RADIO: LIFE WITH THE LYONS

by Mark McKay (reprinted from LAUGH MAGAZINE #14, 1996)

Throughout the 1950s, habitual British radio listeners must have felt strangely disoriented. Twice a week Auntie BBC seemed to hand over the reins to Uncle Sam as a slick. fast-paced American real-life family sitcom took the air. The stars, Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels had been leading lights in the early days of Hollywood, appearing separately in many silent and talking feature films.

Bebe, born in Texas in 1901 but living in Los Angeles since childhood, made a more significant contribution to the celluloid art than her husband. Her credits include the musicals Rio Rita and 42nd Street, a series of comedy one-reelers with Harold Lloyd and performances alongside legendary screen lovers Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks.  Ben was born three weeks after Bebe in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1916 his parents moved to New York, where Ben started in plays and films, the latter taking him to Hollywood. His most famous (or should that be infamous) role was in Howard Hughes’ high-budget aviation epic Hell’s Angels: later Ben’s unrestrained pride in this film was worked into a running joke.

Bebe and Ben were married in 1930. Three years later they paid their first visit to Britain, regularly returning during the 1930s, and this is where they found themselves upon the outbreak of war in 1939. Although as American citizens free to leave, they decided to stay on in blitz-torn Loudon throughout the duration, a decision which endeared them to the British people. They broadcast regularly with Viennese-born Vic Oliver in Hi, Gang! until Ben joined the U.S. Army Air Force and Bebe went to Normandy as a front-line war correspondent. Meanwhile, their daughter Barbara and adopted son Richard were in the care of Bebe’s mother back in California.

After the war the family was reunited, the Lyon children joining their parents in England. Barbara began studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and since young Richard had already made many films in America, Bebe and Ben thought their next radio venture could involve both generations of Lyons. A real-life domestic comedy with the performers presenting comic exaggerations of their own personae was a novelty to the Brits but had already become a staple part of the American radio diet.

The programme’s verisimilitude extended further; actions revolved around the Lyons’ home in Southwick Street, Marble Arch. their pets Skippy (a siamese cat) and Skeeter (a brown poodle) were brought to life, and authentic incidents provided the writers with ready-written plots. The private and public lives of the Lyons seemed inseparable. The rule still held when the family was extended; both Barbara’s first husband and Richard’s fiancée were prevailed upon to perform alongside their spouses and in-laws, introducing themselves to the listening millions.

The other regular cast members had more fictional roles. Bebe decided they should have a Scottish cook – a status symbol amongst movie stars back home – and Molly Weir, who had been in Tommy Handley’s ITMA shows, was recruited to play Aggie MacDonald. Fiercely nationalistic, Aggie considered it her duty to put the Sassenachs in their place: “Why don’t you eat civilised food like haggis?” – “What does haggis eat’?”

Molly fund herself in familiar company; also from ITMA were Horace Percival as Mr. Wimple. their henpecked neighbour with thirteen-odd children. and Hugh Morton, who appeared occasionally as Ben’s boss. Doris Rogers played Florrie Wainwright, the amply-proportioned widowed neighbour, friendly with Bebe but Ben’s bete noire. Florrie’s entrance was invariably a sign that the dialogue was about to degenerate into a two-way slanging-match.

On top of her acting duties. Bebe also provided the main inspiration behind each script. She would retire to the home’s basement room, nicknamed ‘The Salt Mines’, where she and her two co-writers (Bob Block and Bill Harding, later replaced by Ronnie Hanbury) would furiously draft and re-draft for hours on end. Bebe preferred to work late at night when the house was quieter and sometimes would not emerge until the following morning.

This perfectionist attitude could be sensed in all areas of production. Life With The Lyons was probably BBC Light Entertainment’s most rehearsed show. First the writers tested their work on a select gathering of friends and relations. After further polishing, the entire cast would meet at the house to go through their parts together. Another two sessions in the studio and they were ready to face the audience for the episode’s ninth run-through! After the broadcast the family could reassess their performances by listening to a tape recording Ben made of every episode.

The fruit of their labours was a warm, cosy and innocent entertainment with wide-reaching appeal, substantiated by their high listening figures. By no stretch of the imagination an example of wit and sophistication, the humour was by and large trite and obvious. Yet one quality they could boast was consistency; an episode from 1951 is practically indistinguishable from one first broadcast a decade later. This in spite of the fact that Richard and Barbara, when first heard teenagers of 15 and l9 respectively, were by 1961 well into adulthood.

