Educating Archie

The Unrivalled Source of New British Talent  (6th June 1950 -7 February 1960)

"We'll be educating Archie, What a job for anyone, He's no good at spelling, He hasn't a clue. He thinks that three sevens make Twenty-two":

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At no time in the BBC's history has there been a show with the impact of Educating Archie. The radio programme ran across a decade; was enormously popular with a nationwide range of listeners; forced even the most sceptical of critics to accept the notion of a ventriloquist's dummy as a principle character; and launched some of the earliest brand-associated merchandising.

But what really made it stand out was its unfailing capacity to act as a seedbed for talent, providing the entertainment world with more genuine, top-class comedy stars than any other BBC production. 

Educating Archie - Opening Theme Tune
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Its roots lay in a weekly, light entertainment BBC radio show called Variety Bandbox, first transmitted in December 1942. By April 1944 it had become a public favourite, and although audience numbers reached their peak in 1951, the show continued until 1953. Its claim was that it “presented the people of Variety to a variety of people” and it did: each series was hosted by a comic who introduced those sitting by the wireless at home to a range of new acts. 

In 1949, the producer Bryan Sears (left, tallest) explained the show’s process: “If an act is unknown to me, I give him or her the usual routine audition, and if it turns out well I will include the act in a short programme in front of the Bandbox audience before the Bandbox broadcast begins. That puts the act in the right element and we find out what they can do”. As a result, the show became a perpetual source of new talent. 

The ventriloquist, Peter Brough, performed on Bandbox many times in the late 1940s, during which time he met the show’s current resident comedian, Frankie Howerd, (near right) who in turn introduced Brough to his regular writer, the young Eric Sykes (far right). Sykes had written some concepts for a new Frankie Howerd vehicle but producers appeared underwhelmed by the results. As an official ten-guineas-a-week BBC comedy writer, Sykes needed to be found a new project: this turned out to be a new show for Peter Brough, the sartorial gent he remembered clearly from Bandbox. 

A recording of the first piece of material written by Eric Sykes for Frankie Howard to  perform on the radio show Variety Bandbox. 

'Two Elephants' from Variety Bandbox - Frankie Howerd
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The BBC liked the pilot script and green-lit the show, but decided to bring in some writing assistance for Sykes in the form of Sid Colin (left), who had been responsible for an earlier version of an Archie Andrews radio show. Colin had come from the world of Swing bands: a brilliant guitarist and a regular on the radio shows Brief Interlude and Syd Millward And The Nitwits, he had also created popular programmes such as Ignorance Is Bliss and Hi, Gang!

It was decided that Colin would launch the start of each episode by writing the opening five minutes of cross-talk between Brough (with Archie, right) and Andrews, while Sykes would cover the rest of each show. This set-up worked perfectly and the pair wrote in complete harmony. The simple premise - a guardian hires a home-schooling tutor for his adopted son (Archie) - offered a scenario in which the usual limits of correct behaviour within the repressive British social system could be consistently undermined by an irreverent ‘boy’.

The home setting also allowed odd-ball characters to drop in at any time, a device that the BBC had disparaged when Sykes (left) suggested it for Frankie Howerd’s show, but which the corporation was now happy to approve. Sykes himself had quite a say in the casting and was particularly fond of using relatively unknown performers whose voices were new to the listening public. 

The character of the tutor was very important: it required someone who conveyed authority while also possessing a feel for comedy. The Windmill Theatre comic, Robert Moreton (right), was duly cast. Famed for posing as an amateur comedian who read old stale jokes out of The Bumper Fun Book, he was known to bellow out the line “Oh get in there, Moreton!” when his tired punchlines received no audience response. He was, however, also respected for his serious acting skills, and at the beginning of that decade had starred in the classic In Which We Serve.

The next stage of casting was to find a character that provided a foil to Moreton’s pompous tutor. Sykes developed the profile for a working-class odd-job man who was down-to-earth and friendly to Archie. A new, young performer who had received rave reviews at The London Palladium after stepping in to cover Ted Ray’s sick leave was suggested: Rotherhithe’s very own Max Bygraves (left).

