The BBC’s Radio Times, published from 1929 to the present, has been digitized as a database, and is now searchable up to 2009. Just remember to put titles and names in quotes, or it will come up with each word individually. You can copy-edit it, just like Wikipedia, or add information if you know it. The curators will first check out your edits before accepting them. (Genome=Genetic makeup of an organism. Thus says the BBC.)

http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/

 

A friend in England named Steve, a begetter of all things Will Hay, sent me this movie clip which is quite fun to watch.

The Telegraph ran an obit today on classical pianist and composer Peter Katin. They ran a Pathe clip about “Three boys making a name for themselves” back in 1945. The third was jazz musician Victor Feldman, who died a few years ago. As I commented at the end of the piece “Two down and one to go – yikes, that’s me!”

Members of the entertainment community have always marveled at the idiocy which brought about the downright willful destruction of much of the BBC’s television and radio history. It never made any sense that those old shows simply disappeared. Now we know part of the answer.

The Daily Telegraph last week reported on statements from Sir David Attenborough, who talked with Alan Yentob in front of an audience of the time he was the policy maker during the late sixties. This was the headline:

David Attenborough: my regrets over wiping Alan Bennett ‘dross’

Sir David Attenborough, the broadcaster, admits one “scar on his conscience” from his early days in broadcasting: sanctioning the wiping of priceless Alan Bennett sketches. Sir David, who was controller of the fledgling BBC Two from 1965 to 1969, said he could not “dodge” the blame for the mistake, after making an executive decision to cut costs.

“One of the scars on my conscience is that the Alan Bennett programmes, which were wonderful, are not recorded and were lost,” Sir David said. “I mustn’t dodge it. I can remember perfectly well someone coming to me and saying ‘look, we have to build another set of vaults and it’s going to cost x million pounds.
“‘We will need that if we’re going to keep everything, so can’t you please find a way to keep the jewels and get rid of the dross? It means how many episodes of What’s My Line?’ or whatever quiz do you want?’
“And of course when you’re faced with that you have to decide whether to put the money into new products, new people, or cherishing the old. I took the decision that I did take, which was to say to every department, if you’ve got a long-running series select one out of six – or whatever it was – and save that. But be strong and get rid of the rest.
“That doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t have kept some of the Alan Bennetts; we should. Why we didn’t have some of them, I don’t know.”
[Former Director General] Alan Yentob added other programmes had suffered the same fate in different periods of BBC history.
“I think we can say the same about editions of Monty Python and others which have somehow disappeared,” he told an audience.

I had to comment at the end of the article with my 2 cent’s worth. I said

Vaults do not cost millions of pounds. Choosing between products, people, and intellectual property, the property of others, does not fly or make sense. This man has no integrity whatsoever. He should be sued to the limit, class actions, for these crass decisions which he admits. No mercy! And, this cost the corporation (meaning us and the government) many millions from future sales.
I am reminded that I appeared with Eric Porter in a BBC Play of the Month. It was “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1968. It disappeared. We were told that a technician had pressed a delete button by mistake. Now we know the truth. Thanks, Mr Attenborough.

I appeared in a few of Pathé Pictorial’s onscreen newsreels, seen before the feature in the old days (with perhaps a cartoon), or to pass the time while waiting for a train. Now we can watch many of these old clips again.

This is great news! With funds from the National Lottery, they have digitized their inventory.

I’m writing a play which includes my childhood actor days back in the forties (I’ve been accused of being Britain’s Justin Bieber back then!)   There’s going to be a reunion in London, and I hope to be at the Cinema Museum to join them. You can skip what follows if you wish, otherwise you might find it of interest:

Three of us young kids were chosen for this newsreel, because we were “making a name for ourselves“.

It’s fun to see, and then go fast forward to our adulthood, and see how it panned out. First there was me, no secrets here. Then there was Peter Katin, a still living and busy concert pianist.

Finally, Victor Feldman, and if you are a jazz enthusiast, you know who he is, or was. Sadly, he died a few years ago. I ran into him at a club in North Hollywood one evening, asked him if he remembered when we last met, and he said he couldn’t remember anything that far back! He was considered the young Gene Krupa on the British scene, but then went on to other instruments. An all around musician.

Here are some others:

This is the only remnant of the radio Will Hay Programme that I can find. That the BBC didn’t preserve those shows for the record is shocking.
My transition from Will Hay to Just William.
Here were the actors of yesterday, now living at Denville Hall, London, followed by the promising stars of tomorrow.

My play will be attempt at an autobiography as told from the stage, hopefully entertaining. I plan to use some frames as stage projections.

And if you got this far, thanks for indulging me.

