WITH Alternative Comedy looming on the horizon like a manic snorting lisping bloke saying “Barstard!”, a meeting of minds took place between the primary practitioners of pre-Python, post-Python and, erm Python-Python Oxbridge fringe-fripperies in the form of this decidedly off-kilter panto. Douglas Adams and John Lloyd produced, Clive Anderson and Rory McGrath scripted, and Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden, Peter Cook, John Cleese, David Hatch, Maggie Henderson and Jo Kendall mugged to the audience (well, apart from the home-tape-recorded Cleese) as if in a freewheeling edition of ISIRTA on the run from the ‘structure’ police, while occasionally referring to pseudo-satirical pisstaking of Aladdin-skewed cliches. Utter genius madness from start to finish, and basically an entire Christmas Day of BBC7 in one handy hour-long package.
DID the early shift prior to Ray Moore, accompanied by a tape of a tweeting bird called Percy (Edwards, see?), and later the sadly less-Adventure-Serial-than-it-sounds Tony Brandon Meets The Saturday People. Prone to lapsing into Scots accent at every available opportunity, a la DLT or Mike Read, only slightly less offensive. And probably slightly more convincing too.
TV CREAM SAYS: "WHAT'S THAT... YES, PERCY'S JUST WOKEN UP!"
FOOTBALL TRANSFER-esque signing from BBC Radio Scotland, enticed Londonwards in the mid-seventies with the promise of a headlining slot; didn’t go quite according to plan, due to schedule reshuffling and Woganic tussling over the Eurovision ‘gig’, but still won over legions of daytime listeners (not to mention stoking the boiler for those Radio 2 Summer ‘Railshows’, bringing consumer advice and Jim Reeves records to the elderly and infirm) and after years on the ‘bench’ got his big break when Wogan temporarily ditched Radio 2 in favour of evening TV chat shenanigans. Celtic twang proved an unpopular substitute for Irish blarney, so mid-mornings beckoned, where he remains to this day, with annoyingly ‘popular’ Gambaccini-tastic quiz Popmaster in tow.
TV CREAM SAYS: "TODAY'S POPMASTER HAS NO PRIZES WHATSOEVER DUE TO OUR
CURRENT COMPLIANCE GUIDELINES"
LONG-SERVING wheel-taker of Two’s Bisto-centric Sunday lunchtime inspiration-freeness All Time Greats, maintaining similar slightly over-concerned patter no doubt perfected in his days with Forces Radio, and probably delivered to the exact same audience too. Now broadcasts live from customised (ie it has a webcam) shack in the Grampian Mountains; recent polling revealed the most played ‘Great’ to be, not surprisingly, Begin The Beguine. The Radio Times once printed a letter from a concerned correspondent worried about the effect of a gruelling three-hour stint on Des’s health. He’s only playing records!
TV CREAM SAYS: "ALRIGHT SAM, YOU CAN GO OUT IN A MINUTE!"
BY the mid seventies Radio 2 was already turning into a rest home for dwindling nightclub acts and those intriguingly billed ‘all-round entertainers’, all of who undoubtedly benefited from further welcome employment on air late into the eighties. Stalwarts included Bernie Clifton’s Comedy Shop, whose contributors included Pat Mooney (and who won a spin off show, Mooney’s Monday Magazine). If you couldn’t sell your topical one-liner to Radio 4′s Weekending, The News Huddlines team were always available. Hinge And Brackett cornered the market in sound-only drag acts; Rolf Harris went on a Walkabout that lasted a whole decade; Dealing With Daniels puzzlingly contrived to enact a card-based game show on the radio; while Jeremy Beadle’s Nightcap helpfully reminded listeners when it was time to switch off their set. Les Dawson, Roy Castle and many others turned their hand to revue-style series, including Ken Dodd who stuffed more money under the mattress thanks to his Palace Of Laughter. Meanwhile both Instant Sunshine and their C-list cousins Harvey And The Wallbangers ‘took’ those ‘sideways’ looks at the events of the week in song. More substantial fare came courtesy of The Grumbleweeds, so accidentally iconic that they get their own proper entry, and ISIHAC-riffing Cryer’n'Brooke-Taylor smut-pun-fest Hello, Cheeky!. Nowadays more likely to play host to someone causing a national scandal by calling Peter Egan a ‘Joint Account jerk’.
TV CREAM SAYS: "AND NOW ON RADIO 2 - OH NO, THEY'RE BACK..."
UNSUITABLY monickered for those sung Radio 2 jingles (“Johhhhhhhn Duuuunnnnnnnn!”) Breakfast Special swivel chair-occupier in pre-Wogan Long Wave days, later hotfooted it over to drivetime duties with his daily ‘After Six’ interviews and first incarnation of the still-going Mystery Voice competition. Also, it has been noticed, spoke ‘BBC English’ like his life depended on it.
