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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Gang Busters

Gang Busters was an American dramatic radio program proclaimed as “the only national program that brings you authentic police case histories.” Sponsored by Chevrolet, It originally premiered on July 20th 1935 as the G-Men.

Gracie Allen

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Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen

Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen (July 26, 1895 – August 27, 1964), known as Gracie Allen, was an American comedian who became internationally famous as the zany partner and comic foil of husband George Burns.

Gracie Allen was born in San Francisco, California, to George Allen and Molly Darragh, who were of Irish Catholic extraction. She made her first appearance on stage at age three and was given her first chance On Air by Eddie Cantor. She was educated at the Star of the Sea Convent School and during that time became a talented dancer. She soon began performing Irish folk dances with her three sisters, who were billed as “The Four Colleens.” In 1909 Allen joined her sister, Bessie, as a vaudeville performer. At a performance in 1922 Allen met George Burns and the two formed a comedy act. The two were married on January 7, 1926, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Burns & Allen

The Burns and Allen act began with Allen as the straight man, setting up Burns to deliver the punchlines — and get the laughs. In his book Gracie: A Love Story Burns later explained that he noticed Allen’s straight lines were getting more laughs than his punchlines, so he cannily flipped the act over —- he made himself the straight man and let her get the laughs. Audiences immediately fell in love with Allen’s character, who combined the traits of stupidity, zaniness, and total innocence.

In the early 1930s, like many stars of their era, Burns and Allen graduated to radio. The show was originally a continuation of their original “flirtation act” (as their vaudeville and short film routines had been). Burns realized that they were simply too old for that material (“Our jokes were too young for us”, he later remarked) and changed the show’s format in the fall of 1941 into the situation comedy vehicle for which they are best remembered: a working show business married couple negotiating ordinary problems caused by Gracie’s “illogical logic,” usually with the help of neighbors Harry and Blanche Morton, and their announcer, Bill Goodwin.

Jack Benny - Good friend and frequent guest star on the Burns & Allen Show

Around 1948 Burns and Allen became part of the CBS talent raid. Their good friend (and frequent guest star) Jack Benny had decided to jump from NBC over to CBS. William S. Paley, the mastermind of CBS, had recently made it openly clear that he believed talent and not the network made the difference, which was not the case at NBC. Benny convinced Burns and Allen (among others) to join him in the move to CBS. The Burns and Allen radio show became part of the CBS lineup and a year later they also brought their show to television. They continued to use the formula which had kept them longtime radio stars, playing themselves only now as television stars, still living next door to Harry and Blanche Morton. They concluded each show with a brief dialogue performance in the style of their classic vaudeville and earlier radio routines.

Allen retired in 1958, and Burns tried to soldier on without her. The show was re-named The George Burns Show with the cast intact except for Allen. The locale of the show was changed from the Burns home to George Burns’ office, with Blanche Morton working as Burns’ secretary so she could help Allen keep an eye on him. Allen’s absence was only too obvious and impossible to overcome. The renamed show barely lasted a year.

Gracie Allen and George Burns—Together Again

Gracie Allen fought a long battle with heart disease, ultimately dying of a heart attack in Hollywood in 1964. She was interred in a crypt at the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Burns was interred at her side when he died 32 years later. (“Gracie Allen and George Burns—Together Again,” reads the engraving on the marker.

 

Burns & Allen – Gracie treats George like a King (15th May, 1947)
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Burns & Allen – Francis Langford – Vacation Plans (29th May, 1947)
470529_Francis_Langford__Vacation_Plans

Listen to Gracie Allen in the Burns & Allen Show on the American Comedy Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network!

Happy Listening 🙂

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The Lone Ranger and Friends

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Some of the classic series you can listen to on the Adventure, Drama & Western Channel from the Pumpkin Old Time Radio Network!

The Cisco Kid

The Cisco Kid refers to a character found in numerous film, radio, television and comic book series based on the fictional Western character created by O. Henry in his 1907 short story “The Caballero’s Way”, published in the collection Heart of the West. In movies and television, the Kid was depicted as a heroic Mexican caballero, even though he was originally a cruel outlaw.

