Parsley Sidings

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Jim Eldridge

Parsley Sidings was a BBC Radio sitcom created by Jim Eldridge. It starred Arthur Lowe and Ian Lavender (who were also starring in the television wartime sitcom Dad’s Army at that time), together with Kenneth Connor from the Carry On films.

The scripts are by Jim Eldridge (who would later go on to write for many more series, the most successful being the BBC’s King Street Junior). The show is set in a sleepy out of the way railway station on the main line between London and Birmingham, in the Midlands.

The main characters are the station master, Mr Horace Hepplewhite (played by Arthur Lowe); his son, Bertrand (Ian Lavender); station porter Percy Valentine (Kenneth Connor); Mr Bradshaw, the signalman (also played by Kenneth Connor); and station tannoy announcer Gloria Simpkins (Liz Fraser, who was also in the Carry On films, and appeared in the Dad’s Army feature film). The guest cast in some episodes included Bill Pertwee (also from Dad’s army, appearing in episode 11) and Roger Delgado. The announcer for the programme was Keith Skues.

Parsley Sidings – The 1890 Rocket (1972-01-02)

psid_105 THE 1890 ROCKET_ Parsley Sidings

Arthur Lowe and Ian Lavender

The series was produced by Edward Taylor, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 2. Due to the BBC’s former practice of wiping tapes after the broadcast of a show, only a minority of the 21 episodes produced are still in their archives  – Goodbye, Parsley Sidings and The Entente Cordialare aired on BBC 7 occasionally and have always been in the BBC archives, while A Night OutA Bird in the Hand and The Secret Agent were recovered between 2001 and 2003 as off-air recordings from members of the public. These episodes too have been aired, in early 2007, on BBC 7. All the other episodes are known to exist in private hands.

Many of the voices were acted by Kenneth Connor

In 2008, more episodes were ‘discovered’, including the pilot and “The New Level Crossing”. It is not yet known whether these other episodes will be repeated.

You can hear Parsley Siding on the British Comedy Channel at the following times:

Weekdays at 16:00 GMT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episodes Guide

Series 1
Title Recorded First broadcast
Pilot Unknown 1971-02-28
The Market Special Unknown 1971-12-05
The Postal Express Unknown 1971-12-12
The Beauty Queen Contest Unknown 1971-12-19
The Inspector Calls Unknown 1971-12-31
The 1890 Rocket Unknown 1972-01-02
The Excursion Unknown 1972-01-09
Cricket, Lovely Cricket Unknown 1972-01-16
Who’ll Be Mother? Unknown 1972-01-23
The Concert Unknown 1972-01-30
Goodbye, Parsley Sidings Unknown 1972-02-06
Series 2
Title Recorded First broadcast
Pass The Parcel Unknown 1973-09-29
The Flower Show Unknown 1973-10-06
The Entente Cordial Unknown 1973-10-13
A Night Out Unknown 1973-10-20
The Goods Train Unknown 1973-10-27
A Bird In The Hand Unknown 1973-11-03
The Purity League Unknown 1973-11-10
The New Level Crossing Unknown 1973-11-17
The Film Makers Unknown 1973-11-24
The Secret Agent Unknown 1973-12-01
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Much Binding in the Marsh

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Much Binding

During WW2, there was a radio show for the Services called “Merry Go Round which comprised of three separate series: one for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Royal Air Force. These rotated, so that each was heard once every three weeks. The Army show was “Studio Stand Easy”, starring comedian Charlie Chester.

He was actually an Army Sergeant when the show was conceived, having been called-up following the outbreak of war. Unbelievably, he was actually ordered by his commanding officer to write a smash-hit radio show! This, he later remarked wryly, was easier said than done. But he was a first rate comedian, who, like Kenneth Horne, continued to be very successful on radio well into the 1960s.

The Navy’s contribution to “Merry Go Round”, initially entitled “H.M.S. Waterlogged”, starred light comedian

Kenneth Horne, Richard Murdoch, Maureen Riscoe, Sam Costa & Maurice Deham.

Eric Barker, supported by Jon Pertwee (who was later to have big successes in the BBC radio comedy “The Navy Lark” and on television as the third Doctor Who).

After the war, “H.M.S. Waterlogged” evolved into “Waterlogged Spa”, with the Naval Base becoming a health spa as the show continued into the post-war period. Many of the characters who Pertwee played in this show would later reappear in “The Navy Lark” in the 1960s!

The Air Force show, “Much Binding in the Marsh”, was the most successful of these, to judge by how long it lasted.

 


Much Binding in the Marsh from the 24th May, 1950
Much_Binding_in_the_Marsh_s04e10_1950-05-24

 

Richard Murdoch and Arthur Askey on Bandwagon

Broadcast by the BBC and Radio Luxembourg from 1944 to 1954, Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh was a radio comedy about a fictional RAF station which starred Richard Murdoch, who had previously appeared alongside Arthur Askey in the pre-war “Band Waggon”, and Kenneth Horne, who is now remembered mainly for his 1960s heyday in the two satirical successes “Beyond Our Ken” and “Round the Horne”.