TV CREAM SAYS: "BUSY OLD FOOL, UNRULY SUN, WHY DOST THOU THUS, THROUGH
WINDOWS AND THROUGH CURTAINS, CALL ON US?"
EXCRUCIATINGLY beardily-tradicraft-named Capstick-heralded slot of obvious musical leanings with the most schizophrenic content possible for a radio show; owing to ‘trawling the folk circuit’ approach and the willingness of anyone of said circuit to appear at a moment’s notice, you’d either get some rock festival-friendly seven-piece with a far-out medieval-hued name fronted by a Toni Arthur-esque girl in thigh-length boots and a witch’s hat, or a quiet unassuming bloke in a big jumper singing ‘I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly’. Now standard content for pretty much all Radio 2 shows, of course.
TV CREAM SAYS: "KING ARTHUR WAS AWAAAAA-KED"/"LE-MON TREE, VERY PRETTY", DEPENDING ON THE WEEK
BACHARACH-skewed counterpart to Radio 1′s In Concert, wherein the big names of light music (Norrie Paramor, Cantabile, Barbara Dickson, that sort of thing, or more occasionally someone like Henry Mancini which would suddenly get the Radio Times very excited) did their stuff in front of a studio audience with backing from the BBC Concert Orchestra and, where vogueishly applicable, Bantok-style choristers.
TV CREAM SAYS: "I HOPE THAT ONCE AGAIN WE HAVE PROVED THAT FRIDAY NIGHT IS
“WOAH woah weeeeeeeeeeee, are The Grumbleweeds”… quasi-legendary, verging on the ‘notorious’ end of the scale, radio vehicle for the five-piece purveyors of finest ‘joke’n'roll’ whimsy. Roster of comic characters included an endless parade of ‘Uncles’ such as Cream-predicting trivia fiend Uncle Rubbish and the not-at-all-Eric-Pode-plagiarising Uncle Nasty; Wilf ‘Gasmask’ Grimshaw, who for some reason still wore his gasmask on the radio; the risibly-named Fred Fibber; and hours upon hours upon hours of impersonations of Jimmy Savile. Mock-’edgy’ comedy par excellence and the sort of thing that the office joker was addicted to, outlasting the mind-boggling television version – where, hilariously, they maintained the ‘Radio Show’ monicker.
TV CREAM SAYS: "OH I JUST CAN'T COPE"
BACK in the seventies and eighties, the self-proclaimedly Diminutive David Hamilton divided his time between his Radio 2 afternoon show and Thames continuity duties, ably assisted by a splendid tonsural concoction – a suspiciously toupee-like middle bit, with lustrous side-ramparts on either wing of his face, and all of it bright yellow. Madness did jingles for his Radio 2 show, and indeed his love of the ‘new’ bands later led to his famous quitting over a regime chance-related insistence that he should stick to playing ‘golden oldies’. And that’s possibly the only time on these pages you’ll read about someone leaving a radio station in a huff for a laudable reason.
TV CREAM SAYS: "BUT FIRST, HERE'S A ROTTEN OLD BBC PROGRAMME!"
LONGSTANDING regular engagement for those two men posing as elderly female academics, first off in Radio 4′s Joyce Grenfell Lawsuit-inviting music hall-esque revue The Enchanting World Of Hinge & Bracket, then over to Radio 2 for sitcom The Random Jottings Of Hinge & Bracket, then finally back to their audio alma mater for the sadly overlooked chat show At Home With Hinge & Bracket. Whether or not they dragged up for radio is sadly not known.
TV CREAM SAYS: "WE HOPE TO BRING BACK MEMORIES - FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT STILL
EMERGENCY STANDBY meeting of ‘blarney’ quota during Old Tel’s wanderings in televisual Peter Egan-interviewing, courtesy of scarily bouffanted hostess of TV’s We Love TV. Much was made of her status as the first long-term solo female presenter on Radio 2, though coverage of feminist issues was noticeably thin on the ground.
TV CREAM SAYS: "PLEASE CALL IN AND TELL US WHICH HYMN YOU'D LIKE TO HEAR TODAY
ON SOUNDING BRASS"
PIONEERING bandleader-turned-DJ who single-handledly dragged the BBC out of the chaps-in-suits era by playing nothing but pesky ‘gramaphone records’, interspersed with his comic repartee and mangled clips of Tony Hancock going into space or something, on weekly light programme effort Record Roundabout, getting away with it mainly by virtue of being a chap-in-suit himself. Wound up on Radio 2 after a short tenure on Radio 1, and continued broadcasting right up until literally days before his death. A huge influence on Kenny Everett, and for that reason alone, his name should be much better known than it is.
TV CREAM SAYS: "IT'S SAT-UR-DAYY!"
