Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

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Mark
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Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Mark »

I'm Surprised ( and a little frustrated) that there has never been a series of Radio Docs, telling the story of classic comedies, there must surely be an audience for something like that, and with plenty to choose from for several series worth.

I can only think of a few examples, " At Last The Go On Show", for instance, and there was a good one on "ITMA" ("The ITMA Files").

Not comedy, but there was a half hour show on "Journey Into Space", that was most enjoyable.

The only general series looking at comedy shows, that I can think of was Barry Took's excellent "Laughter In The Air", but a history of shows like "Ray's A Laugh", "Take It From Here" and "The Navy Lark", plus many others would be a no brainer for Radio 4 or 4ex.
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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Brock »

Well there's never been a series as such, but Radio 4 Extra sometimes gives over the three-hour Saturday morning slot to a documentary on a classic comedy programme, interspersed with episodes of the programme in question. There's a particularly good one called "Horne of Plenty", on Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne, which comes round from time to time (it was last broadcast in December 2017).

The Navy Lark was featured in the slot only two days ago, but since there are six half-hour episodes listed, rather than five or four, it suggests that not much documentary material was included. (I didn't hear the programme myself since I'm not a fan of the show.)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sdrj2

ian b
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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by ian b »

There was Russell Davies' 1988 series RADIO FUN, which ran over the same ground as the earlier LAUGHTER IN THE AIR.

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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Mark »

Didn't know about the "Radio Fun" series, sounds interesting.

The three-hour shows on 4ex, are very good, heard a few of them, such as the "Navy Lark" and "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again" ones, but they only have a few minutes of anecdotes between each of the featured episodes.

A dedicated series of docs covering classic shows are crying out to be done, I would have thought, using existing paperwork and archive interviews to tell the story of each one.

So many stories to tell about format and cast changes and so on.

For instance, going through episodes of "The Clitheroe Kid", series 6 saw the show having to deal with a real life tragic event, when Leonard Williams ( Sgt Twentyman in "Z Cars") died suddenly in November 1962, a few days before he was due to record two more episodes of "TCK" as Mr Craythorpe, listening to the first one without him, you can tell the writers have omitted his characters contribution and extended other scenes, so there are unusually long scenes to cover it.

Then, Deryck Guyler was brought in at short notice to play a new neighbour forever telling showbiz anecdotes, Guyler continued as a regular in series 7, but they dropped his neighbour character.

Also, in 62, series 5 I think, Jimmy Clitheroe was still in Panto, so instead of him travelling to Hulme to record two episodes, the BBC took an OB unit to him in Great Yarmouth and recorded them at Gorleston Pavillion instead.

Would love to know more stories from all these shows.
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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Brock »

Mark wrote: The three-hour shows on 4ex, are very good, heard a few of them, such as the "Navy Lark" and "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again" ones, but they only have a few minutes of anecdotes between each of the featured episodes.
"Horne of Plenty", which I mentioned earlier, was essentially an hour-long documentary. There were two episodes each of Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne. That was perhaps an unusual one but you often get a programme with half an hour of documentary material and five full episodes.

The only way of telling from the billing is to count the number of episodes!
Didn't know about the "Radio Fun" series, sounds interesting.
It was repeated several times on the old BBC7/Radio 7 but I don't think it made its way onto Radio 4 Extra. Last heard in January 2011:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009sq ... odes/guide

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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Mark »

No, that "Radio Fun" series, must have passed me by, shame, perhaps 4ex could run it, along with the overdue "Laughter In The Air" ( although I do have the book).

I see what you mean about "Horne Of Plenty", much more chat about the series.

I have heard a few of these 3 hour shows as I mentioned, another good one was the edition on Transcription Services shows and the differences, only that one had Barry Cryer only in-between the episodes.

There's also the Barry Took Audiobook ( of the Book "Round The Horne: Complete And Utter History") which goes into detail about the series, but I don't know if that's been broadcast or not ( some Audiobooks have).
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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows

Post by ian b »

To be fair, it isn't as if the tv schedules overburden themselves with histories of television programmes - and those that do exist, (mainly three-part fillers for Gold), are for the BIG comedies/teams.

There are more radio ones than you may think though, but they are buried deep in the schedules of the past - as well as THE ITMA FILE that you mention, there was a retrospective as far back as 1951 (MEMORIES OF TMA) and a 1968 segment of A WORLD OF SOUND. But, apart from cast and format changes there usually isn't that much drama to be told about the making of most long-running, production-line comedies.

The personalities involved though, make for good listening: seek out RADIO LIVES, (and its successor run LIFESTORY), which began in 1990 and which is long-overdue a revival in R4X. The early 90s also gave us the fifteen-minute PLAYBACK on R4, where a writer or cast member looked back at MRS. DALE'S DIARY, HAVE A GO, THE NAVY LARK, IN TOWN TONIGHT, A LIFE OF BLISS, TAKE IT FROM HERE, WAGGONER'S WALK, EDUCATING ARCHIE and BEYOND OUR KEN.

Geoffrey Richard's THE RADIO DETECTIVES gets regular outings on R4X.

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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Mark »

The best example on TV was the excellent "Comedy Connections" series, that was the sort of thing I had in mind for the Radio shows.

Potted histories of shows in half hour format, with clips and archive interviews, which in the case of the latter would be the only chance of hearing them, otherwise they would languish in the Archives and forgotten.

