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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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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British Radio Comedy

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Radio comedy has not only entertained audiences for some 70 years, it’s also been a medium for change in British society itself.

Bandwaggon established a new formula of comedy sketches and music. At the beginning of the war it was a wonderful boost for morale.

After the War there was the famous Goon Show, created by Spike Milligan. Incredibly funny surreal humour with characters drawn from all walks of life, which the younger generation adored, the Goons left older people confused, including the hierarchy at the BBC. They never realised how the anarchy, chaos and irreverence in the show were subtly affecting class attitudes. Also a whole generation was laughing at the same thing.

The Goon Show
The Goon Show

As the nation changed after the war, so did the BBC and its radio comedy continued to influence the nation and vice versa. Importantly it was a change in the background of the comedy writers and producers hired by the BBC that kept radio comedy changing with the nation. The BBC realised it needed to attract a broader audience, and that it needed to hire working class writers and producers, which it started to do in the 1950s and 60s, including writers like Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, the men who brought Hancock’s Half Hour to the radio.

Hancock's Half Hour
Hancock's Half Hour

Just after the war the BBC produced The Little Green Book, a guide as to what comedy writers and producers could and couldn’t say on air. I remember being told by one producer when recording a stand up show that I couldn’t use the word naked as a punchline to a joke, it was a banned word in the Little Green Book’s guidance and censorship.

The rules they introduced were often ignored or were even used by some writers as something to challenge and subvert. The writing team of Marty Feldman, Barry Took, and later Brian Cooke, on Round the Horne were an example. The programme introduced characters that the BBC frowned upon. According to the rules in the Green Book you couldn’t have reference to a man being effeminate, but then came Hugh Paddick’s Julian and Kenneth Williams’ Sandy to challenge the Green Book and break down the taboo of homosexuality.

Julian and Sandy

When Round The Horne started if you winked at man in the street you would be arrested but what Julian and Sandy [Kenneth Williams, above] did was stop some of that.

Round the Horne
Round the Horne

Many of you will have been witness to that huge impact that radio comedy has had since the 1950’s and the BBC still maintains its high standards, which is valuable, but they have moved a long way from the establishment viewpoint they adopted in their pre-war days. These changes have come about principally through the power of humour to influence attitudes and patterns of behaviour and in it’s that way that radio comedy has helped change a nation.

Now you can listen to all these wonderful comedies again on the British Comedy Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network!

Enjoy 🙂

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ISIRTA – I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again!

I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again (often abbreviated ISIRTA) was a BBC radio comedy programme which originated from the Cambridge University Footlights revue Cambridge Circus.

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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Jimmy Clitheroe – The Clitheroe Kid

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James Robinson Clitheroe (24 December 1921 – 6 June 1973) was a British comic entertainer. He never grew any taller than 4 feet 3 inches, and could easily pass for an 11-year-old boy, the character he played in The Clitheroe Kid.

 

Jimmy Clitheroe

The Clitheroe Kid was a BBC radio comedy show featuring diminutive Northern comedian James Robinson (“Jimmy”) Clitheroe in the role of a cheeky schoolboy, who lived with his family at 33 Lilac Avenue in an un-named town in the north of England. Jimmy’s best friend was Ozzie, alias Oswald Higginbottom, a character who was only heard of secondhand and didn’t actually appear. Sixteen series were produced totaling 290 episodes in all. The show was broadcast between 1957 and 1972.

Main Characters

The show’s stars included:

1.      Peter Sinclair playing Clitheroe’s Scottish grandad

2.      Patricia Burke as his mother (also played by Renee Houston in some early shows)

3.      Diana Day as his sister Susan (also played early on by Judith Chalmers)

4.      Danny Ross played Alfie Hall

5.      Tony Melody played Mr Higginbottom

Jimmy Clitheroe was 35 when he started playing the part in 1956, but he could pass as an 11-year-old boy because he had never grown physically beyond that age, though in later years his face gave his real age away. The series was made with a studio audience and there were frequent gales of laughter at Jimmy’s schoolboy humour, as well as at Alfie Hall’s mangling of the English language as he tried to explain something and made it worse.

Jimmy wore a schoolboy blazer and cap even for radio recordings, to maintain the appearance that he was 11 years old. Real children never appeared in the show, as this would have given away that Jimmy was an adult acting a part; so he talked of his pal Ozzie and his friends in the “Black Hand Gang” (who would punish any member caught in the company of a girl) but they never actually appeared.

Jimmy Clitheroe as the Clitheroe Kid

The humour could seem sharp, and if read in the cold light of day might occasionally seem harsh, but this was because it was supposed to be the humour of a schoolboy. The audience accepted this and roared with laughter at it.

