SPECIAL ITEM: TATCHELL’S GUIDE TO BBC RADIO COMEDY

THE THIRD EDITION IS NOW AVAILABLE

 

Updated, enlarged, amended and annotated!

The most comprehensive A to Z itemisation available
covering 75 years of BBC programming

 * now 230 pages

* 7 extra years of programming (to December 2012)

* what’s known to survive of the classic series

* an investigation of the shows issued by the BBC Transcription Service

* an in-depth examination of 16 classic series

* a look at the shows adapted from TV series 

 

 

herewith some sample extracts …

 

Section 1: SERIES AND SPECIALS

(all shows listed run approximately 30 minutes, unless noted)

/…

GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME
Series 1: R4 Friday 11-00pm July 5 to 26 1996
Series 2: R4 Friday 11-00pm July 11 to August 1 1997
Series 3: R4 Thursday 6-30pm May 21 to June 25 1998
with Meera Syal, Kulvinder Ghir, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nitin Sawhney, Nina Wadia

GOOD TIMING
R4 Thursday 12-30pm May 24 to June 14 1984
with Roger Black, Angus Deayton, Rory McGrath
(script: Roger Black and Rory McGrath)

THE GOON SHOW
Series 1 (titled CRAZY PEOPLE): Home Monday 7-45pm May 28 to July 23 1951,
Thursday 8-00pm August 2 to September 20 1951
*** CINDERELLA: Home Wednesday 8-15pm December 26 1951 (45 min)
Series 2: Home Tuesday 9-30pm January 22 to July 15 1952 (not Feb 12)
Series 3: Home Tuesday 9-30pm November 11 1952 to May 5 1953 (not Dec 23)
*** ROBIN HOOD: Home Friday 8-15pm December 26 1952 (45 min)
*** CORONATION EDITION: Home Wednesday 9-30pm June 3 1953 (40 min)
Series 4: Home Friday 9-30pm October 2 1953 to February 12 1954,
Monday 8-30pm February 15 to April 19 1954
*** CHRISTMAS CRACKERS: Home Friday 1-10pm December 25 1953 (featured Goons sketch)
*** ARCHIE IN GOONLAND: Home Friday 9-45pm June 11 1954
*** THE STARLINGS: Home Tuesday 9-45pm August 31 1954
Series 5: Home Tuesday 9-30pm September 28 1954 to March 22 1955
Series 6: Home Tuesday 8-30pm September 20 1955 to March 20 1956 (Nov 22 ep held til Apr 3)
*** THE MISSING CHRISTMAS PARCEL (15 min segment): December 8 1955 (60 min)
*** THE GOONS HIT WALES (5 min segment): Home Thursday 9-00pm March 1 1956 (60 min)
*** CHINA STORY: August 29 1956
Series 7: Home Thursday 8-30pm October 4 1956 to March 27 1957 (Nov 8 ep delayed til Feb 14)
*** THE REASON WHY: Home Thursday 9-15pm August 22 1957 (repeat on Feb 14)
Series 8: Home Monday 8-30pm September 30 1957 to March 24 1957
Series 9: Home Monday 8-30pm November 3 1958 to February 23 1959
Series 10: Home Tuesday 7-30pm December 24 1959 to January 28 1960
*** THE LAST GOON SHOW OF ALL: R4 Thursday 8-00pm October 5 1972 (40 min)
* The BBC Transcription Service also recorded 15 remakes of series 4 editions for overseas listeners only on … Dec 2 1956, Oct 6 & 20, Nov 3 & 17, Dec 1, 15 & 29 1957, Jan 12, Feb 16 & 23, Mar 2, 9, 16 & 23 1958
* The BBC General Overseas Service also broadcast on shortwave a special edition on Dec 24 1956
with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine (series 1& 2), Spike Milligan, Max Geldray, Ray Ellington
Originally sketches, only 2 season 2 and 1 season 3 editions survive (all recorded off-air). The single storyline format evolved by series 4, with off-air dubs accounting for about half of those episodes. Nearly everything survives from series 5 onwards (when TS began issuing programmes) with over a hundred now commercially available on CDs. Neither Archives nor TS apparently has copies of 5/20, 6/12, 6/15 or 6/17, which only exist in collector circles.

