Thursday, April 19, 2012


Happy upcoming birthday (May 5, 1943) to adorable Dilys Watling, who was comic eye candy for many leering TV comedians, most notably Benny Hill, but also The Two Ronnies, Morecambe & Wise, and Frankie Howerd.
Would it surprise you to know that long before her Carol Cleveland-esque cameos in comedy, she was a singer? The evidence is in the download, which zips you two of her singles, including her first: "Don't Say You Love Me"/bw "Now's the Time," made for Philips in 1964. For 1965 she covered Neil Diamond's "Act Like a Lady" /bw "I'm Over You," which isn't obscure enough to include. It got some airplay and even Gramophone reviewed it, declaring both numbers were done "sweetly, in a style reminiscent of Cilla Black without the stridency."
Despite the nice comment, Watling's output of singles waned with the sadly neglected "Paper Heart"/bw "You Go Your Way." Fortunately, at the same time, she was becoming known as an actress thanks to TV appearances on UK shows "The Likely Lads," "United" and "Theatre 625." She earned more fans via "Coronation Street" in 1966 and "Twice a Fortnight" in 1967. In 1968 she appeared on stage in "Fiddler on the Roof," starring Alfie Bass, and followed it by starring in "Promises Promises." She even got another record deal, issuing a new single via Pye, "Have Another Dream On Me" /bw "Sweet Darlin'."
On the strength of her rising stardom in British stage versions of American hits, the cute Brit was imported for a dream assignment, opening on Broadway in the swingin' musical "Georgy." Although she was completely unknown in America, producers had faith in their discovery. They should've at least stocked the cast with a few well known Brits that Americans had heard of and might want to see, but Georgy girl Dilys was supported by John Castle, Melissa Hart and Stephen Elliott instead. Theater fans didn't know the musical's composer (George Fischoff) and at the time, they never heard of the lyricist either...a promising talent named Carole Bayer. Critics took Bayer aspirin after reviewing the show: Dilys Watling had made her Broadway debut and her Broadway farewell.
Back in England in the 70's, she made those appearances for which she's probably best known around the world…including the beach pantomime in which she demurely refuses leering Benny Hill's ice cream and other treats because she has to watch her figure….only to become a binge-eating cow the moment after the poor sap marries her.
Fans of theater in the UK got a few chances to see Dilys Watling in the 80's and 90's. In an intriguing bit of casting, she turned up as the crazy beggar woman in the 1980 "Sweeney Todd" production starring Denis Quilley and Sheila Hancock. More logical was her turn in "Noises Off" in 1985. The following year, she turned up in Dave Clark's "Time." And the 90's? She appeared in a few (exactly two) TV episodes, one of "The Bill" and one of "Minder," which was back in 1994.
Most of what you can find on Dilys is audio and video from the 60's and 70's…the bleating bopping ballads that were briefly on the radio, and the saucy sketches that are being snapped up avidly on DVD from fans of "The Two Ronnies" and "Benny Hill." So she remains eternally in her late 20's as far as most of her fans are concerned, and as you approach your latest birthday, Ms. Watling wherever you are, may you stay forever young.
4 Song (two singles) Dylis Delights file No capcha codes, no demands to pay premium account money to thieving Kim Dotcom-types or organized crime slobs in foreign countries.


Anonymous said...

Cool tunes. Thanks for making it known that this woman did something besides feed Benny Hill's fantasies.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the post. yesterday i've watched a Benny Hill episode containing the Fever sketch and then i instantly felt the need to find out, who's this lady. she's awesome.

Chortler said...

Interesting to read more about Dilys. The Watling family are an interesting bunch: sister Deborah was a 60s Dr Who girl, brother Giles was an actor and now an MP. Dad Jack was a well known TV actor. Dilys has faded from memory a bit.

Anonymous said...

Her name is Dilys not Dylis!

Ill Folks said...

Thanks...change made. (The header was DYLIS but in the text, I did call her Dilys). Oh the dyslexia. I wonder if Phillis Dyller suffered from it.