Round the Horne
Round the Horne was a BBC Radio
BBC Radio
BBC Radio is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927. For a history of BBC radio prior to 1927 see British Broadcasting Company...

Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

 programme, transmitted in four series of weekly episodes from 1965 until 1968. The series was created by Barry Took
Barry Took
Barry Took was an English comedian, writer and television presenter. He is best remembered in the UK for his weekly role as presenter of Points of View, a BBC TV programme in which viewers' letters criticising or praising the BBC were broadcast...

 and Marty Feldman
Marty Feldman
Martin Alan "Marty" Feldman was an English comedy writer, comedian and actor who starred in a series of British television comedy shows, including At Last the 1948 Show, and Marty, which won two BAFTA awards and was the first Saturn Award winner for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Young...

 - with others contributing to later series after Feldman returned to performing — and starred Kenneth Horne
Kenneth Horne
Kenneth Horne was an English comedian and businessman. The son of a clergyman and politician, he combined a successful business career with regular broadcasting for the BBC. His first hit series Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh written with his co-star Richard Murdoch arose out of his wartime service as...

, with Kenneth Williams
Kenneth Williams
Kenneth Charles Williams was an English comic actor and comedian. He was one of the main ensemble in 26 of the Carry On films, and appeared in numerous British television shows, and radio comedies with Tony Hancock and Kenneth Horne.-Life and career:Kenneth Charles Williams was born on 22 February...

, Hugh Paddick
Hugh Paddick
Hugh William Paddick was an English actor, whose most notable role was in the 1960s BBC radio show Round the Horne in sketches such as Charles and Fiona and Julian and Sandy...

, Betty Marsden
Betty Marsden
Betty Marsden was an English comedy actress.Originally from Liverpool, she attended the Italia Conti Stage School and ENSA.In the radio series Beyond Our Ken, she played Fanny Haddock, a takeoff of Fanny Cradock...

 and Bill Pertwee
Bill Pertwee
William Desmond Anthony Pertwee MBE is a British comedy actor. He is best known for playing the part of antagonist ARP Warden Hodges in the popular sitcom Dad's Army.-Early and personal life:...

. The show's announcer was Douglas Smith and from time to time he took part in the sketches. It had musical interludes by close harmony singing group the Fraser Hayes Four
Fraser Hayes Four
Fraser Hayes Four is an English close harmony vocal group formed by musicians Jimmy Fraser, real name Frazer Potts, and Tony Hayes in the 1950s. While those two remained constant for the life of the group, the girl lead and the 4th voice changed periodically...

, and accompaniment by the big band of Edwin Braden ("the great, hairy fool" according to Kenneth Williams), known as Edwin Braden and the Hornblowers. The band were nominally the BBC Radio Orchestra
BBC Radio Orchestra
The BBC Radio Orchestra was a broadcasting orchestra based in London, maintained by the British Broadcasting Corporation from 1965 until 1991....

 but were never billed as such. In the fourth series, all the musical duties were performed by smaller Max Harris
Max Harris (composer)
Max Harris was a British film and television composer and arranger. He played the piano and piano accordion....

 Group. Took and the cast had worked on the predecessor series Beyond Our Ken
Beyond Our Ken
Beyond Our Ken was a radio comedy programme, the predecessor to Round the Horne . Both programmes starred Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden and Bill Pertwee, with announcer Douglas Smith. Musical accompaniment was provided by the BBC Revue Orchestra...

. The name is a pun on the nautical phrase for sailing around Cape Horn
Cape Horn
Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island...



Round the Horne featured a parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 a week, several catchphrases, and many memorable characters. The show often opened with a deadpan delivery by Horne of "the answers to last week's questions" - questions which had never been asked, and which were laced with (what were for BBC Radio at that time) incredible double entendre
Double entendre
A double entendre or adianoeta is a figure of speech in which a spoken phrase is devised to be understood in either of two ways. Often the first meaning is straightforward, while the second meaning is less so: often risqué or ironic....

s and sexual innuendo
An innuendo is a baseless invention of thoughts or ideas. It can also be a remark or question, typically disparaging , that works obliquely by allusion...