During the run of the show, the RAF station changed from combat operations, to becoming a country and finally a newspaper, The Weekly Bind. The programme’s title is thought to have been inspired by the RAF station at Moreton-in-Marsh. The word “binding”, was RAF slang for moaning or complaining.

One of the most fondly remembered parts of the show was the closing theme tune, which was unique each week as topical lyrics referring to the plot of the episode were written and sung by members of the cast. Other cast members included Sam Costa, Maurice Denham, Maureen Riscoe, Dora Bryan and Nicholas Parsons.


Up the Pole from the 1st November 1948 (only known surviving episode)
Up The Pole – Nov 1 1948

Musical interludes were provided by Stanley Black and the Dance Orchestra, and songs from Helen Hill. The cast were occasionally joined by special guests; a prominent example of this was the Hollywood star Alan Ladd. Maurice Denham in particular played an important part in the programme, playing a multitude of roles of varying gender and age. These included Mr. Blake the Sexton (the name a homage to the fictional detective

Crooner, Sam Costa

Sexton Blake), the local Vicar, Mrs Dinsdale, young Percy and others.

The BBC cancelled the show in 1950 and it was transferred to Radio Luxembourg but returned to the BBC in 1951 until its run ended in 1954.

In 1970, two of its stars (Murdoch and Costa) appeared on several episodes of Frost on Sunday where they performed more comical lyrics to the theme tune. The show is also sometimes said to have popularised the term “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” for newspaper correspondents.

Kenneth Horne and Sam Costa subsequently reprised their roles from Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh in an episode of Men from the Ministry first broadcast on 21 April 1968 entitled Four Men in a Wellington. Although not specifically mentioned, the response of the audience and Sam Costa’s catchphrase ‘Good morning Sir, was there something?’ are obvious references to Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh.


HMS Waterlogged from Merry-Go-Round (8th August 1948)
Merry_Go_Round_1945-08-08_HMS_Waterlogged

Catchphrases

“Good morning Sir, was there something?” – Sam Costa, batman
“Oh, I say, I am a fool!”
“Have you read any good books lately?”
“Leave it with me, sir”
“Leave it with him, sir”
“Would you like to see my puppies?”
“Not a word to Bessie”
“Did I ever tell you about the time I was in Sidi Barrani?”

Live broadcast of Much Binding in the Marsh (Copyright British Pathe)

Little of the BBC’s radio output of the 1940s has survived, as most shows were broadcast live and were not recorded. The 78 rpm disk recording technology, which was all that was available prior to the development of tape recording, resulted in sound quality that was significantly worse than a live broadcast, so it was better not to fill the air-time with recordings, and being a non-commercial broadcaster the BBC had no financial incentive to preserve its output.

Those factors have made BBC recordings from this period rare. Luckily a few episodes of of Much Binding in the Marsh exist and can be heard every Saturday on the British Comedy Channel at 23:30 GMT

 

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Classic Comedy Films for Easter – Happy Holidays :)

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Sit back this Easter and have a little rest and a big laugh with our collection of Comedy Classics.

Watch them in the comfort of the Pumpkin Palace Cinema, your very own movie theater! I would like to wish all our listeners a happy, peaceful, and fun filled family Easter with plenty of the finer things in life, not excluding marshmallows, chocolate, and jelly beans!

Best wishes: John
ROK Classic Radio

** Click on a movie poster to watch that particular  film! **

Band Wagon

The film version of the radio series Bandwaggon released in 1939 by Gainsborough. The plot involved Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch running a pirate TV station in a ghostly castle and rounding up a gang of spies.

Cast:-Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Jack Hylton and his band, Pat Kirkwood, Moore Marriott, Peter Gawthorne, Wally Patch, Donald Calthrop.

You may be interested to know that Richard Murdoch plays ‘2’ in the Men from the Ministry!

Africa Screams

Though many of the gags go splat (they’re either feebly timed or missing the requisite punch line), the chemistry between the preeminent straight-man Abbott and his tubby, scatter-brained sidekick Costello is as raucously abrasive as ever.

Yes, the range of their shtick is admittedly narrow (the Marx Brothers would’ve had these guys for lunch), but after whiling away numberless Saturday afternoons during my formative years with revivals of their movies on television, the very thought of Abbott and Costello fills me with a nostalgic warmth.

Ask a Policeman

Another comedic masterpiece from Will Hay and his associates Moffatt and Marriott from 1939.

Here we have all three as village policemen trying to save their jobs whilst fighting headless horsemen, smugglers and a disgruntled police commissioner! … definitely not to be missed if you love classic British comedy.

I Thank You

In desperate need of money to put on a show, the pair dress up as house servants {Murdoch a servant and Askey in drag as a cook} and bluff their way into the home of Lady Randall (Lily Morris), an ex-music hall star known to give financial aid to performers in the arts close to her heart.However, chaos reigns.