The Cisco Kid came to radio October 2, 1942, with Jackson Beck in the title role and Louis Sorin as Pancho. With Vicki Vola and Bryna Raeburn in supporting roles and Michael Rye announcing, this series continued on Mutual until 1945. It was followed by another Mutual series in 1946, starring Jack Mather and Harry Lang, who continued to head the cast in the syndicated radio series of more than 600 episodes from 1947 to 1956.

The radio episodes ended with one or the other of them making a corny joke about the adventure they had just completed. They would laugh, saying, “‘oh, Pancho!” “‘oh, Cisco!”, before galloping off, while laughing.

Wild Bill Hickok

The Wild Bill Hickok radio series was first heard on the Mutual Radio Network in 1951.  The series continued through 1956.  Hickok was a solid cowboy hero of the kids along with his faithful sidekick “Jingles”,  played by Andy Devine.  Guy Madison played Marshal Wild Bill Hickok on his horse named “Buckshot” while Jingles rode “Joker”.
Both actors continued the series as it moved to TV in the early 50’s following a format developed by the Lone Ranger and other westerns including Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and the Cisco Kid to mention a few.
The storylines for Wild Bill Hikok are anything but challenging. The basic plot is usually along the lines of Hickock and his sidekick, Jingles, blundering into trouble, fighting their way out of it somehow, and then riding off into the sunset in readiness for next weeks trials and tribulations.
The Lone Ranger

There could not possibly be a person alive today who has not heard, at some point in their life, of the Lone Ranger. Almost everything about the show became famous: the music, the silver bullets used by him, the great horse Silver and Tonto’s horse Scout. The program was conceived by George W Trendle and written by Fran Striker, together they created over 600 episodes.

The first of 2,956 radio episodes of The Lone Ranger premiered on January 30, 1933 on WXYZ, a radio station serving Detroit, Michigan. The show was an immediate success. Though it was aimed at children, adults made up at least half the audience. It became so popular, it was picked up by the Mutual Broadcasting System radio network, and finally by NBC’s “Blue Network”, which in time became ABC. The last new episode was broadcast September 3, 1954. Transcribed repeats of the 1952–53 episodes continued to be aired on ABC until June 24, 1955. Then selected repeats appeared on NBC’s late-afternoon weekday schedule (5:30–5:55 pm Eastern time) from September 1955 to May 25, 1956.

Each episode was introduced by the announcer as follows:

“In the early days of the western United States, a masked man and an Indian rode the plains, searching for truth and justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!”

Tune in to the Adventure, Drama & Western channel and hear other great Western series such as Fort Laramie, Frontier Town, Gun Smoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Lightning Jim, Luke Slaughter of Tombstone, Six Shooter, and many many more fantastic series!

Happy Listening 🙂

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The Abbott & Costello Show

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William (Bud) Abbott and Lou Costello (born Louis Francis Cristillo)

William (Bud) Abbott and Lou Costello  performed together as Abbott and Costello, an American comedy duo whose work on stage, radio, film and television made them the most popular comedy team during the 1940s, as well as a top ten box office draw for a full decade (1942—1952).

The team’s first known radio appearance was on The Kate Smith Hour in February, 1938. Initially, the similarities between their voices made it difficult for listeners (as opposed to stage audiences) to tell them apart due to their rapid-fire repartee.

The problem was solved by having Costello affect a high-pitched childish voice. “Who’s on First?” was first performed for a national radio audience the following month.

They stayed on the program as regulars for two years, while landing roles in a Broadway revue, “The Streets of Paris”, in 1939.

Streets of Paris 1939

In 1940 they were signed by Universal Studios for the film One Night in the Tropics. Cast in supporting roles, they stole the show with several classic routines, including “Who’s on First?” The same year they were a summer replacement on radio for Fred Allen. Two years later, they had their own NBC show.

After working as Allen’s summer replacement, Abbott and Costello joined Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on The Chase and Sanborn Hour in 1941, while two of their films (Buck Privates and Hold That Ghost) were adapted for Lux Radio Theater. They launched their own weekly show October 8, 1942, sponsored by Camel cigarettes.