, such as
"First, the "Where Do You Find It?" question. Well, the answer came in several parts, as follows: wound round a sailor's leg; on top of the wardrobe; floating in the bath; under a prize bull; and in a lay-by on the Watford Bypass. At least, I found one there - couldn't use it - it was covered in verdigris
Verdigris is the common name for a green pigment obtained through the application of acetic acid to copper plates or the natural patina formed when copper, brass or bronze is weathered and exposed to air or seawater over a period of time. It is usually a basic copper carbonate, but near the sea...

. I gave it to the Scouts
Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, that they may play constructive roles in society....

, actually, and they exhibit it proudly next to a daguerreotype
The daguerreotype was the first commercially successful photographic process. The image is a direct positive made in the camera on a silvered copper plate....

 of Baden-Powell's
Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell
Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, Bt, OM, GCMG, GCVO, KCB , also known as B-P or Lord Baden-Powell, was a lieutenant-general in the British Army, writer, and founder of the Scout Movement....

A woggle is a device to fasten the neckerchief, or scarf, worn as part of the Scout or Girl Guides uniform.-Origins of the woggle:Early Scouts tied a knot in their neckerchief to fasten it around the neck...


Another type of opening featured announcements about a particular event, e.g. Coat A Sheep in Raspberry Jam Week, Immerse an Orangutan
Orangutans are the only exclusively Asian genus of extant great ape. The largest living arboreal animals, they have proportionally longer arms than the other, more terrestrial, great apes. They are among the most intelligent primates and use a variety of sophisticated tools, also making sleeping...

 in Porridge Week, Smear A Traffic Warden
Traffic warden
A traffic warden is a non-warranted officer employed by a statutory authority in jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Ireland, to assist in regulating the flow of traffic.- Ireland :...

 in Bloater
Bloater (herring)
Bloaters are a type of smoked herring. They are different from the kippers as they are smoked whole, with its innards intact which gives it its unique gamey flavour. The bloater is associated with Great Yarmouth, England; the kipper with Scotland and the Isle of Man...

 Paste For Asia Day, or something equally bizarre. This would be the excuse for all sorts of happenings, such as the two-man inter-rabbi bobsleigh championships (to be held on the down escalator at Leicester Square underground station
Leicester Square tube station
Leicester Square is a station on the London Underground, located on Charing Cross Road, a short distance to the east of Leicester Square itself....

 — weather and platform tickets permitting), Formation Goat Nadgering, Paso Doble Jockey Wagging, Floodlit Horse Massage, and Nark Fettering on Ice, and reports of the latest activities of the Over-Eighties Nudist Leapfrog (or Basketball, or Judo) Team.

One of the most popular sketches was Julian and Sandy
Julian and Sandy
Julian and Sandy were characters on the BBC radio comedy programme Round the Horne from 1965 to 1968 and were played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams respectively, with scripts written by Barry Took and Marty Feldman...

, featuring Paddick and Williams as two flamboyantly camp
Camp (style)
Camp is an aesthetic sensibility that regards something as appealing because of its taste and ironic value. The concept is closely related to kitsch, and things with camp appeal may also be described as being "cheesy"...

 out-of-work actors, speaking in the gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

 slang Polari
Polari is a form of cant slang used in Britain by actors, circus and fairground showmen, criminals, prostitutes, and by the gay subculture. It was popularised in the 1960s by camp characters Julian and Sandy in the popular BBC radio show Round the Horne...

, with Horne as their comic foil
Double act
A double act, also known as a comedy duo, is a comic pairing in which humor is derived from the uneven relationship between two partners, usually of the same gender, age, ethnic origin and profession, but drastically different personalities or behavior...

. They usually ran fashionable enterprises in Chelsea
Chelsea, London
Chelsea is an area of West London, England, bounded to the south by the River Thames, where its frontage runs from Chelsea Bridge along the Chelsea Embankment, Cheyne Walk, Lots Road and Chelsea Harbour. Its eastern boundary was once defined by the River Westbourne, which is now in a pipe above...

 which started with the word bona, for example Bona Pets, or in one episode a firm of solicitors called Bona Law - a play on the name of Prime Minister Bonar Law - and their claim "We've got a criminal practice that takes up most of our time" at a time when homosexuality was illegal.

"Fiona and Charles" was a regular in the show. Betty Marsden played Dame Celia Molestrangler, and Hugh Paddick was 'ageing juvenile' Binkie Huckaback
Binkie Beaumont
Hugh 'Binkie' Beaumont was a British theatre manager and producer, referred to as the "Eminence Grise" of the West End Theatre. He was one of the most successful manager-producers in the West End during the middle of the 20th century...

