(by Peter Tatchell, copyright 2016)
In a decade notable for the emergence of celebrity interviews by the likes of Michael Parkinson and Russell Harty, scriptwriter Dick Hills came up with a series of programmes featuring a montage of anecdotes and reminiscences by a gallery of comedy performers.
In the 1960s, Hills, in scriptwriting partnership with Sid Green, had been a guiding light in the television success of Eric Morecambe & Ernie Wise on ITV (and in their initial switchover to BBC2 in 1968). However, with Morecambe’s lengthy inactivity following his first serious heart attack at the end of that year, the writers were forced to find employment elsewhere.
Initially, they signed an exclusive 2-year agreement with A.T.V. (where the Morecambe & Wise shows had been produced) before trying their luck in the U.S. by supplying material for Johnny Carson, Flip Wilson and others. The pair split soon after, when Hills’ son would have been liable for military service and the family decided to return to Britain.
Upon arrival, Hills convinced the lesser ITV franchise holder Southern to produce a series of programmes featuring conversation with popular comedy figures of the day, not as full-length interviews, but a collection of segments on a particular subject taken from lengthy chats with his guests. Each would be interviewed separately and their stories edited to form the weekly half hour.
After decades of performing on variety stages across the country, on radio, television and in the motion picture, as well as troupe concerts and before royalty, each had a wealth of experience to recall. Not to mention a lifetime of humorous material to sprinkle throughout their storytelling.
The first season of nine half hours aired across the ITV network at lunchtime Fridays from late summer 1976, with such notables as Arthur Askey, Ted Ray, Jimmy Jewell, Michael Bentine, Jimmy Logan and Jim Dale appearing most weeks. Also featured were 1950s movie queen Diana Dors and one-time Doctor Who Jon Pertwee.
The following year, Southern recorded another 9-week series, but decided to schedule them locally in an evening slot (Fridays at 6:30pm) though London and the other regions were content to air them again at lunchtime, but now on a Wednesday. (And for some reason the Southern season had ended before the rest of ITV commenced their run).
Dick’s guests this time included comedy legends Spike Milligan, Jack Warner and more recent names like Reg Varney, Roy Hudd, ventriloquist Ray Alan and “Alf Garnett” himself Warren Mitchell. Leading ladies Thora Hird, Beryl Reid, Millicent Martin and Marti Caine also took part.
Southern continued its prime time airing of a third season of 13 shows in the latter half of 1978 but the rest of the network scheduled the shows on Wednesday afternoons, this time at 3:50pm.
Participants included Kenneth Williams, Leslie Phillips, Terry Scott, Alfred Marks and Max Wall along with more recent favourites Colin Crompton, Bernard Manning and Mike Reid. All-rounders Roy Castle and Billy Dainty and sitcom stars Clive Dunn and Yootha Joyce also appeared. The series broadened its outlook to find room for musicians Humphrey Lyttelton and Jack Parnell, ex-boxer Henry Cooper and radio wit Clement Freud.
Hills hosted a fourth (and final) season of shows in 1979, though they weren’t aired until a year later, with Southern joining the rest of ITV in scheduling the 13 editions on Tuesdays at 3:45pm.
This time a much more mixed bag of guests included comedians (Norman Wisdom, Tommy Trinder, Charlie Drake, Dickie Henderson and Fred Emney), sitcom stars (Peggy Mount, Miriam Karlin, Roy Kinnear and Sydney Tafler), music icons (Acker Bilk and Vince Hill), plus names from other parts of the entertainment world (Cliff Michelmore, Sylvia Sims and Dave Lee Travis).
Tell Me Another survives as a link to more than one era of show business and highlights the personalities of a number of legendary comedy performers.
The following episode guide is compiled from listings in TV Times and the breakdown offered by IMDB, along with the viewing of recently repeated episodes. Extracts taped for one season were not included in subsequent seasons.
Season 1 (ITV Friday 12:30pm August 27 to October 22 1976) * TV Times notes the show was pre-empted (for golf) on Sep 24 and Oct 1 and it is not known when these editions were re-scheduled.
