Robert Powell explores recordings of Salford born comedian Al Read and reveals a collection of hilarious and perceptive monologues way ahead of their time.
"Al Read: introducing us to ourselves"; was the opening announcement to his popular BBC radio show of the fifties and sixties. Often cited as being the first observational comic, Read's stories and reflections on everyday life coupled with catchphrases "Right Monkey" and "You'll be lucky, I say you'll be lucky!" were the highlight of Sunday lunchtimes for over twenty million listeners.
Born in 1909, Read grew up in Salford. His father was in the butchery business and his grandfather's claim to fame was that he had been the first to tin sausages. Read's early life was spent playing in the back streets where he gathered the chatter and stories which would later surface in his comedy.
His early radio routines broadcast live were not recorded. However a collection of these innovative gems surfaced recently at the home of the late BBC Producer and Comedy Writer Mike Craig.
Craig had been given the audio as a wedding present with shows taped direct from the radio by Read himself and they took pride of place in his archive collection.
As the programme reveals this unique assortment of material has recently attracted the interest of Salford University who are preserving Craig's archives for future study of comedy and popular culture.
Salford born Robert Powell identifies with Read's characters such as the Johnny Know-All, the Little Rascal, the Nagging Wife and for him and many others the smell of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on a Sunday afternoon immediately transports him into Al Read's world.
With extracts from this rediscovered footage, classic monologues, rare archive of Read in conversation together with new contributions from people who knew and worked with him Powell offers a fresh insight into this northern comedian's ground-breaking work.
Written and produced in Salford by Stephen Garner.
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