GORHAM AND SWIFT
Series 1: R2 Tuesday 10-30pm January 3 to February 7 1989
Series 2: R2 Sunday 7-00pm December 31 1989 to February 4 1989
Series 3: R2 Tuesday 7-00pm January 22 to February 26 1991
with Carl Gorham, Amanda Swift, Morwenna Banks, Paul Shearer

THE G.P.O. SHOW
Home Friday 1-10pm December 25 1964
with Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, John Bluthal, Barry Humphries, Bob Todd, Gary Miller

GRAHAM NORTON’S NEWS LASSO
R4 Friday 6-30pm July 16 to August 20 1999
with Graham Norton

GRANDE GINGOLD
Home Friday 9-45pm (later 8-30pm) July 8 to October 7 1955 (not Sep 16)
with Hermione Gingold, Alexander Gauge, Kenneth Connor, Bob Harvey, David Jacobs

GRAND VARIETY GALA FROM THE LONDON PALLADIUM
Forces Sunday 8-00pm May 5 1940 (2 hours)
with Flanagan & Allen, Max Miller, Bebe Daniels & Ben Lyon, Vic Oliver, Arthur Askey, Jack Warner, Gracie Fields

GREASE MONKEYS
Series 1: R4 Tuesday 11-30am August 4 to 25 1998
Series 2: R4 Friday 11-30am July 30 to September 3 1999
with Akbar Kurtha, Bhasker Patel (series 1), Nisha K. Nayar (series 1), Nitin Chandra Ganatra (series 2), Siddique Akhtar (series 2), Syreeta Kumar (series 2)

THE GREAT PURSUIT
R4 Wednesday 11-00pm March 16 to April 6 2005
with Mark Heap, Adam Godley, Sandra Dickinson

GREAT SCOTT – IT’S TERRY SCOTT
R2 Sunday 2-00pm November 28 1971 to January 23 1972
with Terry Scott, June Whitfield, Hugh Paddick, Dilys Watling, Colin Jeavons

THE GREAT GILHOOLY
Home Monday 8-15pm October 2 to December 18 1950
with Noel Purcell, Jack Train, Joe Linnane, Hugh Morton
(script: Ted Kavanagh)

GRIEVOUS BODILY RADIO
R4 Wednesday 11-15pm October 8 to November 12 1997 (15 min)
with Jon Holmes, Andy Hurst, Peter Serafinowicz, Emma Clarke, Mike Chequer

THE GRIFF RHYS JONES SHOW
Series 1: R2 Thursday 9-30pm March 5 to April 2 1998
Series 2: R2 Saturday 1-00pm June 19 to July 24 1999
Series 3 (titled GRIFF RHYS JONES): R2 Thursday 9-30pm August 3 to September 7 2000
Series 4: R2 Saturday 1-00pm September 8 to October 20 2001
Series 5: R2 Thursday 10-00pm February 20 to March 27 2003
with Griff Rhys Jones, Simon Godley, Geoffrey McGivern

…etc

Section 2: TRIBUTES AND ANTHOLOGIES

/…

FOLLOW THAT WITH YOUR SEALIONS – celebration of folk club comics
R4 Tuesday 11-30am April 6 and 13 2004
hosted by Dave Spikey

FOREVERETT – tribute to Kenny Everett
*** CHRISTMAS FOREVERETT: R2 Wednesday noon December 25 1996 (60 min)
R2 Saturday 1-00pm April 12 to May 3 1997
hosted by Noel Edmonds

FORTY LAUGHING YEARS
Light 3-00pm November 12 1962 (45 min)
hosted by Kenneth Horne

FRANK CARSON – 50 YEARS A CRACKER
R2 Monday 7-30pm January 2 1995
hosted by Maurice Leonard

