Many, many years ago, the BBC realised there was an audience for the old comedy shows like Much Binding…, Hancock’s Half Hour, The Navy Lark, Take it from Here and so on. They were broadcast each night at 11pm, then later the station Radio 7 was set up (at the same time as BBC 6 Music).
Radio 7 did OK, but not as well as expected, nor did 6 Music. I always say it is because people are pretty thick and can’t get beyond counting on one hand, but that’s just cynical. Radio 7 because Radio 4 Extra and does better with the number change.
One of my favourite old comedies, when it was first on and even now, is The Clitheroe Kid. This starred Jimmy Clitheroe as schoolboy Jimmy Clitheroe (let’s call the actor “Clitheroe” and the character “Jimmy”).
Clitheroe made some films, many years of his radio programme and did several seasons of tv. He also did something that seems not to be done these days, summer season at places like Blackpool, Scarborough or Bournemouth.
It seems a bit odd now. Jimmy lives with his dysfunctional family in Lancashire, mother (no father is ever mentioned), grandfather (no other grandparents) and sister. Jimmy is always up to mischief, sometimes quite nasty, and is a bit of a liar. When he is in trouble, his grandfather spanks him. He is always in fights, and grandfather is often drunk. It all seems a bit grim and, well, Northern.
Jimmy is also mean to his sister. You’d like to think that, if she was in trouble, Jimmy would try to help, but you don’t get this from listening to the shows. As the series went on, she appeared less. Jimmy is selfish, and that’s where the comedy comes from.
But, for me the real star of the show is sister’s boyfriend, Alfie Hall, played by Danny Ross.
He has a way of mixing things up that can be hilarious. I suppose he is Jimmy’s best friend, but also the victim of many schemes.
When Clitheroe moved to tv, Ross was a co-star in the series Just Jimmy. He sadly died at a very young age, barely 45, and I feel his work is under-appreciated these days.
I am wondering now why I enjoyed it so much.
Anyway, while all know episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour, The Navy Lark and others have been made available on cd, The Clitheroe Kid hsn’t.