Cast:

Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Lily Morris, Moore Marriott, Graham Moffatt, Peter Gawthorne, Kathleen Harrison, Felix Aylmer

Oh, Mr. Porter!

William Porter is working as a lowly wheel tapper on the English Railways until, through the influence of his downtrodden brother-in-law (who happens to be managing director of the railway company), he is offered the position of station master at the isolated station at Buggleskelly in Northern Ireland.

The greatest and funniest of all Will Hay’s comedies, Oh, Mr. Porter! still stands as one of the all-time classics of British cinema, a joyous anarchic romp that can never fail to send an audience into hysterics of unbridled laughter.

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Les Dawson

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Les Dawson (On the Left) 🙂

Leslie “Les” Dawson was an extremely popular English comedian remembered for his deadpan style, curmudgeonly persona and jokes about his mother-in-law and wife.

His career as an entertainer began as a pianist in a Parisian brothel, that is if you are to believe his very entertaining but factually unreliable autobiography.

Even though he was an accomplished pianist, he found that he got laughs by playing wrong notes and complaining to the audience.

He made his television debut on the talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1967 and became a prominent comic on British television and radio for the rest of his life.

Before his fame, Les Dawson wrote poetry but kept it secret. It was not expected that someone of his working class background would harbour such literary ambitions. In a BBC TV documentary about his life, he spoke of his love for some canonical figures in English literature, in particular the 19th Century essayist Charles Lamb, whose somewhat florid style influenced Dawson’s own.

 

His love of language influenced many of his comedy routines – for example one otherwise fairly routine joke began with the line “I was vouchsafed this vision by a pockmarked Lascar in the arms of a frump in a Huddersfield bordello…” He was also a master of painting a beautiful word picture and then letting the audience down with a bump: “The other day I was gazing up at the night sky, a purple vault fretted with a myriad points of light twinkling in wondrous formation, while shooting stars streaked across the heavens, and I thought: I really must repair the roof on this toilet.”

Les with Roy Barraclough as Ada & Cissy

Dawson wrote many novels but was always regarded solely as an entertainer in the public imagination, and this saddened him. He told his second wife, Tracey, “Always remind them – I was a writer too”.

Having broken his jaw in a boxing match, Dawson was able to pull grotesque faces by pulling his jaw over his upper lip. This incident is described in the first volume of Dawson’s autobiography A Clown Too Many.

He was married to Margaret from 25 June 1960 until her death on 15 April 1986 from cancer. They had had three children: Julie, Pamela and Stuart. He married Tracy on 6 May 1989, despite worries that his show-business contemporaries and the public would object, as she was 17 years younger. They had a daughter, Charlotte, who was born on 3 October 1992.

Les & Tracy with baby Charlotte

Dawson starred in a radio sketch show Listen to Les, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in the 1970s and 1980s. Television series in which he appeared included Sez Les for Yorkshire Television, The Dawson Watch for the BBC, written by Andy Hamilton and Terry Ravenscroft, The Les Dawson Show, written by Terry Ravenscroft, Dawson’s Weekly, Joker’s Wild (1969–73) and the quiz show Blankety Blank, which he presented for some years. His final TV appearance was on the LWT series Surprise, Surprise hosted by Cilla Black, when he sang a comical rendition of “I Got You Babe” with a woman from the audience who wanted to fulfil a wish to sing with him.

One of his last television appearances came on 23 December 1992, when he appeared as special guest in the TV guest show This Is Your Life – 21 years after previously appearing as the show’s special guest, making him one of the few people to appear on the show twice.

On 10 June 1993, during a check-up at a hospital in Whalley Range, Manchester, Les Dawson died suddenly after suffering a heart attack. Many comedians and other celebrities attended a memorial service for him at Westminster Abbey on 24 February 1994.

Bronze statue of Les Dawson by Graham Ibbeson

On 23 October 2008, 15 years after his death, a bronze statue of Dawson, by sculptor Graham Ibbeson, was unveiled by his widow Tracy and daughter Charlotte. The statue stands in the ornamental gardens next to the pier in St-Anne’s-on-Sea, Lancashire, where Dawson had lived for many years.

Classic Les Dawson Mother-in-Law Jokes

“I can always tell when the mother in law’s coming to stay… the mice throw themselves on the traps.”

“My mother-in-law said ‘one day I will dance on your grave’. I said ‘I hope you do, I will be buried at sea.”

“My mother-in-law has come round to our house at Christmas seven years running. This year we’re having a change. We’re going to let her in.”

