Bluehaze Multimedia Chapter 2
Radio programmes from the past
Listening to good radio drama or comedy is such a totally different experience to watching a film or television production. It's less entrapping yet more involving, so that even though as you listen you might be tidying up your room, idly staring at the light hanging from the ceiling, peering through the window at some trees or the eaves of the house next door, eating a meal, or even just leaning back and relaxing with your eyes closed.
Of course, that doesn't make it any less fun ... in fact, quite the contrary. The fact that one's brain automatically creates the requisite mental pictures and emotions to mesh in with the sound image actually makes the experience more interesting and fulfilling. All of a sudden, one's imagination has something to do - a bit like a good book with sound-effects!
The BBC has for many years been one of the worlds greatest production organisations for the creation and dissemination of innovative, quality radio comedy and drama. In fact, arguably the greatest. To many, this has long seemed somewhat of a paradox, since it's a British government funded enterprise, and as we all know, private enterprise always does it better. Don't they?
Well, actually - no, and England's BBC is probably one of the most obvious examples of this. No commercial organisation has ever come close to the BBC in terms of prolific, quality programming. (Mind you, their funding is pretty good ... :-)
Anyway, looking through the access stats for this particular web site (Bluehaze), I've noticed people arriving here as a result of David Rand's "Best of BBC comedy" series. This has happened because names like Take it from here, Hancock's half hour, The Goons and so on appear with the descriptions, and so they've gradually been picked up and indexed by various search engines.
This made me feel somewhat guilty, because the excerpts in David's programmes are just that - short excerpts. So as I get time, I'll add the occasional full version of some of these various BBC classics onto this page - just so people can get a really good dose! In the main, they'll be encoded for RealAudio streaming, but I'll also include higher quality MP3 versions for those who want them ...
[NOTE - REALAUDIO VERSIONS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE]
One must mention of course that many of these radio classics are now readily available from the BBC. Just go to the BBC shop if you'd like to know more. (Unfortunately, many of these BBC classics only seem to be available on some ancient, low quality format known as audio cassette ... although CDs do seem to be an option for one or two programmes.)
The Tony Hancock programmes were recorded off the FM broadcast band during the Oz ABC test transmissions back in the 1970's when our FM band was initially starting. They're "2nd generation" - I copied them from the tapes of a friend of mine, Mike Bennett (VK3AGR). "Pieces of Hancock" is off the old vinyl LP of that name.
The rest of the material is from my own reel-to-reel tape collection, as recorded off the AM broadcast band here in Melbourne during the same period using a broadband tuner (2Mhz I.F.) which I fitted with a low distortion (infinite impedance) detector (ref Radiotron Designer's Handbook, 4th Ed). This provides identical AC and DC loadlines and eliminates clipping of downward modulation peaks.
The excerpt from "50 Years of Oz Radio" is off a master tape recorded via a home-made tape recorder which I built from a design featured in the Oz electronics magazine "Radio Television and Hobbies". This used a (British) Collaro tape deck. It sounded okay, but I was never completely happy with it. It certainly didn't have the quality of commercial decks that became available in the 1970s, such as Akai's, etc.
All material has been copied to WAV at 44Kbits/sec mono (and then converted to Real, MP3 and/or Ogg Vorbis) from my Akai GX-630D reel-to-reel deck which lives on the workbench here at Bluehaze, visible at the far left. (The tuner isn't bent, BTW - the image has been just been roughly hand stitched from multiple video stills). The sound card is currently an SB Live (Creative).
Incidentally, Ogg Vorbis compression is similar in concept to MP3, except it employs an "open source" encoding and decoding method that proprietary players such as M$ Media Player generally don't want to know about. A good player for these (or MP3 etc) is Nullsoft's Winamp. The advantage of the Ogg versions is that the frequency response extends up to around 17KHz, whereas the MP3s roll off at about 12KHz. The Winamp player also allows you to save the Ogg or MP3 files as WAV files (not at all obvious, but see under Options -> Preferences -> Plugins -> Output and select Nullsoft disc writer ) - very handy for making up your own compilations. And that's quite enough of that ...
