June 12, 2010
from 'Rhubarb' (1969)
The word 'Rhubarb' is used by actors and extras to simulate a low key conversation, mumbling and general hubbub, particularly in crowd scenes. The word was used due to its lack of harsh sounding consonants, and spoken by a large group of people, unsynchronized, effectively created a continuous murmur.
When a few actors gathered backstage and represented ‘noise without’ made by a mob, they intoned the sonorous word ‘rhubarb’. The action was called ‘rhubarbing’, the actors ‘rhubarbers’.
The Eric Sykes' 1969 short film 'Rhubarb' plays on this insensible babble, with the script consisting entirely of the repeated word 'Rhubarb'. This was later remade by Sykes in 1980 under the title 'Rhubarb Rhubarb'.