Brett's Old Time Radio Show Episode 608, Dad's Army, Mum's Army | Brett’s Old Time Radio Show (2024)

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Dad's Army

Dad's Army is a British television sitcom about the United Kingdom's Home Guard during the Second World War. It was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft, and originally broadcast on BBC1 from 31 July 1968 to 13 November 1977. It ran for nine series and 80 episodes in total; a feature film released in 1971, a stage show and a radio version based on the television scripts were also produced. The series regularly gained audiences of 18 million viewers and is still shown internationally.

The Home Guard consisted of local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, either because of age (hence the title Dad's Army), medical reasons or by being in professions exempt from conscription. Most of the platoon members in Dad's Army are over military age and the series stars several older British actors, including Arnold Ridley, John Laurie, Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier. Younger members of the cast included Ian Lavender, Clive Dunn (who, despite being one of the younger cast members, played the oldest guardsman, Lance Corporal Jones) and James Beck (who died suddenly during production of the sixth series in 1973). Other regular cast members included Frank Williams as the vicar, Edward Sinclair as the verger, and Bill Pertwee as the chief ARP warden.

The series has influenced British popular culture, with its catchphrases and characters being widely known. The Radio Times magazine listed Captain Mainwaring's "You stupid boy!" among the 25 greatest put-downs on TV. A 2001 Channel 4 poll ranked Captain Mainwaring 21st on its list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters. In 2004, Dad's Army came fourth in a BBC poll to find Britain's Best Sitcom. It was placed 13th in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes, drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, and voted for by industry professionals. A second feature film of Dad's Army with a different cast was released in 2016.

In 2019, UKTV recreated three missing episodes for broadcast in August that year on its Gold channel under the title Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes. It starred Kevin McNally and Robert Bathurst as Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson.

Origins

Co-writers David Croft and Jimmy Perry during a Dad's Army event at Bressingham Steam Museum, May 2011
Originally intended to be called The Fighting Tigers, Dad's Army was based partly on co-writer and creator Jimmy Perry's experiences in the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV, later known as the Home Guard) and highlighted a somewhat forgotten aspect of defence during the Second World War. Perry was only 16 when he joined the 10th Hertfordshire Battalion. His mother did not like him being out at night, and feared he might catch a cold; he partly resembled the character of Private Pike. An elderly lance corporal in the 10th Hertfordshire often referred to fighting under Kitchener against the "Fuzzy Wuzzies" (Hadendoa), and was the model for Lance Corporal Jones.

Other influences included the work of comedians such as Will Hay, whose film Oh, Mr Porter! featured a pompous ass, an old man and a young man; together, this gave Perry the ideas for Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike. Film historian Jeffrey Richards has cited Lancastrian comedian Robb Wilton as a key influence; Wilton portrayed a work-shy husband who joined the Home Guard in numerous comic sketches during World War II.

Perry wrote the first script and sent it to David Croft while working as a minor actor in the Croft-produced sitcom Hugh and I, originally intending the role of the spiv, later called Walker, to be his own. Croft was impressed and sent the script to Michael Mills, the BBC's head of comedy, and the series was commissioned.

In his book Dad's Army: The Story of a Classic Television Show, Graham McCann explains that the show owes much to Michael Mills. It was he who renamed the show Dad's Army. He did not like Brightsea-on-Sea, so the location was changed to Walmington-on-Sea. He was happy with the names for the characters Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike, but not with other names, and he made suggestions: Private Jim Duck became James Frazer, Joe Fish became Joe Walker and Jim Jones became Jack Jones. He also suggested adding a Scot. Jimmy Perry had produced the original idea, but needed a more experienced partner to see it through, so Mills suggested David Croft and this launched the beginning of their professional association.

When an episode was screened to members of the public to gauge audience reaction prior to broadcast of the first series, the majority of the audience thought it was very poor. The production team put the report containing the negative comments at the bottom of David Croft's in-tray. He only saw it several months later,[16] after the series had been broadcast and received a positive response.

Situation
The series is set in the fictional seaside town of Walmington-on-Sea, located on the south coast of England, not far from Eastbourne. The exterior scenes were mostly filmed in and around the Stanford Training Area (STANTA), near Thetford, Norfolk.[19] Walmington, and its Home Guard platoon, would be on the frontline in the event of a German invasion across the English Channel. The first series has a loose narrative thread, with Captain Mainwaring's platoon being formed and equipped, initially with wooden guns and LDV armbands, later on with full army uniforms; the platoon is part of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

The first episode, "The Man and the Hour", begins with a scene set in the then-present day of 1968, in which Mainwaring addresses his old platoon as part of the contemporary '"I'm Backing Britain" campaign. The prologue opening was a condition imposed after initial concerns from Paul Fox, the BBC1 controller, that it belittled the efforts of the Home Guard. After Mainwaring relates how he had backed Britain in 1940, the episode proper begins; Dad's Army is thus told in flashback, although the final episode does not return to 1968. Later episodes are largely self-contained, albeit referring to previous events and with additional character development.

As the comedy in many ways relies on the platoon's lack of participation in the Second World War, opposition to their activities must come from another quarter, and this is generally provided by Chief Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Warden Hodges, and sometimes by the verger of the local church (St Aldhelm's) or by Captain Square and the neighbouring Eastgate Home Guard platoon. The group, however, does have some encounters related to the enemy, such as downed German planes, a Luftwaffe pilot who parachutes into the town's clock tower, a U-boat crew and discarded parachutes that may have been German; a Viennese ornithologist appears in "Man Hunt" and an IRA suspect appears in "Absent Friends".

The humour ranges from the subtle (especially the class-reversed relationship between grammar school-educated Mainwaring, the local bank manager, and public school-educated Wilson, his deputy at the bank) to the slapstick (the antics of the elderly Jones being a prime example). Jones had several catchphrases, including "Don't panic!" (while panicking himself), "They don't like it up 'em!", "Permission to speak, sir?", "Handy-hock!" and his tales about the "Fuzzy-Wuzzies". Mainwaring's catchphrase to Pike is "You stupid boy", which he uses in many episodes. Other cast members used catchphrases, including Sergeant Wilson, who regularly asked, "Do you think that's wise, sir?" when Captain Mainwaring made a suggestion.

The early series occasionally included darker humour, reflecting that, especially early in the war, the Home Guard was woefully under-equipped but was still willing to resist the Wehrmacht. For instance, in the episode "The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage", the platoon believes the enemy has invaded Britain. Mainwaring, Godfrey, Frazer and Jones (along with Godfrey's sisters, who are completely unaware of the invasion) decide to stay at the cottage to delay the German advance, buying the regular army time to arrive with reinforcements; "It'll probably be the end of us, but we're ready for that, aren't we, men?" says Mainwaring. "Of course," replies Frazer.

Characters

Private Pike (Ian Lavender)
ARP Warden Hodges (Bill Pertwee)
Private Frazer (John Laurie)
Private Godfrey (Arnold Ridley)
Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe)
Private Walker (James Beck)
Lance Corporal Jones (Clive Dunn)
Sergeant Wilson (John Le Mesurier)


Main characters
Captain George Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe), the pompous, if essentially brave and unerringly patriotic local bank manager. Mainwaring appointed himself leader of his town's contingent of Local Defence Volunteers. He had been a lieutenant in the First World War but is embarrassed by the fact that he never saw combat, only being sent to France in 1919 after the Armistice as part of the Army of Occupation in Germany. The character, along with Wilson, also appeared in the original pilot episode of the radio series It Sticks Out Half a Mile.
Sergeant Arthur Wilson (John Le Mesurier), a diffident, upper-middle-class chief bank clerk who often quietly questions Mainwaring's judgement ("Do you think that's wise, sir?"). Wilson had actually served as a captain during the First World War, but he only reveals this in the final episode. He does not live with the Pike family, but is implied to be in a relationship with the widowed Mrs Pike. Wilson also appears in the later radio series It Sticks Out Half a Mile.


Lance Corporal Jack Jones (Clive Dunn), the local butcher, born in 1870. Jones is an old campaigner who enlisted as a drummer boy at the age of 14 and participated, as a boy soldier, in the Gordon Relief Expedition of 1884–85 and, as an adult, in Kitchener's campaign in the Sudan in 1896–98. Jones also served during the Boer War and the Great War. He often suffers from the effects of malaria caught during one of his campaigns and has to be calmed during his "shudders". Often seen as fastidious and a worrier, he has a number of catchphrases, including "They don't like it up 'em!" and "Don't panic, don't panic!", which he says whilst panicking. Dunn was considerably younger than his character, being only 46 when the series began. This meant he often performed the physical comedy of the show, which some of the older cast members were no longer capable of.
Private James Frazer (John Laurie), a dour Scottish former chief petty officer on HMS Defiant in the Royal Navy. He served at the Battle of Jutland as a ship's cook and also has a medal for having served on Shackleton's Antarctic expedition. He grew up on the Isle of Barra and is prone to theatrical poetry. In episode one, he states that he owns a philately shop, but subsequently his profession is changed to an undertaker. His catchphrase is "We're doomed. Doomed!"