50 years ago - Hancock's Half Hour
Early programmes - pre-Hattie Jaques
Around 1956, The Will finds Tony inheriting the princely sum of 40,000 pounds (about 1.2 million pounds in today's value). But to his dismay, there are conditions attached ... (RealAudio or MP3)
Tony loses his house - Sidney James is as always the ultimate foil to Tony. He schemes to get Tony evicted by fooling him with a set of "housing development plans", and that's only the beginning of the hilarity ... (RealAudio or MP3)
The smugglers - again with stalwart Sid and the crew - one of those episodes where Tony started having those classic "quiet off-the-cuff chats" with one of the other background characters. Classic Hancock and classic Ray Simpson and Alan Galton. (RealAudio or MP3)
The beach house - Tony approaches Sidney James to get a new house. Quite a few tape drop-outs throughout this one (and also some flutter during the first couple of minutes), but still great listening. Contains another of those silly "off-the-cuff chat" segments between Tony and one of the builders. (RealAudio or MP3)
The Car (added June 9, 2004) - This time, Tony approaches Sidney James to buy a car. Keep in mind that in the 1950s, owning a car was unusual - most people used other odd forms of transport such as bicycles, feet, buses, trams or trains. Anyway, as usual, Tony got a lot more than he bargained for ... (RealAudio or MP3)
Later programmes - now with Hattie Jaques
Pieces of Hancock was one of those dreaded "extracts" LPs (I'm sure most of us prefer these sorts of shows in their full, original form). The nice part about this release, though, is that Tony did chat pieces around the various segments. This LP was released in the early 1970s.
Pieces of Hancock - side 1 - 31 minutes (added March 14, 2005): The East Cheam Drama Festival, and The Secret Life of Anthony Hancock - choose from streaming RealAudio, or MP3 (15Mb), or (best quality) Ogg V (16Mb).
Click for more pics
The Thing on the mountain. Well, it's the Goons ... what more can
They took the medium of radio and its ability to stir mental images to the
outer limits of maniacal absurdity, which of course is why they're such fun
to listen to.
The sound effects (and their timing) were both brilliant and hilarious. And of course the technical (audio) quality is pure BBC engineering perfection, and that adds even further to the enjoyment.
Spanish Dubloons must rate as one of the most disorganised shows of all time plot-wise, but it's still one of their most hilarious. Also includes another appearance by Valentine Dyall. (RealAudio or MP3)
The Train Robbery was the name I originally scribbled on the index
sheet in the the tape box for this one, although it probably isn't the real
name. Incidentally, my original recording was fairly muffled (lacking in
"highs") for some reason and I've applied a fair amount of high frequency
boost in an attempt to correct it. However, the first one minute and fifty
seconds still sounds like it's coming through the bed covers!
The Lost Colony followed The Train Robbery on this tape (see above) and suffers similarly from random dropouts - but again, still quite listenable. This particular dose of insanity is all about New York and how it was originally sold by the American Indians for a rather low price. (Almost spooky at the end when New York is blown up - rather makes one think of September 11th ...) (RealAudio or MP3)
And a few more added in June 2004 ...
Queen Anne's Rain - the rain just won't stop, and they finally decide that it's all Queen Anne's fault. So they just have to stop her from reigning ... MP3 or (best quality) - the Ogg Vorbis. (There was a bit of a repetitive thump through this recording; the ABC's copy must have a warp in it. I've tried to fix the most audible ones)
Neddy the Deserter - Missed taping the first 5 minutes of this one, but here's most of it anyway. Neddy had deserted the Army during WW I, and didn't realise that that WW I (and WW II) had finished. To escape punishment, he becomes Britain's first astronaut, being sent into space via a 20 foot ladder ... MP3 or (even better), the Ogg Vorbis
Crown Prince Seagoon - Neddy gets involved in an assasination attempt on a Crown Prince after being offered the throne ("I'll have money ... and girls ... and ... girls and ... money ...!"). Via MP3 or the Ogg Vorbis
The mystery of the Mary Celeste - Neddy is offered £5000 to solve the mystery of the disappearance of the Mary Celeste. Select the MP3 or the Ogg Vorbis. BTW, if you're interested in reading about the real mystery, you can check out this page.
Most of the MP3 files above have been encoded at 64Kbit. Being only mono, this should yield an equivalent frequency response to that of 128K stereo. The spectral analyser in my CoolEdit indicates a "brickwall" roll-off at 13KHz, however - lower than I'd like.
The Ogg Vorbis versions, on the other hand, use variable bit-rate encoding. Interestingly, during playback the bit-rate claims to be varying between about 50 and 75 Kbit/sec. And looking at these OV files with Cooledit's spectral analyser does indicate substantial energy up to 15KHz. However, they're about 15-20% larger than the 64K MP3s, so that's probably about what one would expect.