 

A very funny, down to earth, lovely man missed by many.  Listen to Les, the radio show can be heard on the British Comedy Channel each weekday at 18:00 GMT

Happy Listening 🙂

 

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Ken Dodd

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Ken Dodd

Kenneth Arthur Dodd OBE (born Liverpool, 8 November 1927) is a British comedian and singer-songwriter, famous for his frizzy hair or “fluff dom” and buck teeth or “denchers”, his favourite cleaner, the feather duster (or “tickling stick”) and his greeting “How tickled I am!”, as well as his send-off “Lots and Lots of Happiness!”.

He works mainly in the music hall tradition, although, in the past, has occasionally appeared in drama, including as Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on stage in Liverpool in 1971; on television in the cameo role of ‘The Tollmaster’ in the 1987 Doctor Who story Delta and the Bannermen; and as Yorick (in silent flashback) in Kenneth Branagh’s film version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 1996. In total he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. In the 1960s his fame was such that he rivalled The Beatles as a household name.

Dodd’s stand-up comedy style is fast and relies on the rapid delivery of one-liner jokes. He has claimed that his comic influences include other Liverpool comedians like Arthur Askey, Robb Wilton, Tommy Handley and Max Miller.  He intersperses the comedy with occasional songs, both serious and humorous, in an incongruously fine light baritone voice.


Dodd has had many recording hits, charting on nineteen occasions in the UK Top 40, including his first single “Love Is Like a Violin” (1960), produced on Decca Records by Alex Wharton, which charted at number 8 (UK), and his song “Tears” (Columbia), which topped the UK charts for five weeks in 1965, selling over a million copies. At the time it was the UK’s biggest selling single by a solo artist, and remains one of the UK’s biggest selling singles of all time. Dodd was selected to perform the song on A Jubilee Of Music on BBC One on December 31, 1976, a celebration of the key pop successes of Queen Elizabeth II’s first twenty-five years as UK monarch.

 


Dodd is renowned for the length of his performances, and during the 1960s he earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s longest ever joke-telling session: 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours (7.14 jokes per minute), undertaken at a Liverpool theatre, where audiences were observed to enter the show in shifts. More recently, Ken Dodd appeared at the Royal Variety Performance in 2006 in front of Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, where he reprised some of his famous jokes, including those about tax accountants as well as singing his famous song “Happiness”.

 

Ken's distinctive bucked teeth

Early life…. Dodd was born on 8 November 1927 in Knotty Ash, Liverpool, the son of a coal merchant, Arthur Dodd and wife Sarah. He went to the Knotty Ash School, and sang in the local church choir of St Johns Church, Knotty Ash. At the age of seven, he was dared by his school friends to ride his bike with his eyes shut. He accepted the dare, crashed, and received facial injuries which resulted in his distinctive buck teeth.

He then attended Holt High School, a Grammar School in Childwall, but left at age fourteen to work for his father. Around this time he became interested in show business after seeing an advert in a comic: “Fool Your Teachers, Amaze Your Friends—Send 6d in Stamps and Become a Ventriloquist!” and sending off for the book. Not long after, his father bought him a ventriloquist’s dummy and Ken called it Charlie Brown. He started entertaining at the local orphanage, then at various other local community functions.

He got his big break at age twenty-six when, in September 1954, he made his professional show-business debut at the now-demolished Nottingham Empire. A nervous young man, he sat in a local Milk Bar for most of the afternoon, going over and over his lines before going to the theatre. He later said, “Well at least they didn’t boo me off”. He continued to perform, eventually topping the bill at Blackpool in 1958.

The famous 'tickling sticks'

Honours….. In December 2004, Dodd was in Nottingham to be presented with a framed playbill after a sell out performance at the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham to celebrate his fifty years in show business. Dodd’s first professional performance was on stage at the Empire Theatre, Nottingham in 1954.

In a 2005 poll of comedians and comedy insiders to find ‘The Comedian’s Comedian’, Dodd was voted amongst the ‘Top 50 Comedy Acts Ever’, ranked as number 36. He was made an honorary fellow of Liverpool John Moores University in 1997. A statue depicting Dodd with his feather duster was unveiled in Lime Street Station, Liverpool on 11 June 2009.

Dodd was made an honorary fellow of The University of Chester on 4 November 2009, having been awarded Doctor of Letters at a graduation ceremony in Chester Cathedral. His doctorate was presented by Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster. He was awarded a Doctorate of Letters at Liverpool Hope University on 25 January 2010 during the University’s Foundation Day celebrations.

 

Still going strong at 85 years young!

Personal life…. Dodd has had two long-time fiancées, but has never married. A stalker, Ruth Tagg, who harassed Dodd and his girlfriend Anne Jones (who is also a current support act, named ‘Sybie’ Jones), sending threatening letters and a dead rat, attempted to burn down his house by pushing burning rags through the letterbox, in October 2001. Tagg pleaded guilty to harassment and arson at Preston Crown Court.

He underwent a hernia operation in late 2007, forcing him to cancel several performances, but was back on stage within a month. Dodd presented the History of Liverpool Comedians at St George’s Hall on 1 and 2 April 2008.

