Wednesday 17 May 2017

Monster Memories: The Deadly Ernest Horror Show

I tried to get this painting and post out for Halloween 2016 but with October being a busy time for me I missed the deadline... No matter, better late than never! Last time I tackled horror host Dr Walpurgis (later changed to Dr. Terror) host of the Vault of Horror which ran on BBC 2 from 1992 to 1996 and I mentioned that some regard him to be Britain's’ first television horror host and that this was not in fact the case. The first British horror host was Deadly Ernest who had actually left our screens a year before the good Doctor Walpurgis made his debut having been on Sky Channel (later renamed Sky 1) since 1985 hosting a Friday night horror show entitled, The Deadly Ernest Horror Show
Ernest (not to be confused with the Australian horror host Deadly Earnest) was a vampire that introduced the Friday night horror movie and if one consults the all knowing internet about the show Jack Hardy is credited for playing Earnest however, Jack Hardy was in fact one Mr. Jim Bywater, actor of stage, screen and television roles perhaps most notably playing Wilf Starkey in Coronation Street. There is despairingly little about him or the show online, and not even Sky 1, the very channel that aired the series could help me in my research, a great shame because Ernest was one of Sky's regular faces back in the day and when the channel celebrated its 5th Birthday in 1987 Ernest made up the group of Sky presenters singing along on Anita Chellamah's 'Join the Family of Sky' music video alongside fellow presenters such Anthea Turner, Tony Blackburn, Pat Sharp and DJ Kat! What information I have been able to “dig up” on Ernest/ Jack Hardy/ Jim Bywater has been meagre but in an interview for the October 20th – 26th 1990 edition of TV Guide apart from learning that he liked Thunder and lightning, that he rode a motorbike, stroked a lion and he had once ridden on a dolphin. He was also a horror movie fan, “I really like a good horror, my favourite is the one where the chap’s head explodes (Scanners) and I like the Omen films.” But confessed to not watching all the movies that featured on his show, “Some of those Japanese films like Godzilla are a bit silly, and then there are things like Plan Nine from Outer Space where you’ve got men wandering round in bits of carpet.” When asked about fear he surmised, “I think fear is all in the imagination and that’s what film makers rely on- the audience imagining the worst.”  
TV Guide September 15-21 1990

When Rupert Murdoch expanded Sky's service and formed the Sky Television Network in February 1989 Ernest’s show was 're-vamped' in September of that year with a new wardrobe and sidekick, Scarlett Aorta, played by model and former Page 3 girl Jilly Johnson. Also a self confessed horror fan, listing American Werewolf in London as her favourite, “The music is fantastic, the special effects are great and the leading man is very hunky, even if he needs to shave from time to time, when there’s a full moon!” she threw herself into the role. I was fortunate to be able to come in contact with Jilly who informed me that she loved playing Scarlett and that the scripts on the show were brilliant and that the set writer and director were always happy for them to improvise. As for the movies that featured in the early days YouTube gives us some idea, 'The Late Nancy Irving' and ‘Sweet Scent of Death’ are mentioned suggesting that they aired the feature length episodes of Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense from 1984. Vintage issues of TV Guide once again came to my aid due to the main British listing magazines not publishing cable and satellite listings until 1991. Here is an ongoing list of episodes that I hope to keep open and update accordingly.

Friday September 15th 1989 11:30pm Vampire (1979).

Friday September 22nd 1989 11:30pm Killer Bees (1974).

Friday September 29th 1989 11:30pm Island of Sister Theresa (1979).

Friday October 6th 1989 11:30pm Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1974).

Friday October 27th 1989 11:30pm Creepshow (1982).

Friday November 17th 1989 11:30pm Shadow of the Cat (1961).

Friday November 24th 1989 11:30pm The Coming (1981).

Friday December 8th 1989 11:30pm Mad Dog (1976).

Friday December 22nd 1989 11:30pm Whispering Smith Hits London (1952).