Private Joe Walker (James Beck), a black market spiv, Walker is one of only two able-bodied men of military age among the main characters (the other one being Private Pike). In the first episode, Walker claims he was not called up to the regular army because he was in a reserved occupation as a wholesale supplier. In one of the missing episodes, it is revealed that he was not called up because of an allergy to corned beef. Although always on the lookout to make money, Walker is also seen to support local charities, including a children's home. Following James Beck's death in 1973, Walker was written out of the series.
Private Charles Godfrey (Arnold Ridley), a retired shop assistant who had worked at the Army & Navy store in London. He lives in Walmington with his elderly sisters and serves as the platoon's medical orderly. He has a weak bladder and often needs to "be excused". A conscientious objector during the First World War, he was nevertheless awarded the Military Medal for heroic actions as a combat medic during the Battle of the Somme. He also demonstrates bravery during his Home Guard service, particularly during the "Branded" episode in which Mainwaring, unconscious in a smoke-filled room, is rescued by Godfrey.


Private Frank Pike (Ian Lavender), the youngest of the platoon. He is a cosseted, somewhat immature mother's boy, often wearing a thick scarf over his uniform to prevent illness and a frequent target for Mainwaring's derision ("You stupid boy!"). Pike is not called up to the regular army due to his rare blood group (in series eight, he is excused for this reason). He works in his day job as an assistant bank clerk for Mainwaring. He frequently addresses Sergeant Wilson as "Uncle Arthur". However, on the last day of filming, David Croft confirmed to Lavender that Wilson was in fact Pike's father. Pike would later appear in the radio series It Sticks Out Half a Mile.
Supporting characters


Chief ARP Warden William Hodges (Bill Pertwee), the platoon's major rival and nemesis. He calls Mainwaring "Napoleon". Mainwaring looks down on him as the local greengrocer and dislikes that Hodges saw active service in the First World War. As an Air Raid Precautions (ARP) warden, he is always demanding that people "Put that light out!". He often calls the platoon "Ruddy hooligans!". The character of Hodges would later appear in the radio series It Sticks Out Half a Mile.


Reverend Timothy Farthing (Frank Williams), the effete, petulant vicar of St Aldhelm's Church. He reluctantly shares his church hall and office with the platoon. In several episodes of the series, it was implied that the character was a non-active closet gay.


Maurice Yeatman (Edward Sinclair), the verger at St Aldhelm's Church and Scoutmaster of the local Sea Scout troop. He is often hostile to the platoon while frequently sycophantic towards the vicar, who often struggles to tolerate him and frequently employs the catchphrase "Oh do be quiet, Mr Yeatman!". He often sides with Hodges to undermine the platoon's activities.
Mrs Mavis Pike (Janet Davies), Pike's overbearing widowed mother, who is often implied to be in a relationship with Sergeant Wilson. Liz Frazer replaced Janet Davies in the 1971 film version.
Mrs Fox (Pamela Cundell), a glamorous widow. There is a mutual attraction with Corporal Jones and the couple marry in the last episode. Illicit little "extras" are passed across the counter on her regular visits to Jones's butcher's shop and she helps the platoon with official functions. In the episode "Mum's Army", she gives her first name as Marcia, but by the final episode she is addressed as Mildred.
Colonel Pritchard (Robert Raglan), Captain Mainwaring's superior officer. A stern, serious man, he unexpectedly appeared to admire Mainwaring, frequently commenting on his successes and warning people not to underestimate him.
Private Sponge (Colin Bean), a sheep farmer. He leads the members of the platoon's second section (the first section being led by Corporal Jones) and thus had only occasional speaking parts, although he became more prominent in later series. He appeared in 76 of the 80 episodes.
Mr Claude Gordon (Eric Longworth), the Walmington town clerk often involved when the platoon is taking part in local parades and displays. Although generally civil with Captain Mainwaring and his men, he is an officious and somewhat pompous individual, and Hodges tends to use him to try and interfere with the platoon's activities.
Private Cheeseman (Talfryn Thomas), a Welshman who works for the town newspaper. He joined the Walmington-on-Sea platoon during the seventh series only after the sudden death of James Beck, who played Private Walker.
Captain Square (Geoffrey Lumsden), the pompous commanding officer of the rival Eastgate platoon, and a former regular soldier who served with Lawrence of Arabia during the First World War. He is frequently at loggerheads with Mainwaring (whose name he persists in mispronouncing as spelt, "Main-wearing", instead of the correct "Mannering") and has the catchphrase "You blithering idiot!".
Mrs Yeatman (Olive Mercer), the somewhat tyrannical wife of Maurice Yeatman, the verger. Over the course of the series, her first name is given as either Beryl, Anthea or Tracey.
Mr Sidney Bluett (Harold Bennett), an elderly local man who is occasionally involved with the antics of both the platoon and Hodges. He and Mrs Yeatman are implied to be having an affair.
Miss Janet King (Caroline Dowdeswell), a clerk at Swallow Bank who works with Mainwaring, Wilson and Pike in the first series.
Edith Parish (Wendy Richard), also called Shirley, a cinema usherette and girlfriend of Private Walker.
Dolly (Amy Dalby and Joan Cooper) and Cissy Godfrey (Nan Braunton and Kathleen Saintsbury), Private Godfrey's spinster sisters, who reside with him at their cottage.
Elizabeth Mainwaring (unseen character), George Mainwaring's reclusive, paranoid and domineering wife who is never seen onscreen in the TV series. (In the episode "A Soldier's Farewell" her "shape" is seen sleeping in the bunk above the captain while in their Anderson Shelter.) Her marriage to George is not a happy one and he does his best to avoid her at any opportunity. They have no children. Mrs Mainwaring had a significant on screen role in the 2016 film.
Other actors who appeared in small roles include Timothy Carlton, Don Estelle, Nigel Hawthorne, Geoffrey Hughes, Michael Knowles, John Ringham, Fulton Mackay, Anthony Sagar, Anthony Sharp, Carmen Silvera and Barbara Windsor.

Larry Martyn appeared as an unnamed private in four episodes, and later took over the part of Walker in the radio series following the death of James Beck. The former cricketer Fred Trueman appeared in "The Test".

Opening and closing credits
The show's opening titles were originally intended to feature footage of refugees and Nazi troops, to illustrate the threat faced by the Home Guard. Despite opposition from the BBC's head of comedy Michael Mills, Paul Fox, the controller of BBC1, ordered that these be removed on the grounds that they were offensive. The replacement titles featured the animated sequence of swastika-headed arrows approaching Britain.[25] Originally in black and white, the opening titles were updated twice; firstly in series three, adding colour and improved animation, and once again in series six, which made further improvements to the animation.

There were two different versions of the closing credits used in the show. The first version, used in series one and two, simply showed footage of the main cast superimposed over a still photograph, with the crew credits rolling over a black background. The better-known closing credits, introduced in series three, were a homage to the end credits of The Way Ahead (1944), a film which had covered the training of a platoon during the Second World War. In both instances, each character is shown as they walk across a smoke-filled battlefield. One of the actors in Dad's Army, John Laurie, also appeared in that film, and his performance in the end credits of The Way Ahead appears to be copied in the sitcom. Coincidentally, the film's lead character (played by David Niven) is named Lieutenant Jim Perry. Following this sequence, the end credits roll, and the platoon is shown in a wide angle shot as, armed, they run towards the camera, while bombs explode behind them. As the credits come to an end, the platoon run past the camera and the all clear siren rings, before the screen fades to black.

Music
The show's theme tune, "Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?" was Jimmy Perry's idea, written especially for the show and intended as a gentle pastiche of wartime songs. The other songs were authentic 1940s music recordings. Perry wrote the lyrics and composed the music with Derek Taverner. Perry persuaded one of his childhood idols, wartime entertainer Bud Flanagan, to sing the theme for 100 guineas (equivalent to £2,400 in 2023). Flanagan died less than a year after the recording. At the time it was widely believed to be a wartime song. The music over the opening credits was recorded at Riverside Studios, Flanagan being accompanied by the Orchestra of the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

The version played over the opening credits differs slightly from the full version recorded by Flanagan; an edit removes, for timing reasons, two lines of lyric with the "middle eight" tune: "So watch out Mr Hitler, you have met your match in us/If you think you can crush us, we're afraid you've missed the bus." (The latter lyric is a reference to a speech by Neville Chamberlain.) Bud Flanagan's full version appears as an Easter egg on the first series DVD release and on the authorised soundtrack CD issued by CD41. Arthur Lowe also recorded a full version of the theme.