The Abbott and Costello Show mixed comedy with musical interludes (by vocalists such as Connie Haines, Ashley Eustis, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Skinnay Ennis, and the Les Baxter Singers). Regulars and semi-regulars on the show included Artie Auerbach (“Mr. Kitzel”), Elvia Allman, Iris Adrian, Mel Blanc, Wally Brown, Sharon Douglas, Verna Felton, Sidney Fields, Frank Nelson, Martha Wentworth, and Benay Venuta. Ken Niles was the show’s longtime announcer, doubling as an exasperated foil to Abbott and Costello’s mishaps (and often fuming in character as Costello routinely insulted his on-air wife).

Ken Niles

Niles was succeeded by Michael Roy, with announcing chores also handled over the years by Frank Bingman and Jim Doyle. The show went through several orchestras during its radio life, including those of Ennis, Charles Hoff, Matty Matlock, Matty Malneck, Jack Meakin, Will Osborne, Fred Rich, Leith Stevens, and Peter van Steeden. The show’s writers included Howard Harris, Hal Fimberg, Parke Levy, Don Prindle, Eddie Cherkose (later known as Eddie Maxwell), Leonard B. Stern, Martin Ragaway, Paul Conlan, and Eddie Forman, as well as producer Martin Gosch. Sound effects were handled primarily by Floyd Caton.

In 1947 Abbott and Costello moved the show to ABC (the former NBC Blue Network). During their time on ABC, the duo also hosted a 30-minute children’s radio program (The Abbott and Costello Children’s Show), which aired Saturday mornings, featuring child vocalist Anna Mae Slaughter and child announcer Johnny McGovern.

Lou and wife Anne Battler

Both Abbott and Costello met and married women they knew in burlesque. Bud Abbott married Betty Smith in 1918, and Lou Costello married Anne Battler in 1934. The Costellos had four children; the Abbotts adopted two.

Abbott and Costello faced personal demons at times. Both were inveterate gamblers and had serious health problems. Abbott suffered from epilepsy and turned to alcohol for pain management. Costello had occasional, near-fatal bouts with rheumatic fever. On November 4, 1943, the same day that Costello returned to radio after a one year layoff due to his illness with rheumatic fever, his infant son “Butch” (born November 6, 1942) died in an accidental drowning in the family’s swimming pool.

During 1945, a rift developed when Abbott hired a domestic servant who had been fired by Costello. Angered by Abbott’s decision, Costello refused to speak to his partner except when performing. The team’s films of 1946 reflect the split, with the comedians appearing separately in character roles. Abbott resolved the rift in 1947 when he volunteered to help with Costello’s pet charity, a foundation for underprivileged children.

The Legendary Fred Allen

In the 1950s Abbott and Costello’s popularity waned as their place as filmdom’s hottest comedy team was taken by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.  Universal dropped the comedy team in 1955, and after one more independent film, Bud Abbott retired from performing.

In 1956, the Internal Revenue Service charged them for back taxes, forcing them to sell their homes and most of their assets, including their film rights. In 1957 they formally dissolved their partnership.

Lou Costello made about ten solo appearances on The Steve Allen Show and headlined in Las Vegas. He appeared in episodes of GE Theater and Wagon Train. On March 3, 1959, shortly after making his lone solo film, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, Lou Costello died of a heart attack just short of his 53rd birthday.

Grave of Louis Frances Cristillo

A depressed Bud Abbott attempted a comeback in 1960, teaming with Candy Candido. Although the new act received good reviews, Bud quit, saying, “No one could ever live up to Lou.”

Abbott made a solo appearance on an episode of GE Theater in 1961. In 1966 Bud voiced his character in a series of 156 five-minute Abbott and Costello cartoons made by Hanna-Barbera. Lou’s character was voiced by Stan Irwin. Bud Abbott died of cancer on April 24, 1974.

 

The Abbott & Costello Show, The Baseball Player including the iconic ‘Who’s on First’ from the 17th April 1947
470417_-_Baseball_Player

The Abbott and Costello Show can be heard on the American Comedy Channel at the following times:

Every weekday at 04:00 GMT
Saturday at 16:00 GMT
Sunday at 08:00 GMT

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Dragnet – Jack Web

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Jack Webb

The original Dragnet started as a radio show in June 1949 and later transfered to television. A total of 314 original episodes were broadcast from 1949 through 1957. The series was broadcast on NBC and starred Jack Webb and Barton Yarborough as Friday’s first partner Sergeant Ben Romero.

