Wilson, Keppel and Betty

Wilson, Keppel and Betty

Wilson, Keppel and Betty formed the greatest eccentric dance act of all time. Wilson and Keppel were two doleful, gangling, moustachioed, skinny-legged and obviously English men. They wore parodies of Eastern dress, usually a fez and a short nightshirt, revealing their scrawny legs. The third member of the team was the glamorous Betty. To the popular music ‘Egyptian Ballet’ by Luigini, they performed a sand dance based on poses familiar from Egyptian tomb art, with Betty as the central seductress. Their complete seriousness added to the hilarity. The dance only became funnier as Wilson and Keppel got older and more emaciated. Music hall spawned many comedy dance acts but no other has become part of the general public consciousness like Wilson, Keppel and Betty. A comedian or performer only has to turn in profile and raise a hand in ‘Egyptian’ style for audiences to know the reference. They even turn up (or their costumes do) as Gulli, Gulli and Betti in Terry Pratchett’s Jingo – once the fez and nightshirt were out of the bag, no reader needed the parodied name to get the reference.