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The Alberts were a British music/comedy troupe of the mid-1950s to mid-1960s, featuring brothers Tony and Douglas Gray. They often also appeared with Bruce Lacey. They were influenced by music hall, 1920s jazz and Surrealism. At times they would gather a larger troupe and perform as “The Massed Alberts”.
They appeared on several of Spike Milligan’s television series. It was intended that they would create the first show on the BBC’s second channel BBC2 on April 20th 1964. A power failure delayed the launch until the following day. The show, The Albert’s Channel Too, also featured Ivor Cutler.
They had a residency at Peter Cook’s Establishment Club in London. Lenny Bruce met them there and invited them to come and perform in the United States. They travelled across on the Queen Mary entertaining/annoying other passengers with their antics which included riding penny-farthing bicycles around the decks. They arrived in New York to find Bruce had been arrested.
In January 1963, together with Joyce Grant and Ivor Cutler, Michael Codron and William Donaldson presented An Evening of British Rubbish, which Princess Margaret attended twice, and which was released on an LP record by George Martin, head of Parlophone at the time. They also along with Bruce Lacey presented a version of The Three Musketeers at The Arts Theatre and then at The Royal Court, Sloane Square, The Three Musketeers Ride Again which also starred Rachel Roberts as Madame de Winter, Rosa Bosom and Valentine Dyall as Cardinal Richelieu, Alex Jawdokimova as Aramis and Sinbad Gray as Pustule and many others. The show was directed by Elenoar Fazan. All costumes and designs were created by Ann Gray, wife to Tony Gray.
Along with Bruce Lacey and Stuart Samuels The Alberts starred in two short comedy films directed by the infamous pinup photographer George Harrison Marks. The films were Uncles Tea Party (1962) and Defective Detectives.
Thanks to Joan Littlewood they presented a show at the Theatre Royal in Stratford, London, called the Electric Element. They also performed at the Roundhouse, London, Private Eye’s “Golden Balls Fundraiser” alongside many, including Spike Milligan. They later appeared in Gullivers Travels at the Mermaid Theatre. They also popped up in several Ken Russell films, notably Dante’s Inferno and The Music Lovers. They had a single released produced by George Martin at Abbey Road, The Morse Code Melody with Sleepy Valley on the flip side. They also toured the world with the Royal Opera house with non singing roles in Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes.
Today they both continue to live in true eccentric style, Tony lives in France, his brother, Douglas, in Norfolk.
Tony Gray died 14 April 2014 in France.
- The Alberts, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, The Temperance Seven, singles compilation album, 1971
- By Jingo It's British Rubbish (1998 CD: HUX 015), singles compilation
- BBC comedy guide: the Alberts.
- George Martin: All You Need Is Ears (1983), p. 99. St. Martin’s Press, New York.