 

Bygraves’ performing apprenticeship had been conducted in military concert parties during the war. He then appeared in 1946 on the radio show They’re Out!, followed by appearances in a 61-week touring revue, For The Fun Of It.  As a no-nonsense Londoner, Bygraves was perfect for the part and within a few weeks, audiences were quoting his staple catchphrases. “I’ve arrived and to prove it, I’m here” and “A good idea, son” were being quoted in workplaces and schoolyards all over the country. 

'The Dummy Song' - Max Bygraves
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Agatha Dinglebody, a direct but dotty young lady devoted to the tutor, was scripted as his girlfriend. Sykes suggested that this role could be played by an actor he had seen a few years earlier at The Player’s Pantomime, and had heard in the last series of the BBC radio show ITMA. She had played a greedy schoolgirl called Sophie Tuckshop to whom the public responded with great acclaim. And so, Miss Hattie Jacques (right) came on board.

Straight from the film set of A Matter of Murder came Peter Madden (left), a character actor who played all the other parts in Sykes’ script. Madden - a name that most don’t recognise - became one of the most prolific actors of his generation. His diverse credits include Dr Zhivago, On The Buses, Exodus, From Russia With Love and countless Hammer films. He was also the creepy undertaker in the opening credits of ITV’s The Prisoner.

Musical interludes - provided by The Hedley Ward Trio and The Tanner Sisters, both acts drawn from their regular spots playing British Variety theatres - helped punctuate the script. Ronald Chesney (right), billed as Britain’s Greatest Harmonica Player, blew tunes in his distinctive, haunting style to give the show a unique sound.

'Flight of the Bumble-Bee' - Ronald Chesney
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The last piece in the casting jigsaw was a child to act as a chum for Archie…and all the better if they came equipped with an extra talent. A young singer who dazzled the audience at the 1948 Royal Variety Show was suggested, since for a 14-year old she had not only a superb singing voice but also wonderful comedy timing. Julie Andrews (left) took her place in the line-up.

Educating Archie was a success from the moment it hit the airwaves. The BBC initially commissioned six episodes, but the feedback was so positive that the cast’s contracts were extended several times until the first series eventually ran for 29 weeks. At The National Radio Awards of 1950, the programme won the first-ever Outstanding Variety Series Of The Year as well as Best Comedy, beating the winner of the previous two years and odds-on favourite, Dennis Norden and Frank Muir’s Take It From Here. 

The BBC also booked a Christmas Special which ran on Boxing Day of that year and transmitted live from St Andrews Youth Club in Vauxhall, south London. These seasonals, including the occasional Easter show, were to continue all the way through Educating Archie’s ten-year run, recorded at various venues including The NAAFI Club, Colchester and The Prince of Wales Theatre (left), central London.

Series 1 - 30th Oct 1950 - Educating Archie
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During the hiatus between first and second series, Sykes began to complain of ear pain and general hearing problems. Brough told him to see a doctor but Sykes ignored this advice as he had a pressing theatre commitment in Swansea that night. While packing for the trip, he was interrupted by a knock at the door - Brough’s chauffeur had arrived to drive Sykes straight to a Harley Street doctor, who in turn sent him immediately for surgery since he had an infected mastoid. Recovering later, Sykes claimed that if not for Brough’s action, he would have been dead within three days. 

By early 1951 when the second series was due to commence, Robert Moreton had moved on to his own radio show in which he travelled the country hunting for people named Bumblethorpe, also the show’s title. Its success, due in no small measure to the innovative contribution of its young scriptwriter, Spike Milligan (left), meant that a new tutor was needed for Archie.

Despite a general consensus that the part would go to Harry Secombe, a friend of the cast and of Sykes, it was the newly-discovered comic Tony Hancock (right) who took up the role. Hancock had been a resident comedian at The Windmill Theatre, and a guest on both Variety Bandbox and Workers’ Playtime. Producer Roy Speer believed him to be a novel successor to Moreton since their personae were polar opposites.  

Hancock’s tutor had a sour, stony presence which brought a new sensibility to the show. His catchphrases “Oh, it’s you again!” and “Flippin’ kids” became common parlance as rapidly as Bygraves’ phrases had the season before. When Bygraves left the series in week eleven to take up a job, opening for Judy Garland in the US, Hancock’s part in Archie was developed further.