The closing credits feature an instrumental march version of the song played by the Band of the Coldstream Guards conducted by Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel) Trevor L. Sharpe, ending with the air-raid warning siren sounding all-clear. It is accompanied by a style of credits that became a trademark of David Croft: the caption "You have been watching", followed by vignettes of the main cast.

The series also contains genuine wartime and period songs between scenes, usually brief quotations that have some reference to the theme of the episode or the scene. Many appear on the CD soundtrack issued by CD41, being the same versions used in the series.

Episodes
List of Dad's Army episodes


The television programme lasted nine series and was broadcast over nine years, with 80 episodes in total, including three Christmas specials and an hour-long special. At its peak, the programme regularly gained audiences of 18.5 million.[35] There were also four short specials broadcast as part of Christmas Night with the Stars in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1972; one of which was also restaged as part of the Royal Variety Performance 1975.

Missing episodes
Main article: Dad's Army missing episodes
The first two series were recorded and screened in black-and-white, while series three to nine were recorded and screened in colour. Even so, one episode in series three, "Room at the Bottom", formerly survived only as a 16mm black-and-white film telerecording, made for overseas sales to countries not yet broadcasting in colour; and remains on the official DVD releases in this form. This episode has benefited from colour recovery technology, using a buried colour signal (chroma dots) in the black-and-white film print to restore the episode to colour and was transmitted on 13 December 2008 on BBC Two. The newly restored colour version of "Room at the Bottom" was eventually made commercially available in 2023, when it appeared as an extra on the DVD release Dad's Army: The Missing Episodes, with a specially filmed introduction by Ian Lavender.

Dad's Army was less affected than most from the wiping of videotape, but three second-series episodes remain missing: episode nine "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker", episode eleven "A Stripe for Frazer" and episode 12 "Under Fire". (All three missing episodes were among those remade for BBC Radio with most of the original cast, adapted from the original TV scripts. Audio recordings of all three were included as bonus features on The Complete Series DVD Collection.) Two further series two episodes, "Operation Kilt" and "The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage", were thought lost until 2001.[8] Two of the three missing episodes have since been performed as part of the latest stage show.

In 2008, soundtracks of the missing episode "A Stripe for Frazer" and the 1968 Christmas Night with the Stars segment "Present Arms" were recovered. The soundtrack of "A Stripe for Frazer" has been mixed with animation to replace the missing images.[36] The audio soundtrack for the "Cornish Floral Dance" sketch, from the 1970 episode of Christmas Night with the Stars, has also been recovered.

Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes (2019)
In 2018, UKTV announced plans to recreate the three missing episodes for broadcast on its Gold channel. Mercury Productions, the company responsible for Saluting Dad's Army, Gold's 50th anniversary tribute series, produced the episodes, which were directed by Ben Kellett. The recreations were broadcast in August 2019, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of their original broadcast by the BBC.[37] Kevin McNally and Robert Bathurst were the initial casting announcements as Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson, with Bernard Cribbins portraying Private Godfrey. The full cast was announced in January 2019, with McNally, Bathurst and Cribbins joined by Kevin Eldon, Mathew Horne, David Hayman and Tom Rosenthal. However, Bernard Cribbins subsequently withdrew from the project, and was replaced as Godfrey by Timothy West.

Cast
Kevin McNally as Captain Mainwaring
Robert Bathurst as Sergeant Wilson
Kevin Eldon as Lance Corporal Jones
David Hayman as Private Frazer
Mathew Horne as Private Walker
Timothy West as Private Godfrey
Tom Rosenthal as Private Pike
Tracy-Ann Oberman as Mrs Pike
Simon Ludders as ARP Warden Hodges
David Horovitch as Corporal-Colonel Square
John Biggins as the Verger


Films
1971 film
Main article: Dad's Army (1971 film)
In common with many British sitcoms of that era, Dad's Army was spun-off as a feature film which was released in 1971. Backers Columbia Pictures imposed arbitrary changes, such as recasting Liz Fraser as Mavis Pike and filming locations in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, rather than Thetford in Norfolk, which made the cast unhappy. The director, Norman Cohen, whose idea it was to make the film, was nearly sacked by the studio.: 168 

Jimmy Perry and David Croft wrote the original screenplay. This was expanded by Cohen to try to make it more cinematic; Columbia executives made more changes to plot and pacing. As finally realised, two-thirds of the film consists of the creation of the platoon; this was the contribution of Perry and Croft, and differs in a number of ways from the formation of the platoon as seen in the first series of the television version. The final third shows the platoon in action, rescuing hostages from the church hall where they had been held captive by the crewmen of a downed German aircraft.

Neither the cast nor Perry and Croft were happy with the result. Perry argued for changes to try to reproduce the style of the television series, but with mixed results.

Filming took place from 10 August to 25 September 1970 at Shepperton Studios and on location. After shooting the film, the cast returned to working on the fourth television series.

The film's UK première was on 12 March 1971 at the Columbia Theatre, London. Critical reviews were mixed, but it performed well at the UK box-office. Discussions were held about a possible sequel, to be called Dad's Army and the Secret U-Boat Base, but the project never came to fruition. 


Michael Gambon as Private Godfrey (2014)
2016 film
Main article: Dad's Army (2016 film)
A second film, written by Hamish McColl and directed by Oliver Parker, was released in 2016. The cast included Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring, Bill Nighy as Sergeant Wilson, Tom Courtenay as Lance Corporal Jones, Michael Gambon as Private Godfrey, Blake Harrison as Private Pike, Daniel Mays as Private Walker and Bill Paterson as Private Frazer. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sarah Lancashire and Mark Gatiss also featured. The film was primarily shot on location in Yorkshire. Filming took place on the beach at North Landing, Flamborough Head, Yorkshire and at nearby Bridlington. It opened in February 2016 to mainly negative reviews.

Stage show
Main article: Dad's Army (stage show)

A poster advertising the stage show
In 1975, Dad's Army transferred to the stage as a revue, with songs, familiar scenes from the show and individual "turns" for cast members. It was created by Roger Redfarn, who shared the same agent as the series' writers. Most of the principal cast transferred with it, with the exception of John Laurie, who was replaced by Hamish Roughead.[8] Following James Beck's death two years earlier, Walker was played by John Bardon.[8]

Dad's Army: A Nostalgic Music and Laughter Show of Britain's Finest Hour opened at Billingham in Teesside on 4 September 1975 for a two-week tryout. After cuts and revisions, the show transferred to London's West End and opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 2 October 1975. On the opening night there was a surprise appearance by Chesney Allen, singing the old Flanagan and Allen song Hometown with Arthur Lowe.

The show ran in the West End until 21 February 1976, disrupted twice by bomb scares and then toured the country until 4 September 1976. Clive Dunn was replaced for half the tour by Jack Haig (David Croft's original first choice for the role of Corporal Jones on television). Jeffrey Holland, who went on to star in several later Croft sitcoms, also had a number of roles in the production.

The stage show, billed as Dad's Army—The Musical, was staged in Australia and toured New Zealand in 2004–2005, starring Jon English. Several sections of this stage show were filmed and have subsequently been included as extras on the final Dad's Army DVD.

In April 2007, a new stage show was announced with cast members including Leslie Grantham as Private Walker and Emmerdale actor Peter Martin as Captain Mainwaring. The production contained the episodes "A Stripe for Frazer", "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker", "Room at the Bottom" and "The Deadly Attachment".

In August 2017, a new two-man stage show titled, Dad's Army Radio Hour, opened at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe It starred David Benson and Jack Lane. Between them, the pair voiced the entire cast of Dad's Army, including incidental characters. The episodes adapted from the original radio scripts were "The Deadly Attachment", "The Day the Balloon Went Up", "Brain Versus Brawn", "My British Buddy", "Round and Round Went the Great Big Wheel" and "Mum's Army". The production featured three episodes not adapted for the radio series "When You've Got to Go", "My Brother and I" and "Never Too Old". The show was well received by critics and the David Croft estate for its respectful and uncanny performances. In 2019, the production changed its name to Dad's Army Radio Show and continued to tour nationally throughout the UK until the end of 2021.

Radio series

List of Dad's Army radio episodes
The majority of the television scripts were adapted for BBC Radio 4 with the original cast, although other actors played Walker after James Beck's death (which took place soon after recording and before transmission of the first radio series). Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles were responsible for the adaptation,[8] while wartime BBC announcer John Snagge set the scene for each episode. Different actors were used for some of the minor parts: for example Mollie Sugden played the role of Mrs Fox, and Pearl Hackney played Mrs Pike. The first episode was based on the revised version of events seen in the opening of the film version, rather than on the television pilot. The series ran for three series and 67 episodes from 1974-76.[8] The entire radio series has been released on CD.

