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Round the Horne

"a ground-breaking mixture of innuendo, camp comedy and word play"
(l-r) Hugh Paddick, Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Horne, Betty Marsden and Douglas Smith.
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Round the Horne crackled out of the nation's wirelesses Sunday afternoons from 1965, becoming one of the most popular comedies of the era until it finished in '69.

With its ground breaking mixture of innuendo, camp comedy and word play, it netted a regular audience of more than 15million listeners and was one of the best loved programmes in radio history.

A colourfully bizarre collection of characters and memorable catch phrases burst across the airwaves from the pages of its brilliantly inventive and sometimes outrageous scripts, the majority of which were written by zany duo Barry Took and Marty Feldman.

Kenneth Horne as the straight man anchored the whole careering, seething, teaming, chaotic hullabaloo emitted from the likes of J Peasemold Gruntfuttock, Rambling Syd Rumpo, Daphne Whitethigh, Shamus Android, Binkie Huckaback and Dame Celia Molestrangler (played by Betty Marsden, Hugh Paddick, Bill Pertwee and Kenneth Williams). This mad-cap bunch mercilessly sent up the establishment via a combination of bawdy jokes and surreal literary invention acted out in a series of sketches. Kenneth Williams camped his way through the script as limp-wristed Sandy, normally introduced by Hugh Paddick's character saying "Hello I'm Julian and this is my friend Sandy", making homosexual double entendres that allowed British suburbia to laugh openly about what had been strictly taboo.

It was this up front sauciness and iconoclastic rebellion that created an MP backlash; Sir Cyril Black and Mrs Mary Whitehouse objected to the lack of religious respect uttered by J Peasemold Gruntfuttock in one free-wheeling, loose cannon of an episode. They won that battle, succeeding in having the script amended, but lost the war. BBC Director General of the time, Hugh Greene stood by the risqu content, refusing to ask the writers and actors to 'tone it down.'

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