Ben was portrayed as a weak and conceited but lovable goofball, ridiculed like George Burns for being supported by a more talented and successful wife. He is also a lily-livered coward, unable to own up to kicking a football through the mayor’s attic window. Aggie and the family spare no opportunity to portray him as older than Methusela and tubbier than Falstaff: “Och, treacle pudding isn’t good for your stomach, Mr. Lyon. It’s thick and fat and bulky” – “Now, don’t talk that way about my stomach!”

Bebe was convincingly cast as a Gracie Allen-type dizzy scatterbrain, zealously maintaining an age of thirty-two. A conversation with Bebe is guaranteed to turn anyone into a quivering wreck, even a thug trying to buy her silence after she had witnessed a gangster fight. On the odd occasion she demonstrates an underlying shrewdness, once feigning amnesia to avoid a confrontation with Ben over that greatest of marital crimes, overspending.

For the first six series the lovely Barbara played a fickle man-crazy romantic, often with a new boyfriend each week. Sensitive to embarrassment from her parents, she was forever warning “If you say that, I’ll die – I’ll just die!” Barbara also had a successful singing career and her own TV programme, Dreamtime With Barbara. This was produced by Russell Turner, who shortly afterwards became her husband, their marriage becoming the subject of the first show of the seventh season. Now the new Mrs. Turner was living in her own home and filling it with plants much to Russell’s disgust (“We ought to call this place ‘The Hanging Gardens of Barbara Lyon”‘). Regular visits back to Southwick Street to borrow flour, sugar or furniture ensured that Barbara was still involved in the central storylines.

Genial Richard was able to get away with gentle jibes at his mother (‘ma’), father (‘pop’) and particularly his sister, without lapsing into the nastiness of Jimmy Clitheroe in The Clitheroe Kid. In turn, he was on the receiving end of jokes concerning his Jack Benny-like stinginess. On radio he was frequently unlucky in love, losing girlfriends through misunderstandings, jealousy and competition from rivals. In the last series however, we learnt of his engagement to Angela Ferguson, who subsequently joined the cast for several editions including the very last, Roaming Scandals.

Mid-1952 a stage production of Life With The Lyons was presented at the Hippodrome Theatre, Blackpool, directed by showbiz veteran Jack Hulbert. Molly Weir, in the fifth volume of her memoirs, Walking Into The Lyons’ Den, recounts the horrors which plagued this disastrous enterprise, which also featured sexpot Diana Dors as Richard’s girlfriend.

The following year, to celebrate the coronation, the family played second spot on A Gala Programme of Radio Variety in the presence of the new Queen and Prince Philip. Then in November, for the first time, selected shows were issued for overseas broadcast by BBC Transcription Services.

During the fifth series a new arrival resulted in a little brother for Barbara and Richard, giving the show an added appeal for younger listeners. Robin Lyon, played by 12 year old Richard Bellaers, made his first appearance in the episode titled A Crooner In The House in which Barbara falls in love with singer Ronnie Harris. Suddenly, without explanation, Mr. and Mrs. Lyon now have three children, their youngest a lively wise-cracking lad with a fondness for unusual pets. Bellaers quickly became a hit, until the seventh series, when his voice broke! Consequently, his part was pared to the bone and he left after the24th episode the following week, in way of explanation for his absence, Ben revealed that Robin was just settling down to life at boarding school.

By this time the entire cast had made several successful forays into the visual media. This began in 1953 with a fastpaced film adaptation of the radio series, reworking items from several episodes including Rocks In Your Garden. The Lyons must convince the landlord of their new house (Hugh Morton) that they are suitable tenants so he will agree to sign the lease. This begins to look less and less likely as Ben rewires the landlord’s beloved chandelier to the telephone, floods the basement and Richard upsets his horsy daughter, Violet (Belinda Lee). Meanwhile Barbara falls for a cowboy called Slim Cassidy, who arrives for a dinner party on his horse, and accompanied by a fire-breathing Red Indian chief! A sequel commemorating Bebe and Ben’s silver wedding anniversary saw the Lyons in unfamiliar surroundings – motoring around Paris. Ben is suspected of having an affair with a French girl and winds up fighting a duel!