Knowles and Snoad developed a radio series, It Sticks Out Half a Mile, which followed Sergeant Wilson, Private Pike and Warden Hodges's attempts to renovate a pier in the fictional town of Frambourne-on-Sea following the end of the war. It was originally intended to star Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier, but Lowe died after recording the pilot episode in 1981. In consequence, Bill Pertwee and Ian Lavender were brought in to replace him. In the event the revised cast recorded a 13-episode series. John Le Mesurier died in November 1983, making another series impossible.

The last radio recording of Dad's Army occurred in 1995, when Jimmy Perry wrote a radio sketch entitled The Boy Who Saved England for the "Full Steam A-Hudd" evening broadcast on BBC Radio 2, transmitted on 3 June 1995 on the occasion of the closure of the BBC's Paris studios in Lower Regent Street. It featured Ian Lavender as Pike, Bill Pertwee as Hodges, Frank Williams as the Vicar and Jimmy Perry as General Haverlock-Seabag.

American adaptation
A pilot episode for an American remake called The Rear Guard, adapted for American viewers by Arthur Julian, was produced by the ABC and broadcast on 10 August 1976, based on the Dad's Army episode "The Deadly Attachment".[8] Set in Long Island, the pilot starred Cliff Norton as Captain Rosatti, Lou Jacobi as Sergeant Raskin and Eddie Foy Jr. as Lance Corporal Wagner. The pilot was considered a failure, so the original tapes were wiped. However, director Hal Cooper kept a copy of the pilot, which was returned to several collectors in 1998. Though further storylines were planned, the series failed to make it past the pilot stage.

Other appearances
Lowe, Le Mesurier, Laurie, Beck, Ridley and Lavender (wearing Pike's signature scarf) appeared as guests in the 22 April 1971 edition of The Morecambe & Wise Show on BBC2 in the "Monty on the Bonty" sketch, with Lowe as Captain Bligh and the others as crewmen on HMS Bounty. Lowe, Le Mesurier and Laurie again made a cameo appearance as their Dad's Army characters in the 1977 Morecambe & Wise Christmas Special. While Elton John is following incomprehensible instructions to find the BBC studios, he encounters them in a steam room. On leaving, Mainwaring calls him a "stupid boy".

Arthur Lowe twice appeared on the BBC children's programme Blue Peter. The first time, in 1973, was with John Le Mesurier, in which the two appeared in costume and in character as Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson. Together they viewed and discussed a mural painted by schoolchildren, featuring the characters from the show at a Christmas party, among whom was Mainwaring's unseen wife Elizabeth – or rather, what the children thought she looked like (Mainwaring remarks "Good grief. What a remarkable likeness!"). Arthur Lowe made a second appearance as Captain Mainwaring on Blue Peter with the Dad's Army van, which would appear in the forthcoming London-Brighton run, and showed presenter John Noakes the vehicle's hidden anti-Nazi defences.[29][59] Later that year, Lowe, Le Mesurier, Dunn, Lavender and Pertwee, along with Jones's van, appeared in character at the finish of the 1974 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

The cast appeared in a 1974 public information film, in character but set in the modern day, in which the platoon demonstrated how to cross the road safely at Pelican crossings. Lowe and Le Mesurier made a final appearance as their Dad's Army characters for a 1982 television commercial advertising Wispa chocolate bars. Clive Dunn made occasional appearances as Lance Corporal Jones at 1940s themed events in the 1980s and 1990s and on television on the BBC Saturday night entertainment show Noel's House Party on 27 November 1993.

Awards
During its original television run, Dad's Army was nominated for multiple British Academy Television Awards, although only won "Best Light Entertainment Programme" in 1971. It was nominated as "Best Situation Comedy" in 1973, 1974 and 1975. In addition, Arthur Lowe was frequently nominated for "Best Light Entertainment Performance" in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1978.

In 2000, the show was voted 13th in a British Film Institute poll of industry professionals of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. In 2004, championed by Phill Jupitus, it came fourth in the BBC poll to find Britain's Best Sitcom with 174,138 votes.

Legacy

Statue of Captain Mainwaring, erected in Thetford in June 2010
In June 2010, a statue of Captain Mainwaring was erected in the Norfolk town of Thetford where most of the exteriors for the TV series were filmed. The statue features Captain Mainwaring sitting to attention on a simple bench in Home Guard uniform, with his swagger stick across his knees. The statue is mounted at the end of a winding brick pathway with a Union Flag patterned arrowhead to reflect the opening credits of the TV series and the sculpture has been designed so that members of the public can sit beside Captain Mainwaring and have their photograph taken. The statue was vandalised not long after the unveiling by a 10-year-old boy, who kicked it for ten minutes and broke off the statue's glasses, throwing them into a nearby river. The statue has since been fixed.

Several references to Dad's Army have been made in other television series. In a 1995 episode of Bottom, titled "Hole", Richie shouts Lance Corporal Jones's catchphrase while stuck up a Ferris wheel set to be demolished the following day. The British sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart paid tribute to Dad's Army in episode one of its second series in 1995, "Don't Get Around Much Any More". Here, lead character Gary Sparrow (Nicholas Lyndhurst) – a time-traveller from the 1990s – goes into a bank in 1941 and meets a bank manager named Mainwaring (Alec Linstead) and his chief clerk, Wilson (Terrence Hardiman), both of whom are in the Home Guard. When he hears the names Mainwaring and Wilson, Gary begins singing the Dad's Army theme song.[72] In addition, a brief visual tribute to Dad's Army is made at the start of the episode "Rag Week" from Ben Elton's 1990s sitcom The Thin Blue Line: a shopfront bears the name "Mainwaring's".

In June 2018 the Royal Mail issued a set of eight stamps, featuring the main characters and their catchphrases, to mark the comedy's 50th anniversary.

In 2020, Niles Schilder, for the Dad's Army Appreciation Society, wrote four short scripts which detailed how the characters from the series would have, in the author's opinion, dealt with the events of that year. Titles of the scripts included Dad’s Army Negotiates Brexit and An Unauthorised Gathering.

Cultural influence

A pub in Shoeburyness named (albeit incorrectly) after Arthur Lowe's character
The characters of Dad's Army and their catchphrases are well known in the UK due to the popularity of the series when originally shown and the frequency of repeats.

Jimmy Perry recalls that before writing the sitcom, the Home Guard was a largely forgotten aspect of Britain's defence in the Second World War, something which the series rectified.  In a 1972 Radio Times interview, Arthur Lowe expressed surprise at the programme's success:

We expected the show to have limited appeal, to the age group that lived through the war and the Home Guard. We didn't expect what has happened – that children from the age of five upwards would enjoy it too.

By focusing on the comic aspects of the Home Guard in a cosy south coast setting, the television series distorted the popular perception of the organisation. Its characters represented the older volunteers within the Home Guard, but largely ignored the large numbers of teenagers and factory workers who also served. Accounts from Home Guard members and their regimental publications inspired Norman Longmate's history The Real Dad's Army (1974).

Media releases
Main articles: List of Dad's Army books and memorabilia and List of Dad's Army audio releases
The first DVD releases of Dad's Army were two "best of" collections, released by the BBC and distributed by 2 Entertain, in October 2001 and September 2002. The first series and the surviving episodes of the second series, along with the documentary Dad's Army: Missing Presumed Wiped, were released in September 2004,[80] while the final series was released in May 2007.[81] In November 2007, the final episodes, the three specials "Battle of the Giants!", "My Brother and I" and "The Love of Three Oranges", were released, along with Dad's Army: The Passing Years documentary, several Christmas Night with the Stars sketches, and excerpts from the 1975-76 stage show.[82] From the third series DVD, We Are the Boys..., a short individual biographical documentary about the main actors and the characters they portrayed on the programme, was included as a special feature.

The Columbia film adaptation is separately available; as this is not a BBC production, it is not included in the box set.

In 1973 the series was adapted into a comic strip, drawn by Bill Titcombe, which was published in daily newspapers in the UK. These cartoon strips were subsequently collected together and published in book form, by Piccolo Books, in paperback.


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The Golden Age of Radio

Also known as the old-time radio (OTR) era, was an era of radio in the United States where it was the dominant electronic home entertainment medium. It began with the birth of commercial radio broadcasting in the early 1920s and lasted through the 1950s, when television gradually superseded radio as the medium of choice for scripted programming, variety and dramatic shows.

Radio was the first broadcast medium, and during this period people regularly tuned in to their favourite radio programs, and families gathered to listen to the home radio in the evening. According to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners. A variety of new entertainment formats and genres were created for the new medium, many of which later migrated to television: radio plays, mystery serials, soap operas, quiz shows, talent shows, daytime and evening variety hours, situation comedies, play-by-play sports, children's shows, cooking shows, and more.

In the 1950s, television surpassed radio as the most popular broadcast medium, and commercial radio programming shifted to narrower formats of news, talk, sports and music. Religious broadcasters, listener-supported public radio and college stations provide their own distinctive formats.

