It’s great to see that another Almeida Theatre production is transferring to the West End, this time Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke:
When I grew up, I truly loved listening to the radio. I had a little medium and long wave Philips thing with a single earpiece in the base, and a lovely black case.
Living at the seaside, you could pick up some wonderful things, from the continent, many pirate stations, even, on a good night, local London or Scottish stations.
The BBC was producing some classic game and quiz shows. My Word, My Music, Many a Slip, Twenty Questions and so on. Many a Slip was absolutely my favourite, and I had the pleasure of seeing one, well two, recorded. Isobel Barnett and Eleanor Summerfield were the ‘girls’, David Nixon and Paul Jennings (not Richard Murdoch by then) the ‘boys’. The wonderful Roy Plomley was in the chair, and Steve Race the musical mistakes man.
It was hugely entertaining, quite brainy and terribly chummy.
This game, and the long running Just A Minute, were devised by Ian Messiter. We loved JAM. We played it at school in the lunchtime. It started in 1967, so it has exceeded 50 years. The key panellists in the early days were Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo, Kenneth Williams and Peter Jones. There were regular guests, including Sheila Hancock.
Chairman was, and is, Nicholas Parsons, who has never missed a programme. Until now. At the age of 94. Parsons was absent from last week’s show, “taking a rest” they said, and Gyles Brandreth took over.
And what an uproar it caused. Most, like myself, were concerned after Mr Parsons’ health, but also because Brandreth is such a slimy and hateful person and the programme was less funny than usual. It stopped being truly entertaining when Paul Merton was enlisted as a regular, and began a slow decline after Freud’s death. You can hear old ones if you have an internet radio – there’s a channel devoted to JAM and they frequently play multiple old ones. It was a different beast then. They didn’t play it for laughs, there were no stupid flights of fantasy, they played it as a serious parlour game.
So, we wish Mr Parsons well, but when he stops presenting the programme, we hope it will say goodbye. The guess is, following I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, that it will continue, because it is popular and is a goo money earner for the BBC. But they will have lost at least one listener.
I was looking for something completely different, and found this partial list of prohibited items that were dictated by the MPPC from 1934 all the way up to 1968 (yes, really, but was anyone doing it then?):
That those things which are included in the following list shall not appear in pictures produced by the members of this Association, irrespective of the manner in which they are treated:
Pointed profanity , by either title or lip , this includes the words “God,” “Lord,” “Jesus,” “Christ” (unless they be used reverently in connection with proper religious ceremonies), “hell,” “damn,” “Gawd,” and every other profane and vulgar expression however it may be spelled
Any licentious or suggestive nudity-in fact or in silhouette; and any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture
The illegal traffic in drugs
Any inference of sex perversion
Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races)
Sex hygiene and venereal diseases
Scenes of actual childbirth — in fact or in silhouette
Children’s sex organs
Ridicule of the clergy
Willful offense to any nation, race or creed
Special care be exercised in the manner in which the following subjects are treated, to the end that vulgarity and suggestiveness may be eliminated and that good taste may be emphasized:
The use of the flag
International relations (avoiding picturising in an unfavorable light another country’s religion, history, institutions, prominent people, and citizenry)
The use of firearms
Theft, robbery, safe-cracking, and dynamiting of trains, mines, buildings, etc. (having in mind the effect which a too-detailed description of these may have upon the moron)
Brutality and possible gruesomeness
Technique of committing murder by whatever method
Methods of smuggling
Actual hangings or electrocutions as legal punishment for crime
Sympathy for criminals
Attitude toward public characters and institutions
Apparent cruelty to children and animals
Branding of people or animals
The sale of women, or of a woman selling her virtue
Rape or attempted rape
Man and woman in bed together
Deliberate seduction of girls
The institution of marriage
The use of drugs
Titles or scenes having to do with law enforcement or law-enforcing officers
Excessive or lustful kissing, particularly when one character or the other is a “heavy.”