Hancock: Oh yes, we’ve a smashing stage show. We’ve got a comedian here this week. Laugh? Oh dear, he’s terrific, really worth seeing, he is.

 

Archie: And when does he go on?

 

Hancock: Just as soon as I get round the back and change into me funny hat.

Early rehearsals took place without Archie in the room, and Hancock found it difficult to engage with only the ventriloquist being present. But when Brough finally brought the dummy in, Hancock found the job even harder and began to develop automatonophobia, a fear of ventriloquist dolls. To get through the day, he would make Brough hang Archie on the back of the rehearsal door so as not to look at it, a situation which put a strain on the two men’s working relationship.   

Series 2 - 19th Oct 1951 - The Cinema
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To help lift the load from Hancock, Sykes pushed for some new supporting performers to cameo alongside the actor in the second series. Alfred Marks (right) had been a Variety hall act for a few years, and had performed in sketches with Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers at The Windmill. This was a notoriously difficult venue in which to satisfy the crowd (see Rex Jamieson) but Marks’ success led to further bookings at several London theatres. 

The up-and-coming actors John Sharp, Albert Modley and Jack Train (top far left) dropped by the Archie rehearsals and added their skills to a few episodes. Robert Moreton was a special guest, as was the Hollywood actor Herbert Lom, in London for the stage show, The King and I, (bottom far left). One of the strangest guests, featuring in three separate episodes, was Gilbert Harding (left). Harding was among the most famous personalities on British television at that time, notorious for his rudeness and short temper as a panel member on the genteel TV game show

What's My Line.

Series three began with a new tutor. Hancock left to become a regular on the TV show Kaleidoscope and then eventually moved on to 23 Railway Cuttings for his own radio show Hancock’s Half Hour. He was replaced by Harry Secombe whose light-hearted manner and infectious laugh soon made him a favourite with the listeners. Another newcomer was Beryl Reid (right). She took on the role of Monica, the impudent schoolgirl whose catchphrases included "as the art-mistress said to the gardener…" and "jolly hockey-sticks". 

Reid: There’s a lot of illness going around, our form mistress is away sick.

 

Archie: What’s the complaint?

 

Reid: None – we’re all delighted.

Sid Colin left after the second episode and went on to write for various TV projects including The Army Game, Up Pompeii and Meet The Champ. He also contributed to scripts for comedy films such as Percy’s Progress and became a regular Carry On writer, collaborating with Talbot Rothwell who wrote the renowned line “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me...” as uttered by Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo.

Following the manufacture of a new head for Archie, the show took a sabbatical between February and May 1953, giving Brough some time to adjust to the dummy’s working tongue. This meant that the usual season run from September to March was in that year lengthened to June, to accommodate the break. It is alleged that Archie returned so life-like that a studio manager was heard to say “Mr Brough, your voice is fine but could you hold Archie a little closer to the mic…?”

During this break, Sykes worked with Hattie Jacques and Frankie Howerd in the BBC’s Fine Goings On. Sykes and Jacques were beginning to form a strong working relationship, and would go on to create Sykes, the second longest-running sitcom for the corporation, the first being Last of the Summer Wine.

Series four went to air on 15th October 1953. Sykes was writing for the usual cast - Jacques, Secombe, Reid, Chesney and Madden - but they were joined by the classic character actor Bernard Miles (right), who had just finished an intensive TV series, Long John Silver, and was looking for something 'light' to do. Miles brought gravitas to the show; even when playing a tinker with a donkey called ‘Knocker’ his bass-baritone delivery meant Secombe could not stop laughing whenever Miles spoke. 

Educating Archie - Series 4 Ep 18 - 11th Feb 1954
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By the middle of that series, problems began to arise. Beryl Reid (left) wanted more jokes of her own and was unhappy with the roughly equal number shared out between all cast members that acted mostly as a feed to Archie’s punchlines. Both Peter Brough and producer Roy Speers were aware of Reid’s unhappiness and asked Sykes if he would write more gags for her. Sykes refused since he was convinced that more laughs for Reid would make the show unbalanced. He followed it up with “Either Beryl goes or I do”. 

