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Apr 17

Remembering: Piffy The Bell Ringer (with bonus interview)

Piffy The Bell Ringer

Throughout the 2 seasons of The Late Show, a segment called Toilet Break would be played, around 3/5 of the way into the show. Season 1 played excerpts from The Saturday Show from the late 70s to early 80s, and Season 2 were highlights from the 80s talent show Pot Luck, hosted by Ernie Sigley and judge Bernard King. But more on that in a later post.

One of the most well known and popular Pot Luck Toilet Break segments was from Episode 4 in 1993, where a clip of an 8 year old boy playing bells was shown. His name? Piffy The Bell Ringer.

Even though it was 4 episodes in of viewing Pot Luck segments, it was enough to develop a new fan base and popularity. During that week, viewers wrote in (pen and paper style!) and demanded more Piffy. Other than the cameo appearance from the audience, Piffy also joined sparring partners Graham And The Colonel for their sports news updates, demonstating what he did best – ring bells. Even Tom Gleisner took the mickey out of him at one stage, dressing up as Piffy.

As part of the 20 year anniversary, we tracked down Remi Broadway (aka Piffy) who was ever so polite to answer a few questions about his appearance on Pot Luck and The Late Show all those years ago.

“Piffy” – where did that name come from?

As a 7 yr old I played the role of Wee Willy Winky in a Christmas pantomime. At one point my character said indignantly, “He called me ‘Winkle PIFFLE’.” The family thought it was so cute they started to called me ‘Piffy’.
Where did you get the idea of playing bells? Do you still dust off the bells to play at parties?
It’s an old family talent. My father was taught by his father and he passed it on to me.

Are there certain brand bells you need to get the right tones and sound for?

I’m not aware of any other tuned Sheep / Cow bells out there. I only have the one set and it’s been in my family for generations.

Can you remember what it was like to perform on Pot Luck? Did Ernie Sigley and Bernard King make you feel comfortable?

I don’t remember much as I was only 9. I do remember that I won the heat and for some reason it had to be re-filmed. Fortunately I won the second time around but the prize was $1500 worth of silverware. Not much use for a 9 yr old but I still have it 25 years later. I also remember being extremely embarrassed when Ernie asked mum if I had a nickname and she said “Piffy”. As a kid I was very embarrassed by the name.
Had you heard of The Late Show before you were invited to be on it?
No, I was 15 and not in the habit of watching late night television. I first heard about it when a friend told me he’d seen me.

Are you aware that after all this time, you still have a cult following?

I’m not sure about a cult following! But I do get recognised from time to time, usually when I least expect it, like standing at the urinal.

Can you remember the atmosphere in the studio at ABC?

Yes, the atmosphere was absolutely fantastic. The D-Generation were extremely fun to work with and made me feel really comfortable.

Did you get new-found popularity in school and with your mates after your appearance? Does that still happen today?

I don’t know about popularity but I certainly got attention. My mates are used to me popping up on TV so it doesn’t happen today.

Have you used this attention from The Late Show to get you further in your performing career?

That’s a tough question. I have been working as an actor since but I don’t think my role as Piffy has influenced any of the auditions.

What are you up to now? 

Now I’m the proud owner of Central Lounge Bar & Dining in Surfers Paradise (www.centrallounge.com.au). I haven’t played the bells for a few years but I’m still entertaining people every day with delicious food and the best cocktails in town. Shameless self-promotion, I know, but it’s true! If your readers want a bit of a laugh they should check out www.chooseyourowntube.com – it’s an interactive sitcom I directed a few years ago with my brother.

Thank you heaps to Remi for taking the time to respond to the hard-hitting A Current Affair style questions laid out to him. Remi also has an official site, so check out his showreel and other works: www.remibroadway.com

Here’s the original Pot Luck performance for your viewing pleasure.

1 ping

  1. Season 2 Episode 5 » Champagne Comedy: The Late Show fan site

    […] (Whatever became of Piffy? Read our interview with Remi Broadway.) […]

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