Joan Turner - The Highs And Lows Of The Wacky Warbler



Lesley Garrett tells the fascinating story of operatic comedienne Joan Turner.

Joan Turner was a larger-than-life star who enjoyed a successful stage and television career in the 1960s and 70s.

She was born in Belfast in 1922 and made her debut at the Finsbury Empire as a singing comedienne.

Joan could perform pop or opera with her four-and-a-half-octave soprano voice, impersonate Judy Garland and Bette Davis, and then change to stand-up comic.

In her early career she worked with The Crazy Gang, appeared at many Royal Events, recorded for Pye Records and became the highest-earning female singer in Britain.

After touring all the major music halls she was considered a 'female Harry Secombe', and in the States they billed her as "The Wacky Warbler".

One reviewer described her as having "the voice of an angel and the wit of a devil".

Even though she gained a reputation for being difficult and unpredictable she remained a much loved figure on the show business circuit.

Her daughter Susanna Page always believed that "the best way to describe Mum is that she thought every day was Christmas".

She was to discover painfully that it was not.

By the late nineties an unkind reverse reduced her to the status of a bag lady walking the streets of Las Vegas and Los Angeles searching for work.

This downturn in her life and career was a result of a long term battle with gambling and alcoholism.

A few film and television roles saw a short revival in her fortunes but her last live comeback attempt ended in a drunken shambles.

She spent her final years in sheltered accommodation in Surrey.

The programme features interviews with Actor Harry Dickman,Variety entertainer Roy Hudd and Joan's daughter Susanna page.

Lesley Garrett tells the story of operatic comedienne Joan Turner.