 (named after theatrical impresario Binkie Beaumont). Their characters — Fiona and Charles — were a pair of lovestruck, dated cinema idols engaging in stilted, extraordinarily polite dialogues, in scenes that were parodies
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of Sir Noël Coward
Noël Coward
Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".Born in Teddington, a suburb of London, Coward attended a dance academy...

's style, most particularly that of Dame Celia Johnson
Celia Johnson
Dame Celia Elizabeth Johnson DBE was an English actress.She began her stage acting career in 1928, and subsequently achieved success in West End and Broadway productions. She also appeared in several films, including the romantic drama Brief Encounter , for which she received a nomination for the...

 and Trevor Howard
Trevor Howard
Trevor Howard , born Trevor Wallace Howard-Smith, was an English film, stage and television actor.-Early life:...

 in Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter is a 1945 British film directed by David Lean about the conventions of British suburban life, centring on a housewife for whom real love brings unexpectedly violent emotions. The film stars Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carey...

. Typical dialogue (imagine it spoken in BBC English
Received Pronunciation
Received Pronunciation , also called the Queen's English, Oxford English or BBC English, is the accent of Standard English in England, with a relationship to regional accents similar to the relationship in other European languages between their standard varieties and their regional forms...

) included:
Charles: "I know."
Fiona: "I know you know."
Charles: "I know you know I know."
Fiona: "Yes, I know."

These sketches would also feature long lists of synonyms but finishing with the opposite, such as:
Charles: "I was certain, positive, convinced and doctrinaire, and yet... unsure."

Other characters included J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock (Williams), the world's dirtiest dirty old man (who wanted, above all else, to get his hands on Judith Chalmers
Judith Chalmers
Judith Chalmers OBE is an English television presenter who is best known for presenting the travel programme Wish You Were Here...? in the 1970s and 1980s, where she often appeared in a bikini.-Early life and career:...

). He was also the self-styled king (later dictator) of Peasemoldia, a small slum area in north London just off the Balls Pond Road, together with his wife Buttercup (Marsden), whose catch phrase was "Hello cheeky-face!". In the third series, it was reported that Gruntfuttock had died, and an entire programme was a tribute to him. However, without explanation, the character was soon resurrected. In the same series, the Gruntfuttocks appeared as King Louis XIII and his queen in a spoof of The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers is a novel by Alexandre Dumas, first serialized in March–July 1844. Set in the 17th century, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard...


Horne's adversary in many James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

 parodies was the Oriental criminal mastermind (and Fu Manchu
Fu Manchu
Dr. Fu Manchu is a fictional character introduced in a series of novels by British author Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century...

 parody) Dr Chu En Ginsberg MA (failed) (Williams, accompanied by his common-as-muck concubine Lotus Blossom, played by a cockney Paddick). Took while on holiday in India had noticed that many lawyers practised without qualification but to cover themselves had signs made bearing their name and the legend BA, DL etc (Failed). There were parodies of popular British TV
British television
Public television broadcasting started in the United Kingdom in 1936, and now has a collection of free and subscription services over a variety of distribution media, through which there are over 480 channelsTaking the base Sky EPG TV Channels. A breakdown is impossible due to a) the number of...

 entertainers such as Eamonn Andrews
Eamonn Andrews
Eamonn Andrews, CBE , was an Irish television presenter based in the United Kingdom.-Life and career:...

 ("Seamus Android", played by Pertwee), Simon Dee
Simon Dee
Cyril Nicholas Henty-Dodd , better known by his stage name Simon Dee, was a British television interviewer and radio disc jockey who hosted a twice-weekly BBC TV chat show, Dee Time in the late 1960s...

, Wilfred Pickles
Wilfred Pickles
Wilfred Pickles OBE was an English actor and radio presenter.Born in Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Pickles was a proud Yorkshireman, and having been selected by the BBC as an announcer for its North Regional radio service, went on to be an occasional newsreader on the BBC Home Service...