Riding on the back of their big-screen success, Life With The Lyons transferred to television during the summer of 1955 (the family had first appeared together on the small screen the previous year). The short run of four fortnightly programmes began with Ben’s Birthday. After a second series, again for BBC-TV, the team deserted to ITV, making a series of ten episodes for Associated Rediffusion. Even the title was carried over. Amazingly the BBC did not seen particularly upset and continued to produce their radio shows. Another two commercial series followed the family’s move from Southwick Street to a new house in Abbotsbury Rd., Holland Park.

Life With The Lyons radio repeats continued throughout the 1960s and picked up some unlikely fans. John Lennon voted it his favourite radio show in 1968 and even named an album in its honour! Meanwhile, the family suffered various setbacks – Barbara and Russell’s marriage broke up (Barbara married again in 1968), and Bebe collapsed from a cerebral haemorrhage in 1963. Eight years later she died in London. Ben remarried and in 1979 succumbed to a fatal heart attack on board the QE2 luxury liner, where he was entertaining the passengers with tales from his most remarkable career.

Episode Guide

Starring Bebe Daniels, Ben Lyon, Barbara Lyon, Richard Lyon, Horace Percival, Doris Rogers, Molly Weir.
Occasionals: Hugh Morton, Gwen Lewis, David Enders, Richard Bellaers, Russell Turner, Angela Ferguson”

Scripts by Bebe Daniels, Bob Block, Bill Harding (series 1 to 3), Ronnie Hanbury (series 4 to 9) unless otherwise specified 

All episodes 30 mins and broadcast in the Light Programme

* Some official titles vary from those listed in Radio Times. Where the difference is significant, a footnote is provided.

Series 1: Sundays 3.00pm
1/1       5-11-50            Thirteen For Dinner
1/2       12-11-50          Fairy Cakes
1/3       19-11-50          Is There A Doctor In The House?
1/4       26-ll-50            It’s In The Air
1/5       3-12-50            The Dented Wing
l/6        10-12-50          Let Ben Do It
1/7       17-12-50          Pardon My Glove
l/8        24-12-50          Under The Tree
l/9        31-12-50          Under The Table
1/10     7-l-51               It’s A Man’s World
1/11     14-1-51            Bebe Buys A Bargain
1/12     21-l-51             Ben Bluebeard
1/13     28-1-51            Ben Does It Again
l/14      4-2-51              That Old Friend
1/15     11-2-51            Tally Ho!
1/16     18-2-51            Three Little Pigs Stayed At Home
1/17     25-2-51            Time Marches Back
1/18     4-3-51              Ben Holds The Baby
1/19     11-3-51            The Green-Eyed Monster
l/20      18-3-51            Ben Builds A Garage
1/21     25-3-51            It Could Happen To You
1/22     1-4-51              The Private Life Of Ben
l/23      8-4-51              Spring Is Here
l/24      15-4-51            The Other Green-Eyed Monster
1/25     22-4-51            Family Affair
l/26      29-4-5I            Back In October 

Series 2: Thursdays 9.30pm
2/1       27-9-51            Home Again
2/2       4-10-51            Life Of The Party
2/3       11-10-51          Sorry, Right Number
2/4       18-10-51          The Female Of The Speeches
2/5       25-10-51          Accidents Will Happen
2/6       1-11-51            Let The Women Do It
2/7       8-11-51            Keep Up With The Kids
2/8       15-11-51          Let Them Eat Cake
2/9       22-11-5I          It’s A Wise Father…
2/10     29-11-51          Stranger Things Have Happened
2/11     6-12-51            I Don’t Know What To Get Her
2/12     13-12-51          It Happens In Every Family
2/13     20-12-51          I Dream Of Santa
2/14     27-12-51          Let’s Go To The Party
2/15     3-1-52              A Fine Romance
2/16     10-1-52            The Wife’s Birthday
2/17     17-l-52             Family Trouble
2/18     24-l-52             The Tree Of Knowledge
2/19     #                         Too Young
2/20     17-2-52 ##    There Goes That Song Again
2/21     21-2-52            Family Secrets
2/22     28-2-52            The Dangerous Age
2/23     6-3-52              Rocks In Your Garden
2/24     13-3-52            Home Sweet Home
2/25     20-3-52            The Upper Set
2/26     27-3-52            There’s Always Room At My House
2/27     3-4-52              The Play’s The Thing
2/28     10-4-52            Back In November
With the death of King George VI, programme schedules were rearranged. Radio Times lists the following episodes, none of which made it to air:
Trouble In The Waxworks (31-1-52)
A Tough Break (7-2-52)
This Won’t Hutt (14-2-52).
# scheduled for transmission 31-l-52, but cancelled. It was later recorded on 7-4-54 for Transcription Services.
## repeat timeslot (5.00pm) 

