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Radio Fun

Bob Monkhouse presents this three-part series celebrating the children's comic, Radio Fun.

"I was 10 years old, devoted to the funny folk of the wireless, and still remember the thrill I felt when I walked into a Beckenham cornershop to spend my pocket money on a sherbet fountain and saw the very first isue of Radio Fun on the rack. No contest - so long sherbet fountain - my tuppence seemed committed forever." Listen now

Click to visit the Radio Fun picture gallery

"In January of that year, 1938, I'd fallen in love with a ground-breaking radio show called Band Wagon starring Big Hearted Arthur Askey and Richard 'Stinker' Murdoch - and here they were, my heroes in glorious red, black and white, a nine-panel back page comic strip that fairly crackled with their radio frolics in that fictitious flat on the roof of Broadcasting House. And inside, jokes and japes and all my favourite radio chums - for that's how I thought of them, as my cheery chums, grown-ups who loved to make me laugh. Listen now

Click here to meet the composer and listen
to some of his music

The BBC and Radio Fun's publishers made sure to keep the party clean. No booze, no sleaze, no vulgarity - and since some of the best comedians of the day used inappropriately saucy material on the variety stage, non-radio personalities took their place, stock cartoon characters such as George, the Jolly GeeGee. But we readers really remained hooked by the star power of the big names, familiar voices made, if not flesh, lively likenesses in vigorous pen and ink, courtesy of prolific graphic artists like Bertie Brown, the Parlett brothers and the peerless Roy Wilson.

Radio Fun's first seven years saw a starry parade of caricatures tumbling and prancing both in stories and strips - Britain's favourite Americans Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon sharing the limelight with the elegant gagster, Vic Oliver, Jack 'Mind My Bike' Warner (long before Dixon of Dock Green), lovable Robb Wilton as Mr Muddlecombe JP. Double acts such as Revnell & West, Flanagan and Allen, Murray and Mooney, Jewell and Warriss, made for amusing radio with absurd crosstalk and misunderstandings, ideal source material for the cartoonists to exploit. One of Radio Fun's most enduring creations started life as Inspector Stanley's nemesis - "that devil-may-care law-breaker" who called himself the Falcon. By 1949 he had his own strip and eventually turned from bad guy to spy to superhero.

And the latest adventures, although more and more topical in reflecting the progress of the war, still carried a strong moral sense. All the principal characters, from the Canadian cowboy Big Bill Campbell to Inspector Stanley, the Man With a Thousand Secrets, did the decent thing, defeated crime, helped the poor and elderly and had their good deeds rewarded with a happy ending. Radio stars had become enormously important to the maintenance of morale on the home front during WW2. And radio was free - as long as you could pay the electricity bill. Besides, we'd grown to love the good humoured nonsense of the Home Service and Forces Programmes with the likes of Gert and Daisy, Max Wall, Cardew the Cad and Stand Easy with Cheerful Charlie Chester and Company.

I hope you enjoy this jolly three-part romp through the chucklesome pages of the comic weekly that, in the words of its editor, "took all the laughter in the air and put it on the page"."

Bob Monkhouse
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