The show takes its name from an actual police term, a “dragnet”, meaning a system of coordinated measures for apprehending criminals or suspects.

Dragnet was perhaps the most famous and influential police procedural drama in media history. The series gave millions of audience members a feel for the boredom and drudgery, as well as the danger and heroism, of real-life police work. Dragnet earned praise for improving the public opinion of police officers.

Actor and producer Jack Webb’s aims in Dragnet were for realism and unpretentious acting. He achieved both goals, and Dragnet remains a key influence on subsequent police dramas in many media. The show’s cultural impact is such that even after five decades, elements of Dragnet are known to those who have never seen or heard the program.

Jack Webb, the shows creator and lead actor

Dragnet debuted inauspiciously. The first several months were bumpy, as Webb and company worked out the program’s format and eventually became comfortable with their characters (Friday was originally portrayed as more brash and forceful than his later usually relaxed demeanor). Gradually, Friday’s deadpan, fast-talking persona emerged, described by John Dunning as “a cop’s cop, tough but not hard, conservative but caring.” (Dunning, 210) Friday’s first partner was Sergeant Ben Romero, portrayed by Barton Yarborough, a longtime radio actor.

Barton Yarborough played Sergeant Ben Romero

Raymond Burr was on board to play Chief of Detectives Ed Backstrand. When Dragnet hit its stride, it became one of radio’s top-rated shows.

Webb insisted on realism in every aspect of the show. The dialogue was clipped, understated and sparse, influenced by the hard-boiled school of crime fiction. Scripts were fast moving but didn’t seem rushed. Every aspect of police work was chronicled, step by step: From patrols and paperwork, to crime scene investigation, lab work and questioning witnesses or suspects.

Jack Webb on the set of the TV show (1967)

The detectives’ personal lives were mentioned but rarely took center stage. (Friday was a bachelor who lived with his mother; Romero was a Mexican-American from Texas, was an ever-fretful husband and father.) “Underplaying is still acting”, Webb told Time. “We try to make it as real as a guy pouring a cup of coffee.” (Dunning, 209) Los Angeles police chiefs C.B. Horrall, William Worton, and (later) William Parker were credited as consultants, and many police officers were fans.

Though rather tame by modern standards, Dragnet—especially on the radio—handled controversial subjects such as sex crimes and drug addiction with unprecedented and even startling realism. In one such example, Dragnet broke one of the unspoken (and still rarely broached) taboos of popular entertainment in the episode “.22 Rifle for Christmas” which aired December 22, 1949 and was repeated a year later. The episode followed the search for two young boys, Stanley Johnstone and Stevie Morheim, only to discover Stevie had been accidentally killed while playing with a rifle that belonged to Stanley—who’d be receiving it as a Christmas present but opened the box early; Stanley finally told Friday that Stevie was running while holding the rifle when he tripped and fell, causing the gun to discharge, fatally wounding Morheim.

Jack Webb died at the age of 62 of a massive heart attack. He was buried with full honors by the LAPD, even though he had never been on the force.

Listen out for Dragnet on the Crime and Suspense Channel from ROK Classic Radio OTR.

You can also download a couple of episodes in the download section of our website!

Happy Listening 🙂

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Hancock’s Half Hour

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Hancock’s Half Hour was a BBC radio comedy, and later television comedy, series of the 1950s. It starred Tony Hancock, with Sid James; the radio version co-starring Hattie Jacques, Bill Kerr and Kenneth Williams.

Kenneth Williams - Tony Hancock - Bill Kerr - Sid James

The series was written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson and produced by Dennis Main Wilson for most of its run. After Main Wilson departed for his television career, his role was taken by Tom Ronald. The distinctive tuba-based theme tune was composed by Wally Stott.

Comedian Tony Hancock starred in the show, playing an exaggerated and much poorer version of his own character and lifestyle, as a down-at-heel comedian living at the dilapidated 23 Railway Cuttings in East Cheam.

