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Mad dogs and Englishmen

852 of 1160 nominations


Mad dogs and Englishmen

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Mad dogs and Englishmen

...Go out in the midday sun – according to Sir Noel Coward. Despite his clipped tones and terribly, terribly English characters, the actor, composer and playwright disdained the snobbery, pleasure-loving and downright refusal to adapt to foreign habits he saw in British colonial society, especially in Malaya, which he visited in 1930. It's believed that this journey, more than any other, provided the song's inspiration.

Coward wrote it – composing words and music entirely in his head – during a car journey from Haiphong to Saigon, Vietnam. It was originally going to be included in Cochran's 1931 Revue, but ended up in Words And Music (1932).

In the 1950s and 60s, Coward took to performing cabaret in Las Vegas. Ironically, Mad Dogs And Englishmen became a showstopper – a song by an Englishman spoofing his own compatriots, performed to wealthy Americans in a gambling town in the middle of the desert. The song is now the third biggest royalty earner in the Coward songbook.


Your comments

For many this sums up Englishness. Stubbornness, eccentricity and a surreal sense of humor. A willingness to laugh at ourselves even though we know we are "best". See also Flanders and Swans "The English are best."

John Ashurst

Seminal work by the greatest Englishman of the 20th century.
Robin Prestage



My nomination is the garden shed.