Joe Baker starred in My Man Joe as a helpless and hapless character who tries mad money-making schemes to recapture past glory for the aristocratic Lord Peregrine Hansford (Francis Matthews), for whom Joe is a valet. The schemes always flop.
The series starred Baker's real-life wife Anne Lloyd (who had previously played Sister Beattie in Emergency-Ward 10). Baker's father was a music-hall comic. At 11 weeks, he was carried on stage at the Empire by Gracie Fields and at 14 made his debut at Collins' music hall in Islington, North London. Joe Baker's television career began in shows like Josephine Douglas's Fire Crackers (1964) with Alfred Marks. In 1965 he had his own Joe Baker Show with Gerald Harper, and two years later starred in Baker's Half Dozen (My Man Joe was sandwiched between the two).
In 1972, Baker, who had been greatly influenced by American humour (his slick style went down particularly well with troops at American bases in Britain) starred in the ABC Comedy Hour on US television and in 1975 he emigrated to the USA, even though he was then earning a reputed £20,000 a year in Britain and starring in a lucrative television advertisement as a washing machine repairman, for Bold washing powder. He didn't become the huge success he was hoping for in the States, although he appeared regularly on programmes such as Hollywood Squares.
Published on January 9th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.