ADVANCED-LEVEL Big Band-fixated roller-back-of-the-clock extraordinaire who started in the dim and distant past of Radio Newsreel, Housewives Choice and Pick Of The Pops, which he inherited from Alan Dell in 1957, though it has to be said that rock’n'roll and indeed most of what came after was never really his ‘bag’. A much publicised “spat” with Pete Murray was in fact all cooked up for publicity (“people wrote to say they enjoyed the insults more than the pop records!”) though greater fame was acquired through his Man With The Triangle Nose-esque playing of multiple parts in snail-paced ancient radio sci-fi saga Journey Into Space. Proceeded to sidle around the network, most famously hosting the ultimate schedule filler Our Kind Of Music, and dallied on Radio 4 (Any Questions?, complete with on-air pelting with stones of Enoch Powell) besides moonlighting on telly (Come Dancing, Juke Box Jury and the early years of TOTP). Currently holding on in the Sunday night graveyard shift, “opening the cabinet marked…The David Jacobs Collection!”, and occasionally roped in by Radcliffe and Maconie for brilliantly punning Clapton-centric feature ‘Jacobs’ Cream Crackers’.
TV CREAM SAYS: "ELVIS WAS NEVER REALLY MY KIND OF SINGER..."
“MORNIN’ MORNIN’, Jameson ‘ere!”. Unfortunately. Non-regular listeners must have got the impression the cabby sent to pick up the regular morning DJ had returned empty-handed and gone on air himself. Former tabloid editor and self-styled man of the people, forever droning on in his “bunker” about ver Great British Public. Lasted longer than Ken Bruce who preceded him and Brian Hayes who followed, mind. Later shunted off to late-nite Horlicksathon (yeah, we know what we said) with missus Ellen.
TV CREAM SAYS: "DO THEY MEAN US? THEY SURELY DO!"
CYNIC PAR EXCELLENCE of the R2 nightshift for the best part of 20 years of whom the dreaded TOGs offered approving words during long period as Wogan’s default stand-in in the late 90s, though daytime depping (and promotion potential) later became scarce thanks to BBC liking for untrained ‘celeb’ presenters and his own hapless battles of wit with the Popmaster format. Arrived from mid-80s BBC Essex to become a night-time announcer and newsreader and progressed, often by accident, to world-weary dead-of-night raconteur on self-dubbed ‘The Best Time Of The Day’, a thriving show that relies almost entirely on creative listenership and impossibly dry tone. Voice frequently provokes the assumption that he is a) smug; and b) 20 years older than his real age (born in 1956, ackcherloi) but is a notable survivor; deliberately refuses to mention Sarah Kennedy being on after him (they fell out when he read her news and travel in the ’90s and she turned up tired and emotional once too often) and endorses ‘truck writing season’, the fingerscribing of in-jokes and acronyms like ‘SLAP MY TOP’, ‘SCOF’ and ‘BAG’ into the dirt on the nation’s haulage vehicles, to the bafflement of those who dare to sleep at night. Lived on canal boat christened ‘The Blue Pig’ when the night-time schedule came from Birmingham. Not popular with Russell Brand fans.
TV CREAM SAYS: "MY NAME IS HESTON SCRATCHWOOD JUNIOR"
FROM Saturday Club hip young gunslinger (well, sort of) in the sixties, to the 21st century, which finds him in almost exactly the same slot, playing exactly the same records. In between, did respected arts and chat sequence Round Midnight.
TV CREAM SAYS: "THEY'VE ALREADY EXHAUSTED BOTH MY OTHER 'CATCHPHRASES' ON
EARLY SHOW ultra-dry behemoth of fond remembrance, who died of cancer in the late eighties. Listeners will recall references to Gatport Airwick, abominable loads and the ‘bog-eyed jog’, as well as regular fill-in stints for El Tel on breakfast, whence Wogan’s Winner got renamed Moore’s Horse. See also surprise 1986 chart challenger O’ My Father Had A Rabbit, which briefly did battle with Pet Shop Boys, Swing Out Sister, The Communards and The Housemartins. No, really.
TV CREAM SAYS: "GATHERING SPEED FOR CHILDREN IN NEED - IT'S THE BOG-EYED JOG!"
DING-DONG! Onetime top pop-picker and regular face on Juke Box Jury (wherein he described Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play as, um, ‘a con’), turned ultrasmooth compere of mid-morning roving doorchime-themed Open House show, a bit like the Radio One Roadshow, but Coming To You Live from the Women’s Institute rather than Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Served-him-right dismissal resulted from on-air bigging up of Tories and urging Breakfast Time viewers to put their ‘X’ in Maggie’s box, catapulting him towards LBC and, lest we forget, Vintage Quiz.
TV CREAM SAYS: "DING DONG"
SHIP-IN-A-BOTTLE-like relic from an earlier age of Radio 2, more recently broadening its scope to include blokes doing Kinks covers on Hammond B3s, but forever remembered to a generation of frequency-skipping bemusees as the show where they’d all too readily break out the seagull-picking-at-stale-chips quasi-psychedelic tones of The Mighty Wurlitzer to tackle those all-important ‘standards’ and ‘Big Movie Themes’.