Episode 1: Families and Relations
Arthur Askey Michael Bentine Jim Dale Diana Dors Jimmy Jewel Jimmy Logan Jon Pertwee Ted Ray
Episode 2: Colleagues, Past and Present, from the World of Showbusiness
Michael Bentine Bernard Cribbins Jim Dale Diana Dors Jimmy Jewel Bill Maynard Norman Vaughan
Episode 3: Disasters, Humiliations and Embarrassing Moments in Their Personal and Professional Lives
Arthur Askey Bernard Cribbins Diana Dors Jimmy Jewel Bill Maynard Ted Ray Barbara Windsor
Episode 4: Early Days in Showbusiness and How They Started Their Careers
Arthur Askey Diana Dors Jimmy Jewel Jimmy Logan Ted Ray Norman Vaughan Barbara Windsor
Episode 5: Digs, Hotels and Private Homes and the Things That Happened with Their Hosts and Landladies
Arthur Askey Jim Dale Jimmy Logan Jon Pertwee Ted Ray Norman Vaughan
Episode 6: The Armed Services and the War
Arthur Askey Michael Bentine Bernard Cribbins Jim Dale Jon Pertwee Ted Ray Norman Vaughan
Episode 7: People, Famous and Forgotten
Bernard Cribbins Jim Dale Jimmy Logan Ted Ray Norman Vaughan
Episode 8: Working and Holidaying Overseas
Jim Dale Jimmy Jewel Jimmy Logan Jon Pertwee Barbara Windsor
Episode 9: (no particular theme)
Arthur Askey Bernard Cribbins Jimmy Jewel Jimmy Logan Bill Maynard Jon Pertwee Barbara Windsor
Season 2 (Southern Fridays 6:30pm May 6 to July 1 1977, rest of ITV Wednesdays 12:30pm July 13 to September 7 1977)
Episode 1: Starting in Showbusiness
Thora Hird Roy Hudd Millicent Martin Warren Mitchell Beryl Reid Jack Warner
Episode 2: Families and Friends
Thora Hird Roy Hudd George Melly Spike Milligan Warren Mitchell Reg Varney
Episode 3: Showbusiness Careers
Ray Alan Marti Caine Thora Hird David Jacobs Millicent Martin Warren Mitchell Reg Varney
Episode 4: Other Personalities and Friends in Showbusiness
Ray Alan Roy Hudd Millicent Martin Warren Mitchell Beryl Reid Reg Varney Jack Warner
Episode 5: ‘My Early Life’
Marti Caine David Jacobs George Melly Spike Milligan Reg Varney Jack Warner
Episode 6: Landladies, Musicians, Fans
Ray Alan Marti Caine Thora Hird George Melly Spike Milligan Beryl Reid Reg Varney Jack Warner
Episode 7: Showbusiness Colleagues
Ray Alan Marti Caine Roy Hudd David Jacobs Millicent Martin Spike Milligan Jack Warner
Episode 8: Embarrassments and Disasters
Marti Caine Thora Hird Roy Hudd David Jacobs Millicent Martin George Melly Beryl Reid Reg Varney Spike Milligan (uncredited)
Episode 9: General Experiences
Roy Hudd Millicent Martin George Melly Spike Milligan Warren Mitchell Beryl Reid
Season 3 (Southern Fridays 6:30pm August 25 to December 1 1978, rest of ITV Wednesdays 3:50pm September 20 1978 to January 24 1979)
Episode 1: Early Lives
Roy Castle Henry Cooper Colin Crompton Clement Freud Alfred Marks Marjorie Proops Joan Turner Max Wall
Episode 2: Families and Friends
Roy Castle Henry Cooper Clement Freud Alfred Marks Jack Parnell Marjorie Proops Joan Turner
Episode 3: Careers
Roy Castle Henry Cooper Colin Crompton Clement Freud Hughie Green Marjorie Proops Terry Scott Joan Turner
Episode 4: General Stories
Colin Crompton Billy Dainty Clement Freud Hughie Green Yootha Joyce Jack Parnell Leslie Phillips Kenneth Williams