FRANK MUIR – A KENTISH LAD REMEMBERED
R4 Wednesday 11-30am June 24 to July 29 1998
hosted by Simon Brett

FRANK MUIR GOES INTO EUROPE
(sequel to THERE WAS AN ENGLISHMAN …)
R4 Monday 8-00pm October 16 to November 20 1972
with Frank Muir, Hugh Paddick

FRANK MUIR GOES INTO …
Series 1: R4 Monday 7-30pm April 2 to May 21 1973
The Law / Education / Medicine / The Theatre / Advertising / The Church / The Office / Government
Series 2: R4 Monday 7-30pm September 10 to November 12 1973
The Home / Marriage / The Family / Class / Food / Parties / Hobbies / Sport / Pets / Holidays
Series 3: R4 Sunday 7-00pm September 29 to December 1 1974
Nostalgia / Heroism / Optimism / Pessimism / Superstition / Boredom / Pride / Jealousy / Fear /Lust
Series 4: R4 Monday 7-30pm August 18 to October 20 1975
Visual Arts / Books / Popular Music / Serious Music / Cinema / Television / Radio / Poetry / Conversation / Criticism
*** R4 Saturday 8-10am December 25 1976 (45 min): Pleasure
Series 5: R4 Saturday 2-00pm December 31 1977 to March 4 1978
Money / Public Transport / The Motor Car / Air Travel / Consumer Affairs / The Post Office / Inventions / The Environment / The Army / The Navy
Series 6: R4 Sunday 11-00am April 1 to June 3 1979
Teaching / Public School / University / Languages / Mathematics / Science / English / History / Politics / Games
*** R4 Sunday 12-00 noon September 9 1979: Festivals
*** R4 Tuesday 10-30pm January 1 1980: Celebrations
*** R4 Wednesday 10-30pm December 24 1980: Festivities
Series 7: R4 Monday 6-30pm January 19 to March 23 1981
Anger/ Gloom / Hypocrisy / Cruelty / Deceit / Greed / Laziness / Self Importance / Pettiness / Meanness
Series 8: R4 Wednesday 6-30pm March 31 to May 19 1982
Romance / Crime / Travel / Cookery / Childcare / Biography / Health / Horror
Series 9: R4 Monday 12-30pm September 19 to November 7 1983
Success / Failure / Politeness / Rudeness / Sentimentality / Pretention / Eccentricity / Misunderstanding
Series 10 (The World of Nature): R4 Monday 12-30pm May 13 to July 1 1985
Wild Animals / Domestic Animals / Birds / Insects & Spiders / Plants / Fruit and Vegetables / Rivers & Lakes / The Sea
Series 11: R4 Wednesday 6-30pm April 22 to June 10 1987
Profit / Loss / Hope / Despair / Heaven / Hell / Love / Hate
*** R4 Wednesday 12-30pm June 3 1992: Frank Muir Goes Green
with Frank Muir, Alfred Marks

… etc.

INDEX TO PROLIFIC COMEDY BROADCASTERS

(² signifies the listing will be found in section 2, programmes in italics are one-off presentations)