 (both played by Williams), and "Daphne Whitethigh", presumably based on journalist Katharine Whitehorn
Katharine Whitehorn
Katharine Elizabeth Whitehorn is a British journalist, writer, and columnist who was known for her wit and humour and as a keen observer of the changing role of women.-Early life:...

 and played by Marsden, a development of Fanny Haddock, her Fanny Cradock
Fanny Cradock
Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey , better known as Fanny Cradock, was an English restaurant critic, television cook and writer who mostly worked with her then common-law husband Johnnie Cradock, adopting his surname long before they married. She was the daughter of the novelist and lyricist Archibald...

 take-off from Beyond Our Ken.

The shows featured old English folk singer
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

 Rambling Syd Rumpo
Rambling Syd Rumpo
Rambling Syd Rumpo was a folk singer character played by English comedian Kenneth Williams in the radio comedy series Round the Horne.The Rambling Syd sketches generally began with a short discourse on the nature of the song which would inexorably follow; these discourses in their own right would...

, played by Williams, who sang such delightful and parodic nonsense ditties as Green Grow My Nadgers Oh!, Song of the Bogle Clencher and the timeless Ballad of the Woggler's Moulie. All Rambling Syd's songs were new words set to old public domain folk melodies, such as The Lincolnshire Poacher
The Lincolnshire Poacher
"The Lincolnshire Poacher" is a traditional English folk song.The Lincolnshire Poacher can also refer to:*Lincolnshire Poacher , a numbers station*Lincolnshire Poacher , a type of cheese...

, Oh My Darling, Clementine
Oh My Darling, Clementine
Oh My Darling, Clementine is an American western folk ballad usually credited to Percy Montrose , although it is sometimes credited to Barker Bradford. The song is believed to have been based on another song called Down by the River Liv'd a Maiden by H. S...

and Widecombe Fair
Widecombe Fair
Widecombe Fair takes place annually on the second Tuesday in September, attracting thousands of visitors to the tiny Dartmoor village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor...

. Another of Rambling Syd's immortal verses ran:-
"In Hackney Wick there lives a lass,
whose grommets would I woggle,
Her gander-parts none can surpass
and her posset makes me boggle!"

Another regular character, who had also first appeared in Beyond Our Ken, and who appeared in the script as Dentures, was Stanley Birkenshaw, played by Paddick and characterised as a man with ill-fitting false teeth
Dentures are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth, and which are supported by surrounding soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. Conventional dentures are removable, however there are many different denture designs, some which rely on bonding or clasping onto teeth or dental...

 who was utterly incapable of pronouncing the letter S without spraying saliva all over the set. He would often appear as a character in a sketch; in the second series, when Horne decides he wants to be a seaside end-of-the-pier-show impresario, one of the acts he auditions is Dentures as 'The Great Omipaloni, the world's fastest illusionist - and also the dampest'; in the third series he was Captain Ahab in the first part of The Admirable Loombucket; also in the same series, in The Big Top, Luigi Omipaloni, the trapeze artist
A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus performances...

 at Cuckpowder's Mammoth Circus, and Buffalo Sidney Goosecreature, the fearless desperado and adversary of The Palone Ranger; in the fourth series in Apache Story, he is Rain In The Face - Kenneth Williams, as Billy Two Cheeks, exclaims "He speaks with forked tongue!"; and in Bona Prince Charlie the appropriately named Angus McSpray - Horne remarks: "After he'd finished speaking, there wasn't a dry eye in the place - or a dry anything else for that matter." Dentures would often open the show in the style of a toastmaster: ("My lordsssss, ladiesssss and gentlemen," etc) and on one occasion in the third series as a wrestling tournament MC; Horne comments after being introduced as 'Your referee for the contest - Kenneth "Man Mountain" Horne': 'That was Hugh Paddick, the wrestling vicar of St Barnabas Without.'

A regular character in the fourth series, and played by Marsden, was Judy Coolibar, an aggressive Australian who managed to find some kind of sexist insult in everything the male characters said. Another of Marsden's personas was Bea Clissold, Lady Counterblast, who starred in a series of sketches in the first series under the title The Clissold Saga, and who invariably managed to introduce her "many, many times" sexual innuendo. Lady Counterblast's butler, Spasm, another raving loony played by Williams, would croak, "We be all doomed; I got a touch of the dooms!"