The new writers for series five were Eddie Maguire, Ronald Wolfe and Rex Dawe. Maguire and Dawe concentrated on dialogue while Wolfe focused on jokes for Beryl Reid. Following Sykes’ departure, many of the cast members also left. They included Harry Secombe (right), who continued to perform in a show that was doing quite well called The Goons: its two other performers, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, were also known to be Educating Archie fans.

During the summer of 1954, two Educating Archie spin-offs were commissioned by the BBC. These were: Paradise Street - a 13-week radio series for Max Bygraves written by Eric Sykes in which the first six shows co-starred Spike Milligan, and the last seven, Peter Sellers (both left); and Archie In Goonland - a 12-week radio series written by Sykes and Milligan, featuring all three Goons plus Brough, Archie and Hattie Jacques. 

After leaving Archie that year (along with Ronald Shiner, Ronald Chesney and Bernard Miles), Hattie Jacques also went on to perform in a TV childrens’ sit-com with her future husband, John Le Mesurier (both right), called Happy Holidays. The only performers who remained in the supporting cast were Beryl Reid and the show’s announcer, Peter Madden. Brough thought it time for a change. 

In series five - Archie’s The Boy! - Archie would be older: an adolescent about to step out into the adult world. New performers were brought in, one of whom was Graham Stark (left), suggested by Sellers and Hancock after having worked with him in Ralph Reader’s Gang Shows. Stark was signed up to play Archie’s posh friend, Nigel Bowser-Smythe, and a young Shirley Eaton (later famed for dying naked and gold-leafed in a Bond film) was contracted to be Archie’s girlfriend. 

A gap remained for a character comic to drive the show. Brough had heard of an emerging comic who might fit the bill and took a chance on hiring the young Benny Hill. Hill had not worked much at all in entertainment since leaving the Combined Services Entertainment during the war. He had made a few radio appearances and played live as straight man to Reg Varney (later, On The Buses’ driver a lovable anti-hero) but his credits were still negligible at the time.

Hill’s unique manner soon won over the listeners. Whatever the absurd situation he was placed in by Maguire and Dawe, Hill performed with aplomb. He soon became the stand-out star of this series, and despite that the listeners had not taken to the new, older Archie, many continued to tune in simply to enjoy Hill’s character. Their preference was for the schoolboy as a cheeky scamp, back-chatting his elders, and the teenage incarnation of Archie was not well-received.

Archie's The Boy! - Ep 1 Series 5 - 11 Nov 1954
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Sadly for the show, Benny Hill would be another raw talent discovered by Peter Brough who then rapidly moved on to bigger and better things. By the end of 1955 he was contracted to star in his own motion picture, Who Done It? a spoof comedy detective film. A new cast was once more needed to support Archie, and at this point comedian Ken “I won’t take me coat off – I’m not stopping” Platt joined the company. He would be known years later as Arthur Loomis on the ITV soap Crossroads.

It was decided that the show’s sixth series would restore the original format and title, and Educating Archie returned on 30th September 1955. Brough felt a contrast to Hill’s infectious craziness was needed for the show, so he requested a tutor with distinct gravitas as a foil to the impudent Archie. The perfect embodiment of this sensibility came in the form of James Robertson Justice (right), loved by many as Sir Lancelot Spratt, the extreme fuddy-duddy aristocrat in the Doctor film series. His character was adored by the listeners and Educating Archie was once more a favourite. 

There was, however, one missing element: the launching of new talent which had previously characterised the show. This particular series introduced no future comedy legends to the public; nor did the BBC television special which followed swiftly after. Here’s Archie was directed by John Waterhouse, who also helped out with the script written by Ronald Wolfe - the producers believed the task to be too onerous for a radio writer to undertake. The same insult was applied to the regular radio performers who were also deemed insufficiently experienced for TV.

The TV show transmitted from BBC Studios on 30th May 1956 and starred comic actress Irene Handl (middle left) as Brough’s landlady Mrs Twistle, in the guise of Handl’s classic Cockney charwoman. James Robertson Justice was offered the Tutor again, but recordings clashed with his filming days on Moby Dick. Justice mentioned the part to Francis De Wolf (bottom left ) , a classical actor and fellow cast member on the film set: De Wolf’s availability led to him taking up the vacant role.

