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31 July 2014
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Round The Horne

Round The Horne

Classic radio series 'Round the Horne' set the nation a-tittering on Sunday afternoons between 1965-1969, with it's irreverent mixture of saucy innuendo, camp comedy and clever wordplay.

Anchored by Kenneth Horne playing the straight man, the show featured a brou-ha-ha of sketches and bizarre colourful characters, performed by Betty Marsden, Hugh Paddick, Bill Pertwee and Kenneth Williams.

Written mainly by Marty Feldman and Barry Took (who went on to help develop the similarly influential Goon Show), a typical programme would begin with Horne giving answers to a non-existent quiz, and would feature a big set-piece parodying a classic film or novel, a musical interlude and various character sketches.

Kenneth Williams in Round the Horne

Recurring characters included actors Binkie Huckaback and Dame Celia Molestrangler (Paddick and Marsden) playing old-fashioned cinema idols Fiona and Charles, declaring their love for one another in stilted nonsensical dialogue.

The show also included parodies of popular British TV entertainers of the time, such as Eamonn Andrews ('Seamus Android', played by Pertwee), and Fanny Cradock ('Fanny Haddock', played by Marsden).†

However, the show's most memorable characters were played by Kenneth Williams.† These included J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, the world's dirtiest old man and self-apointed King of the East End slum area 'Peasemoldia'; and old English folk singer Rambling Syd Rumpo, who would introduce such delightful ditties as 'Green grow your nadgers-O!', 'D'ye ken Jim Pubes' and the timeless 'Bind my Plooms with Silage' with his famous catchphrase "Ullo mi dearios..."††

Williams also camped it up as limp-wristed Sandy, alongside an equally camp Julian played by Hugh Paddick, who would introduce them both by saying "Hello, I'm Julian and this is my friend Sandy".

Round the Horne

Horne would act as their comic foil as these two flamboyant mincers introduced him to their various fashionable enterprises (eg. 'Bona Pets', 'Bona Bijou Tourettes and Bona Sťances').

Julian and Sandy's homosexual double entendres pushed the boundaries of acceptable sexual suggestivity way beyond the usual confines of a Sunday lunchtime radio slot, and encouraged British suburbia to laugh openly about a subject that till then had been strictly taboo.

Round the Horne's risque content provoked a constant battle with moralists and censors at the time, including Mary Whitehouse and Cecil Smith, but BBC Director General of the time, Hugh Greene stood by the show and refused to ask the writers and actors to tone it down.

The show regularly received audiences exceeding 15 million and is still recognised as one of the best-loved and most influential programmes in radio history.

Cast

Kenneth Williams
performer
Hugh Paddick
performer
Kenneth Horne
performer
Betty Marsden
performer
Douglas Smith
performer
Bill Pertwee
performer

Crew

Marty Feldman
writer
Barry Took
writer
John Simmonds
producer
Marty Feldman
creator
Barry Took
creator

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