Series 3: Fridays (except 3/30 broadcast Wednesday) 8.45pm
3/1       14-11-52          Home Again
3/2       21-11-52          The Hole In The Road
3/3       28-11-52          Mr. Jones Is Missing
3/4       5-12-52            A Duel And The Son
3/5       12-12-52          The New Maid
3/6       19-12-52          Sauce For The Gander
3/7       26-12-52          Christmas Story
3/8       2-1-53              Ben’s Handicap
3/9       9-1-53              A House On The Route
3/10     16-1-33            Muscles
3/11     23-1-53            The Barbecue
3/12     30-1-53            Stupid Cupid
3/13     6-2-53              Ben’s Birthday
3/14     13-2-53            Cousin From America
3/15     20-2-53            It’s Never Too Young
3/16     27-2-53            For Art’s Sake
3/17     6-3-53              Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
3/18     13-3-53            How To Be A Good Father
3/19     20-3-53            The Ten Gallon Hat
3/20     27-3-53            It’s An Ill Wind
3/21     3-4-53              Easter Parade
3/22     10-4-53            You Can’t Get Blood Out Of A Stone
3/23     17-4-53            Cross My Palm With Silver
3/24     24-4-53           Ne’er Cast A Clout
3/25     1-5-53              A Place In The Country
3/26     8-5-53              Wedding Bells
3/27     15-5-53            And How Are All Your Kids? #
3/28     22-5-53            El Gaucho
3/29     29-5-53            The Great Day
3/30     3-6-53              Lovely To Look At
3/31     12-6-53            The Anniversary
3/32     19-6-53            Once A Ham…
3/33     26-6-53            Back In The Autumn
# replaced by Trouble In The Waxworks? (script missing)

Series 4: Thursdays 9.30pm, changed to 9.00pm from 4/4
Scripts for 4/1 to 4/3 by Bebe Daniels, Bob Block & Ray Sonin
4/l        12-11-53          Coming Home
4/2       19-11-53          Nature Boy
4/3       26-11-53          Let The Men Do It
4/4       3-12-53            Come To The Fair
4/5       10-12-53          No Rest For Ben
4/6       17-12-53          Christmas Shopping
4/7       24-12-53          ‘Twas The Night Before
4/8       31-12-53          Who Gave Me That?
4/9       7-1-54              Once Upon A Mime
4/10     14-1-54            Love Sneaks Up On Richard
4/11     21-1-54            Father’s Day
4/12     28-1-54            Let The Kids Do It
4/13     4-2-54              The New Neighbours
4/14     11-2-54            Be My Valentine
4/15     18-2-54            I Hear You Calling Me
4/16     25-2-54            The Unlucky Winner
4/17     4-3-54              An Oliver Twist
4/18     11-3-54            I Did It With My Little Hatchet
4/19     18-3-54            Go To Your Corner
4/20     25-3-54            Left Bank
4/21     l-4-54               April Fool
4/22     8-4-54              Say It With Music
4/23     15-4-54            A Ghost In The House
4/24     22-4-54            You Can Keep Your Blinking Lawnmower
4/25     29-4-54            The Kick Off
4/26     6-5-54              Back In The Autumn

Series 5: Thursdays 9.00pm
5/1       9-12-54            The Lyons In Hollywood #
5/2       16-12-54          Danger – Richard At Work
5/3       23-12-54          A Christmas Story
5/4       30-12-54          The New Job
5/5       6-1-55              Just Call Me Curly
5/6       13-1-55            Bebe’s Birthday
5/7       20-1-55            A Crooner In The House
5/8       27-1-55            My Hat
5/9       3-2-55              The Poet
5/10     10-2-55            Your Presence Is Requested
5/11     17-2-55            Neighbour Trouble
5/12     24-2-55            The Family Heirloom
5/13     3-3-55              The Bonny Bonny Heather (from Glasgow)
5/14     10-3-55            I’ve Got You Covered
5/15     17-3-55            The Other Generation
5/16     24-3-55            The New Wallpaper
5/17     31-3-55            Second Honeymoon
5/18     7-4-55              Home Stretch
5/19     14-4-55            I Can Do It Myself
5/20     21-4-55            Afternoon On The Thames
5/21     28-4-55            Ben v. Scotland Yard
5/22     12-5-55            Three Blind Dates
5/23     19-5-55            The Bottom Of Our Garden
5/24     26-5-55            Children Should Be Seen And Heard
5/25     2-6-55              We’ll Send You A Post Card
# originally scheduled, and listed in Radio Times, for 2-12-54. Radio Times also lists Holiday For Strings (9-12-54) and The Garden Wall (5-5-55).

