Others who have sung the same song have included Marlene Dietrich in the 1950s. In 1954, 'Dietrich swept on to the "Night of a Hundred Stars" at the London Palladium with Noel Coward. The glamorous pals faked a cakewalk to "Knocked 'Em in the Old Kent Road", a number neither of them really knew, but nobody minded, for they raised £10,000 for the Actors' Orphanage' (Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend by Steven Bach, 2011):
...Julie Andrews (in 1973)- this is awful -
... and best of all Fozzie Bear as a Pearly King in the Muppet Show (1978):
If all this is a terrible mockney/cockernee caricature, you could say the same about the original song. It was written in the 1890s by music hall star Albert Chevalier (1861-1923), with music by his brother Charles Ingle. Chevalier was born in Notting Hill to a French father and Welsh mother, hence his rather wonderful full name of Albert Onesime Britannicus Gwathveoyd Louis Chevalier.
Previously a professional actor, Chevalier specialised in writing 'coster songs' (costermongers were street sellers, especially of fruit and veg), using the costers' cockney slang. The full lyrics, with its tale of a Camberwell donkey being left in a will, are as follows:
Last week down our alley came a toff,
Nice old geezer with a nasty cough;
Sees my Missus, takes 'is topper off
In a very gentlemanly way;
"Ma'am," says he, "I have some news to tell,
Your rich uncle, Tom of Camberwell,
Popped off recent, which ain't a sell,
Leaving you 'is little donkey Shay."
"Wot cher!" all the neighbors cried,
"Who're yer goin' to meet, Bill?
have yer bought the street, Bill?"
Laugh? I thought I should 'ave died.
Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road!
Some says nasty things about the moke,
One cove thinks 'is leg is really broke;
That's 'is envy, 'cos' we're carriage folk,
Like the toffs as rides in Rotten Row;
Straight, it woke the alley up a bit,
Thought our lodger would 'ave 'ad a fit
When my missus, whose real wit,
Says, 'ates a 'bus because its low."
When we starts, the blessed donkey stops,
He won't move, so out I quickly 'ops,
Pals start whackin' him when down he drops,
Some one says he wasn't made to go.
Lor ", it might 'ave been a four-in- and,
My old Dutch Knows 'ow to the grand,
First she bows, and then she waves 'er 'and,
Calling out we're goin' for a blow!
Ev'ry evenin' on the stroke of five,
Me and missus takes a little drive;
You'd say, "Wonderful, they're still alive"
If you saw that little donkey go.
I soon showed him that 'e'd have to do
Just whatever he was wanted to,
Still I shan't forget that rowdy crew,
'Ollerin' Woa! steady! Neddy woa! -
Another Chevalier song, The Cockney Tragedian mentions The Cut at Waterloo, opening with the line 'I used to wheel a barrow for my father down the Cut, until I saw a drama at the Brit what turned my nut'.