Despite its cast of camera-savvy performers, the TV special revealed that Archie did not work well on screen. The acting and writing standards were as high as ever, but now that the audience could see Peter Brough they realised he was far from proficient in the art of ventriloquism. The BBC vowed never to venture again with Brough into the television medium.

Series seven for radio began that September (1956) with several new performers. Direct from the West End show The Waltz Of The Toreadors came actress Hilda Braid (right), (later Nana Moon in the TV soap EastEnders). RADA-trained, Braid was unsure of her ability to bring laughter to the show as she considered herself to be more of a ‘straight’ actress. Her skill for comedy was proved a few years later when she played Florence Johnson in the hugely successful BBC television sitcom Citizen Smith. 

Another new entrant to Archie was a comic noted for his knockabout physical comedy, the young Dick Emery (left). Emery had worked separately with Charlie Drake and Laurie Lupino Lane (son of the great silent film star, Lupino Lane, see No.29 in The 100 Best) and had enjoyed praise for the slapstick entertainment in both stage acts. What Emery could do on radio was anyone’s guess. 

Educating Archie - Ep 14 Series 7- 30th Jan 1957
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Brough suspected that the young Emery had something novel to bring to the show - and he did. Multiple voices, from Archie’s schoolmates to old maids to upper-class gents: Emery could supply whatever craziness writers Ronald Wolfe, George Wadmore and the new boy, Pat Dunlop demanded. In one episode alone, Emery played six different characters, including the audience’s camp favourite, ‘Grimble’ whose “I hate yew!” catchphrase gained quick popularity. By the third episode it was obvious to the listeners that Educating Archie had delivered yet another comedy star. 

Beryl Reid was by now a burgeoning star and although she was contracted to complete the series, her other commitments led to her sharing the workload on Educating Archie with Dora Bryan (left). Already an established comedy actress, Bryan loved being part of the show and regretted that her own busy schedule prevented  her from appearing in every episode. Other support cast in the season included Pamela Manson, who went on to star in her own US television show and in a Woody Allen film, and Sandra Alfred, straight from The Belles Of St Trinian’s

The unsuccessful TV show had done little damage to the show’s profile on radio, and the BBC were delighted with the audience numbers for series six. After the last episode was completed, Brough and the longest-running cast member, Ronald Chesney, went to Australia where they made Archie in Australia.

 

This was a 16-episode series for ABC, an episode of which was aired on the BBC Light Programme in September 1957 as a special. June Salter, a young Oz actress in the cast went on to voice a famous Australian animation called Dot and the Kangaroo as Mrs Platypus. For trivia fans, Mr Platypus was played by long-term friend of the show, Spike Milligan. 

Educating Archie - Archie In Australia - 18 Sept 1957
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Just a week after the special aired in Britain, series eight of Educating Archie began broadcasting. The previous season of cameos had set up an expectation for guest performers to show up in each episode, which the producers were happy to endorse. One such appearance was made in the first episode by Jerry Desmonde (left), famous as Norman Wisdom’s pompous nemesis in Trouble in Store, the perfect character for provoking Archie’s trademark insubordination. 

Guest spots became integral to the series, from the insane “Deep joy!” of Professor Stanley Unwin (right), to old favourites Hilda Braid, Beryl Reid, Max Bygraves and Ken Platt. Even Crackerjack host Eamonn Andrews dropped by. The producers saved the ultimate special guest until the very last episode when light heavyweight champion boxer Freddie Mills turned up. 

In addition to these seasoned regulars, the show always managed to introduce new comedy talent to the masses. After a stint as a DJ on Radio Luxembourg, Warren Mitchell (left) was cast in Educating Archie, his first acting job. Trained at RADA, Mitchell’s dreams of becoming the next Richard Burton soon changed once he demonstrated his natural talent for comedy, seen later in his most famous role as Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part. 

Following his performance on Archie season eight, Mitchell was immediately offered other comedy work, including Charlie Drake’s TV show Drake’s Progress and Tony Hancock’s radio show Hancock’s Half Hour. He returned to appear in the season nine premiere, alongside Max Bygraves, Tony Hancock and Harry Secombe. At this stage, the producers also hired a new, pioneering voice for the writing team, a young friend of BBC stalwart Barry Took, one Marty Feldman (right).

