enough to leave around.

I couldn’t go to university because of my lack of maths (I failed it seven times at G.C.E. “O”-level). So I became an articled clerk to a solicitor. It was very dull and I spent my days drawing over everything. There are still some wills locked away in files covered in drawings of shrieking moustachioed men.

I liked to draw huge, red-necked, shouting Tories and began to think that perhaps I could make a living out of this partiality. I got a job as cartoonist on the Labour Party newspaper Tribune. But they wanted me to draw like Vicki – all clouds of depression and brief-cases. I joined Liberal News and managed to stay there a year before they found out I wasn’t a Liberal.

I was with Private Eye magazine for seven years. I was one of the world’s greatest art editors because I hit on the trick of paying £3 more than Punch for cartoons.


QUITE THE most famous thing I have ever done is a television commercial for chocolate bars. People still stop me in the street and quote lines from it.

It was very popular because it didn’t keep mentioning the name of the product. The trouble was, it didn’t sell many chocolate bars. People would rush into sweet shops and say, “it’s chewy, it’s crunchy”, but they couldn’t remember what it was called. While making those adverts, I ate 24 of the things and I’ve never been able to face eating one since.

The worst commercial I ever did was for an inedible Australian chocolate bar. I had to keep drinking a large Scotch to take away the taste. I ended up rolling drunk.

It always strikes me as unfair I only get asked to do commercials for fattening things, as I watch my weight all the time. I was once involved in a 13-part TV programme encouraging people to diet and take exercise. During the course of it I put on half a stone.


MY FIRST acting job was in a play called The Bedsitting Room by Spike Milligan. The actor who was to have done the part dropped out a week before opening night and I got the job.

I did very well for a newcomer. I got “brilliant bespectacled Rushton” from Kenneth Tynan. Agents began beating at my door, but I wasn’t interested because I wanted to carry on drawing.

I was discovered for television by Ned Sherrin who saw me doing an impersonation of Harold Macmillan. He signed me up for That Was The Week That Was. I remember one brilliant week when I was offered a part in Beyond the Fringe, the lead in The Bedsitting Room and a contract for That Was The Week… I’m a mercenary at heart, so I took the television offer. I figured out you could do two days for television for the same money as you’d get for six nights in the theatre.

I suppose I could have become a complete actor, but I revel in my diversification.


You Say

1 response to this article

steve brown 18 February 2023 at 7:31 pm

Also on Feb 18 1980,at about 1845,I first saw a commercial for Jacob’s Club Biscuits-it was the first one of two they made,one set in a tea shop,and the other in a court-they used as their jingle,the old Beach Boys song Barbara Ann

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