It always used to be “another chance to see” but now Afternoon Classics is the umbrella title for BBC2’s afternoon of repeats of 30 and 40-year old programmes. Mind you the best bit is probably the old BBC2 idents coming out of retirement.
Anyway showings of Are You Being Served? set me thinking about any radio connections for the stars of that sitcom. Mollie Sugden I remember from her appearances in The Clitheroe Kid. I hadn’t realised that she’d previously appeared as Jimmy mother in the ITV series Just Jimmy, even though she was younger than the pint-sized star. There was also a 1982 series with Mollie called Oh Mother!
Frank Thornton co-starred with Derek Francis in The Navy Lark spin-off The Embassy Lark and with Jimmy Edwards in The Big Business Lark. He was in the equally short-lived Mind Your Own Business alongside Bernard Cribbins and Annette Crosbie and co-starred with June Whitfield in Men of Property.
Long-term Just a Minute listeners will recall Wendy Richard sparring with the team regulars. Larry Martyn stepped into the role of Private Walker in the last few radio adaptations of Dad’s Army whilst Arthur English was a radio star back in the days of Variety Bandbox.
As for John Inman he starred in three series of Inman and Friends on BBC Radio 2 between 1986 and 1989. Speaking to the Radio Times in 1986 he described the show as follows:
“It’s definitely not alternative humour”, says Inman with satisfaction. “You could call it old-fashioned”. By this he means lots of Goonish sound effects, and echoes of Round the Horne.
“Each programme starts with me saying ‘Hasn’t it been a funny sort of day?’, and going on about it. Then I introduce my guests … they really are friends.” This includes the various members of the Grace Brothers gang, and the likes of Ernie Wise, Ruth Madoc and Peggy Mount. “We chat, do gags, sketches, I sing in a strangled tenor…”
This is the first show from series one that aired on 30 September 1986. Alongside John are regulars Jeffrey Holland and Sherrie Hewson and the special guest is Ernie Wise. The comedy is broad (read ‘not very funny’) and with a tribute to Billy Bennett it was certainly “old-fashioned”.
My recording only runs at 18 minutes as it was tagged onto a C90 cassette after an edition of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. Obviously it make much of an impression on me, I didn’t record another.
The script was by Tony Hare, Peter Hickey, Stuart Silver, Alan Whiting and Malcolm Williamson. Music is by the Max Harris Trio and the producer is long-time LE producer Richard Willcox.