Another newcomer to Archie was already familiar to TV audiences as Private 'Popeye' Popplewell from ITV’s The Army Gang, played by the actor Bernard Bresslaw (left). He and Dick Emery hit it off immediately; with the input of Feldman’s fresh take on Archie’s world, the show was clearly heading for success again. It remained the show to appear in: even the comedy icon Tommy Trinder took a turn, performing in the 15th February 1959 episode.

During the series, ITV commissioned Peter Brough to make a six-episode TV series, retaining the eponymous Educating Archie title. Brough was acutely aware of where he had gone wrong when his ventriloquism talents were previously exposed to a television audience: this time around he was rarely seen in the same scene with Archie. The production team used special effects to make Archie walk and talk without the aid of his lifelong companion, giving the doll a life of its own.  

The TV show was written by Marty Feldman and Ronald Wolfe who had to overcome the difficulties of moving away from a format which had lasted for nearly ten years, without alienating its fans. Dick Emery, playing Mr Monty, a jack-of-all-trades character, was now the dummy’s feed. Irene Handl came back and revived her role as Mrs Twistle the housekeeper. Previous Archie cast members such as Dora Bryan and Max Bygraves joined the show which eventually ran for 27 episodes.

Disgruntled by Peter Brough’s ‘defection’ to ITV, the BBC decided that the next (tenth) radio season of Educating Archie would also be the last. Brough himself wanted to go out with a bang: one way would be to secure one of TV’s hottest new performers as Archie’s latest tutor. Fitting the bill perfectly was the new host of Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Bruce Forsyth (right), who was available for the first 13 episodes. 

Episode 14 had a lovely twist. It had been announced that Tony Hancock was to return to the show so the public were primed, but during the programme Brough and Archie bang on the door of 23 Railway Cuttings (Hancock’s address in Hancock’s Half Hour). The audience is taken by surprise when it is answered by Sid James, who agrees to take on the post of Archie’s tutor. James stayed until the end of the series.

James: After all, who do you think it was who taught Hancock all he knows?

Educating Archie - Ep 17 Series 9 - 1st March 1959
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Much like the preceding series, this last one provided a roll call of previous cast members who dropped by for a brief moment: Hattie Jacques, Max Bygraves and Warren Mitchell all enjoyed a final, fun moment with Archie. Their love and respect for the show - and particularly for Brough - was wholehearted. On 7th February 1960, the iconic programme came to an end. The number of British comedy talents who had worked opposite the schoolboy puppet for over a decade was phenomenal. 

Within a year of the show folding, Peter Brough retired from the entertainment world. Archie Andrews was placed in a cupboard only to be retrieved on very special occasions. Brough’s time in the spotlight as the radio ventriloquist was pretty much up, and perhaps this was why he quit while ahead. He and the team’s upstart success was frowned upon when Educating Archie won the National Radio Awards after just one series in 1950, and as Brough himself said: “The knockers and the critics were ready to pounce at any sign of falling off”. The show’s longevity probably owed more to his talent for spotting new stars than to his own dubious ventriloquism skills, but history’s most fond recall will be for the

brass necking of a wooden boy. 

RADIO

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 1

Dates: 6 June 1950 to 19 December 1950

Slot: Tuesdays 20:00

Writers: Eric Sykes, Sid Colin

Contributors: Robert Moreton, Hattie Jacques, Max Bygraves, Julie Andrews, Peter Madden

Music: Ronald Chesney, The Tanner Sisters, The Hedley Ward Trio

Producer: Roy Speer

 

Title: Archie Andrews’ Christmas Party

Date: 26 December 1950

Slot: 18:30

Venue: St Andrews Youth Club, Vauxhall

Writers: Eric Sykes, Sid Colin

Contributors: Max Bygraves, Gilbert Harding, Hattie Jacques, Julie Andrews, Peter Madden

Music: Ronald Chesney, BBC Revue Orchestra, Robert Busby (conductor)

Producer Roy Speer

 

Title: Archie Andrews’ Easter Party

Date: 26 March 1951

Slot: 18:30

Writers: Eric Sykes, Sid Colin

Contributors: Max Bygraves, Gilbert Harding, Hattie Jacques, Julie Andrews, Peter Madden

