Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Steam radio

It's all the fault of Suldog.  And Bill.  And Skip.  Between them they made me think of what might be my favourite television shows.  There is no way I could comply with Jim Suldog's rules about watching every repeat: I have enjoyed many different shows but none of them to that obsessive extent.

My family had no television set until about 1960 so the entertainment in our house while I was growing up was the old steam radio.  There was a 15 minute programme just after lunchtime aimed at pre-school children called Listen with Mother.  It consisted in part of a song and a story: "Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I'll begin."  After I had started school my allegiance switched to Children's Hour at 5.00pm.  The name was a slight misnomer as the programme ran for just 55 minutes, ending at five to six for the weather forecast before the six o'clock news.  Uncle Mac was one of the favourite presenters and he always signed of with the words, "Goodnight, children, everywhere."  One of the early favourites on Children's Hour was Toytown, featuring Larry the Lamb and his friend Dennis the Dachshund and the unlikely scrapes they got into which usually meant they had to apologise to the Mayor: "Please, Mr Mayor sir..."  When I grew out of the soft toy stage the adventures of Jennings and his friend Darbyshire at their prep school became top favourite.  I think I probably had every one of the books as well!

I came home from school for dinner back then.  (Dinner, eaten at midday, was the main meal of the day.  Tea was at five and was bread and butter - actually, margarine - and jam and a slice of cake.)  The radio was always on and Workers' Playtime was a regular programme.  This was a variety show broadcast from (or recorded at) a factory canteen, a different one for each programme.  Sunday dinner times were, of course, different.  At 12 noon, Jean Metcalfe would be in the studio in London with Cliff Michelmore in a studio in Cologne Germany) to present Two-Way Family Favourites.  Then at 1.30 there would sometimes by the Billy Cotton Band Show or The Navy Lark.

As a teenager, my tastes took in Life with the Lyons, an early sitcom featuring an American couple, Ben Lyons and Bebe Daniels, who for some unknown (at least to me) reason were living in London.  But top favourites were undoubtedly the Goon Show and Hancock's Half Hour (which I thought failed dismally on television).


I've dribbled on long enough to bore the pants off everybody so I had better get onto the picture.  A re-run again as I still can't get to my camera with the newer pictures.  Still on the Roman Camp, this is the western rampart but the triangulation point is presumably obsolete now we have sattelite mapping.


Uncle Skip, said...

Thanks for the link...
...and an idea ;-)

Suldog said...

You didn't bore me. I think hearing about the favorite shows of somebody else, especially someone from a country other than mine, is fascinating.

The Goon Show has long been a favorite of mine, by the way. Many years ago, while visiting London with my parents, I caught a few episodes. It was entirely unlike anything I had ever heard in America. I have since been treated to a few tapes from a co-worker of mine who originally hails from Birmingham. Still as funny as I remembered, an absolute delight.