1 9 5 8 – 1 9 6 0 (UK)
22 x 30 miute episodes
Hot on the heels of Drake’s Progress came this BBC series starring Charlie Drake as Charles O’Casey Drake in 22 unrelated 30-minute situation comedies.
Recurring characters included Colin Watson (Michael Henry), Bert of Nicotinics Anonymous (Sam Kydd), Dr Wolfit (Robert MacKenzie) and The George Mitchell Singers. Guest stars included Rita Webb, Gretchen Franklin, Hugh Lloyd, and Madge Brindley.
Critics focussed on the poor scripts rather than Drake’s performance and opined that “the situations were not really well thought out”. A very public split with writer Dave Freeman at the end of the second series saw Drake bring in David Cummings and Derek Collyer to help him write the scripts for the third and fourth series.
In the final episode of the third series (Recital) which aired on New Year’s Eve 1959, Charlie appeared alone as the conductor of an orchestra comprised entirely of Charlie Drake musicians. The episode was so successful (The Stage called it “The funniest thing EVER seen on television”) that a stand-alone repeat was broadcast, and in 1968 (almost ten years later) the sketch won Drake the Golden Rose of Comedy Award at the Montreux festival.
Audience Research Reports from the BBC clearly showed how much more audiences were enjoying the shows written by Drake (with help from Cummings and Collyer) and the success of the last two series of Charlie Drake In . . . made him a major television star overnight.
From now on, Drake would create his characters, write their dialogue, design the sets, choreograph the slapstick stunts, and then perform his clown act in front of the camera. All that a director had to do was to make sure the camera was pointed at him.
Charles O’Casey Drake
The Patriotic Singer | The Clapper Boy | Grandad Was a Wrestler | The Man Who Went for the Milk | The Siberian Sandwiper || Charlie and the King of Siam | Baby Face | The Lust for Gold | The Return of Uncle Henry | Treble || Igig | The Man with the Golden Hand | An Affair of the Heart | Heaven Knows, Mr Drake | The Angry Young Plumber | Recital || It’s Up to You | Suspension | We Diet at Dawn | Quiet, Please | March of the Movies