Beachcomber intro >
|In 1924 John Cameron Audrieu
Bingham Michael Morton took over authorship of the column "By The Way" in the Daily
Express. He inherited the pseudonym 'Beachcomber' from his predecessors on the job
(the column had existed since 1917), but he was to make that name forever his own by
virtue of his astonishing output and success: Morton wrote the column for over 50 years,
six times a week, until 1965 when the column became a weekly feature, and continued to the
last column in November 1975. J B Morton used an eccentric cast of regular characters in
his sketches, which frequently caricatured self-important and high-brow public figures.
We can still enjoy his wonderful stuff; see below, and the other pages on this site.
The late, great Spike Milligan said: "As schoolboys, my brother and I - both Irish, by the way - worshipped Beachcomber ... and used to paste his paragraphs in a book, and that led to the birth of the Goon Show." The Goon Show, as we know, influenced almost everything.
Most issues of Private Eye carry an "In the Courts" column, in which Mr Justice Cocklecarrot is exasperated by an only-slightly-exaggerated case based on some dispute between pompous people in the news.
Some of the Monty Python characters' funny names were probably inspired by Beachcomber's. Almost certainly his Ministry of Bubbleblowing begat the Python's Ministry of Silly Walks.
|The other day I
received an e-mail from the present Mr Beachcomber, informing me that the 'By The Way'
Beachcomber column in the Daily Express is now in excellent health and back almost to the
insane glory it enjoyed in the great J.B.Morton's day.
Since the Express's change of ownership, the Beachcomber archive seems to have been suspended. Keep trying!
|In the diverting
website 'Katzphur', E. D. Wivens has a page
devoted to Beachcomber.
Mr Alastair McIntyre, a senior journalist on the Daily Express, maintains a web-site called The Daily Drone which has some Beachcomber history. The funny stuff nods more towards P G Wodehouse, however.
There is a character called Rincewind in Terry Pratchett's book 'The Colour of Magic'.
I have not sought permission from the Estate of J B
Morton, nor from Express Newspapers, to reproduce the above extracts. I have posted this
web-site only as a tribute and in the evangelical hope that one or two others may be
encouraged to read Beachcomber.