Well, we're a class riven society and I suppose they fall into two categories:
Apparent toffs like Basil Rathbone, Terry- Thomas, Stephen Fry and Boris Johnson are undeniably quintessentially English. But then again so are Michael Caine, Stanley Holloway, Johnny Vegas and John Terry.
Suggs bridges the gap here...
Madness were undoubtedly one of the major successes of the eighties. Maybe they did appeal to kids who idolised Tucker off Grange Hill but they turned out a succession of catchy and humorous hits. The ‘Ska revival’ also missed out on a sartorial coup, with faux market stall pork pie hats and sta pressed trousers that were more like pantomime costumes replacing the authentic fashions of the late sixties. It was all a bit fake.
However, as their enduring popularity testifies, Madness had a place in the hearts of millions of working class Britons.
When frontman Suggs appeared on Desert Island Discs in 2002 there was also something quintessentially English about a number of his selections: The Kinks, Sir John Betjeman, Ian Dury and The Clash.
Despite the Englishness of her name Julie London was, of course, American- Suggs chose Cry Me A River (younger readers may know it from V for Vendetta) and you can't argue with that as a selection of a timeless classic.
Ian Dury represents a proletarian flavour of risque entertainmnet that dates back to the music hall era. It's easy to imagine Dury as a carachter from Dickens or the ragamuffin cabman providing Sherlock Holmes with some tipoff.
On London's Burning from their self titled debut The Clash give us a hefty chunk of urban dissaffectation from the western suburbs of London.
In terms of fogeyishness the genuine article here is Sir John Betjeman, the betweeded poet laureate who , in the words of Auden was so at home with the provincial gaslit towns, the seaside lodgings, the bicycle, the harmonium. (We'll be having more from Sir John in the near future).
Prince Buster pops up with the obligatory 'ska' number- Al Capone.
I've nothing against Peggy Lee and actually have a few of her albums (Black Coffee is highly recommended) but I don't really go for the number that Suggs selected (Is That All There Is?).
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society has been described as a concept album lamenting the passing of old-fashioned English traditions.
There is also something very British about Van Morrison's Cleaning Windows- the disaffected grammar school boy trapped in mundane labour whilst immersing himself in American beatnik culture of jazz, blues and Kerouac.
Sugg's overral choice was the Peggy Lee record. A book of Italian Verbs was his literary choice and a nucleus of bees was his luxury item.
Here are the records, but not the full programme:
Sadly gone from Rapidshare and I haven't got a clue what I did with the original file- never mind, worse things happen at sea.