Dodd is still touring and appeared in the Glasgow Pavilion in April 2009, playing to a sell-out crowd for over four hours. September 2010 saw Dodd perform at the Playhouse Theatre, Weston Super Mare (Somerset, UK), where he performed to a full house in a show that started at 7pm and finished well after midnight.

He also played at Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, on Saturday November 20, 2010. Similar to the Glasgow Pavilion in April 2009, the show started at 7 pm and finished in the early hours of Sunday 21 November.

You can hear the ‘Ken Dodd Star Parade’ and the ‘Ken Dodd Show’ on the British Comedy Channel….. Happy Listening 🙂

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Dad’s Army co-creator David Croft dies at home aged 89

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David Croft

David Croft, co-writer and producer of classic comedies including ‘Allo ‘Allo and Hi-de-Hi has died at the age of 89, his family has announced.

He died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Portugal. His family called him a “truly great man” in a statement.

Croft’s military sitcoms It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and Dad’s Army, written with Jimmy Perry, were hits in the 1970s.

 

He is also credited with Are You Being Served and its 1990s spin-off Grace and Favour.

Actor Melvyn Hayes, one of the stars of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, called Croft a “genius” and said it was “a privilege to work with” him.

“There were no swear words in his shows. His programmes were the kind of thing you could sit in front of the TV and watch with your grandmother and grandchildren,” he told the BBC.

Welsh actress Ruth Madoc, who played Gladys Pugh in

Ruth Madoc as Gladys Pugh in Hi-de-Hi

, also paid tribute to the writer.

“ He just knew what tickled people, what made people smile”

Ian Lavender, Private Pike in Dad’s Army stated:

“He taught us so much, that was the great thing about him,” she told the BBC News Channel.

“He’d let you look in the camera lens and he’d teach you about that shot.

“He was a very, very clever man and not only did he do television but he slipped so easily into producing, writing and directing theatre, too.”

Jon Plowman, former head of comedy at the corporation, said Croft “invented a whole genre of comedy that was all his own”.

“The world is a less funny place for his going,” he added.

Croft, who was awarded an OBE in 1978 for services to television, worked alongside Jeremy Lloyd on both the department store sitcom and wartime farce ‘Allo ‘Allo, which was set in Nazi-occupied France. Comedians and writers have taken to Twitter to post tributes. David Walliams wrote: “Such sad news,” while Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell added: “His best monument is that his shows are still repeated.”

Original cast of Allo Allo

All of Croft’s hits were produced for the BBC, the last being Oh, Doctor Beeching in 1993 – after which he retired from the corporation.

A decade later, Croft was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy Awards.

Croft was born as David John Sharland to stage actress Annie Croft and Reginald Sharland, a successful Hollywood radio actor.

He enlisted in the army during World War II, which was to provide some of his later comic inspiration for Dad’s Army and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.
Dad’s Army Wartime sitcom Dad’s Army was one of Croft’s most enduring creations

Dad's Army

Dad’s Army was the first of his series to come to TV screens, in 1968, and marked the start of his fruitful and long-lived comic partnership with Jimmy Perry.

The BBC initially had misgivings about the concept – which followed the fortunes of a Home Guard platoon, the last line of defence should the Germans have invaded Britain during World War II.

But the affection with which the characters were treated soon endeared the show to audiences and corporate bosses alike.

The series went on to gain the creative partnership a trio of awards from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain in 1969-71.

More than 40 years after it was first screened, the sitcom is still being shown.

Ian Lavender, who played the hapless Private Pike in the series said Croft was “a great comic writer”.

“He just knew what tickled people, what made people smile,” he told BBC News.

“I have never come across anyone in the Home Guard who said Dad’s Army was a disgrace.

“They say they all had a Mainwaring in their platoon. We were laughing with them, not at them.”

Another Croft Classic - You Rang My Lord

 

Among Croft’s other achievements, he wrote scripts for numerous well-loved pantomimes and produced television shows in Hollywood and Australia.

The statement posted on his official website by his family added: “He was a truly great man, who will be missed by all who had the great fortune of knowing and loving him.”

It added that he would have been “proud that you had all been watching”, a nod to the tagline that appeared at the end of Croft’s TV sitcoms.

 

The Genius that was David Croft

Are You Being Served

Dad’s Army

It Ain’t Half Hot Mum

Allo Allo

Hi de Hi

You rang, m’lord?