Episode 5: Starting in Showbusiness
Liza Goddard Hughie Green Yootha Joyce Bernard Manning Alfred Marks Leslie Phillips Terry Scott Max Wall
Episode 6: Life on Tour
Roy Castle Colin Crompton Clement Freud Humphrey Lyttelton Alfred Marks Jack Parnell Kenneth Williams
Episode 7: General Stories
Billy Dainty Clive Dunn Liza Goddard Yootha Joyce Bernard Manning Jack Parnell Mike Reid
Episode 8: (more) Early Lives
Henry Cooper Liza Goddard Yootha Joyce Humphrey Lyttelton Alfred Marks Mike Reid Terry Scott Joan Turner Max Wall
Episode 9: General Stories
Colin Crompton Clive Dunn Liza Goddard Hughie Green Humphrey Lyttelton Leslie Phillips Marjorie Proops Mike Reid Terry Scott Max Wall
Episode 10: Showbusiness Colleagues
Henry Cooper Colin Crompton Liza Goddard Alfred Marks Jack Parnell Joan Turner Kenneth Williams
Episode 11: (more) Careers
Roy Castle Billy Dainty Humphrey Lyttelton Bernard Manning Alfred Marks Leslie Phillips Marjorie Proops Terry Scott Joan Turner
Episode 12: General Stories
Billy Dainty Clive Dunn Clement Freud Hughie Green Humphrey Lyttelton Leslie Phillips Terry Scott
Episode 13: (more) Life on Tour
Roy Castle Billy Dainty Clive Dunn Hughie Green Humphrey Lyttelton Bernard Manning Leslie Phillips Kenneth Williams
Season 4 (ITV Tuesdays 3:45pm June 3 to August 26 1979)
Episode 1: Embarrassing Stories
Acker Bilk Roger De Courcey Percy Edwards Dickie Henderson Vince Hill Miriam Karlin Tom O’Connor Sylvia Syms Sydney Tafler
Episode 2: A Very Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Theatre
Acker Bilk Miriam Karlin Peggy Mount Tom O’Connor
Episode 3: Life in the Armed Forces
Charlie Drake Fred Emney Roy Kinnear Cardew Robinson Norman Wisdom
Episode 4: Pets and Animals
Derek Batey Charlie Drake Percy Edwards Fred Emney Cliff Michelmore Cardew Robinson Dave Lee Travis
Episode 5: Luck and Ambition in Their Success
Derek Batey Dickie Henderson Vince Hill Moira Lister Peggy Mount Tom O’Connor Sylvia Syms Norman Wisdom
Episode 6: Landladies
Acker Bilk Leslie Crowther Roger De Courcey Percy Edwards Vince Hill Miriam Karlin Roy Kinnear Cardew Robinson Sylvia Syms Tommy Trinder
Episode 7: Early Lives
Acker Bilk Tom O’Connor Sydney Tafler Dave Lee Travis Norman Wisdom
Episode 8: Personalities
Dickie Henderson John Junkin Roy Kinnear Moira Lister Cliff Michelmore Peggy Mount Tom O’Connor Sydney Tafler
Episode 9: Royalty
Fred Emney John Junkin Moira Lister Cliff Michelmore Peggy Mount Dave Lee Travis Tommy Trinder
Episode 10: Early Radio and Television to the Present Time
Leslie Crowther Charlie Drake Miriam Karlin Cliff Michelmore Dave Lee Travis
Episode 11: the Movies
Percy Edwards John Junkin Roy Kinnear Moira Lister Cardew Robinson Sylvia Syms Sydney Tafler Norman Wisdom
Episode 12: Confusing One Star with Another in Showbusiness
Derek Batey Roger De Courcey Percy Edwards Fred Emney Dickie Henderson John Junkin Moira Lister Cliff Michelmore Peggy Mount Cardew Robinson Sydney Tafler Tommy Trinder
Episode 13: Personal and Private Stories
Derek Batey Acker Bilk Leslie Crowther Roger De Courcey Charlie Drake Fred Emney Dickie Henderson Dave Lee Travis Tommy Trinder