All I want for Christmas is to swing with The Krankies

Swing when you're winning: Janette and Ian Tough leaving Clyde Auditorium after panto performance this week
Swing when you're winning: Janette and Ian Tough leaving Clyde Auditorium after panto performance this weekMichael McGurk/Rex Features

It must be such a boon to reach an age where you just can’t give a hoot whatever anyone else thinks.

And so it is with The Krankies, who have been married for some 42 years. The whole of Scotland seemed to reel back in collective shock earlier this week when it was revealed that the children’s entertainers had a period in their 70s and 80s heyday “wilder than most rock stars”, in which house cleaning duties weren’t the only things being swapped on a regular basis.

The pair have been around so long that most of us remember laughing at Wee Jimmy Krankie and her father when we were children ourselves, so the reaction at their swinging antics was certainly understandable in a sense. It’s similar to the discomfort elicited by the thought of your parents “doing it”, even though you know full well that you wouldn’t have existed if they hadn’t. (It tends to put you in a hell of a bind when you discover a discarded Polaroid at the family home of them grinning away merrily while whipping one another at the local underground fetish club).

The squeals of horror can’t have been just at that though, as a lot of what was then published went far beyond what was merited by any such squirms of embarrassment. Online articles talked about the nation being “sick in their mouth”, that it was a “revelation too far” by the pair, and that they’d admitted to a “sordid sexual past”.

That latter description came courtesy of The Daily Mail, who to be fair do know an awful lot about engaging in sordid activities. But what exactly was so dirty or squalid about The Krankies’ admission?

Those who thoughtlessly regurgitated their quotes on the matter obviously hadn’t bothered to listen to Stark Talk, on which Ian and Janette had been interviewed. (You can find the show here.) The 30-minute radio programme is described on the BBC’s site as being about their “enduring partnership”, and it’s a lovely listen, even during more risqué subject – all of which they happily talk about without any tetchiness or reticence. It’s a terrific testament to a couple who have been together for more than four decades, and the pair a joy to listen to as they bounce off each other during the prolonged conversation. It’s actually extremely heart-warming for anyone who cherishes the notion of finding themselves a perfect partner.

However, that’s obviously not shocking enough for moronic tabloid publications desperately after an audience (in a time when sensible-minded punters are – for some bizarre reason – deserting them in their droves), so instead they take the sauciest snippet of the interview, then adopted a jeering, derisory tone towards a married couple who clearly adore each other, and who have devoted most of their lives to entertaining others.

Is it okay to openly laugh at their sex life just because they’re swingers? You might claim it’s because they’re physically unconventional, but we don’t so readily chortle at the idea of Elton John getting his rocks off with David Furnish, or guffaw at the thought of Jeremy Clarkson reaching for top gear with all and sundry. (Quite the opposite, in fact.) It’s arguable that there were less snickers when former Prime Minister Tony Blair boasted about him and Cherie, even though the thought of them copulating is hard to conjure up in the most fertile of imaginations.

I don’t understand why you’d want to swing, but then I don’t “get” other sexual proclivities – for that reason it seems only fair to withhold any judgement and wish everyone the best with their respective pursuits (the health and safety of others obviously providing some exceptions). So should everyone, I would have thought, but instead some moralising gibbons seem so certain they’re “normal” that they can castigate any others who don’t measure up to their closeted, conservative standards. Shame on them – it isn’t a coincidence that those types usually appear to be no fun at all.

Perhaps being a swinger shows that you don’t value your partner enough – then again, maybe it demonstrates that your trust is so great you can allow them to enjoy others’ company without throwing an immature hissy fit. It’s not for me to say. In the case of The Krankies, it doesn’t seem as though those dalliances they indulged in did any lasting damage to their relationship, even at the time itself. (You have to love that additional tale of theirs, where they got so amorous alone in a boat that they almost ended up in France by mistake.)

Indeed, they had so much of a whale of a time during their heyday that even Status Quo said they were wilder than rock stars. (That being the band where, while recording Do They Know It’s Christmas, one member allegedly got so coked up that the other had to sing his line while pretending to be him.) Forget about just understanding their behaviour – why on earth wouldn’t you want to join them? Cruising about on a big fancy bus on tour, having the time of your life, and also having so much fun that you’re giving everyone else around you the time of their lives too (whether you’re on stage, behind the stage or hunkered down in some unerotic nook or cranny underneath the stage).

So yes, sign me up, and you should put your own name down at the same time! Better to be replicate The Krankies’ shining example of lives well lived than to in any way resemble one of those putrid po-faced commentators turning their nose up at the pair this Christmas time. Actually, I’d be tempted to show up at their latest panto in the front row wearing a purple rose on my lapel – or whatever the correct signal would be – but I’m betting that the pair already have their hands full with delicious co-star John Barrowman. Boy oh boy, that “sordid sexual past” of theirs certainly seems to have rebounded on them.


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