Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Sad Tale of Wiggan Roxitty (1940 – 2012)

It is testament to the fickle nature of celebrity that little is known now of Wiggan Roxitty, yet for forty years he appeared on our television screens as the only panellist of the game show ‘Call My Bluff’ to appear in every episode.

Details about Roxitty’s disappearance from our screens, our memories and popular culture at large are scarce. The only indication given is from a leaked health report from 2006, indicating that he had been hospitalised – suffering from a form of madness that comes from a lifetime of lying to people for a living. Some might recall that Wiggan Roxitty only ever held ‘bluff’ cards on the show and falsifying information became his stock-in-trade. It seems that he found it more and more difficult to separate fact from fiction in real life and almost always lied in conversation.

His co-star, Frank Muir, recalled in his autobiography (in a chapter now sadly excised from current editions):

“Taking Wiggan to dinner was a minefield. The waiter would approach and a typical conversation would play out thus:

‘Ah, Mr Roxitty, how nice to see you again!’

‘Again? I’ve never been here before, and who’s this Roxitty character you’re talking about?’

...and this would continue well into the evening. On being presented with the dessert menu, he would invariably fall into his ‘Bluff’ routines and insist on reading the list to me, with spurious definitions of the puddings on offer. ‘Frank (if that is your real name),’ he would say, ‘SYLLABUB’ – a shart pointed stick used by the Elders of the Masai tribe.’ I would laugh at his cunning and amusing definitions, but there was a sadness behind his eyes which suggested he actually meant it all.”

Documents recently discovered at the BBC show that later host of the show, Bob Holness and team captain, Sandi Toksvig, were baffled as to why Roxitty was invited back to return as a panellist when the show was revived in the Nineties. There seems to be some suggestion of medical input into the decision as the memo from the producer has a hand written note attached saying, “If we don’t put him here, we can’t put him anywhere. It’s for his own good”, followed by a drawing of a frowning face.

The only publicly available record of Wiggan Roxitty now is his (out-of-print) autobiography, “The Life and Times of Leonard J Campanile – Horse Burglar”.

No comments:

Post a Comment