Origins

A family listening to the first broadcasts around 1920 with a crystal radio. The crystal radio, a legacy from the pre-broadcast era, could not power a loudspeaker so the family must share earphones
During the first three decades of radio, from 1887 to about 1920, the technology of transmitting sound was undeveloped; the information-carrying ability of radio waves was the same as a telegraph; the radio signal could be either on or off. Radio communication was by wireless telegraphy; at the sending end, an operator tapped on a switch which caused the radio transmitter to produce a series of pulses of radio waves which spelled out text messages in Morse code. At the receiver these sounded like beeps, requiring an operator who knew Morse code to translate them back to text. This type of radio was used exclusively for person-to-person text communication for commercial, diplomatic and military purposes and hobbyists; broadcasting did not exist.

The broadcasts of live drama, comedy, music and news that characterize the Golden Age of Radio had a precedent in the Théâtrophone, commercially introduced in Paris in 1890 and available as late as 1932. It allowed subscribers to eavesdrop on live stage performances and hear news reports by means of a network of telephone lines. The development of radio eliminated the wires and subscription charges from this concept.

Between 1900 and 1920 the first technology for transmitting sound by radio was developed, AM (amplitude modulation), and AM broadcasting sprang up around 1920.

On Christmas Eve 1906, Reginald Fessenden is said to have broadcast the first radio program, consisting of some violin playing and passages from the Bible. While Fessenden's role as an inventor and early radio experimenter is not in dispute, several contemporary radio researchers have questioned whether the Christmas Eve broadcast took place, or whether the date was, in fact, several weeks earlier. The first apparent published reference to the event was made in 1928 by H. P. Davis, Vice President of Westinghouse, in a lecture given at Harvard University. In 1932 Fessenden cited the Christmas Eve 1906 broadcast event in a letter he wrote to Vice President S. M. Kinter of Westinghouse. Fessenden's wife Helen recounts the broadcast in her book Fessenden: Builder of Tomorrows (1940), eight years after Fessenden's death. The issue of whether the 1906 Fessenden broadcast actually happened is discussed in Donna Halper's article "In Search of the Truth About Fessenden"[2] and also in James O'Neal's essays.[3][4] An annotated argument supporting Fessenden as the world's first radio broadcaster was offered in 2006 by Dr. John S. Belrose, Radioscientist Emeritus at the Communications Research Centre Canada, in his essay "Fessenden's 1906 Christmas Eve broadcast."

It was not until after the Titanic catastrophe in 1912 that radio for mass communication came into vogue, inspired first by the work of amateur ("ham") radio operators. Radio was especially important during World War I as it was vital for air and naval operations. World War I brought about major developments in radio, superseding the Morse code of the wireless telegraph with the vocal communication of the wireless telephone, through advancements in vacuum tube technology and the introduction of the transceiver.

After the war, numerous radio stations were born in the United States and set the standard for later radio programs. The first radio news program was broadcast on August 31, 1920, on the station 8MK in Detroit; owned by The Detroit News, the station covered local election results. This was followed in 1920 with the first commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA, being established in Pittsburgh. The first regular entertainment programs were broadcast in 1922, and on March 10, Variety carried the front-page headline: "Radio Sweeping Country: 1,000,000 Sets in Use." A highlight of this time was the first Rose Bowl being broadcast on January 1, 1923, on the Los Angeles station KHJ.

Growth of radio
Broadcast radio in the United States underwent a period of rapid change through the decade of the 1920s. Technology advances, better regulation, rapid consumer adoption, and the creation of broadcast networks transformed radio from a consumer curiosity into the mass media powerhouse that defined the Golden Age of Radio.

Consumer adoption
Through the decade of the 1920s, the purchase of radios by United States homes continued, and accelerated. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) released figures in 1925 stating that 19% of United States homes owned a radio. The triode and regenerative circuit made amplified, vacuum tube radios widely available to consumers by the second half of the 1920s. The advantage was obvious: several people at once in a home could now easily listen to their radio at the same time. In 1930, 40% of the nation's households owned a radio,[8] a figure that was much higher in suburban and large metropolitan areas. The superheterodyne receiver and other inventions refined radios even further in the next decade; even as the Great Depression ravaged the country in the 1930s, radio would stay at the centre of American life. 83% of American homes would own a radio by 1940.

Government regulation
Although radio was well established with United States consumers by the mid-1920s, regulation of the broadcast medium presented its own challenges. Until 1926, broadcast radio power and frequency use was regulated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, until a legal challenge rendered the agency powerless to do so. Congress responded by enacting the Radio Act of 1927, which included the formation of the Federal Radio Commission (FRC).

One of the FRC's most important early actions was the adoption of General Order 40, which divided stations on the AM band into three power level categories, which became known as Local, Regional, and Clear Channel, and reorganized station assignments. Based on this plan, effective 3:00 a.m. Eastern time on November 11, 1928, most of the country's stations were assigned to new transmitting frequencies.

Broadcast networks
The final element needed to make the Golden Age of Radio possible focused on the question of distribution: the ability for multiple radio stations to simultaneously broadcast the same content, and this would be solved with the concept of a radio network. The earliest radio programs of the 1920s were largely unsponsored; radio stations were a service designed to sell radio receivers. In early 1922, American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T) announced the beginning of advertisem*nt-supported broadcasting on its owned stations, and plans for the development of the first radio network using its telephone lines to transmit the content. In July 1926, AT&T abruptly decided to exit the broadcasting field, and signed an agreement to sell its entire network operations to a group headed by RCA, which used the assets to form the National Broadcasting Company. Four radio networks had formed by 1934. These were:

National Broadcasting Company Red Network (NBC Red), launched November 15, 1926. Originally founded as the National Broadcasting Company in late 1926, the company was almost immediately forced to split under antitrust laws to form NBC Red and NBC Blue. When, in 1942, NBC Blue was sold and renamed the Blue Network, this network would go back to calling itself simply the National Broadcasting Company Radio Network (NBC).
National Broadcasting Company Blue Network (NBC Blue); launched January 10, 1927, split from NBC Red. NBC Blue was sold in 1942 and became the Blue Network, and it in turn transferred its assets to a new company, the American Broadcasting Company on June 15, 1945. That network identified itself as the American Broadcasting Company Radio Network (ABC).
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), launched September 18, 1927. After an initially struggling attempt to compete with the NBC networks, CBS gained new momentum when William S. Paley was installed as company president.
Mutual Broadcasting System (Mutual), launched September 29, 1934. Mutual was initially run as a cooperative in which the flagship stations owned the network, not the other way around as was the case with the other three radio networks.


Programming
In the period before and after the advent of the broadcast network, new forms of entertainment needed to be created to fill the time of a station's broadcast day. Many of the formats born in this era continued into the television and digital eras. In the beginning of the Golden Age, network programs were almost exclusively broadcast live, as the national networks prohibited the airing of recorded programs until the late 1940s because of the inferior sound quality of phonograph discs, the only practical recording medium at that time. As a result, network prime-time shows would be performed twice, once for each coast.


Rehearsal for the World War II radio show You Can't Do Business with Hitler with John Flynn and Virginia Moore. This series of programs, broadcast at least once weekly by more than 790 radio stations in the United States, was written and produced by the radio section of the Office of War Information (OWI).
Live events
Coverage of live events included musical concerts and play-by-play sports broadcasts.

News
The capability of the new medium to get information to people created the format of modern radio news: headlines, remote reporting, sidewalk interviews (such as Vox Pop), panel discussions, weather reports, and farm reports. The entry of radio into the realm of news triggered a feud between the radio and newspaper industries in the mid-1930s, eventually culminating in newspapers trumping up exaggerated [citation needed] reports of a mass hysteria from the (entirely fictional) radio presentation of The War of the Worlds, which had been presented as a faux newscast.

Musical features
The sponsored musical feature soon became one of the most popular program formats. Most early radio sponsorship came in the form of selling the naming rights to the program, as evidenced by such programs as The A&P Gypsies, Champion Spark Plug Hour, The Clicquot Club Eskimos, and King Biscuit Time; commercials, as they are known in the modern era, were still relatively uncommon and considered intrusive. During the 1930s and 1940s, the leading orchestras were heard often through big band remotes, and NBC's Monitor continued such remotes well into the 1950s by broadcasting live music from New York City jazz clubs to rural America. Singers such as Harriet Lee and Wendell Hall became popular fixtures on network radio beginning in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Local stations often had staff organists such as Jesse Crawford playing popular tunes.