Kenneth Williams's characterisations of himself as an egotistical, self-important actor were a regular feature; in reality, he was a consummate professional. He frequently interrupted the proceedings with deprecating comments about the quality of the script (often switching out of character into his "snide" voice that he'd perfected during his time on Hancock's Half Hour
Hancock's Half Hour
Hancock's Half Hour was a BBC radio comedy, and later television comedy, series of the 1950s and 60s written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. The series starred Tony Hancock, with Sid James; the radio version also co-starred, at various times, Moira Lister, Andrée Melly, Hattie Jacques, Bill Kerr...

), he would try to seize roles from other cast members and so on. His seemingly constant strain for glory and limelight was exemplified by his "I need to be serviced" catchphrase. However, none of these rantings were ad-libbed, all were written by Took and Feldman. Williams could be heard every week cackling off-stage at one of Horne's double entendres ("that's yer actual French") - an often effective method of inducing audience laughter.

Also used to effect was announcer Douglas Smith's stuffy BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 vocal style. Smith would be cast as a car, an inflatable life raft, a shark, a lion, a river boat, a gun, a volcano, and in the fourth series, in the Bona Prince Charlie sketch, as England, and even more improbably, in the Round The World sketch, as the world ("... and it'll take Mr Williams more than 80 days to get around me!"). These roles would require such inane phrases as "snap snap", "rumble rumble", "roar roar snarl slaver", or "chug chug futt", preceded by portentous announcements such as "...and I, Douglas Smith, play the volcano". He would also slip in spoof commercials and sponsor's announcements for "Dobbiroids", the wonder horse rejuvenator, or "Dobbimist" horse deodorant (a cure for UFO: under-fetlock odour), or "Dobbitex" horse cummerbunds - he would claim that he'd been "got at": paid money to plug the product, because he claimed to be only paid a pittance as a senior BBC announcer, "I want things, I need things, things the other radio announcers have got!" At times, his announcements lapse into something approaching terminal narcissism - "this is strangely attractive, leggy gamin Douglas Smith, the one whose skin you love to touch..."

The writers were fans of the old variety show
Variety show
A variety show, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts, especially musical performances and sketch comedy, and normally introduced by a compère or host. Other types of acts include magic, animal and circus acts, acrobatics, juggling...

 scene, and singalongs were not uncommon on Round the Horne, particularly at the end of a series or in a Christmas edition. In the fourth series, in the absence of The Fraser Hayes Four, the cast members were regularly called on to show off their vocal talents. Sometimes the songs represented original material, or on one occasion, Noel Coward
Noël Coward
Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".Born in Teddington, a suburb of London, Coward attended a dance academy...

's classic There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner, but just as often they were Cockney
The term Cockney has both geographical and linguistic associations. Geographically and culturally, it often refers to working class Londoners, particularly those in the East End...

 music hall
Music hall
Music Hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment which was popular between 1850 and 1960. The term can refer to:# A particular form of variety entertainment involving a mixture of popular song, comedy and speciality acts...

 chestnuts such as Little Bit of Cucumber. On one memorable occasion in the fourth series, Smith was permitted to sing Nobody Loves a Fairy When She's Forty, much to Kenneth Williams's disgust and Hugh Paddick's anger ("He must have bribed the producer!").

A fifth series had been commissioned, but was abandoned after Horne's untimely death of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 in February 1969 at the Bafta Awards ceremony. Horne was presenting an award to Took and Feldman when he collapsed. Most of the cast of the show attempted to carry on after Horne's death with the 1969-1970 series Stop Messing About (one of Kenneth Williams's longest-lived catchphrases), with limited success. Joan Sims
Joan Sims
Joan Sims was an English actress best remembered for her roles in the Carry On films, and latterly for playing Madge Hardcastle in As Time Goes By.-Early life:...

 replaced Marsden.

Production history

All shows were produced by John Simmonds.

Series 1-3
Series 1 ran for 16 episodes from 7 March 1965, Series 2 for 13 episodes from 13 March 1966, and Series 3 for 20 episodes from 12 February 1967. The scripts were written by Barry Took and Marty Feldman. The cast was Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Bill Pertwee and announcer Douglas Smith, with music by the Fraser Hayes Four and Paul Fenoulhet and the Hornblowers (Edwin Braden replaced Fenoulhet from episode 7 of Series 1).