The comedy actor Sid James played a criminally-inclined confidant of Hancock, who usually succeeded in conning him each week; Bill Kerr appeared as Hancock’s Australian lodger, a character who became noticeably dim-witted in the later shows. A young Kenneth Williams, taking his first job in comedy, provided the funny voices for all the minor characters in the show each week. Moira Lister appeared in the first series, before being replaced by Andrée Melly for the next two; both women played love interest for Hancock’s character, in essentially ‘straight’ roles. In the fourth and fifth series a comedienne, Hattie Jacques, provided comedy in the female role as the harridan Grizelda Pugh, who was Hancock’s secretary and Sid’s occasional girlfriend. By this time, Hancock’s difficulties with women had become part of the characterisation.

Tony Hancock

The series broke with the variety tradition which was then dominant in British radio comedy, highlighting a new genre: the sitcom or situation comedy.

Commissioning of series in the UK were then closer to the American practice with extensive runs not unknown, but in this case, with only two writers. Continuity in the idiom was yet to develop, and details changed to suit each episode. The domestic situation varied, but Hancock usually portrayed a ‘resting’ or hopeless down-at-heel actor and/or comedian (though some episodes showed him having runs of success, while some episodes depict him pursuing professional careers as fantasies), James was always on-the-fiddle in some way, Kerr gradually became dim and virtually unemployable (although he had started out as a fast-talking American-style Australian), and Hancock’s ‘secretary’, Miss Pugh, had such a loose job description that in one celebrated episode she had cooked the Sunday lunch.

Hattie Jaques

Hancock’s character had various addresses, but by the third radio series he had arrived at 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam. Sometimes this was portrayed as a council house, but occasionally there was a private landlord. In a few early episodes Hancock owned the house, and later this became the norm. The house changed to accommodate the cast: in some episodes it appeared to be a two-bedroom terraced house, with Kerr as Hancock’s lodger; but in series four and five it had at least three bedrooms, as Miss Pugh was also resident in some episodes. In others she ‘came round’ each day, presumably from her own domicile. Railway Cuttings and East Cheam were fictitious, but Cheam is a real town in Surrey, located to the west of Sutton.

Sid James & Tony Hancock

Most of the radio episodes were recorded between one day and three weeks in advance of broadcast, except for Series 6 which was mostly recorded during a three-week period in June 1959 in order to avoid clashing with the recording of Series 5 of the television show.

It should be noted that Galton and Simpson never gave any of their Hancock scripts, for Radio or Television, titles, this was usually left to the girl who filed the scripts at their office, she gave them names that were a reminder of what the script was about, so when Roger Wilmut came to write his book ‘Tony Hancock – Artiste’ (first published 1978) he took the liberty of inventing titles where necessary and these titles, a combination of the file names and Wilmut’s own, have become the accepted titles ever since with the approval of Galton and Simpson and the BBC.

Kenneth Williams

The regular cast members generally played “themselves” — that’s to say, the characters were called by the actor’s real name. However, there were exceptions:

* Kenneth Williams played a series of unnamed characters referred to in the scripts — but not on air — as “Snide”, Edwardian Fred a criminal associate of Sid’s and Hancock’s Vicar as well as various other characters.

* Alan Simpson played an unnamed man who listened patiently to Hancock’s long-winded stories in early episodes

* Hattie Jacques played Grizelda Pugh, Hancock’s secretary.

Two wiped episodes of the radio series — “The Blackboard Jungle” (series 3) and “The New Secretary” (series 4) — were recovered in 2002 from off-air home recordings made by listener Vic Rogers.

Death

Tony Hancock committed suicide, by overdose, in Sydney on 24 June 1968, being found dead in his Latimer Road, Bellevue Hill apartment with an empty vodka bottle by his right hand and amphetamines by his left.

Grave of the mentally tortured genius Tony Hancock

In one of his suicide notes he wrote: “Things just seemed to go too wrong too many times”. His ashes were brought back to the UK in an Air France hold-all by satirist Willie Rushton and in deference to his fame and knowing love of cricket, his ashes travelled back in the first class cabin.

Listen out for  Hancock’s Half Hour on the British Comedy Channel!

You can also download the ‘Radio Ham’ & the ‘ Blood Donor’ in our download section…. Happy Listening!

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