Arthur Askey: The Arthur Askey Show, The Arthur Askey Variety Show, Arthur’s Inn, Askey Galore, Askey’s Hall Of Fame², Band Waggon, Before Your Very Eyes², Big’s Broadcast, Big Time, Does The Team Think?, Forever Arthur, Hello Playmates, How-Do-You-Do?, Music Hall
(also Arthur Askey In Pantomania, Arthur Askey’s Christmas Party, Arthur’s Blank Holiday, Arthur’s Big-Hearted Jubilee, Arthur’s Return, Arthur’s Upside Down Christmas, Arthur’s Wonderland Christmas, Askey And Murdoch’s Hall Of Fame², Christmas Crackers, Christmas Star Variety, Comedy Parade, E.N.S.A. Concerts, Grand Variety Gala From The London Palladium, Hail Pantomime², The Hundredth Boat Race, It’s A Funny Business², King Pins Of Comedy², The Laughtermakers², Monday Night At Eight, The National Radio Awards, Pantomania, Puss In Boots, Star Parade).
and the tributes The Arthur Askey Story², Arthur’s 70th Birthday², Big Hearted Arthur².
Eric Barker: Barker’s Folly, Howdy Folks, Just Fancy, Law And Disorder, Merry-Go-Round, Wait For It, Waterlogged Spa
(also As Millions Cheer, Ca C’est Paris, Christmas Party, Happy Families, Jubilee Variety Gala, The Laughtermakers², Star Parade, Three’s A Crowd).
and the tribute Steady Barker².
Ronnie Barker: Crowther’s Crowd, Fine Goings On, Floggit’s, Let’s Face It, Lines From My Grandfather’s Forehead, The Navy Lark, Not To Worry, The Starlight Hour, This Is Your Jim, Variety Playhouse
(also Comedy Parade, It’s A Stereophonic World, Star Parade, Will Hay: Master Comedian²).
and the tributes At The Beeb², Funny That Way².
Michael Bentine: The Best Of Bentine, Come To Char-lee, The Goon Show, The Reluctant Jester², Round The Bend, Third Division
(also It Makes Me Laugh², It’s A Stereophonic World)
Dick Bentley: Gently Bentley, I Flew With Bismark, I Was Kitchener’s Treble, Lucky Dip, Mr Bentley & Mr Braden, Once Over Lightly, Take It From Here, Variety Playhouse and the drama Clancy Of The Outback.(Light 1963).
(also Christmas Party, Christmas Revel, A Gala Programme Of Radio Variety, The Hundredth Boat Race, The Light Entertainment Show, National Radio Awards, National Radio Celebrity Gala, Navy Mixture, Pantomania, Star Parade, Star Variety).
and the tribute Dick Bentley – Entertainer².
Bernard Braden: Bedtime With Braden, Braden-On-Thames, The Bradens, Breakfast With Braden, Jake And The Kid, Leave Your Name And Number, Mr. And Mrs. North, Mr. Bentley And Mr. Braden, Offbeat With Braden
(also Christmas Parade, A Gala Programme Of Radio Variety, The Land Of The Younger Son, The Laughtermakers², National Radio Awards, The Santa Claus Show, Show Parade, Sounds Funny²)

… etc.

RELEASES OF THE B.B.C. TRANSCRIPTION SERVICE

Though the B.B.C ‘s Archive was only able to preserve a very small number of recordings from the vintage years of radio comedy, its Transcription Service was pressing many thousands of discs featuring classic programmes for distribution to all parts of the globe. Thus the performers in these shows were able to gain worldwide popularity and fame at the time and go on to entice new fans from later generations.

A considerable number of these recordings (particularly those issued from the mid-1950s onwards) have survived, and today form the foundation of the hundreds of commercial releases which have appeared on LP, cassette and CD. It should be noted that in most cases the transcriptions are not as complete as the broadcasts originally aired to British listeners (with cuts allowing room for the insertion of commercial content or to remove topicalities or other matter deemed unsuitable for overseas ears).

And where the original master recordings (from the 1940s and early 1950s) have now been destroyed, a number of these early BBC discs have been recovered from all parts of the Commonwealth and elsewhere. In addition, overseas listeners sometimes made off-air acetate dubs of their favourites which have also survived the ravages of time.

In the mid-1940s, the (London) Transcription Service issues comprised sets of 12″ 78rpm discs with no more than 3 or 4 minutes per side. Thus a 30-minute show would need a lot of cross-fades by the studio operator when a programme was aired. Around 1947 the 78s had been replaced by 16″ discs running at 33? rpm (with ten minutes per side). By the mid-1950s these gave way to 10″ releases with 15 minutes a side and, at the end of the decade, 12″ discs containing two complete half-hour broadcasts…. herewith an examination of those series known to have been broadcast by the ABC in Australia.

….. etc.