Jimmy referred to his teachers by nicknames such as “Umm-ya Pete” and “Tick Tock Tillie”. His grandfather’s Scottish ancestry was endlessly mocked, with talk of haggises and bagpipes, and he was portrayed as someone who only lived for his beer. Jimmy’s sister Susan was usually referred to as “Scraggy-neck”, “Sparrow-legs” or occasionally “the Octopus” (for her clinches with boyfriend Alfie), though she in turn often had a go at her “little brother” (Jimmy was only 4 ft 3 ins).

Alfie, too, was mocked endlessly; but the daft character portrayed by Danny Ross probably never understood the insults. Mr Higginbottom was also mocked whenever he appeared: among other things, his house was said to be rat-infested and a dump. But Jimmy was very careful about this as Higginbottom had a hair-trigger temper. Higginbottom’s son, the much-maligned Ozzie, was a fat kid who (despite being Jimmy’s best friend) was knocked about by him a goodly number of times, and frequently suffered as a result of Jimmy’s schemes. But Ozzie seemed to feel it was safer to be Jimmy’s friend than his enemy!

Patricia Burke played Jimmys Mother

The one person who escaped Jimmy’s quick wit on the radio was his mother. In real life his father had died and he lived with his widowed mother, and was devoted to her. Jimmy would not stand for his mother being mocked, even if it were only his fictional mother on the radio.

Jimmy’s radio character frequently listened at keyholes, where he usually got the wrong end of the stick. Even when he tried to do good, as when he thought his grandad had stolen some money from a local shop (but which grandad had actually been given to look after), he usually messed things up, with the help of Alfie Hall. After the end credits, a short piece by Jimmy was usually inserted where he winds-up the show, tying up any loose ends in the plot and often reporting that Grandad had spanked him for what he had done.

Jimmy, Susan and Alfie (Played by Danny Ross)

As a celebrity, Jimmy Clitheroe was much in demand at public events, he had many business interests outside show business. He owned a racehorse, betting shops, and a hotel. Jimmy had a reputation for being “careful” with his money – a trait he got from the hard background which he endured growing up in the Great Depression.

He maintained a very private private-life, away from all his other interests, living quietly at Blackpool in a semi-detached bungalow with his mother.

He died in June 1973, following her death. He was found unconscious on the morning of her funeral and died later the same day. An inquest found that his death was due to an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.

Most of the recordings for this series were made by home listeners at the time of broadcast, using reel to reel recorders, so some will contain higher than normal tape hiss.

Out of the total of 290 episodes produced many are lost, we maintain 128 episodes which you can hear on the British Comedy Channel and the US & UK Channel ‘comedy block’

You can download a 30 minute documentary about his life called ‘All There With My Cough Drops – The Story Of Jimmy Clitheroe’ in our download section!

Happy Listening

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Steptoe & Son Radio Series

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Steptoe and Son is a British sitcom written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson about two rag and bone men living in Oil Drum Lane, a fictional street in Shepherd’s Bush, London. Four series were broadcast by the BBC from 1962 to 1965, followed by a second run from 1970 to 1974. Its theme tune, “Old Ned”, was composed by Ron Grainer. The series was voted 15th in a 2004 BBC poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom of all time. It was remade in the US as Sanford and Son.

 

Characters

The father, Albert Edward Ladysmith Steptoe (portrayed by Wilfrid Brambell), was born on 26 September 1899 (father not known but believed to be a local muffin man, now dead; the portrait he keeps of his father is in fact William Gladstone), though he always let on that he had been born in 1901.

He appears to have joined the army underage at the start of the First World War, and is seen wearing the Mons Star medals to prove it. He served with the British Expeditionary Force to Archangel, White Russia, in 1919. Steptoe Senior is lazy, stubborn, narrow-minded, foul-mouthed, and has revolting personal habits. Albert is content with his place in the world, utterly unpretentious and downright cynical. He can be extremely vindictive and does everything he can to prevent Harold, his son, improving himself—especially if it means him leaving home. He is normally unshaven and wears a very old pair of false teeth, discoloured and with teeth missing. His wife died in 1936. He mentioned in one episode that he was one of fourteen children.

Harold Albert Kitchener Steptoe (played by Harry H. Corbett), born 1925 (Corbett’s birth date) for the 1960s series (or born 1932 for the 1970s series) and educated at Scrubb’s Lane Elementary School is also obstinate, though prone to moments of enthusiasm about an idea.