Music: Ronald Chesney, BBC Revue Orchestra, Robert Busby (conductor)

Producer: Roy Speer

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 2

Dates: 3 August 1951 to 25 January 1952

Slot: Fridays 20:45

Writers: Eric Sykes, Sid Colin

Contributors: Max Bygraves (episodes 1-10, 20, 24); Alfred Marx (episode 11, 12); Gilbert Harding (episode 13, 14, 21); John Sharp (episodes 15-18); Robert Moreton (episode 19); Jack Train (episode 22); Albert Modley (episode 23); Herbert Lom (episode 25).

Tony Hancock, Hattie Jacques, Julie Andrews, Peter Madden

Music: Ronald Chesney, BBC Revue Orchestra, Robert Busby (conductor)

Producer: Roy Speer

 

Title: Archie Andrews’ Christmas Party

Date: 26 Dec 1951

Slot: 19:30

Writers: Eric Sykes, Sid Colin

Venue: NAAFI Club, Colchester

Contributors: Tony Hancock, Julie Andrews, Hattie Jacques, Peter Madden

Music: Ilford Girls' Choir

Producer: Roy Speer

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 3

Dates: 18 September 1952 to 12 February 1953 & 21 May 1953 to 25 June 1953

Slot: Thursdays 19:30

Writers: Sid Colin (episode 1, 2) Eric Sykes (remainder)

Contributors: Max Bygraves, Ronald Chesney, Hattie Jacques, Peter Madden, Harry Secombe, Beryl Reid

Music: Ronald Chesney

 

Title: Archie Andrews’ Christmas Party

Date: 25 December 1952

Slot: 19:15

Venue: N.A.A.F.I. Club, Colchester

Writer: Eric Sykes

Contributors: Max Bygraves, Ronald Chesney, Hattie Jacques, Peter Madden, Beryl Reid, Rev Eric James

Music: Ilford Girls' Choir and wives and children of locally garrisoned troops

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 4

Dates: 15 October 1953 to 1 April 1954

Slot: Thursday 19:30 + repeat Sunday 13:45

Writer: Eric Sykes

Contributors: Ronald Shiner, Harry Secombe, Beryl Reid, Hattie Jacques, Ronald Chesney, Peter Madden, Bernard Miles

Producer: Roy Speers

 

Title: Archie Andrews’ Christmas Party

Date: 25 December 1953

Slot: 19:15

Writer: Eric Sykes

Contributors: Ronald Shiner, Harry Secombe, Beryl Reid, Hattie Jacques, Ronald Chesney, Peter Madden, Bernard Miles

Producer: Roy Speer

 

Title: Archie’s The Boy!

Series: 5

Dates: 11 November 1954 to 24 March 1955

Slot: Thursday 19:30

Writers: Eddie Maguire, Ronald Wolfe, Rex Dave

Contributors: Benny Hill, Beryl Reid, Graham Stark, Shirley Eaton, Peter Madden

Music: The Coronets, BBC Revue Orchestra, Harry Rabinowitz (conductor)

Producer: Roy Speer

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 6

Dates: 30 September 1955 to 10 February 1956

Slot: Fridays 19:30

Writers: Ronald Wolfe, George Wadmore

Contributors: James Robertson-Justice, Beryl Reid, Ken Platt, Graham Stark

Music: Ronald Chesney, The Coronets, The Dennis Wilson Quartet

Producer: Roy Speer

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 7

Dates: 19 September 1956 to 13 March 1957

Slot: Wednesday 19:30

Writers: Ronald Wolfe, George Wadmore, Pat Dunlop

Contributors: Ken Platt, Dick Emery, Hilda Braid, Beryl Reid, (episodes 1, 3, 5, 7-11, 15-19, 21-24) Dora Bryan( episode 2), Pamela Manson (episode 2), Sandra Alfred (episodes 4, 6, 12, 13, 14, 20) 

Music: Ronald Chesney, BBC Revue Orchestra, Harry Rabinowitz (conductor)

Producer: Roy Speer

 

Title: Archie in Australia

Date: 19 June 1957 to 11 September 1957

Writers: Ronald Wolfe, Hugh Stuckey

Contributors: Ronald Chesney, June Salter, Wendy Blacklock, Reg Quartley, Reg Goldsworthy