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Beyond Our Ken

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Beyond Our Ken featured characters similar to those later featured in Round the Horne, for instance Betty Marsden’s Fanny Haddock (which parodied Fanny Cradock). It was also notable for Pertwee’s Frankie Howerd impersonation, Hankie Flowered, and Hugh Paddick’s working-class pop singer Ricky Livid – the name being a mickey-take on contemporary pop singers’ stage names such as Marty Wilde and Billy Fury. Another favourite was Kenneth Williams’ country character, Arthur Fallowfield, who was based on Dorset farmer Ralph Wightman, a regular contributor to the BBC radio programme “Any Questions?” Fallowfield’s lines were full of innuendo and double entendre – on one occasion Horne introduced him as the man who put the sex in Sussex. Fallowfield’s reply to any question began: “Well, I think the answer lies in the soil!” On one occasion, Paddick’s character Stanley Birkenshaw, aka “Dentures”, who would re-appear in Round the Horne, gave a noble and rather damp version of Hamlet’s soliloquy: ‘To be or not to be, that issssssssssh the quesssssssssshtion…’

Williams and Paddick also played a couple of camp men-about-town, Rodney and Charles, in many ways

Betty Marsden

(although not as extreme), a precursor of Julian and Sandy in Round The Horne.

By 1964, Eric Merriman was very much in demand for television work and decided to end writing Beyond Our Ken. Because of the show’s huge success, the BBC were determined that the comedy series continue.

The show’s name had to be changed because Merriman had given Beyond Our Ken its original title. Barry Took returned together with Marty Feldman, to write a new series with the same cast which became Round the Horne and was one of the most popular and influential shows of its day, despite having a shorter run. Without Beyond Our Ken, Round the Horne would not have existed.

LISTEN: Beyond Our Ken  – I’m Not at All in Love (1958-07-08 Series 1, Episode 2)

Beyond Our Ken – I’m Not in Love

Listen to Beyond Our Ken on the British Comedy Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network!

Kenneth Williams & Hugh Paddick - “Round The Horne”

 

Rodney and Charles (BOK) spawned Julian & Sandy (RTH)

Program Guide

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The Glums – Take It From Here

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From left to right - Wallace Eaton, Jimmy Edwards, Dick Bentley and June Whitfield

The Glums was spawned at the start of the third series of Take It From Here, a British radio comedy programme broadcast by the BBC between 1948 and 1960. Written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, it starred Jimmy Edwards, Dick Bentley and Joy Nichols. When Nichols moved to New York City in 1953 she was replaced by June Whitfield and Alma Cogan.

For the first episode of series three, the ‘TIFH Talking Point’ segment featured a take-off of the sagas of ‘nice’ families such as the Archers or the Lyons that abounded on the BBC at the time. This introduced an uncouth dysfunctional family called the Glums, with Mr Glum the archetypal chauvinist pig.

The popularity of this sketch made Muir and Norden realise that they were on

Jimmy Edwards other incarnation 'Wacko'

to something. They made one or two modifications to the characters, and The Glums became a regular part of Take It From Here.
The premise of The Glums was the long engagement between Ron Glum and his long-term fiancée Eth. As a result of post-war austerity, long engagements were common in 1950s Britain. A typical episode would start in the pub, with Mr Glum (played by Jimmy Edwards) talking to the barman (played by Wallas Eaton). It would be closing time, and Mr Glum would start telling the week’s story to the barman as a ruse for obtaining another pint of beer (or two). The story would be about some recent episode in the lives of Ron, Mr Glum’s dim son (played by Dick Bentley), and Eth, a plain girl for whom Ron represented her only chance of marriage (played by June Whitfield). Paradoxically, Edwards, who played the father figure, was almost thirteen years younger than Bentley, who played the son.
A short signature tune would herald a change of scene to the Glum’s front room, where Ron and Eth would be sitting on the sofa. Eth would say, “Oh, Ron…!” — her catchphrase — and Ron would vacantly reply something like, “Yes, Eth?” and the week’s story would begin in earnest. This opening formula was constantly varied slightly. For instance, in one episode, Eth says, “Oh, Ron, is there anything on your mind, beloved?”, to which Ron, after a pause, replies, “No, Eth.” Another example has Eth saying “Oh really, Ron, do you expect me to just sit here, like a lemon?”, to which Ron responds “No thanks Eth, I’ve just had a banana.”

June Whitfield later found television fame in Terry & June

Most weeks, after scene-setting comedy business between Ron and Eth, Eth would say something like, “Sometimes, Ron, you’re so placid – I just wish you would have a little go!” which Ron would stupidly misinterpret as an invitation to a kiss and cuddle. Eth would resist, and Ron and Eth’s grappling would be speedily interrupted by the entrance of Mr Glum with an “‘Ullo, ‘ullo!” and something like “All in wrestling – break clean!” or “Sorry to interrupt, but have you seen the garden shears? Mrs Glum wants to do her eyebrows.”
The story usually involved some crisis in the relationship of the three protagonists. In several episodes this crisis followed from Ron’s laziness, and his resultant inability to find employment. Some weeks it would be due to Mr Glum’s refusal to let Ron and Eth marry (in one episode this is because he is not sure that Ron really loves Eth, in another Eth takes Mr Glum to court because he will not give his consent to the marriage). One story was about Eth getting into difficulties because she was accused of pilfering at the office where she was a secretary. Very often, the story arose from the consequences of some idiotic behaviour of Ron’s, who was incapable of competently carrying out any simple task, even going to the fish-and-chip shop (when he puts his change up his nose).
One of the constant sources of delight in The Glums, quite apart from the

