1 9 6 5 (UK)
16 x 30 minute episodes
1 9 6 6 (UK)
13 x 30 minute episodes
1 9 6 7 (UK)
21 x 30 minute episodes
1 9 6 8 (UK)
16 x 30 minute episodes
“Now for the young at heart and weak in the head, it’s Round The Horne“.
This seminal BBC Radio Light Programme comedy series starred Kenneth Horne and was based on a revue format. The series was first transmitted in four series of weekly episodes from 1965 until 1968.
The programme was recorded in front of a studio audience with a supporting cast comprising Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden and, in the first three series, Bill Pertwee. The announcer was Douglas Smith, who also took part in the sketches.
All except the last series featured music by Edwin Braden, played by the band The Hornblowers, with a song in the middle of each show performed by the close-harmony singing group The Fraser Hayes Four. In the fourth series, the music was by Max Harris with a smaller group of players than the earlier series.
Regular characters included the uber-camp perpetually out-of-work actors Julian and Sandy; the disreputable eccentric J. Peasmold Gruntfuttock; Lady Beatrice Counterblast – known professionally as Bea Clissold (“many, many, many times”) – and her faithful butler, Spasm (“we’re all doomed, doomed – I’ve got a touch of the dooms”); Daphne Whitethigh; Charles and Fiona (“I know”, “I know you know”, “I know you know I know”, “Yes, I know”); aggressive sex-obsessed Australian Julie Coolibah; Seamus Android; and the singer of dubious folk songs, Rambling Syd Rumpo – who sang such delightful nonsense ditties as Green grow your nadgers-O!, What shall we do with the drunken nurker?, and the timeless Ballad of the Woggler’s Moulie – who all became nationally famous.
The show came under periodic scrutiny from the BBC management for its double entendres but consistently received the backing of the director-general of the BBC, Sir Hugh Greene.
Round The Horne was created by Barry Took and Marty Feldman, who wrote the first three series. The fourth was written by Took, Johnnie Mortimer, Brian Cooke and Donald Webster.
Three weeks after the fourth series of Round the Horne finished, the first episode of Horne A’Plenty was broadcast on ITV. In a sketch show format, and with Took as script editor (and later producer), this was an attempt to translate the spirit of Round the Horne to television, although with different actors supporting Horne.
The first six-part series ran from 22 June to 27 July 1968, and the second from 27 November to 1 January 1969.
Kenneth Horne died suddenly in February 1969. The BBC decided that Round the Horne could not continue without its star and cancelled plans for a fifth series that year.
The Fraser Hayes Four