/…

TAKE IT FROM HERE
in the heyday of BBC radio comedy this was the most successful TS export to air in the A.B.C. lineup. Beginning on Tuesday September 13 1949 (with series 2 editions) it soon dominated the schedules, continuously occupying the prime Sunday night timeslot with new and repeat seasons from December 1950 until February 1954.

It then returned every year until the final season concluded on December 11 1960.
The TS issued 141 editions from the Joy Nichols era (series 2 to 6), a further 128 with June Whitfield, until Muir and Norden departed (series 7 to 12) and 13 of the final 20-part season scripted by Merriman/Took/Feldman. A grand total of 282 episodes.

A reissue package featuring 104 shows (taken from series 7 to 12) began airing from November 16 1969. (A number of these include segments from different broadcasts).
The TS also issued the special Days Of Take It From Here and a package of extracts featuring The Glums (40 segments, taken from series 10 to 12).

(Dick Bentley returned to Australia to star in three seasons of Gently Bentley – 1951, 1955 and 1966 – the first two scripted by Muir & Norden, and also for I Flew For Bismarck in 1960)

TOMMY HANDLEY’S HALF HOUR
apparently the first B.B.C. comedy series aired on Australian radio (Wednesdays, from April 19 1944), Handley insisted it wasn’t to be broadcast within the British Isles (though a single episode did appear in November 1942). Its cast featured John Snagge, Maurice Shillington, Frank Phillips, Carl Carlisle, Clarence Wright, Dorothy Carless and Jimmy Miller & The R.A.F. Ochestra.

Produced by Pat Dixon, the scripts were by Ray Sonin and Rex Diamond.
(A decade earlier, Handley had hosted a 1-hour B.B.C. variety programme titled VAUDEVILLE, which was broadcast by the A.B.C. on February 7 1934)

VARIETY AHOY
filling the VARIETY FANFARE slot on Thursday nights, it ran from July 22 1954 for 13 weeks, featuring such talents as Murdoch & Horne, Bill Kerr, Dick Emery, Benny Hill and Eric Barker.

VARIETY BANDBOX
(the series proper had been predated by a special 1-hour edition featuring artists from various parts of the Commonwealth, which aired on May 24 1949)
edited from its original one hour programmes to 30-minute TS editions, it appeared on A.B.C. schedules on Tuesday nights from April 11 1950. Switching to Sunday afternoons, then Friday nights (in September), it ran until June 1952. It returned that September (on Thursday nights) and continued until February 1954.
Presumably (like Much-Binding-In-The-Marsh and Take It From Here) these long runs included repeat seasons.
(at least 16 of these TS discs exist, including #101 which is the farewell edition of April 29 1951, featuring the earliest known aircheck of Tony Hancock)

… etc.

COMMERCIALLY-ISSUED RELEASES OF B.B.C. RADIO COMEDY

(not included are panel games, TV soundtracks, or studio vocals and sketches by series characters)

(only the original release number has been listed – the now abandoned ZBBC prefix predates the ISBN system – if a recent title has been issued on both cassette and CD, space permits only the cassette’s ISBN number to be noted)

AFTER HENRY BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1030 4 shows
THE ALAN DAVIES SHOW BBC double-cassette 0563 558261 4 shows
THE AL READ SHOW
The Al Read Show BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1012 4 shows
The Al Read Show – 2 BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1554 segments
The Al Read Show – 3 BBC double-cassette ZBBC 2273 segments
ALL GAS AND GAITERS BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1971 4 shows
AS TIME GOES BY BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1917 6 shows
AYRES ON THE AIR BBC double-cassette/2CD 0563 524308 4 shows
BAND WAGGON HMV 3 x 78rpm BD 693/694/695 segments
BEACHCOMBER … BY THE WAY BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1101 6 shows
BENNY HILL TIME
Benny At The B.B.C./The World Of Benny Hill Decca LP LK 4723/PA 116 segments
Benny Hill Time BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1722 4 shows
THE BEST OF BENTINE
The Best Of Bentine BBC LP REH 492 segments
The Best Of Bentine BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1715 segments
BEYOND OUR KEN
Beyond Our Ken Parlophone LP PMCO 1238/EMI Note 195 segments
Beyond Our Ken BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1148 4 shows
Beyond Our Ken – 2 BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1407 4 shows
Beyond Our Ken – Series 1 BBC 7CD boxed set 0563 525258 13 shows
Beyond Our Ken – Series 2 BBC 7CD boxed set 0563 527196 14 shows
BRISTOW BBC double-cassette 0563 553030 6 shows
THE BURKISS WAY BBC double-cassette ZBBC 1470 segments