Friday January 12th 1990 11:30pm Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1984).

Friday January 19th 1990 11:30pm Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)

Friday February 2nd 1990 11:30pm Breaker Breaker (1977)

Friday February 9th 1990 11:30pm Lies (1985). 

Friday February 16th 1990 11:30pm Crazy Mama (1975). 

Friday March 2nd 1990 11:30pm Dark Star (1974).

Friday March 9th 1990 11:30pm Dick Barton- Special Agent (1948).

Friday April 6th 1990 11:45pm Death in Space (1974)

Friday May 18th 1990 11:30pm The Wide World of Mystery 'Murder Impossible' (1974). 

Friday May 25th 1990 11:30pm The Outer Space Connection (1975).

Friday June 1st 1990 11:30pm Lured (1947).

Friday June 15th 1990 11:30pm Island of Sister Theresa (1979).

Friday June 29th 1990 11:30pm Sophisticated Gent (1981).

Friday July 6th 1990 11:30pm Vogues of 1938 (1937).

Friday July 20th 1990 11:30pm Bobbikins (1959).

Friday July 27th 1990 11:30pm You Only Live Once (1937).

Friday Aug 3rd 1990 11:30pm The Rollicking Adventures of Eliza Fraser (1976).

Friday Aug 10th 1990 11:30pm Sleeping Dogs (1977).

Friday Aug 17th 1990 11:30pm The Bunker (1981). 

Friday Aug 24th 1990 11:30pm Manbeast! Myth or Monster? (1978).

Friday Aug 31st 1990 11:30pm Atragon (1963).

Friday Sept 7th 1990 11:00pm Attack of the Puppet People (1958).

Friday Sept 21st 1990 11:00pm Deranged (1974).

Friday October 19th 1990 11:00 Dr Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine (1965).

Friday October 26th 1990 11:00pm The Evictors (1979).

Friday November 9th 1990 11:00pm Squirm (1976). 

Friday December 7th 1990 12 Midnight  Blood Bath (1966). 

Friday March 1st 1991 11:00pm Zontar The Thing From Venus (1966).

Friday March 8th 1991 11:00pm Vampire (1979).

Friday March 15th 1991 11:00pm Master of the World (1961).

Friday March 22nd 1991 11:00pm Dark Star (1974).

Friday March 29th 1991 11:00pm Fer-de-Lance (1974).

Friday April 4th 1991 11:00pm Killer Bees (1974).

Friday April 12th 1991 11:00pm Trilogy of Terror (1975).

Friday April 19th 1991 11:00pm Night Drive (1977).

TV Guide February 3-9 1990
TV Guide September 9th 1989 
TV Guide November 3-9 1990

TV Guide October 20-26 1990
I didn't actually get to experience Deadly Ernest the first time round, despite constant desperate pleas from my brother and I to our parents our household didn't join the Sky revolution until around 1994 before that occasion it was recordings of movies, or shows such as ALF, WWF Wrestling and The Simpsons recorded by family and friends already signed up to Sky but even then it would seem that Sky had laid Ernest to rest, the Friday night film ran without him all the same but under the guise of Friday Fright Feature. RIP Deadly Ernest, 1685- 1991 Britain's First Horror Host.

Were you involved in the show? Have any other information that could help out my research? Drop me a line or e-mail direct and help me get this show and those involved the recognition they deserve!

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


  1. I remember Jilly Johnson. Wasn't she one of the early Page 3 girls?

  2. I hadn't heard of him! Thank you for the education.

  3. I loved this show, and I remember seeing Witchfinder General, The Creeping Flesh, Beast in The Cellar and the classic Blood on Satan's Claw.

  4. Loved Deadly Earnest! Watched it every Friday after coming in from the pub.

  5. Do you have any further info on the Friday Fright Feature series? I seem to recall this didn’t have a presenter skit before the movie? I do remember it having a pretty good intro though featuring nooses, axes and dank dungeons maybe?



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