Look Out, Here Comes Fenella Federal

Today: more researching Polari at the British Library (and more walking the 4 miles to get there).

Like all lexicons associated with criminality, Polari has many words for police. eg ‘Betty Bracelets’, ‘Hilda Handcuffs’, ‘Lily Law’, or ‘Lilies’ for short. Makes me idly wish that the term favoured by last month’s rioters, ‘The Feds’, is short for ‘Fenella Federal’.

Discovered that Polari pops up in a 1973 episode of Doctor Who, as spoken by Vorg, an intergalactic showman. Jon Pertwee plays the Doctor. Here’s the clip: http://dai.ly/pBH7Fc

In fact, although he says he’s using ‘carnival lingo’, which would make it the 19th century Parlyaree (one of Polari’s many ingredients) the phrases he uses are more like Polari.

‘Vada the bona palone’ (get a load of this pretty lady)

‘Nanti dinarly round here, eh Jules!’ (no money round here)

It really sounds like Jules, too, as in Julian and Sandy. I’m guessing it’s a knowing Round The Horne reference for the family crowd of 1973.

I was also intrigued to learn that the 2010 arena show, Doctor Who Live, featured the son of Vorg – Vorgenson – played by Nigel Planer, getting up to similar tricks with Matt Smith’s Doctor. The writer, Gareth Roberts, confirmed to me on Twitter that he snuck a bit of Round The Horne into Vorg’s lines as a tribute.

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