John, I see you were born in London in 1932 and attended Watford Grammar School. Given that you started working for the BBC in 1944 you must have planned to be an actor from a very early age. Was that always your ambition? Did you have early training?

Three nos. I had no plan to be an actor, no ambition, and no training. When I went to Kings Langley’s Rudolph Steiner school (locally known as the “do as you like” school), at the age of ten, I was cast in the annual school play, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed outdoors in the garden. But that was it, and I hated doing it, it seemed kind of gay; I was not turned on to acting, and had no thoughts along those lines. 

Your first show on BBC radio was The Will Hay Programme in 1944 where you acted as D’Arcy Minor, the swot of St. Michael’s. How did that come about? And was it fun working with Will Hay?

My family lived in Chipperfield, Herts, in those days, and I was coming home on the bus after school one day in August, when a man came up to me who I recognized, for he lived down the road. His name was Alick Hayes, and he asked me if I was a good reader. I told him yes, and he said could I come over later, meet his wife Zillah, have a cup of tea, and read him something out of the Evening Standard, so after supper I did. He tested me for fluency, to see if I could read without stumbling, and he was pleased that I could. He then explained that he was a BBC producer, and was about to start a new BBC radio comedy series, but the young actor he was going to use had just got sick, and he had an emergency, and maybe I could help out.

The show was The Will Hay Programme (The Diary of a Schoolmaster) and the part was that of a very clever young swot who said very long multi-syllabic words instead of shorter ones whenever he answered the schoolmaster’s questions. Mr Hayes wanted me to play it, just the first show, and he said it would save him from having to find another actor quickly from an acting academy. It was going out live in front of an audience from the Paris Cinema, a basement BBC studio off Piccadilly Circus, in just three days’ time.

I raced home, told my parents, said please let me do it, it sounds like fun, and it pays money. So my mother took me up to London next day, and that is where I met Will Hay and the rest of the cast – one schoolmaster and three students, so-called. Smart was the cheeky one (played by the very professional actor Charles Hawtrey), Beckett the dumb one (Billy Nicholls, on his day off from the RAF), and D’Arcy Minor, the studious swot (me). The joke was that I was the only real schoolboy (eleven years old). Will Hay was repeating the same schoolmaster act he had done in several of his films (Good Morning Boys, 1937, etc). It will be remembered that the comedy came out of the fact that he was a hopeless teacher, and the students took over.

That first day I remember well. Continue Reading Just William Society Magazine interview

JULY 12, 2013

This is all about the colon. First there were lawyers. Then there were doctors…

Keeping fingers crossed. This ACTORVIST patient ain’t finished yet! Wife nearby.

 

JULY 16, 2013

Well, I’m still alive. Still in what’s called “recovery”.

Interesting people, doctors. They are pretty well all specialists today. They have their own turfs. And I find they don’t talk to each other a whole lot. I have to think about heart, lung, blood, liver, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and now my gut. I get back a mixture of good news and bad news. I think the key is having a good, open primary physician to be able to talk to. But they’re very very busy these days, there’s not enough of them, and they seem to be very hard to get ahold of. I’ll know more next week, I guess.

Nevertheless, I go home tomorrow.

 

Monica Thapar of the BBC’s archives, has responded with the request from the Just Willliam Society to come up with a full cast list of the Nov. 6, 1946  radio broadcast, the details of which were questioned and contested by the editing folks at Wikipedia. I cannot upload it to Wikipedia, so I need to do it here. We will see if they will apologize to me. Meanwhile, I forgive the BBC for destroying the old wax records of post wartime period favorite radio shows, and making amends by going the extra mile for us researchers.

I’m glad to be closing the books on this subject. Now on to more important things.

 

The storm in a teacup I inadvertently started has now become a veritable Mt. Etna. I do this for Notable People everywhere, of which I am deemed to be one.

As I’ve said, notable people are discouraged from editing pieces written about them by others. References from published sources are provided by WP contributors, and I have maintained that the choice of these references are biased, and contravene their own set of rules all the time. These editors cross the boundaries of “Maintaining a neutral point of view”, of “Never claiming ownership of an article”, and “Avoiding conflict of interest.” It is clear that the subject of an article on a living person, or a dead person, lies in the area of “Biographies.” Such was the featured article on my old friend, John Le Mesurier, best known from the “Dad’s Army” British TV series, repeated I believe on BBC in America.

I was accused of manipulation, making threats, advertising, lying, and making vain claims. They tried to expose me by ridicule and insult, and have blocked me from editing, which I’ve been happily doing for three or four years, creating harmless other type articles. I can still, however, express myself on my talk page, where I am linking to this. This is what SchroCat (a pseudonym hiding an identity) said to prove I was guilty of all of the above sins. He published as follows:

Having spent a chunk of my own personal time traipsing up to the British Library because of the ridiculous questioning of whether a respected and proven biographer is reliable or not, I am very happy to say that I found in back issues of the Radio Times the information that at 20:15 on 26 November 1946 Episode 10 of Just William was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme, ending at 20:35. It was subsequently repeated on the same wavelength at 16:30 on 1 December 1946.

