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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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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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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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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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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