Series 4
Series 4 ran for 16 episodes from 25 February 1968. The scripts were written by Took, Johnnie Mortimer
Johnnie Mortimer
Johnnie Mortimer was a British scriptwriter for television.He started out as a cartoonist, which brought him into contact with his writing partner Brian Cooke...

, Brian Cooke
Brian Cooke
Brian Cooke is a British comedy writer who, along with co-writer Johnnie Mortimer wrote scripts for and devised many of the top TV sitcoms of the 1970s, including Man About the House, George and Mildred and Robin's Nest...

 and Donald Webster. The cast was Horne, Williams, Paddick, Marsden and Smith, with music by the Max Harris
Max Harris (composer)
Max Harris was a British film and television composer and arranger. He played the piano and piano accordion....


A version of the Series 1 episode The Man with the Golden Thunderball was specially re-recorded for the BBC Transcription Service on 22 July 1966. It omitted many topical jokes from the original script.

A 1966 Christmas special, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was broadcast on 25 December. The script was written by Took and Feldman. The cast was Williams, Paddick, Marsden, Pertwee and Smith, with music by the Fraser Hayes Four and Edwin Braden and the Hornblowers. It was the only episode without Kenneth Horne, who missed the recording session due to illness.

A 1967 Christmas special, Cinderella, was broadcast on 24 December. The script was written by Took, Mortimer and Cooke. The cast was Horne, Williams, Paddick, Marsden and Smith, with music by the Max Harris Group.


A 45 minute radio documentary Round And Round The Horne was broadcast on 18 September 1976. It was presented by Frank Bough
Frank Bough
Frank Bough is a retired British television presenter who is best known as the former host of BBC sports and current affairs shows including Grandstand, Nationwide and Breakfast Time, which he fronted alongside Selina Scott.-Early life:...

 and included interviews with Kenneth Williams and Barry Took.

A 60 minute radio documentary Horne A' Plenty was broadcast on 14 February 1994. It was presented by Leslie Phillips
Leslie Phillips
Leslie Samuel Phillips, CBE is an English actor with a highly recognisable upper class accent. Originally known for his work as a comedy actor, Phillips subsequently made the transition to character roles.-Early life:...

 and included new interviews with Betty Marsden and Barry Took, period interviews with Kenneth Horne, and rare excerpts from surviving wartime episodes of Much Binding in the Marsh
Much Binding in the Marsh
Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh was the title of a comedy BBC radio and Radio Luxembourg show broadcast from 1944 to 1954, starring Kenneth Horne and Richard Murdoch as senior staff in a fictional RAF station battling red tape and wartime inconvenience...


A three-hour radio special, also entitled Horne A' Plenty, was broadcast on 5 March 2005 for the 40th anniversary. It was presented by Jonathan James-Moore
Jonathan James-Moore
Jonathan James-Moore was an English theatre manager and BBC radio producer and executive.He was born in Worcestershire and educated at Bromsgrove School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a degree in engineering and served as Footlights president...

 and included interviews with Ron Moody
Ron Moody
Ron Moody is an English actor.- Personal life :Moody was born in Tottenham, North London, England, the son of Kate and Bernard Moodnick, a studio executive. His father was of Russian Jewish descent and his mother was a Lithuanian Jew. He is a cousin of director Laurence Moody and actress Clare...

, Bill Pertwee, Eric Merriman's son Andy, Brian Cooke, Barry Took's ex-wife Lyn, and extracts from Kenneth Williams's diary read "in character" by David Benson
David Benson
David Benson is an English character actor, writer and comedian, most famous for his one-man show entitled 'Think No Evil of Us: My Life with Kenneth Williams' about the life and career of the late comedian, for which he won the Scotsman's Fringe First award in 1996, and for his television role as...

. The special included the first and final episodes of Beyond Our Ken and Round The Horne in their entirety.

Adaptations and audio releases

The series has been issued as a series of CD box sets (in the same format as the Hancock's Half Hour
Hancock's Half Hour
Hancock's Half Hour was a BBC radio comedy, and later television comedy, series of the 1950s and 60s written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. The series starred Tony Hancock, with Sid James; the radio version also co-starred, at various times, Moira Lister, Andrée Melly, Hattie Jacques, Bill Kerr...

radio series), restoring cut material previously believed lost. The 40th anniversary special Horne A' Plenty was released as a 3 CD set by BBC Audiobooks as The Complete and Utter History of Round the Horne. In 2008-2009, every episode was broadcast on BBC Radio 7
BBC Radio 4 Extra, formerly known as BBC 7 and BBC Radio 7, is a British digital radio station broadcasting comedy, drama, and children's programming nationally 24 hours a day. It is the principal broadcasting outlet for the BBC's archive of spoken-word entertainment...