I agree that generally, most shows would be fairly straight forward productions, but then again, who knows what happened behind the scenes that the paperwork could reveal, some might be eventful though, like "Life With The Lyons".

There probably is a fair few shows in the archives, but do they still exist though?...that "Memories Of ITMA" one sounds interesting, I must say, and I did catch at least one of those "Playback" editions (The Navy Lark"), and I also enjoyed "The Radio Detectives".

There was also that series on entertainers, "How Tickled Am I", which was a nice little series, and gets repeated often ( with the exception of the Eric Morecambe one, for some reason).

Those UK Gold series are Okay and can be an interesting watch (but aren't they just part of the channels requirement to produce original material?).

Of course "Heroes Of Comedy" did do one edition on "The Goons", together with docs on Hancock, TV has sometimes touched upon Radio.
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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by stearn »

The Bona History of Julian and Sandy and Round and Round The Horne immediately spring to mind for Round The Horne. There was the Celebration series that did cover people more than shows, but TIFH was covered on 26 Dec 1973 and Hancock was included in the edition on Galton and Simpson. The Entertainers was another similar series, although that was definitely geared more to the person than the show as was It's A Funny Business

Bebe and Be were covered by docs in 1955 and 1986
Wartime comedy in Being So Cheerful in August 1999
A Radio 2 Arts programme covered Footlights (and I think touched upon ISIRTA) some time in the late 90s
The Best of British Laughs in 1971 had Benny Hill, Peter Sellers, Morecambe and Wise, Doddy, The Goons - Python and Ted Ray as subjects and Took hosted.
Double Trouble looked at double acts, so whilst not specifically radio, covered radio in most episodes - I contributed to that series.
There was a Radio 3 series called Turns of the Century that were short (usually 10 minutes) programmes that looked at particular performers

Add in all the feature obits and tributes, and the series based on memories, whether like That Reminds Me, There'll Never be Another, In Conversation With, or series based around a performer - Guyler Galore, Definitely Dunn, The Life/Many Voices of Kenneth Connor, The Life of Jim etc.

These are all that come to mind as typing, but there are a hell of a lot more

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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Mark »

Certainly some interesting titles there, 4ex should try to repeat some of them, only one from the early ones on that list have been repeated, AFAIK, The Morecambe And Wise edition of "The Best Of British Laughs", but the others would be nice to hear again.

"Double Trouble" was a good series, I especially enjoyed the one on "The Two Ronnies".

As you and Ian have said, there are obviously some hidden gems there.

Are there many tribute shows still around?
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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

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Again, from the top of my head, there were Radio 2 tributes/features to Kenneth Horne and Bernard Bresslaw in the mid 90s. The At The Beeb series (Ronnie Barker, June Whitfield, Kenny Everett?, and Kenneth Williams) were at the end of the decade and there were Radio Collection releases that tied in with time. Briers on Hancock. Monkhouse has been the subject of at least one, and veering off a little, there was one on Associated London Scripts. A Sandy Powell tribute was among the earliest I recall and that was from a tape a friend loaned to me when I first got interested in radio. John L Mesurier and Peter Cook have also had tributes, and there was one on David Croft (but I can't remember if that was before or after he died). There was also what seemed like a raft of programmes around the time Frank Muir died, but I may have his Kentish Lad book merged with tributes.

The Radio 2 arts programme on a Saturday evening often covered things that I found of interest, usually in a 2 hours slot, so it was a bugger to record, but I am sure there was an edition on sitcoms and perhaps another on Max Miller, although I may have misremembered that, something tied in with the Goon Show - probably Milligan, Dennis Main Wilson, or possibly Sykes. The problem with these is, without a show title, they can be tedious to find on Genome.

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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Mark »

The "Briers On Hancock" one has also been on 4ex, so they do turn up sometimes.

I like the sound of the "ALS" one, definitely worth a repeat.

There's a couple of Tributes that I know of, but don't know if they exist or not.

"The Clitheroe Kid Himself", (30 mins) from 22/9/73, presented by Frank Dixon.

"Tribute To Ted Ray", ( 30 mins) from 7/1/78, with contributions from Kitty Bluett and Peter Sellers.
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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by stearn »

Checking Genome, the ALS programme was a two-parter and broadcast in 2003 and repeated in 2005.
The Clitheroe Kid Himself is in archives as extracts that total around half the original length.
The Tribute to Ted Ray looks to be held complete.

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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Mark »

Thanks very much for checking.

That "ALS" two parter would fit perfectly on 4ex at some point.

Shame the Jimmy Clitheroe tribute is not complete, but perhaps the further back you go...thankfully there are about four other Docs which are still around.

"Radio Lives" 13/8/92 ( others in the series include Kenny Everett)
"How Tickled Am I" 13/4/99
"Whatever Happened To Jimmy Clitheroe" 8/6/03
"All There With My Cough Drops" 10/6/03
( Some Material is repeated in them all)


Good news about the Ted Ray one though, especially with comments from his "RAL" co-stars.
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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Brock »

Brock wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 6:25 am
There's a particularly good one called "Horne of Plenty", on Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne, which comes round from time to time (it was last broadcast in December 2017).
It came round again today:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b007k2b6

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Re: Documentaries ( Radio Shows)

Post by Mark »

Thanks very much for that, looking forward to listening to this one.
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