Series 6: Thursdays 7.30pm
6/1       3-11-55            It’s Good To Be Home
6/2       10-11-55          The Hundred Pound Quiz
6/3       17-11-55          The Good Citizen
6/4       24-11-55          The Flitch
6/5       1-12-55            Who Knows?
6/6       8-12-55            The Bazaar
6/7       15-12-55          Ben Kicks Off
6/8       22-12-55          Make Me A Child Again
6/9       29-12-55          Happy New Year
6/10     5-1-56              The Alibi
6/11     12-1-56            The Stranger
6/12     19-1-56            Curtain Up
6/13     26-1-56            Robin’s Birthday
6/14     2-2-56              For Men Only
6/15     9-2-56             The Comic Valentine
6/16     16-2-56            The Intruders
6/17     23-2-56            ? (script missing)
6/18     l-3-56               The Law And The Lyons #
6/19     8-3-56              It Must Be Love ##
6/20     15-3-56            Out Of Space
6/21     22-3-56            Come Back Little Bebe
6/22     29-3-56            Where Fools Rush In
6/23     5-4-56              Double Trouble
6/24     12-4-56            Young And Foolish
6/25     19-4-56            The Garden Fete (with Robert Beatty)
6/26     26-4-56            lt’s Not Goodbye
# Radio Times lists this show for 23-2-56
## titled in Radio Times: I’m In Love Again 

Series 7: Sundays 3.15pm, changed to 2.15pm from 7/8, then 1.45pm from 7/20
7/1       11-11-56          Here Comes The Bride
7/2       18-11-56          The Way To A Man’s Heart
7/3       25-11-56          How Now, Brown Cow?
7/4       2-12-56            From Rhythm To Rachmaninov
7/5       9-12-56            Barbara Buys A Bargain
7/6       16-12-56          Don’t Give Me That
7/7       23-12-56          And A Merry Christmas To All
7/8       30-12-56          A Star Is Born
7/9       6-1-57              Bend And Be Beautiful
7/10     13-l-57             It’s A Snap
7/11     20-1-57            You Are My Lucky Star
7/12     27-1-57            A House Divided
7/13     3-2-57              Danger Is My Work
7/14     10-2-57            The Sky’s The Limit
7/15     17-2-57            You’re The Doctor #
7/16     24-2-57            The Separation
7/17     3-3-57              Get Rich Quick
7/18     10-3-57            Stop Thief!
7/19     11-3-57            The Birds And The Bees
7/20     24-3-57            Goin’ Fishing
7/21     31-3-57            lt’s Mothering Sunday
7/22     7-4-57              A Table For Three
7/23     14-4-57            The Lyon Has Wings
7/24     21-4-57            Happy Easter
7/25     28-4-57            Richard Opens Shop
7/26     5-5-57              Back Next Winter
# titled in Radio Times: School For Scandal

Christmas Day, Wednesday 4.00pm
SP        25-12-57          Let’s Drop In For Christmas

Series 8: Sundays 6.30pm, changed to 1.45pm from 8/9
8/1       2-2-58              Barbara’s pinner party
8/2       9-2-58              The Rising Son
8/3       16-2-58            Dial Special Branch
8/4       23-2-58            Keep Moving
8/5       2-3-58              A House Divided
8/6       9-3-58              Hold That Man
8/7       16-3-58            Put A Light In The Window
8/8       23-3-58            Luck Is No Lady
8/9       30-3-58            It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dog
8/10     6-4-58              Easter In The Country
8/11     13-4-58            The First Fight
8/12     20-4-58            The Man In The Box
8/13     27-4-58            For Love Or Money
8/14     4-5-58              Goodbye For Now

