Minstrels Who Fell out; Dai Francis Was a Black and White Minstrel -and Proud of It. Graham Keal Looks at the History of the Hugely Succesful Show That Disappeared without Trace

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), May 28, 2004 | Go to article overview

Minstrels Who Fell out; Dai Francis Was a Black and White Minstrel -and Proud of It. Graham Keal Looks at the History of the Hugely Succesful Show That Disappeared without Trace


WHEN a show is so successful that it can claim audiences of up to 18 million and an award-winning history that includes the first-ever Golden Rose of Montreux,it usually lives endlessly on with continual repeats, revivals and tributes. Unless of course it's the Black and White Minstrel Show. Then it's buried without ceremony.

In its heyday this was one the world's most popular TV shows, and the stage version at London's Victoria Palace ran for 10 years and nearly 6,500 performances. But when the blacked-up faces disappeared from TV screens in 1978, the show was not merely axed. It was banished, never to be repeated. Until now.

Time Shift: The Black and White Minstrel Show -Revisited helps launch a BBC4 Sixties season with a documentary which may be a nostalgic wallow for fans of the Minstrels in General and Cardiff-born Dai Francis in particular.

For others it will be a bizarre encounter with a forgotten and disgraced performing art,or a sharp reminder of what made it so offensive for many black viewers.

The phenomenon that became a pariah started as a one-off special in 1957, when choirmaster George Mitchell marshal led his singers to reproduce the kind of Minstrel show for TV which they had done successfully on radio.

Only this time, there would be leggy white girls in glamorous costumes and white male singers in fuzzy wigs and black face make-up, highlighted with white saucer-eyes and white lips.

What now seems a strangely surreal exercise in insensitivity was then simply an unquestioning revival of the Minstrel tradition exemplified by Al Jolson decades earlier, which was in turn derived -or as Minstrel Les Want points out, stolen -from the real negro performers who entertained audiences on the Mississippi river boats.

In 1958 the show became a regular series. The documentary quotes audiences of 14m,but that's overcautious. Sixteen million was commonplace, with peaks of 18m. It made stars of the principal male singers including bass baritone Dai Francis who died last November, aged 73. Dai was not only a performer but also a passionate defender of the show.

When clips of the Minstrels were banned from the BBC's 50th anniversary celebrations in 1986, there was uproar. Dai went on BBC discussion show Open Air: ``I think it's very sad that in 1986 a harmless family show should be taken off and deprive senior citizens of such wonderful entertainment, the only show that they dearly loved. It's entertainment.It's good clean fun.'' Other studio guests begged to differ,especially a black community relations worker, but Dai never took on board that however innocent the programme's intention,its effect on black audiences could be detrimental. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Minstrels Who Fell out; Dai Francis Was a Black and White Minstrel -and Proud of It. Graham Keal Looks at the History of the Hugely Succesful Show That Disappeared without Trace
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.