It’s hard to believe, but The Goon Show was first broadcast over 65 years ago. Thanks to the wonder of technology, you can still listen to all the classic episodes online.
And what better excuse do you need than to celebrate World Radio Day!
It’s not the only classic radio series available either. We dug around in the archive and found this lot. Follow the link and click on Episodes to play them on your PC. Better cancel your plans for the afternoon…
The Goon Show
The madcap antics of Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe haven’t aged a day since they were first broadcast. Ludicrous plots, surreal humour and crazy sound effects combine to make the most original comedy of its time, and one that still inspires comedians today.
Just a Minute
Another long-running series that’s still going strong, Just a Minute pits contestants in a battle of wits. Series stalwart Nicholas Parsons presides over matters, while guests must speak for one minute without deviation, repetition or hesitation. Your time starts… now!
Hancock’s Half Hour
Like the best comedy series, Hancock’s Half Hour soon graduated to TV but, as is often the case, it lost a lot when you couldn’t imagine the scenarios for yourself. Written by Galton and Simpson (the scribes behind Steptoe and Son), it starred Tony Hancock, Sid James and Kenneth Williams.
Desert Island Discs
Created by Roy Plomley in 1942, anyone who’s anyone has been a castaway at some point. Louis Armstrong, Noel Coward, Margaret Thatcher, Elton John and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are just a handful of guests in the archive who have picked their musical favourites to take to a desert island. The show continues to be one of the best things on the radio.
Round the Horne
Kenneth Horne’s bizarre show featured such treats as a Floodlit Horse Massage, Coat a Sheep in Raspberry Jam Week and Immerse an Orangutan in Porridge Week. It also had some pretty near-the-knuckle (for the time) innuendos. Its influence can be felt in the many irreverent sketch and panel shows aired today.
Following its success on TV, the home guard moved to radio for three classic series. And it just goes to show how strong the writing is that you don’t have to see the action to enjoy the jokes.
I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again
It might not be as well-known as some of its contemporaries, but this sketch show featured future cast members of both The Goodies and Monty Python, so its influence can’t be underestimated.
Steptoe and Son
The sitcom to end all sitcoms concerns a father-and-son rag-and-bone business. The only thing is, they can’t stand each other. On the surface, at least. Adapted from TV, it’s earthy, with a generous helping of pathos that never gets in the way of the laughs.
The Navy Lark
Set aboard a British Royal Navy frigate, this sitcom featured what we now recognise as an all-star cast, including Ronnie Barker, Leslie Phillips, Jon Pertwee and Stephen Murray. It ran for an astonishing 15 series, and propelled its hitherto little-known cast into the mainstream.
Did you used to listen to any of these classic radio shows? Let us know in the Comments below.