Co-writer Frank Muir

brilliant dialogue and beautifully conceived comic situations, was the voice which June Whitfield found for Eth. At once sincere and affectionate, yet full of the affectations of a girl of the 1950s lower-middle classes keen to keep up her standards in the face of considerable dissolution in her close acquaintances, she rendered Eth funny, and yet vulnerable and capable of great expression.
Another character, who never appears but who is sometimes to be heard incoherently behind the scenes, was Mrs Glum, the family matriarch. Alma Cogan, the singer, usually provided Ma Glum’s off-stage noises. Although she never had a speaking part, Ma Glum provided comedy value by always being put upon by Mr Glum, and yet always getting her way (such as the episode where Mr Glum pawned her false teeth). Alma Cogan also played other sultry feminine parts, such as occasional extramarital romantic interest for Mr Glum.

Denis Norden co-wrote TIFH with Frank Muir

In 1959, Muir and Norden decided to move into writing for television, and so stopped writing TIFH. The BBC brought in writers Barry Took and Eric Merriman for the 1959/60 season, but this was to be Take It From Here and the Glum’s last.

The Glums were remembered sufficiently for the format to be revived in 1978 as part of the unsuccessful Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night programme. Two series of The Glums were later made by London Weekend Television, usually drawing on two original radio scripts each week. Ron Glum was played by Ian Lavender and Eth by Patricia Brake, while Edwards reprised the role of Pa Glum.

Listen to the Glums on TIFH on the British Comedy Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network…. Happy Listening 🙂

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The Navy Lark

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The Navy Lark was a BBC radio comedy written by Laurie Wyman and George Evans about the crew of The Royal Navy ship HMS Troutbridge and their mis-adventures.
The show was first aired on The Light Programme in 1959 and ran for thirteen series until 1976 making it the second longest running radio programme the BBC has made.
The main characters of The Navy Lark are: Cheif Petty Officer Pertwee, played by Jon Pertwee; Sub Lieutenant Phillips, played by Leslie Phillips and The Number One, which was played by Dennis Price in the first series and Stephen Murray from then on. The rest of the regular characters (too many to list here – see the cast and crew section) were played by Richard Caldicot, Ronnie Barker, Tenniel Evans, Michael Bates and Heather Chasen.
The series used accents and characterised voices to supplement the humour, as well as a good deal of innuendo. The programme featured musical breaks with a main harmonica theme by Tommy Reilly and several enduring catchphrases, most notably from Sub Lieutenant Phillips: “Corrrrr”, “Ooh, nasty…”, “Oh lumme!”, and “Left hand down a bit”.
“Ev’rybody down!” was a phrase of CPO Pertwee’s, necessitated by a string of incomprehensible navigation orders by Phillips, and followed by a sound effect of the ship crashing. Also, whenever Pertwee had some menial job to be done, Able Seaman Johnson was always first in line to do it, inevitably against his will: “You’re rotten, you are!”. The telephone response from Naval Intelligence (Ronnie Barker), was always an extremely gormless and dimwitted delivery of “‘Ello, Intelligence ‘ere” or ‘This is intelligence speakin'”
Other recurring verbal features were the invented words “humgrummits” and “floggle-toggle” which served to cover all manner of unspecified objects ranging from foodstuffs to naval equipment.
The Navy Lark made Leslie Phillips a Household Name

The series made household names of Leslie Phillips, Jon Pertwee and Richard Caldicot, but Ronnie Barker’s versatilecontributions were only recognised after he had become better known through television comedy. Michael Bates later appeared on television as Blamire in Last of the Summer Wine and as Rangi Ram in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. Judy Cornwell was later to appear in the short series Moody and Pegg, but became best known when she was cast as Daisy, one of Hyacinth Bucket’s sisters in Keeping Up Appearances. Dennis Price returned for a guest appearance in the fourth series episode A Hole Lieutenant.

There were several radio sequels, including The Embassy Lark and The Big Business Lark. The TV Lark was intended to be a replacement for The Navy Lark starting with what would have been the series’ fifth season.This situation came about due to the head of light entertainment believing that “forces” based humour had had its day and television was the next “big thing” so Lawrie was told to create a show with the same cast in an independent TV station situation. Alastair Scott Johnston and Lawrie Wyman tried to stop this folly but were over ruled, hence the arrival of The TV Lark. The entire cast had been drummed out of the service (as the announcer puts it) and hired by Troutbridge TV Ltd. Janet Brown joined the cast due to the absence of Heather Chasen for this season. However, mainly due to public pressure, the production team of Alastair Scott Johnston and Lawrie Wyman managed to revert the show back to nautical capers, and episode ten of The TV Lark revealed that although CPO Pertwee had arranged to flog almost the entirety of HMS Troutbridge. Storylines in The TV Lark nudged back to Naval origins across the ten shows until they were finally reunited with Troutbridge and acceptable storylines once more. 10 episodes were made but unfortunately Episode 9 is lost. The nine surviving episodes are available on YouTube.
In 1959 a film version was made, written by Laurie Wyman and Sid Colin and directed by Gordon Parry. 