Episodes of Round the Horne were included in the package of programmes held in 20 underground radio stations of the BBC's Wartime Broadcasting Service
Wartime Broadcasting Service
The Wartime Broadcasting Service was a service of the BBC that was intended to broadcast in the United Kingdom either after a nuclear attack or if conventional bombing destroyed regular BBC facilities in a conventional war ....

, designed to provide public information and morale-boosting broadcasts for 100 days after a nuclear attack
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...


A stage version, Round the Horne… Revisited, was first produced in October 2003 prior to opening in the West End in January 2004. Based on the original radio scripts, it was adapted by Brian Cooke
Brian Cooke
Brian Cooke is a British comedy writer who, along with co-writer Johnnie Mortimer wrote scripts for and devised many of the top TV sitcoms of the 1970s, including Man About the House, George and Mildred and Robin's Nest...

, the last surviving writer from the series, and directed by Michael Kingsbury. The play was also filmed for television, directed by Nick Wood, and was broadcast on BBC Four
BBC Four
BBC Four is a British television network operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation and available to digital television viewers on Freeview, IPTV, satellite and cable....

 on 13 June 2004, as part of a Summer in the Sixties season, subsequently airing on BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 on 1 January 2005.

Both the stage and TV versions starred Jonathan Rigby
Jonathan Rigby
Jonathan Rigby is an English film critic and actor who has written the following books - English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema , Christopher Lee: The Authorised Screen History , Roxy Music: Both Ends Burning , American Gothic: Sixty Years of Horror Cinema and Studies in Terror: Landmarks of...

 (Horne), Robin Sebastian
Robin Sebastian
Robin Sebastian is a British actor, best known for his portrayals of actor Kenneth Williams. A native of London, he recently played the role of Kenneth Williams in the production of Stop Messing About at the Leicester Square Theatre and on a number one tour of the UK.-Personal life:Raised in...

 (Williams), Kate Brown (Marsden), Nigel Harrison (Paddick) and Charles Armstrong (Smith). An additional cast member appeared as a non-speaking sound effects man. The stage show had three incarnations. A special Christmas edition took over in December 2004, and the so-called Round the Horne... Revisited 2 rounded off the London run from January to April 2005. All three shows received unanimously good reviews, though David Took (Barry's younger son) gave the following opinion on the modern staging:
"The cast are all truly excellent, and all have genuine moments of brilliance [...] the low spot would be the new material [...] With so much good material to call on it is madness to insert indifferent items. Dad and Marty would not be amused."

In 2008, Barry Took's ex-wife Lyn concocted an alternative stage show, Round the Horne - Unseen and Uncut. Directed by Richard Baron, this featured exclusively Took/Feldman material from series one to three. Jonathan Rigby, Robin Sebastian and Nigel Harrison were back as Horne, Williams and Paddick, with Sally Grace
Sally Grace
Sally Grace is a British actress who has worked extensively in radio and animation.She was a long-standing member of the team on Week Ending, the long-running BBC Radio 4 topical satirical sketch show, where she was the voice of Margaret Thatcher from 1983 onwards, and her work with Ken Bruce on...

 as Betty Marsden, Stephen Boswell as Smith and Michael Shaw as Bill Pertwee. (The first time Pertwee had been represented on stage.) A vocal quartet skittishly called Not the Fraser Hayes Four also figured in the proceedings, together with an eight-piece band. Having been staged to great acclaim at the Theatre Royal, Brighton in November 2008, the show was then revived at half a dozen further venues in September/October 2009.

Cultural influence

Like The Goon Show
The Goon Show
The Goon Show was a British radio comedy programme, originally produced and broadcast by the BBC Home Service from 1951 to 1960, with occasional repeats on the BBC Light Programme...

before it, Round the Horne fed off and contributed to the nation's vernacular. Obscure but innocent words like posset
A posset was a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular from medieval times to the 19th century...