Ray Barrett, Sir Donald Bradman

Producer: Harry Pringle

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 8

Dates: 25 September 1957 to 19 March 1958

Slot: Wednesday 19:30

Writers: Ronald Wolfe, George Wadmore, David Climie

Contributors: Dick Emery, Warren Mitchell, Pearl Carr Jerry Desmonde (episode 1),

Stanley Unwin (episodes 3-4), Hilda Braid (episode 8, Beryl Reid (episode 10, 12), Max Bygraves (episode 14), Ken Platt (episode 16, 25), Eamon Andrews (episode 23), Freddie Mills (episode 26)

Music: Ronald Chesney, Billy Ternent and his Orchestra

Producer: Roy Speer (episodes 1-16) - Jacques Brown (episodes 17 onward)

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 9

Date: 28 September 1958 to 18 March 1959

Slot: Wednesday 19:30

Writers: Ronald Wolfe, Ronald Chesney, Marty Feldman

Contributors:  Bernard Bresslaw, Gladys Morgan, Dick Emery, Paddy Edwards,

Max Bygraves (Episode 1), Tony Hancock (Episode 1), Harry Secombe (Episode 1)  

Warren Mitchell (episode 1) Tommy Trinder (episode 21)

Producer: Jacques Brown

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 10

Dates: 7 October 1959 – 7 February 1960

TX: Wednesday 19:30

Writers: Ronald Wolfe, Ronald Chesney, Marty Feldman

Contributors: Bruce Forsyth (episodes 1 – 12), Sid James (episodes 13 – 24), Dick Emery, Marty Feldman June Marlow, Sheena Marshe, Hattie Jacques (episodes 6, 8), Max Bygraves (episode 10), Warren Mitchell (episode 11)

Music: BBC Variety Orchestra Paul Fenoulhet (conductor)

Producer: Geoffrey Owen

 

Spin-offs

Title: Paradise Street

Dates: 20th April 1954 to 13th July 1954

Slot: Tuesday 21:30

Writer: Eric Sykes

Contributors: Max Bygraves, Adele Dixon (episodes 1-6), Spike Milligan (episodes 1–6), Peter Sellers (episodes 7–13) Hattie Jacques, The Tanner Sisters, David Jacobs

Music: The Paradise Street Kids, The Augmented BBC Revue Orchestra, Harry Rabinowitz (conductor)

Producer: Roy Speer

 

Title: Archie in Goonland

Date: Friday 11th June 1954

Slot: Friday 21:45

Writers: Eric Sykes, Spike Milligan

Contributors: Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan, Hattie Jacques

Music: BBC Variety Orchestra, Paul Fenoulhet (conductor)

Producer: Roy Speer

 

TV

 

Title: Here’s Archie

Date: 30 May 1956

Slot: 21:15

Writers: Ronnie Wolfe, John Waterhouse

Contributors: Irene Handl, Francis De Wolff, Ronald Chesney, Sylvia Campbell

Producer: John Warrington

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 1

Date: 26 September 1958 to 20 February 1959

Slot: Fridays 19:30

Writers: Ronald Wolfe, Ronald Chesney, Marty Feldman, Barry Pevan

Contributors: Irene Handl, Dick Emery, Freddie Sales

Producer: Associated-Rediffusion Television

 

Title: Educating Archie

Series: 2:

Date: 18 September1959 to 25 December 1959

Slot: Fridays 19:30

Writers: Ronald Wolfe, Ronald Chesney, Marty Feldman, Barry Pevan

Contributors: Irene Handl, Dick Emery, Freddie Sales

Producer: Associated-Rediffusion Television

Sources and Suggested Reading

 

Gifford D. The Golden Age of Radio (1985)

Nobbs G. The Wireless Stars (1972)

Furst S. & Foster A. Radio Comedy 1938-68 (1996)

Fisher J. Funny Way To Be A Hero (2013)

Elmes S. Hello Again (2012)

Brough P. Educating Archie (1955)

Connor S. Dumbstruck - A Cultural History  Of  Ventriloquism  (2000)

* Images from Andy Hollingworth Archive