He wants to move up in the world—most of all to escape from the family home and his stifling relationship with his father which was the subject of the first episode, “The Offer”. Harold has aspirations. He likes to see his business as being in antiques rather than junk. He bitterly regrets leaving the army, in which his service took him to Malaya and he achieved the rank of Corporal, and he nearly always wears a workman’s belt adorned with army cap badges. During the 1960s series he had been a veteran of the second World War but as he was ‘de-aged’ during the 1970s series this was never mentioned again. He is a dreamer and idealist. Politically, Harold is a Labour supporter who is appalled at his father who is a Conservative Party supporter. He aims to improve his mind and his social circle but always fails, often thanks to Albert’s deliberate put-downs or sabotage. Harold’s exasperation and disgust at his father’s behaviour often results in his repeating the catchphrase “You dirty old man.”

Situation

The episodes often revolve around (sometimes violent) disagreements between the two men, Harold’s attempts to bed women and momentary interest over things found on his round. As with many of the best examples of British comedy, much of the humour derives from the pathos of the protagonists’ situation, especially Harold’s continually-thwarted (usually by the elder Steptoe) attempts to “better himself” and the unresolvable love/hate relationship that exists between the pair.

A common theme is that Albert almost always comes out on top. Despite his lack of effort Albert routinely and easily proves himself superior to his son whenever they come into competition, such as in their frequent game-playing, e.g., the Scrabble and badminton games from the 1972 series. Harold takes them desperately seriously and sees them as symbols of his desire to improve himself, but they come to nothing every time. His father’s success is partly down to superior talent but aided by cynical gamesmanship and undermining of his son’s confidence. In addition, Albert habitually has better judgement than his son, who blunders into all sorts of con-tricks and blind alleys as a result of his unrealistic, straw-clutching ideas. Occasionally the tables are turned, but overall the old man is the winner, albeit in a graceless fashion.

Harold is infuriated by these persistent frustrations and defeats, even going to the extent in “Divided We Stand” (1972) of partitioning the house in two so he doesn’t have to share with his selfish, uncultured and negative father. Predictably, his plan ends in failure and ultimately he can see no way out. However, for all the bitterness there is an essential bond between the pair.

 

 

Radio Series

The Steptoe radio series started on 3 July 1966, when the very first episode “The Offer” was broadcast. There were six series in all.

All of the radio episodes were reworking’s of the original television programmes, therefore some of the more visual episodes were not considered for radio. While it is possible for a radio audience to use their imagination to create almost any circumstance, the amount of additional dialogue required to re-create an episode like “Divided We Stand”, where the entire house is split in two, would either mean that the episode would overrun or most likely lose some of it’s impact.

The radio episodes have been broadcast continuously since they were made and can still be heard from time to time on BBC7, the BBC’s spoken word digital radio service and now all of the radio episodes including the Christmas specials can be heard on ROK Classic Radio OTR!

Steptoe & Son on Wikipedia

Albert & Harold Tribute Site

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Dad’s Army Radio Show

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“Dad’s Army” was a long running British comedy series created and written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. The idea of a series came to Jimmy Perry when he realised that many people had forgotten about the contribution the Home Guard had made to the British Home Front during the years of the Second World War.

Commencing in 1968, “Dad’s Army” ran on BBC Television for 9 years with over eighty episodes spread within 10 series. The series is set in a small fictional seaside town called Walmington-on-Sea somewhere on the South Coast of England.

“Dad’s Army” is also remembered for its first class actors which starred amongst its credits, Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring, John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Arthur Wilson and Clive Dunn as Lance Corporal Jack Jones.

67 of Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s Television Scripts for “Dad’s Army” were adapted for BBC Radio by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles between 1973 and 1975. They were recorded at The Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue, London and at The Paris Studios, Lower Regent Street, London.

All episodes were recorded in Mono and exist on Magnetic Tape in the BBC Sound Archive.

The Radio Series began on Monday 24th January 1974 and ran for three series with its final episode been broadcast on 7th September 1976. The Series was generally given two air periods a week on BBC Radio 4, the second of which would be a repeat.



The show’s main characters were:

Supporting characters included:

  • Mrs. Mavis Pike (Janet Davies)—Pike’s mother and Sergeant Wilson’s lover.
  • Reverend Timothy Farthing (Frank Williams)—The effete vicar of St. Aldhelm’s Church, he shares his church hall and office with Mainwaring’s platoon.
  • Maurice Yeatman (Edward Sinclair)—Mr. Yeatman was the verger at St. Aldhelm’s Church and head of the Sea Scouts group, and was often hostile to the platoon.
  • Private Sponge (Colin Bean)—Private Sponge had the job of representing those members of the platoon not in Corporal Jones’ first section.
  • Private Cheeseman (Talfryn Thomas)—a Welshman who joined the Walmington-on-Sea platoon during the seventh series to compensate for the death of James Beck who played Private Walker.

All 67 episodes are being aired on ROK Classic Radio, listen out for them during the UK and UK & US Comedy Blocks on ROK Classic Radio OTR 🙂

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