(a medieval drink made with curdled milk) became cues for instant giggling, especially among adolescents in school. Thus Rambling Syd Rumpo may say "Green grows the grunge on my Lady's posset", making it difficult to approach the murder scene in Macbeth (Lady Macbeth: "I have drugged their possets") with the seriousness it deserved.

The frequently used word futtock, rarely encountered outside the radio show (apart from Ronnie Barker
Ronnie Barker
Ronald William George "Ronnie" Barker, OBE was a British actor, comedian, writer, critic, broadcaster and businessman...

's TV series Futtock's End
Futtock's End
Futtocks End is a British comedy film released in 1970, directed by Bob Kellett. Entirely silent, with a musical score, sound effects and incoherent mutterings, the story revolves around a weekend gathering at the decaying country home of the eccentric and lewd General Futtock and the series of...

), had a spillover effect on words like fetlock, as well as its obvious phonetic similarity to the words fuck
"Fuck" is an English word that is generally considered obscene which, in its most literal meaning, refers to the act of sexual intercourse. By extension it may be used to negatively characterize anything that can be dismissed, disdained, defiled, or destroyed."Fuck" can be used as a verb, adverb,...

and buttock. (Futtock is in fact a harmless nautical term — a shortening of the phrase 'foot-hook'.) The word nadger was already known from The Goon Show ("The Nadger Plague"), but is now generally understood to refer to the testicles.

Mining obscure and invented words for double entendres was a feature of Larry Grayson
Larry Grayson
Larry Grayson , born William Sulley White, was an English stand-up comedian and television presenter of the 1970s and early 80s...

's act, who preferred to use well-known words with phallic
A phallus is an erect penis, a penis-shaped object such as a dildo, or a mimetic image of an erect penis. Any object that symbolically resembles a penis may also be referred to as a phallus; however, such objects are more often referred to as being phallic...

 connotations (e.g. barge-pole) in his particular version of comedy. However, there is a well-established tradition of double-meanings in British comedy, examples of which can be found in the work of Max Miller.

Round the Horne played an important role in establishing gay culture
Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures
Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures are subcultures and communities composed of persons who have shared experiences, background, or interests due to a common sexual or gender identity. Among the first to argue that members of sexual minorities can constitute cultural minorities as well as...

 within the public consciousness. Julian and Sandy and their use of the gay slang polari
Polari is a form of cant slang used in Britain by actors, circus and fairground showmen, criminals, prostitutes, and by the gay subculture. It was popularised in the 1960s by camp characters Julian and Sandy in the popular BBC radio show Round the Horne...

) gave the country a sympathetic weekly portrayal of non-threatening openly gay characters, many of whose catchphrases passed into everyday usage. A good example of this is the adjective "naff" to denote bad or shoddy, even used by the Princess Royal
Anne, Princess Royal
Princess Anne, Princess Royal , is the only daughter of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

 (as a verb) in a clash with the press some years later. They were able to get away with innuendo that would have been unheard of a mere ten years before — in one episode, Sandy refers to Julian and his skill at the piano as: "a miracle of dexterity at the cottage upright"; innocuous in itself, unless one knows that a 'cottage' was the polari term for a public toilet
A public toilet is a room or small building containing one or more toilets and possibly also urinals which is available for use by the general public, or in a broader meaning of "public", by customers of other...

 where men met for anonymous sexual encounters and 'upright' referred to an erection.

Its influence on the Monty Python team can be gauged by the fact that Goosecreature was used more than once by the Pythons for character names (Mrs. Yeti-Goosecreature, Dr. Louis Yeti-Goosecreature).

Comparisons can be drawn between Round the Horne and the American sketch comedy
Sketch comedy
A sketch comedy consists of a series of short comedy scenes or vignettes, called "sketches," commonly between one and ten minutes long. Such sketches are performed by a group of comic actors or comedians, either on stage or through an audio and/or visual medium such as broadcasting...

 television series Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In is an American sketch comedy television program which ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to May 14, 1973. It was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and was broadcast over NBC...

(1968–1973). Notably, Barry Took was the principal writer in the 1969 season; executive producer George Schlatter, a Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, was influenced by Round the Horne on CBC
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as CBC and officially as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster...

 repeats of BBC original programming, and searched out Took for his programme.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.