Classical music programs on the air included The Voice of Firestone and The Bell Telephone Hour. Texaco sponsored the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts; the broadcasts, now sponsored by the Toll Brothers, continue to this day around the world, and are one of the few examples of live classical music still broadcast on radio. One of the most notable of all classical music radio programs of the Golden Age of Radio featured the celebrated Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which had been created especially for him. At that time, nearly all classical musicians and critics considered Toscanini the greatest living maestro. Popular songwriters such as George Gershwin were also featured on radio. (Gershwin, in addition to frequent appearances as a guest, had his own program in 1934.) The New York Philharmonic also had weekly concerts on radio. There was no dedicated classical music radio station like NPR at that time, so classical music programs had to share the network they were broadcast on with more popular ones, much as in the days of television before the creation of NET and PBS.

Country music also enjoyed popularity. National Barn Dance, begun on Chicago's WLS in 1924, was picked up by NBC Radio in 1933. In 1925, WSM Barn Dance went on the air from Nashville. It was renamed the Grand Ole Opry in 1927 and NBC carried portions from 1944 to 1956. NBC also aired The Red Foley Show from 1951 to 1961, and ABC Radio carried Ozark Jubilee from 1953 to 1961.

Comedy
Radio attracted top comedy talents from vaudeville and Hollywood for many years: Bing Crosby, Abbott and Costello, Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Billie Burke, Bob Burns, Judy Canova, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante, Burns and Allen, Phil Harris, Edgar Bergen, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jean Shepherd, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn. Situational comedies also gained popularity, such as Amos 'n' Andy, Easy Aces, Ethel and Albert, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Goldbergs, The Great Gildersleeve, The Halls of Ivy (which featured screen star Ronald Colman and his wife Benita Hume), Meet Corliss Archer, Meet Millie, and Our Miss Brooks.

Radio comedy ran the gamut from the small town humor of Lum and Abner, Herb Shriner and Minnie Pearl to the dialect characterizations of Mel Blanc and the caustic sarcasm of Henry Morgan. Gags galore were delivered weekly on Stop Me If You've Heard This One and Can You Top This?,[18] panel programs devoted to the art of telling jokes. Quiz shows were lampooned on It Pays to Be Ignorant, and other memorable parodies were presented by such satirists as Spike Jones, Stoopnagle and Budd, Stan Freberg and Bob and Ray. British comedy reached American shores in a major assault when NBC carried The Goon Show in the mid-1950s.


Some shows originated as stage productions: Clifford Goldsmith's play What a Life was reworked into NBC's popular, long-running The Aldrich Family (1939–1953) with the familiar catchphrases "Henry! Henry Aldrich!," followed by Henry's answer, "Coming, Mother!" Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway hit, You Can't Take It with You (1936), became a weekly situation comedy heard on Mutual (1944) with Everett Sloane and later on NBC (1951) with Walter Brennan.

Other shows were adapted from comic strips, such as Blondie, Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, The Gumps, Li'l Abner, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye the Sailor, Red Ryder, Reg'lar Fellers, Terry and the Pirates and Tillie the Toiler. Bob Montana's redheaded teen of comic strips and comic books was heard on radio's Archie Andrews from 1943 to 1953. The Timid Soul was a 1941–1942 comedy based on cartoonist H. T. Webster's famed Caspar Milquetoast character, and Robert L. Ripley's Believe It or Not! was adapted to several different radio formats during the 1930s and 1940s. Conversely, some radio shows gave rise to spinoff comic strips, such as My Friend Irma starring Marie Wilson.

Soap operas
The first program generally considered to be a daytime serial drama by scholars of the genre is Painted Dreams, which premiered on WGN on October 20, 1930. The first networked daytime serial is Clara, Lu, 'n Em, which started in a daytime time slot on February 15, 1932. As daytime serials became popular in the early 1930s, they became known as soap operas because many were sponsored by soap products and detergents. On November 25, 1960, the last four daytime radio dramas—Young Dr. Malone, Right to Happiness, The Second Mrs. Burton and Ma Perkins, all broadcast on the CBS Radio Network—were brought to an end.

Children's programming
The line-up of late afternoon adventure serials included Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders, The Cisco Kid, Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, Captain Midnight, and The Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters. Badges, rings, decoding devices and other radio premiums offered on these adventure shows were often allied with a sponsor's product, requiring the young listeners to mail in a boxtop from a breakfast cereal or other proof of purchase.

Radio plays
Radio plays were presented on such programs as 26 by Corwin, NBC Short Story, Arch Oboler's Plays, Quiet, Please, and CBS Radio Workshop. Orson Welles's The Mercury Theatre on the Air and The Campbell Playhouse were considered by many critics to be the finest radio drama anthologies ever presented. They usually starred Welles in the leading role, along with celebrity guest stars such as Margaret Sullavan or Helen Hayes, in adaptations from literature, Broadway, and/or films. They included such titles as Liliom, Oliver Twist (a title now feared lost), A Tale of Two Cities, Lost Horizon, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It was on Mercury Theatre that Welles presented his celebrated-but-infamous 1938 adaptation of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, formatted to sound like a breaking news program. Theatre Guild on the Air presented adaptations of classical and Broadway plays. Their Shakespeare adaptations included a one-hour Macbeth starring Maurice Evans and Judith Anderson, and a 90-minute Hamlet, starring John Gielgud.[22] Recordings of many of these programs survive.

During the 1940s, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, famous for playing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in films, repeated their characterizations on radio on The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which featured both original stories and episodes directly adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. None of the episodes in which Rathbone and Bruce starred on the radio program were filmed with the two actors as Holmes and Watson, so radio became the only medium in which audiences were able to experience Rathbone and Bruce appearing in some of the more famous Holmes stories, such as "The Speckled Band". There were also many dramatizations of Sherlock Holmes stories on radio without Rathbone and Bruce.

During the latter part of his career, celebrated actor John Barrymore starred in a radio program, Streamlined Shakespeare, which featured him in a series of one-hour adaptations of Shakespeare plays, many of which Barrymore never appeared in either on stage or in films, such as Twelfth Night (in which he played both Malvolio and Sir Toby Belch), and Macbeth.

Lux Radio Theatre and The Screen Guild Theater presented adaptations of Hollywood movies, performed before a live audience, usually with cast members from the original films. Suspense, Escape, The Mysterious Traveler and Inner Sanctum Mystery were popular thriller anthology series. Leading writers who created original material for radio included Norman Corwin, Carlton E. Morse, David Goodis, Archibald MacLeish, Arthur Miller, Arch Oboler, Wyllis Cooper, Rod Serling, Jay Bennett, and Irwin Shaw.

Game shows
Game shows saw their beginnings in radio. One of the first was Information Please in 1938, and one of the first major successes was Dr. I.Q. in 1939. Winner Take All, which premiered in 1946, was the first to use lockout devices and feature returning champions.

A relative of the game show, which would be called the giveaway show in contemporary media, typically involved giving sponsored products to studio audience members, people randomly called by telephone, or both. An early example of this show was the 1939 show Pot o' Gold, but the breakout hit of this type was ABC's Stop the Music in 1948. Winning a prize generally required knowledge of what was being aired on the show at that moment, which led to criticism of the giveaway show as a form of "buying an audience". Giveaway shows were extremely popular through 1948 and 1949. They were often panned as low-brow, and an unsuccessful attempt was even made by the FCC to ban them (as an illegal lottery) in August 1949.[23]

Broadcast production methods
The RCA Type 44-BX microphone had two live faces and two dead ones. Thus actors could face each other and react. An actor could give the effect of leaving the room by simply moving their head toward the dead face of the microphone.

The scripts were paper-clipped together. It has been disputed whether or not actors and actresses would drop finished pages to the carpeted floor after use.


Radio stations
Despite a general ban on use of recordings on broadcasts by radio networks through the late 1940s, "reference recordings" on phonograph disc were made of many programs as they were being broadcast, for review by the sponsor and for the network's own archival purposes. With the development of high-fidelity magnetic wire and tape recording in the years following World War II, the networks became more open to airing recorded programs and the prerecording of shows became more common.

Local stations, however, had always been free to use recordings and sometimes made substantial use of pre-recorded syndicated programs distributed on pressed (as opposed to individually recorded) transcription discs.

Recording was done using a cutting lathe and acetate discs. Programs were normally recorded at 331⁄3 rpm on 16 inch discs, the standard format used for such "electrical transcriptions" from the early 1930s through the 1950s. Sometimes, the groove was cut starting at the inside of the disc and running to the outside. This was useful when the program to be recorded was longer than 15 minutes so required more than one disc side. By recording the first side outside in, the second inside out, and so on, the sound quality at the disc change-over points would match and result in a more seamless playback. An inside start also had the advantage that the thread of material cut from the disc's surface, which had to be kept out of the path of the cutting stylus, was naturally thrown toward the centre of the disc so was automatically out of the way. When cutting an outside start disc, a brush could be used to keep it out of the way by sweeping it toward the middle of the disc. Well-equipped recording lathes used the vacuum from a water aspirator to pick it up as it was cut and deposit it in a water-filled bottle. In addition to convenience, this served a safety purpose, as the cellulose nitrate thread was highly flammable and a loose accumulation of it combusted violently if ignited.