Christmas Day, Thursday 4.00pm
SP        25-12-58          Don’t Open Before Christmas

Series 9: Fridays 7.30pm
9/1       30-1-59            Voyage Home
9/2       6-2-59              The Man From Texas
9/3       13-2-59            Lyon Cub Reporter
9/4       20-2-59            With Murder In Mind
     (27-2-59 was a repeat of 8/7, as Bebe indisposed)
9/5       13-3-59            Set An Extra Place # (with Richard Murdoch)
9/6       20-3-59            The Confused Cupid
9/7       27-3-59            The Scroungers
9/8       3-4-59              This Was Your Wife
9/9       10-4-59            Teddy Trouble
9/10     17-4-59            The New Address
9/11     24-4-59            The Colonel’s Dilemma
9/12     1-5-59              Trouble In Camp
9/13     8-5-59              Strike It Rich
9/14     15-5-59            Saying Goodbye
# postponed from 6-3-59

Christmas Day, Friday 4.00pm
SP        25-12-59          Jingle Bells

Series 10: Wednesdays 7.30pm
Scripts for 10/1, 10/2, 10/5, 10/8, 10/9, 10/11 and 10/16 by Bob Block, Robert Hounsome & Bebe Daniels; remainder by Bob Block. Brad Ashton & Bebe Daniels
10/1     24-2-60            The Meddler
10/2     2-3-60              The Unwelcome Guest
10/3     9-3-60              Don’t Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mr. Lyon
10/4     16-3-60            Mr. Cupid Shoots Again
10/5     23-3-60            The Little Green-Eyed God
10/6     30-3-60            The Big Joker (with Dick Bentley)
10/7     6-4-60              The Weaker Sex
10/8     13-4-60            The Stranger From Sorrento
10/9     20-4-60            Your Policemen Are Wonderful
10/10   21 4-60            Maid To Measure
10/11   4 5-60              Top Of The Pops
10/12   11-5-60            Relatively Speaking
10/13   18-5-60            Invest With Richard
10/14   25-5-60            Let’s Go Fishing
10/15   1-6-60              The Big Fiddle
10/16   8-6-60              My Four Legged Friend 

Series 11: Fridays 7.31pm
11/1     20-1-61            People Who Live In Glass Houses Have Happy Neighbours
11/2     21-l-61             Sorry, The Lyon’s Engaged
11/3     3-2-61              The External Triangle
11/4     10-2-61            Barbara’s Birthday
11/5     17-2-61            Thanks For The Memory
11/6     24-2-61            The Lyon In Sheep’s Clothing
11/7     3-3-61              Along Came Mr. Jackson (with Patrick Barr)
11/8     10-3-61            A Dog’s Tale
11/9     17-3 61            What’s Buzzin’, Cousin?
11/10   24-3-61            No Holiday For Strings
11/11   31-3-61            Don’t Be A Freud
11/12   7-4-61              I Passed By Your Widow
11/13   14-4-61            Once Upon A Dream
11/14   21-4 61            Tree For Two
11/15   28-4-61            Pardon My Bumper
11/16   5-5-61              Keeping Up With The Brownes
11/17   12-5-61            On The Wrong Side Of The In-law
11/18   19-5-61            Roaming Scandals

Other broadcasts featuring the Lyons:
27-2-53            A Gala Programme Of Radio Variety
13-6-55            Bebe And Ben – A Tribute For Their Silver Wedding
and a tribute:
May 3 1986     Bebe and Ben

 

Television

Starring Bebe Daniels, Ben Lyon, Barbara Lyon, Richard Lyon, Molly Weir
Occasionals: Horace Percival, Doris Rogers, Richard Bellaers

Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon
BBC Friday 2-4-54 10.00pm
TV debut of the Lyon family

Series 1
BBC fortnightly, Wednesdays 8.15pm
Scripts by Bebe Daniels, Bob Block, Bill Harding (1/1 to 1/3), Ronnie Hanbury (1/4)
1/l June 29 1955
1/2 July 13 1955 #
1/3 July 27 1955
1/4 August 10 1955
(# survives in BBC Archives)

Series 2
BBC fortnightly, Thursdays 7.30pm
Scripts by Bebe Daniels, Bob Block, Ronnie Hanbury
2/1 May 31 1956
2/2 June 14 1956
2/3 June 28 1956
2/4 July 12 1956