Clark, There is no hearsay, so stop trolling. I have provided sufficient information. If you want to see it in black and white, buy the McCann book. Scans are not possible for microfiche records at the BL: I asked and was told that I would have to get it transferred to the rare book section for electronic processing. You want to do that, then you can foot the bill. If you are too parsimonious to do that, then look elsewhere. I have contacted the author to ask him: he has provided an answer. If you also want to hear it directly from him, I suggest you contact him directly. If not, then you will have to [[WP:AGF]]. If that is beyond you, then go to the reliable sources people and ask them to make a decision on the matter. I care not what you want to believe or not believe, your pointless trolling on this matter has gone far and beyond any normal or natural behaviour. – [[User:SchroCat|SchroCat]] ([[User talk:SchroCat|talk]]) 09:03, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

I then contacted Graham McCann, the author of the book from which the information came and asked about the connection between Just William and Le Mez. He confirmed to me that “the information came from the BBC’s written archive records and Le Mesurier’s personal files.”

Consequently I am more than happy that what we have in this article is an accurate reflection of what is available in the reliable sources, and that those sources have provided archival information from unimpeachable sources.

Fortunately, I am a member of the Just William Society, deemed by these fellows not to be a reliable source, and one of their volunteer historians by the name of Robert Kirkpatrick went down to the library to find out if Wikipedia was telling the truth, or allowing a lie. I cannot download this to Wikipedia, because I am blocked. So I am downloading it here, on my website, to prove that lies about people are permitted at Wikipedia. He had this to say to me, before supplying proof that lies are to be found on Wikipedia. He said

 Herewith a copy of the page from the Radio Times showing episode 10 of Just William broadcast on 26 November 1946.  As you can see, there is no mention of John le Mesurier.

The episode was repeated on Sunday 1 December 1946  –  cast list wasn’t given.

So, we all agree that this Wikipedia chap is correct, in that there WAS an episode on JW on that date (which was never in doubt anyway), but if he’s saying that John le Mesurier was in it and that Radio Times proves it then he’s 100% in the wrong.

As I said, my own suspicion is that le Mesurier’s biographer got it wrong (after all, we all make mistakes  –  and in any case perhaps it was le Mesurier himself who got mixed up) and that the reference should have been to the live broadcast of the stage play from the Granville Theatre on 23 December 1946.

PS  I should add, for accuracy’s sake, that I wasn’t allowed to photocopy the page from the Radio Times at the British Library, as it was too large (i.e larger than A4).  I could have paid for it to be scanned and copied, but that would have taken 24 hours. So I went to Westminster Reference Library and was able to take the photocopy from their bound volumes of the Radio Times.

I can, of course, assure you that both copies were identical! I hope this helps and you can get your life back!!!!!”

Robert

Here’s the visible scan of the Radio Times entry:

 

I hope Jimbo Wales acts on this information, and takes steps to free up a notable’s ability to edit freely, alongside other contributors. And there are at least 3 of these lying pseudos who should be banned forever from contributing to what is otherwise a fine encyclopedia.

 

 

 

 

 

It was 1945, Princess Elizabeth was 18 and I was a small impressionable boy of 12 when I met her. It was just before the end of the war. I’ve been dazzled ever since, so be kind.

The speech is an annual affair, and this year the message was particularly worth watching and reading because Britain had a mind-spinning time of it in 2012. Here she made a speech to start off her Diamond Jubilee year.

June 3. Marked the beginning of her Jubilee celebrations (that’s 60 years on the throne), catching up fast with Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years and 7 months. We followed the procession of ships on the Thames on a rather watery day.

July 23. She sent a message of congratulations to cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who had just won the Tour de France, the first Brit to ever do so, and was later to win the most golds at the Olympics.

July 27. She opened the Summer Olympics, hosted in London, and

August 29. Opened the London Paralympics.

September 10. Andy Murray became the first Brit (ok, Scot), to win a Grand Slam event (US Open) since Fred Perry in the thirties. He’d also won gold at the Olympics, first to do so in 100 years.

Now it’s the end of the year, and with 2013 upon us, it remains to be seen what’s in store for an encore.

Makes me proud to remember the land of my birth, although I gave up citizenship long ago for silly reasons (unbelievably, I was protesting my country’s intervention in Biafra!)

God Save the Queen still rings in my ears. Happy and Glorious. Can’t help it.