Most recordings of radio broadcasts were made at a radio network's studios, or at the facilities of a network-owned or affiliated station, which might have four or more lathes. A small local station often had none. Two lathes were required to capture a program longer than 15 minutes without losing parts of it while discs were flipped over or changed, along with a trained technician to operate them and monitor the recording while it was being made. However, some surviving recordings were produced by local stations.

When a substantial number of copies of an electrical transcription were required, as for the distribution of a syndicated program, they were produced by the same process used to make ordinary records. A master recording was cut, then electroplated to produce a stamper from which pressings in vinyl (or, in the case of transcription discs pressed before about 1935, shellac) were moulded in a record press.

Armed Forces Radio Service


Frank Sinatra and Alida Valli converse over Armed Forces Radio Service during World War II
The Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) had its origins in the U.S. War Department's quest to improve troop morale. This quest began with short-wave broadcasts of educational and information programs to troops in 1940. In 1941, the War Department began issuing "Buddy Kits" (B-Kits) to departing troops, which consisted of radios, 78 rpm records and electrical transcription discs of radio shows. However, with the entrance of the United States into World War II, the War Department decided that it needed to improve the quality and quantity of its offerings.

This began with the broadcasting of its own original variety programs. Command Performance was the first of these, produced for the first time on March 1, 1942. On May 26, 1942, the Armed Forces Radio Service was formally established. Originally, its programming comprised network radio shows with the commercials removed. However, it soon began producing original programming, such as Mail Call, G.I. Journal, Jubilee and GI Jive. At its peak in 1945, the Service produced around 20 hours of original programming each week.

From 1943 until 1949 the AFRS also broadcast programs developed through the collaborative efforts of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and the Columbia Broadcasting System in support of America's cultural diplomacy initiatives and President Franklin Roosevelt's Good Neighbour policy. Included among the popular shows was Viva America which showcased leading musical artists from both North and South America for the entertainment of America's troops. Included among the regular performers were: Alfredo Antonini, Juan Arvizu, Nestor Mesta Chayres, Kate Smith,[26] and John Serry Sr.

After the war, the AFRS continued providing programming to troops in Europe. During the 1950s and early 1960s it presented performances by the Army's only symphonic orchestra ensemble—the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra. It also provided programming for future wars that the United States was involved in. It survives today as a component of the American Forces Network (AFN).

All of the shows aired by the AFRS during the Golden Age were recorded as electrical transcription discs, vinyl copies of which were shipped to stations overseas to be broadcast to the troops. People in the United States rarely ever heard programming from the AFRS,[31] though AFRS recordings of Golden Age network shows were occasionally broadcast on some domestic stations beginning in the 1950s.

In some cases, the AFRS disc is the only surviving recording of a program.

Home radio recordings in the United States
There was some home recording of radio broadcasts in the 1930s and 1940s. Examples from as early as 1930 have been documented. During these years, home recordings were made with disc recorders, most of which were only capable of storing about four minutes of a radio program on each side of a twelve-inch 78 rpm record. Most home recordings were made on even shorter-playing ten-inch or smaller discs. Some home disc recorders offered the option of the 331⁄3 rpm speed used for electrical transcriptions, allowing a recording more than twice as long to be made, although with reduced audio quality. Office dictation equipment was sometimes pressed into service for making recordings of radio broadcasts, but the audio quality of these devices was poor and the resulting recordings were in odd formats that had to be played back on similar equipment. Due to the expense of recorders and the limitations of the recording media, home recording of broadcasts was not common during this period and it was usually limited to brief excerpts.

The lack of suitable home recording equipment was somewhat relieved in 1947 with the availability of magnetic wire recorders for domestic use. These were capable of recording an hour-long broadcast on a single small spool of wire, and if a high-quality radio's audio output was recorded directly, rather than by holding a microphone up to its speaker, the recorded sound quality was very good. However, because the wire cost money and, like magnetic tape, could be repeatedly re-used to make new recordings, only a few complete broadcasts appear to have survived on this medium. In fact, there was little home recording of complete radio programs until the early 1950s, when increasingly affordable reel-to-reel tape recorders for home use were introduced to the market.

Recording media
Electrical transcription discs

The War of the Worlds radio broadcast by Orson Welles on electrical transcription disc
Before the early 1950s, when radio networks and local stations wanted to preserve a live broadcast, they did so by means of special phonograph records known as "electrical transcriptions" (ETs), made by cutting a sound-modulated groove into a blank disc. At first, in the early 1930s, the blanks varied in both size and composition, but most often they were simply bare aluminum and the groove was indented rather than cut. Typically, these very early recordings were not made by the network or radio station, but by a private recording service contracted by the broadcast sponsor or one of the performers. The bare aluminum discs were typically 10 or 12 inches in diameter and recorded at the then-standard speed of 78 rpm, which meant that several disc sides were required to accommodate even a 15-minute program. By about 1936, 16-inch aluminum-based discs coated with cellulose nitrate lacquer, commonly known as acetates and recorded at a speed of 331⁄3 rpm, had been adopted by the networks and individual radio stations as the standard medium for recording broadcasts. The making of such recordings, at least for some purposes, then became routine. Some discs were recorded using a "hill and dale" vertically modulated groove, rather than the "lateral" side-to-side modulation found on the records being made for home use at that time. The large slow-speed discs could easily contain fifteen minutes on each side, allowing an hour-long program to be recorded on only two discs. The lacquer was softer than shellac or vinyl and wore more rapidly, allowing only a few playbacks with the heavy pickups and steel needles then in use before deterioration became audible.

During World War II, aluminum became a necessary material for the war effort and was in short supply. This caused an alternative to be sought for the base on which to coat the lacquer. Glass, despite its obvious disadvantage of fragility, had occasionally been used in earlier years because it could provide a perfectly smooth and even supporting surface for mastering and other critical applications. Glass base recording blanks came into general use for the duration of the war.

Magnetic wire recording
In the late 1940s, wire recorders became a readily obtainable means of recording radio programs. On a per-minute basis, it was less expensive to record a broadcast on wire than on discs. The one-hour program that required the four sides of two 16-inch discs could be recorded intact on a single spool of wire less than three inches in diameter and about half an inch thick. The audio fidelity of a good wire recording was comparable to acetate discs and by comparison the wire was practically indestructible, but it was soon rendered obsolete by the more manageable and easily edited medium of magnetic tape.

Reel-to-reel tape recording
Bing Crosby became the first major proponent of magnetic tape recording for radio, and he was the first to use it on network radio, after he did a demonstration program in 1947. Tape had several advantages over earlier recording methods. Running at a sufficiently high speed, it could achieve higher fidelity than both electrical transcription discs and magnetic wire. Discs could be edited only by copying parts of them to a new disc, and the copying entailed a loss of audio quality. Wire could be divided up and the ends spliced together by knotting, but wire was difficult to handle and the crude splices were too noticeable. Tape could be edited by cutting it with a blade and neatly joining ends together with adhesive tape. By early 1949, the transition from live performances preserved on discs to performances pre-recorded on magnetic tape for later broadcast was complete for network radio programs. However, for the physical distribution of pre-recorded programming to individual stations, 16-inch 331⁄3 rpm vinyl pressings, less expensive to produce in quantities of identical copies than tapes, continued to be standard throughout the 1950s.

Availability of recordings
The great majority of pre-World War II live radio broadcasts are lost. Many were never recorded; few recordings antedate the early 1930s. Beginning then several of the longer-running radio dramas have their archives complete or nearly complete. The earlier the date, the less likely it is that a recording survives. However, a good number of syndicated programs from this period have survived because copies were distributed far and wide. Recordings of live network broadcasts from the World War II years were preserved in the form of pressed vinyl copies issued by the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) and survive in relative abundance. Syndicated programs from World War II and later years have nearly all survived. The survival of network programming from this time frame is more inconsistent; the networks started prerecording their formerly live shows on magnetic tape for subsequent network broadcast, but did not physically distribute copies, and the expensive tapes, unlike electrical transcription ("ET") discs, could be "wiped" and re-used (especially since, in the age of emerging trends such as television and music radio, such recordings were believed to have virtually no rerun or resale value). Thus, while some prime time network radio series from this era exist in full or almost in full, especially the most famous and longest-lived of them, less prominent or shorter-lived series (such as serials) may have only a handful of extant episodes. Airchecks, off-the-air recordings of complete shows made by, or at the behest of, individuals for their own private use, sometimes help to fill in such gaps. The contents of privately made recordings of live broadcasts from the first half of the 1930s can be of particular interest, as little live material from that period survives. Unfortunately, the sound quality of very early private recordings is often very poor, although in some cases this is largely due to the use of an incorrect playback stylus, which can also badly damage some unusual types of discs.