… etc.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

General Reference
Leslie Bridgmont Leslie Bridgmont Presents (Falcon, 1949)
Mat Coward Classic Radio Comedy (Pocket Essentials, 2003)
Paul Donovan The Radio Companion (Harper & Collins, 1991)
Andy Foster & Steve Furst Radio Comedy 1938-1968 (Virgin, 1996)
Denis Gifford The Golden Age of Radio (Batsford, 1985)
David Nathan The Laughtermakers (Peter Owen, 1971)
George Nobbs The Wireless Stars (Wensum, 1972)
Derek Parker Radio: The Great Years (David & Charles, 1977)
John Snagge & Michael Barsley Those Vintage Years Of Radio (Pitman, 1972)
Rod Taylor The Guinness Book of Sitcoms (Guinness, 1994)
Barry Took Laughter in the Air (Robson/BBC, 1976, updated 1981)

… etc.

Guides to particular series
Alfred Draper The Story Of The Goons (Everest, 1976)
Norma Farnes The Story Of The Goons (Virgin, 1997)
Barry Took Round the Horne – the Complete and Utter History (Boxtree, 1998)
Roger Wilmut The Goon Show Companion (Robson, 1976)
Tony Hancock ‘Artiste’ (Eyre Methuen, 1978)
Francis Worsley I.T.M.A. 1939-1948 (Vox Mundi, 1949)

… etc.

(Auto)Biographies
Jill Allgood Bebe and Ben (Hale, 1975)
John Antrobus Surviving Spike Milligan (Robson)
Arthur Askey Before Your Very Eyes (Woburn, 1975)
Eric Barker Steady, Barker! (Secker & Warburg, 1956)
Ronnie Barker It’s Hello From Him (New English Library, 1988)
Dominic Behan Milligan – The Life and Times of Spike Milligan (Methuen, 1988)
Michael Bentine The Long Banana Skin (Wolfe, 1975)
The Reluctant Jester (1992)
Michael Billington How Ticked I Am – Ken Dodd (Elm Tree Books, 1977)
Bernard Braden The Kindness of Strangers (Hodder & Stoughton, 1990)
Peter Brough Educating Archie (Stanley Paul, 1955)
Billie Carlyle Claude Dampier, Mrs. Gibson And Me (1978)
Humphrey Carpenter Spike Milligan – The Biography (Hodder & Stoughton, 2003)
Charlie Chester The World Is Full of Charlies (New England Library, 1974)
Barry Cryer You Won’t Believe This But … (Virgin, 1996)
Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon Life With The Lyons (Odhams, 1953)
Les Dawson A Clown Too Many (Elm Tree Books, 1985)
No Tears For The Clown (Robson, 1992)

… etc.

copies of the 3rd edition of the guide may be obtained from:


P.O. BOX 1333,
SHEPPARTON
VICTORIA 3632
AUSTRALIA
or
RIVENDELL,
CRANLEY ROAD,
GUILDFORD,
SURREY GU1 2JS
UNITED KINGDOM
or
143 ARLINGTON AVENUE,
BERKELEY
CALIFORNIA 94707
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

 COST

AUS $25 (+ $10 postage)
£15 (+ £2 postage)
US $20 (+ $5 postage)

(Cheques in these currencies should be made payable to P. Tatchell
and forwarded to the most convenient address above)

 

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