Monday, November 17, 2008

The BBC Bandwagon of 1938-40

Radio was still in its infancy in 1937 and the BBC discovered that play programmes with straight dance music was not as popular as they once thought. So they assigned the job to Gordon Crier and Harry S. Pepper to come up with a Variety Show. The result was “Bandwagon”. With a compere-straight man, Richard Murdoch, who had been on the stage as a song and dance-man. Now they had to find a comedian. There were two comedians who were equally as good. Tommy Trinder and Arthur Askey. Tommy Trinder was not available, so Arthur Askey got the job. The teamwork between these two was unbelievable and a new style of comedy was born and copied by others in both Britain and the USA. Such as Abbott and Costello, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
The scene was set in their rooftop flat in Broadcasting House, where they use to keep quite a menagerie, consisting of: Lewis the Goat, The four pigeons named: Basil, Ronald, Lucy and Sarah. They had a charlady called: Mrs. Bagwash, who had a daughter, who was called “Nausea”, Arthur use to introduce her as his girlfriend, though you never got to meet her at all, and he never got anywhere following Murdoch’s instructions. These were carefully scripted to follow the BBC’s code of ethics in 1938.
Arthur will be best remembered by the listeners of those days for his silly ditty songs of “The Seagull” and “The Bee Song”. His most popular saying was copied from the Cockney London Bus Conductor’s as they collected their fares of: ‘Ay thang Yew’.
There were many other characters in the show, but one that will be well remembered was “Syd Walker” the old rag and bone man, who after his opening ditty would open with the phrase: “Good evening chums, how are yer, Yes it’s your old friend Syd Walker, who wants to know. He would then go into his problem story, at the end of which he would say, “Well Chums, what would you do? Why not drop me a postcard to Syd Walker, c/o The BBC London and I will give you the answer next week.
The music in the main was supplied by Reginald Foort (who I have mentioned earlier) at the BBC Theatre Organ and in later programmes by Charles Smart.
The programme folded in June 1940, when Richard Murdoch joined the RAF.

No comments: