Almanac Comedy: Mo in McCackie Mansion episode ‘The Scottish Butcher’

 

 

Roy Rene in character as Mo. (Wikitree.)

 

Mo in McCackie Mansion Episode ‘The Scottish Butcher’

 

McCackie Mansion, starring the legendary Australian actor/comedian ‘Mo’ (Roy Rene, born Henry van de Sluice) was a radio series made in Sydney, recorded before a live audience in 2GB’s Theatrette. It dates from the latter part of Mo’s career, starting in 1947 as a filler in a variety show named Calling the Stars. The series centred upon Mo McCackie’s house with his friends, neighbours and son ‘Young Harry’. It was so popular it went on to 155 episodes over nearly six years.

 

I’m pretty certain when I was a young kid in the late 1960s the show was still on radio in re-runs, and I first became aware of it way back then. It’s still very funny today – so much of the humour has stood the test of time.

 

The online Australian Variety Theatre Archive notes: ‘Part of the success of McCackie Mansions [sic] was its reliance on many of the ingredients of vaudeville. Many of the show’s stock phrases, notably Rene’s “you filthy beast” and Hal Lashwood’s “aaah McCackie, you’ve done it again,” became part of the Australian vocabulary for years to come. The show also created classic Australian characters such as Spencer the Garbage Man (played by Harry Avondale); McCackie’s young son, Harry (Harry Griffiths); and Mo’s next-door neighbour, Horrible Herbie (Jack Burgess).’

 

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In the following episode of McCackie Mansion, ‘The Scottish Butcher’, Mo and the gang discuss his butcher, Angus McTavish. Hilarity ensues …

 

 

 

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, was published in late 2020 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.

Comments

  1. I had LP’s of McCackie Mansions in the 60’s. “Cop this Young Harry” became a part of the vernacular. And an elongated “pheeeew……………it’s Spencer the Garbage Man”. Prototype for Pepe Le Pew.
    Not sure what the pancake makeup was about. And his strident nasal stage voice. Yiddish Vaudeville.
    The school comedy “Yes, What” with Bottomly and Greenbottle was a hoot and got replayed into the 70’s.
    Thanks for the memories KD.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for the comments, PB.

    Catchphrases and puns were certainly a big part of the McCackie Mansion show. The actors even performed these radio episodes in costume because there was a studio audience present. Mo’s white face makeup, painted black beard and general look were very much part of his vaudeville background, as I understand it.

    And I remember listening to reruns of ‘Yes, What’, too, of course – great fun!

  3. Colin Ritchie says

    Loved listening to ‘Yes, What’. I’d completely forgotten about that show. As I remember (could be absolutely wrong!) it was rerun in the early 70s, late afternoon possibly before the news, and I would listen as I drove home from work. Must check google to see if episodes are available online.

  4. Colin Ritchie says

    Plenty of info on the net about ‘Yes, What’. Here’s a link for info and episodes you can listen to. https://www.oldtimeradiodownloads.com/comedy/yes-what

  5. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Col! Thanks for the additional material – great stuff!

  6. Jim Johnson says

    Hi Kevin Densley; Re McCackie Mansions. I just looked at your article on Roy Rene Mo and McCackie Mansions. We heard the original radio broadcasts. At the time our part family live out in the sticks, two to four miles from Mount Evelyn, Lilydale, Mooroolbark or Montrose. We lived in a kero and candle lit house, Our radio was run on batteries, one a dry-cel and the other a car battery. We only listened occasionally to the radio. One of the batteries used was a car battery that was left at a bus stop, picked up by the bus service driver and taken to Croydon to be recharged and dropped off at the bus stop by the bus driver for us to pick up and pay him for the next time we saw him. How country can you get. One of the shows we listened to was McCackie Mansions. Yes the original broadcasts. It was from this house three Johnson’s played cricket for Mooroolbark 1945/46 to 1948/49 and two Johnsons, Charlie and Jim played Football for the Mount Evelyn 1st 18 in 1949 It was at this house property Jim invented his Stab Punt in 1949.
    Jim Johnson say’s thanks again Kevin Densley for your wonderfull McCackie Mansions article.
    Jim Johnson 88 not out, exit Melbourne High 1950

  7. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks so much for your response, Jim.

    I enjoyed your memories of life on the outskirts of Melbourne about seventy years ago.

    Mo was certainly a major Australian star in his day, wasn’t he?

    All the best to you!

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