Archive for the 'BBC' Category

Coronation of King George VI - May 12, 1937

Friday, November 19th, 2010

With the recent news about the announcement of a royal wedding, I thought it would be a good time to visit a curious disc set in my collection that featured another royal event in the news.

In the middle of the unrest in Europe, Great Britain faced an upheaval in the monarchy with George VI's ascension to the throne.  George's elder brother, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne to marry the socialite Wallis Simpson.  The story received considerable coverage here in the US and the networks carried the BBC's coverage of the coronation of the new king.

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This disc set includes the ceremonies leading up to the coronation, the coronation itself, along with the new monarch's first speech and sounds as if it was recorded either direct from the shortwave feed or from a network line carrying the shortwave broadcast.  It's unclear to me if the coverage is continuous or represents various excerpts from the broadcast.

The origins of the disc set are obscure, but it appears to be produced by a small company as a souvenir of the event for US listeners.  It gives a good idea of what listeners heard stateside that tuned in to a royal event that only happens once a generation.

Our digital file was transferred from an original blue shellac 8-sided 12" 78 rpm set on the General Sound and Transcription Company label, matrix numbers AT1210 through AT1217.  The style of the pressing and matrix numbers indicates it may have been pressed by Columbia.

Update, 11/20/2010:  Date corrected.

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Goon Show - Pgm 19

Friday, July 31st, 2009

A few months ago, I posted an episode of one of my favorite old time radio comedy series, "The Goon Show".  In this post, I offer up the other remaining episode I have of the program on an original transcription.

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For those that are new to the show, it's surreal humor that might remind you of Monty Python.  In fact, the Goons - Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers - had a remarkably popular program on the BBC that ran throughout the 1950s and were influential on a whole generation of later comedians.

Program 19 in the series is "The Lost Colony", also known as "The Sale of Manhattan", originally broadcast on the BBC on November 29, 1955 and recorded on November 27.  It was the 11th episode in the 6th "Goon Show" series.  A Goons fan site has a script of the show online with some footnotes on some of the references if you have trouble understanding some of the fast-paced dialogue going on.

What you'll hear is the syndicated version of the show.  The BBC edited the programs slightly because of time sensitive content or other issues before they were distributed in other markets.  They're in the process of a major project to restore the original uncut versions of the programs from the master tapes, so if you like the show, I'd encourage you to buy the cd sets the BBC is offering of the program through Amazon UK.

This program was transferred from an original shellac BBC Transcription Service disc, matrix numbers 16PH86823 and 16PH86824.  Apologies for the very brief "squeal" from "up cue" damage on the first part of the disc.

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Hancock’s Half Hour - Pgm 18 - The Jewel Robbery

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Now a bit of comedy, courtesy of "Hancock's Half Hour", an influential BBC situation comedy broadcast from 1954 through 1961.  It was one of the first BBC comedy series that took the form of a sitcom, something fairly common at the time here in the States.

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"The Jewel Robbery" was originally broadcast on the BBC as program 2 of the 3rd Series of "Hancock's Half Hour" on October 26, 1955 and was recorded on October 3, 1955.  It was distributed to foreign markets as Program 18 in the series by the BBC Transcription Service in the late 1950s.

The show was dubbed from an original shellac 16" BBC Transcription Service set, matrix numbers 16PH87870 and 16PH87871.  So far, these, along with some "Goon Show" discs distributed by the BBC around the same time period, are the latest shellac transcription pressings I've found.  It's curious they weren't pressing these on vinyl at this late date.

Update, 6/25/2009 - Corrected post based on information from Jim Exley. I incorrectly identified this episode as "The New Car" from December 7, 1954.

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Hancock’s Half Hour - Pgm 17 - The Bequest

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

"Hancock's Half Hour" was an innovative and influential British comedy series broadcast from 1954 through 1961 on BBC radio.  The show was one of the earliest British radio comedy series to take the form of a sitcom, rather than the variety show format that was common on the BBC at the time.  The introduction of the format was probably influenced by the availability of network comedy series from the US that could be heard over Armed Forces Radio in Europe during and after World War II; of course, the sitcom had been a mainstay of American radio for several years.

"The Bequest" was program 17 in the series as it was syndicated by the BBC in the US and Canada in the late 1950s.  In the series, Hancock plays a down-on-his-luck comedian and, in this episode, he discovers that he's inherited a large sum of money on the condition that he gets married.  The program originally ran on the BBC in the 3rd Series of "Hancock's Half Hour", recorded October 30, 1955 and broadcast on November 2, 1955.

You can find out more about "Hancock's Half Hour" and Tony Hancock's work at this fan site.  And if you're wondering about Sabrina, mentioned near the end of the show, you can find out more about her at Wikipedia.

The program was transferred to digital directly from a set of BBC Transcription Service discs, matrix numbers 16PH 87858 and 16PH87859.

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The Goon Show - Pgm 18 - The Pevensey Bay Disaster

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

"The Goon Show" is one of my all-time favorite radio programs, a remarkable bit of  silliness produced by the BBC throughout the 1950s and featuring Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers.  I never thought I'd find an original transcription from the series, but here 'tis.

"The Pevensey Bay Disaster" was originally broadcast on the BBC as episode 10 in the sixth "Goon Show" series on April 3, 1956.  A bit of trivia - just after this program was recorded, a rail disaster occurred and another program in the series was substituted that week; the program was run in the UK months after it was originally recorded.

What you'll hear in this post is a BBC Transcription Service version of the program as it was originally syndicated in the US in the mid to late 1950s.  The shows were edited slightly for overseas markets to remove time sensitive material or jokes that might have been a little too specific to British culture.  The BBC has produced a series of audio cds I'd encourage you to buy if you like the show, going back to the original master tapes to reproduce the series as it was originally broadcast.

I've often wondered what the reaction was to the "Goon Show" on its first syndicated run here in the States.  At the time, there was nothing quite like it on radio; the program was a huge hit in Britain and became something of an institution.  The Goons would inspire later comedy shows such as "Monty Python" and "Little Britain".

The show was transferred from an original set of BBC Transcription Service discs, matrix numbers 16PH86821 and 16PH86822.  There's a very brief "squeal" from "up cue" damage to disc on part two of the show.

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