Most of the Golden Age programs in circulation among collectors—whether on analogue tape, CD, or in the form of MP3s—originated from analogue 16-inch transcription disc, although some are off-the-air AM recordings. But in many cases, the circulating recordings are corrupted (decreased in quality), because lossless digital recording for the home market did not come until the very end of the twentieth century.

Collectors made and shared recordings on analogue magnetic tapes, the only practical, relatively inexpensive medium, first on reels, then cassettes. "Sharing" usually meant making a duplicate tape. They connected two recorders, playing on one and recording on the other. Analog recordings are never perfect, and copying an analogue recording multiplies the imperfections. With the oldest recordings this can even mean it went out the speaker of one machine and in via the microphone of the other. The muffled sound, dropouts, sudden changes in sound quality, unsteady pitch, and other defects heard all too often are almost always accumulated tape copy defects. In addition, magnetic recordings, unless preserved archivally, are gradually damaged by the Earth's magnetic field.

The audio quality of the source discs, when they have survived unscathed and are accessed and dubbed anew, is usually found to be reasonably clear and undistorted, sometimes startlingly good, although like all phonograph records they are vulnerable to wear and the effects of scuffs, scratches, and ground-in dust. Many shows from the 1940s have survived only in edited AFRS versions, although some exist in both the original and AFRS forms.

As of 2020, the Old Time Radio collection at the Internet Archive contains 5,121 recordings. An active group of collectors makes digitally available, via CD or download, large collections of programs. RadioEchoes.com offers 98,949 episodes in their collection, but not all is old-time radio.

Copyright status
Unlike film, television, and print items from the era, the copyright status of most recordings from the Golden Age of Radio is unclear. This is because, prior to 1972, the United States delegated the copyrighting of sound recordings to the individual states, many of which offered more generous common law copyright protections than the federal government offered for other media (some offered perpetual copyright, which has since been abolished; under the Music Modernization Act of September 2018, any sound recording 95 years old or older will be thrust into the public domain regardless of state law). The only exceptions are AFRS original productions, which are considered work of the United States government and thus both ineligible for federal copyright and outside the jurisdiction of any state; these programs are firmly in the public domain (this does not apply to programs carried by AFRS but produced by commercial networks).

In practice, most old-time radio recordings are treated as orphan works: although there may still be a valid copyright on the program, it is seldom enforced. The copyright on an individual sound recording is distinct from the federal copyright for the underlying material (such as a published script, music, or in the case of adaptations, the original film or television material), and in many cases it is impossible to determine where or when the original recording was made or if the recording was copyrighted in that state. The U.S. Copyright Office states "there are a variety of legal regimes governing protection of pre-1972 sound recordings in the various states, and the scope of protection and of exceptions and limitations to that protection is unclear."[39] For example, New York has issued contradicting rulings on whether or not common law exists in that state; the most recent ruling, 2016's Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio, holds that there is no such copyright in New York in regard to public performance.[40] Further complicating matters is that certain examples in case law have implied that radio broadcasts (and faithful reproductions thereof), because they were distributed freely to the public over the air, may not be eligible for copyright in and of themselves. The Internet Archive and other organizations that distribute public domain and open-source audio recordings maintain extensive archives of old-time radio programs.

Legacy
United States
Some old-time radio shows continued on the air, although in ever-dwindling numbers, throughout the 1950s, even after their television equivalents had conquered the general public. One factor which helped to kill off old-time radio entirely was the evolution of popular music (including the development of rock and roll), which led to the birth of the top 40 radio format. A top 40 show could be produced in a small studio in a local station with minimal staff. This displaced full-service network radio and hastened the end of the golden-age era of radio drama by 1962. (Radio as a broadcast medium would survive, thanks in part to the proliferation of the transistor radio, and permanent installation in vehicles, making the medium far more portable than television). Full-service stations that did not adopt either top 40 or the mellower beautiful music or MOR formats eventually developed all-news radio in the mid-1960s.

Scripted radio comedy and drama in the vein of old-time radio has a limited presence on U.S. radio. Several radio theatre series are still in production in the United States, usually airing on Sunday nights. These include original series such as Imagination Theatre and a radio adaptation of The Twilight Zone TV series, as well as rerun compilations such as the popular daily series When Radio Was and USA Radio Network's Golden Age of Radio Theatre, and weekly programs such as The Big Broadcast on WAMU, hosted by Murray Horwitz. These shows usually air in late nights and/or on weekends on small AM stations. Carl Amari's nationally syndicated radio show Hollywood 360 features 5 old-time radio episodes each week during his 5-hour broadcast. Amari's show is heard on 100+ radio stations coast-to-coast and in 168 countries on American Forces Radio. Local rerun compilations are also heard, primarily on public radio stations. Sirius XM Radio maintains a full-time Radio Classics channel devoted to rebroadcasts of vintage radio shows.

Starting in 1974, Garrison Keillor, through his syndicated two-hour-long program A Prairie Home Companion, has provided a living museum of the production, tone and listener's experience of this era of radio for several generations after its demise. Produced live in theaters throughout the country, using the same sound effects and techniques of the era, it ran through 2016 with Keillor as host. The program included segments that were close renditions (in the form of parody) of specific genres of this era, including Westerns ("Dusty and Lefty, The Lives of the Cowboys"), detective procedurals ("Guy Noir, Private Eye") and even advertising through fictional commercials. Keillor also wrote a novel, WLT: A Radio Romance based on a radio station of this era—including a personally narrated version for the ultimate in verisimilitude. Upon Keillor's retirement, replacement host Chris Thile chose to reboot the show (since renamed Live from Here after the syndicator cut ties with Keillor) and eliminate much of the old-time radio trappings of the format; the show was ultimately canceled in 2020 due to financial and logistics problems.

Vintage shows and new audio productions in America are accessible more widely from recordings or by satellite and web broadcasters, rather than over conventional AM and FM radio. The National Audio Theatre Festival is a national organization and yearly conference keeping the audio arts—especially audio drama—alive, and continues to involve long-time voice actors and OTR veterans in its ranks. Its predecessor, the Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop, was first hosted by Jim Jordan, of Fibber McGee and Molly fame, and Norman Corwin advised the organization.

One of the longest running radio programs celebrating this era is The Golden Days of Radio, which was hosted on the Armed Forces Radio Service for more than 20 years and overall for more than 50 years by Frank Bresee, who also played "Little Beaver" on the Red Ryder program as a child actor.

One of the very few still-running shows from the earlier era of radio is a Christian program entitled Unshackled! The weekly half-hour show, produced in Chicago by Pacific Garden Mission, has been continuously broadcast since 1950. The shows are created using techniques from the 1950s (including home-made sound effects) and are broadcast across the U.S. and around the world by thousands of radio stations.

Today, radio performers of the past appear at conventions that feature re-creations of classic shows, as well as music, memorabilia and historical panels. The largest of these events was the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention, held in Newark, New Jersey, which held its final convention in October 2011 after 36 years. Others include REPS in Seattle (June), SPERDVAC in California, the Cincinnati OTR & Nostalgia Convention (April), and the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention (September). Veterans of the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention, including Chairperson Steven M. Lewis of The Gotham Radio Players, Maggie Thompson, publisher of the Comic Book Buyer's Guide, Craig Wichman of audio drama troupe Quicksilver Audio Theater and long-time FOTR Publicist Sean Dougherty have launched a successor event, Celebrating Audio Theater – Old & New, scheduled for October 12–13, 2012.

Radio dramas from the golden age are sometimes recreated as live stage performances at such events. One such group, led by director Daniel Smith, has been performing re-creations of old-time radio dramas at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts since the year 2000.

The 40th anniversary of what is widely considered the end of the old time radio era (the final broadcasts of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense on September 30, 1962) was marked with a commentary on NPR's All Things Considered.

A handful of radio programs from the old-time era remain in production, all from the genres of news, music, or religious broadcasting: the Grand Ole Opry (1925), Music and the Spoken Word (1929), The Lutheran Hour (1930), the CBS World News Roundup (1938), King Biscuit Time (1941) and the Renfro Valley Gatherin' (1943). Of those, all but the Opry maintain their original short-form length of 30 minutes or less. The Wheeling Jamboree counts an earlier program on a competing station as part of its history, tracing its lineage back to 1933.

Western revival/comedy act Riders in the Sky produced a radio serial Riders Radio Theatre in the 1980s and 1990s and continues to provide sketch comedy on existing radio programs including the Grand Ole Opry, Midnite Jamboree and WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour.

Elsewhere
Regular broadcasts of radio plays are also heard in—among other countries—Australia, Croatia, Estonia,[46] France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, and Sweden. In the United Kingdom, such scripted radio drama continues on BBC Radio 3 and (principally) BBC Radio 4, the second-most popular radio station in the country, as well as on the rerun channel BBC Radio 4 Extra, which is the seventh-most popular station there.

Special thanks to Wikipedia


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