Jon Pertwee, better known to millions as Doctor Who

It starred Cecil Parker, Ronald Shiner, Elvi Hale, Leslie Phillips and Nicholas Phipps.

Wyman co-wrote with three other writers a television sitcom HMS Paradise (Associated-Rediffusion, 1964-5) set in a naval shore establishment in which Caldicot played Captain Turvey, but only one series was made. The entire series has been wiped, but a rumour exists that one episode still exists.
The show was condensed from 30 to 27 minutes by Transcription services, the discs were then exported around the world except for South Africa. As Springbok Radio was a commercial station the BBC refused to allow the station to re-broadcast the British shows so the station acquired the scripts from Lawrie and edited them to around twenty five minutes, to accommodate the commercial breaks,the revised show was recorded them in front of a live audience before broadcasting them. All the UK associations were kept for the Durban audiences which must have been incomprehensible on occasions. Excerpts of these broadcasts can be heard on the Springbok celebration site and occasionally Pumamouse.
LISTEN TO AN EPISODE: The Navy Lark – Demise Of The Depth Charges
You can hear episodes of the Navy Lark daily on the British Comedy Channel…. Happy Listening!
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It Sticks Out Half a Mile

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It Sticks Out Half a Mile was a BBC Radio sitcom created by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles as a sequel to the television war sitcom Dad’s Army, for which Snoad and Knowles had written radio adaptations.

The Main Cast

The original pilot episode, set in 1948, involved former bank manager and Home Guard Captain George Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe) deciding to renovate a decrepit seaside pier in the fictional town of Frambourne-on-Sea, only to find when applying for a bank loan that the manager of the local branch is his former chief cashier and Home Guard Sergeant Arthur Wilson (John Le Mesurier).

The pilot, recorded in 1981, was not used and Lowe died in April 1982, ending production. But Lowe’s widow had enjoyed the show and persuaded the writers to start again with a new cast. You can download the original pilot starring John Lowe from our download section.

The Series

Bert Hodges (Bill Pertwee), former ARP warden in Dad's Army

The new version involved Bert Hodges (Bill Pertwee), former ARP warden and nemesis of Mainwaring’s Home Guard unit, approaching “stupid boy” and former Home Guard Private Frank Pike (Ian Lavender) with a proposal to renovate the pier at Frambourne. In order to finance this plan Pike has to approach bank manager Wilson (Le Mesurier), who just happens to be his “uncle” (publicly a friend of his mother’s, but strongly hinted to the audience to be Pike’s father), for a loan.

Wilson suspects the only reason Hodges approached Pike was to get to the bank’s money through him. Nevertheless, Pike and Wilson put aside their wartime quarrel with Hodges – more or less – and the renovation begins.

Some different actors were used for some of the minor parts, for example Mrs Fox, who was played here by Mollie Sugden.

Broadcast

Due to the death of Arthur Lowe, the original pilot was not broadcast. The master recording was apparently wiped, but co-writer Snoad kept a copy which he later returned to the BBC. A short excerpt was played on a documentary entitled Radio’s Lost Property on 1 November 2003, with the complete programme heard on a BBC 7 compilation entitled Some of Our Archives were Missing on 29 May 2004 and again on 17 June 2008 to kick off a rerun of the entire series.

Actor John Le Mesurier played Bank Manager Arthur Wilson

The series proper was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 13 November 1983 and ran for 13 episodes. It was subsequently repeated again on BBC Radio 2, but an apparent mix-up between different BBC departments resulted in most of the original masters being wiped.

The series featured some of John Le Mesurier’s last performances and many listeners were shocked to discover that the BBC was still wiping material as late as the 1980s.

The BBC’s Treasure Hunt has unearthed off-air recordings of a great many shows that would otherwise have been lost, including It Sticks Out Half a Mile, and the digital radio archive channel BBC 7 has broadcast the recovered copies of the series. Some of these are of variable quality, but according to a message on the BBC 7 message board better quality versions have now been located.


Remakes

There were two attempts to adapt the show for television – without the Dad’s Army characters. The first was a BBC pilot, Walking the Planks, starring Michael Elphick.

The BBC decided not to commission a series, so Knowles and Snoad took the concept to Yorkshire Television, where a seven-episode series (now titled High & Dry) was made, with Bernard Cribbins taking over Elphick’s role. Richard Wilson and Vivienne Martin appeared in both versions.

Listen out for ‘It Sticks Out Half a Mile’ on the British Comedy Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network!

Ian Lavender plays 'Pike'

 

Arthur Lowe made the original pilot episode but passed away not long afterwards
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