One of the best ever Maltese comedians was born one hundred years ago.
Born in Senglea and bred in Cospicua, Charles Clews is considered as the king of Maltese comedy, especially for his clean humour in newspapers, broadcasting and on stage.
He became popular with the Rediffusion programme ‘Radju Muskettieri’ and with the Stage Commandos theatrical company. The heritage in humour he left behind is being renewed during these days.
He wanted to become an architect, however family needs led him to leave school and in 1935 he started working at the Dockyard where, during break time – sitting on two boxes on a plank – Charles Clews started entertaining his colleagues especially during the war when the workers morale was very low due to hard times and continuous attacks.
His son, Alan Clews converted a garage at Marsaskala into a small museum to commemorate his father. He told TVM that, together with Armando Urso and Johnny Catania, they created a revolution with clean humour.
“With great simplicity they joined together to hold the first show at the dockyard when they converted a hangar into a stage and gave a Christmas show – then the Stage Commandos was born”.
The three comedians had great suċċess and were immediately invited to produce and present a daily programme on Rediffusion, called ‘Radju Muskettieri’.
The programme was not a first for Charles Clews in Malta. “My father came up with the stand-up comedy, that is together with Johnny Navarro and Johnny Catania they dressed themselves well and provided humour in front of audiences”.
The Stage Commandos were so popular that all of Malta’s theatre halls had presented performances of the show.
Charles Clews also participated in the inaugural transmission of Television Malta on the 29th September 1962.
In the 70s he created the radio adventures called ‘Fredu Frendo Sghendo’, acted by Johnny Navarro, while for almost 50 years he was a regular contributor in newspapers and reviews with humouristic pages in ‘it-Torca’. He was recognised for his career in 1996 with the national award ‘Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika’.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Charles Clews birth, an exhibition was held in Cospicua, where he lived for many years. Between the 27th and 29th September an evening daily spectacle will be held at St John’s Cavalier in Valletta during which popular works of Charles Clews will be presented, including the play ‘It-tieġ ta’ Karmena Abdilla’. A book which Charles Clews had written but was not published will be also launched.