Series 3
Associated-Rediffusion fortnightly, Tuesdays 8.30pm, except 3/8 at 9.45pm
Scripts by Bebe Daniels, Bob Ross, Bob Block
3/1       September 17 1957     The Green-Eyed Monster * (with Jack Buchanan)
3/2       October 1 1957           Family Secrets
3/3       October 15 1957         I’ve Got You Covered
3/4       October 29 1957         Cool Cat On A Hot Roof
3/5       November 12 1957     Going, Going, Gone *
3/6       November 26 1957     Where There’s A Will
3/7       December 19 1957      Unlucky Winner
3/8       December 24 1957      ‘Twas The Night Before
3/9       January 7 1958            Danger – Woman At Work *
3/10     January 21 1958          Signs Of The Times

Series 4
Associated-Rediffusion fortnightly, Fridays 6.10pm
Scripts by Bebe Daniels, Bob Ross, Ronnie Hanbury, Bob Block
4/1       September 1958          Who’s Your Lady Friend?
4/2       October 3 1958           The Reluctant Genius
4/3       October 17 1958         Dangerous Curves Ahead
4/4       October 31 1958         Boxing Gloves
4/5       November 14 1958     Family Secrets (repeat of 3/2)
4/6       November 28 1958     A Guest In The House (with Kent Walton)
4/7       December 12 1958      Thirteen Shop-Lifting Days To Christmas *
4/8       December 26 1958      The Sheriff Of Fractured Wrist * (with Alfred Marks)
4/9       January 9 1959            It’s A Woman’s World
4/10     January 23 l959           King Richard The Last

Series 5
Associated-Rediffusion weekly, Fridays 6.30pm
Scripts by Ronnie Hanbury, Bebe Daniels, Bob Block
5/1       January 1 1960            A Cowboy In Kensington
5/2       January 8 1960            Home Sweet Homicide *
5/3       January 15 1960          Stupid Cupid
5/4       January 22 1960          Teddy Boys’ Picnic
5/5       January 29 1960          For Love Or Money
5/6       February 5 1960          Just What The Doctor Ordered
5/7       February 12 1960        Top Secret
5/8       February 19 1960        Tease For Two
5/9       February 26 1960        Your Presents Are Requested
5/10     March 4 1960              A Chip Off The Old Blockhead
5/11     March 11 1960            The Nelson Touch
5/12     March 18 1960            Sauce For The Goose
5/13     March 25 1960            Be My Ghost (with Leslie Randall)

* these episodes are held by the British Film Institute

 

Films

Life With The Lyons (aka Family Affair  in US)
(Hammer, released February 1954, 81 mins)
Starring Bebe Daniels, Ben Lyon, Barbara Lyon, Richard Lyon. Horace Percival, Molly Weir, Hugh Morton, Arthur Hill, Doris Rogers, Gwen Lewis, Belinda Lee
The family experiences difficulties convincing their author landlord to sign the lease papers to their new house, especially after the children encourage Ben to take up rock gardening.
* reissued as a 6-part serial in 1957 titled Adventures With The Lyons

The Lyons In Paris (aka Mr. and Mrs. In Paree)
(Hammer, released January 1955, 81 mins)
Starring Bebe Daniels, Ben Lyon, Barbara Lyon, Richard Lyon, Reginald Beckwith, Martine Alexis, Pierre Dudan, Dino Galvani, Horace Percival, Molly Weir, Doris Rogers, Gwen Lewis, Hugh Morton
Ben and Richard both become involved with a French lady when the Lyons spend their holiday in Paris.

Recordings

Life With The Lyons
BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1319 (1992)
Contains four complete broadcasts:
14 November 1952
20 January 1955
13 April 1958
19 May 1961

 

Bibliography

Life With The Lyons
by Bebe Daniels & Ben Lyon (Odhams, 1953)
An autobiography. Despite the title, little mention of the series.

Bebe & Ben
by Jill Allgood (Hale, 1975)
Contains one chapter on Life With The Lyons.

Walking Into The Lyons’ Den
by Molly Weir (Hutchinson, 1977)
Aggie’s recollections of her first six years with the show.

One Small Footprint
by Molly Weir (Hutchinson, 1980)
Further recollections covering the final six years of the show.

DVD

Life With The Lyons + The Lyons in Paris
DD 06322 
(the print of Life With The Lyons is missing over fifteen minutes)

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