One should also keep in mind that these were all recorded off AM radio, not FM (and onto fairly old and grotty R-R tape, at 9.75 cm/sec) back in the 1970s. So they're not as clean (or as wide) as I'd like. But hopefully still enjoyable!
|Take it from here|
The BBC's Take it from here, starring (Professor) Jimmy Edwards,
is possibly best remembered for its hilarious segment The Glums with
Ron and Eth (Dick Bentley and June Whitfield
). This 30 minute radio comedy
show ran from 1948 until 1960. Scripted mainly by Denis Norden and Frank Muir,
it aimed at being light-hearted revue-style comedy entertainment for the masses.
Recorded off Radio National (AM) here in Oz at 3:30AM in the morning some years
ago, the only thing wrong with this is that the amount of audio processing
being used by "our ABC" these days is rather over the top, and the volume
rushes up on all the quiet bits. Otherwise, the quality is quite reasonable.
The audio quality on this one is fairly poor but the show is excellent. It comes from the collection of a work aquaintance of mine whose mother in the UK records them and then passes them on to him. The Glums segment is all about Ron's overcoat ... (RealAudio or MP3)
While you're listening, you might also enjoy reading the chronological history of the series at the British Comedy site.
Incidentally, the BBC don't seem to have any of these particular classic radio shows available for sale to the public. I find that a little surprising. It was certainly our family's favourite radio show through the 1960s (but perhaps that's too long ago to be of much interest to the current crop of BBC executives - or maybe they've never even heard of it?)
In fact, as of 2006, the BBC finally seem to have deleted any final trace of "Take It From Here" (or of Jimmy Edwards or June Whitfield) from their web site. Whoever's in charge of their web presence at the moment clearly hasn't the faintest idea of the significance (or even just the entertainment value) of their own classic radio material. Just my personal opinion, of course ...
The BBC's My Word (according to
one of its creators) "is a word game, played by people whose business
is words. It has been described as a cross between a quiz and a literary
The team members varied slightly over the years, but for these particular programmes, we had Dilys Powell, Frank Muir, Antonia Fraser and Denis Norden. As far as I remember, the original shows went to air in Australia from the ABC at around lunchtime on a Sunday afternoon back in the 1960s and 1970s. The knowledge of the panel always astounded me, and the "stories" that they concocted to explain the derivations of various well known phrases were equally amazing. To this day, I still can't believe that they did all this with no preparation - although we're told that they did.
Peter Marks (ex-VK3YOE, now living in Sydney, Oz) has kindly recorded a few of these off Oz's Radio National's 3:30AM "comedy" spot via his Linux PC and uploaded them to Bluehaze for you to enjoy. We don't have the episode numbers or the dates, so I'll just have to list them numerically:
|I'm sorry, I haven't a clue|
First broadcast on April 11, 1972, ISIHAC is a send-up of panel game shows,
and it featured regulars Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer and
(until December 1996) Willie Rushton). It was chaired by Humphrey Lyttelton.
For example: complete a limerick beginning, "In the middle of singing an anthem". Or gargle along to Brahms 'Lullaby', or give an account of the Second World War in the style of a parish magazine. Or sing 'How much is that doggy in the window' to the tune of Bob Dylon's 'Blowing in the wind'.
See the BBC site for more details (and schedules and tapes and CDs and ...)
Here's a couple of samples to whet your appetite (the numbers mean nothing at all - they're just for organising them on this particular page):
And thanks again to Peter (yet another Monash University Engineering dropout friend of mine that I met via Amateur Radio many years ago) for passing these on.
|A case for Dr Morelle|
Doctor Morelle was a BBC mystery detective series that apparently had several
incarnations. The episodes below are from the final series of 13 episodes
recorded in 1958.
Written by Ernest Dudley, the series starred Cecil Parker as the brilliant, emotionless and unflappable criminologist and psychiatrist Doctor Morelle. Sheila Sim played his devoted secretary Miss Frayle. And Ernest Dudley's plots were well crafted, with novel twists that kept listeners guessing until the end.
I was lucky enough to get copies of some of these as a teenager from my next-door neighbour (Doug Supple) when living over in Park Street in Elsternwick. His reel-to-reel tape deck was a Byer 66, an Australian made semi-pro machine based on the standard broadcast machine of the day, the Byer 77. The half-track '66 came with a built-in tuner to make it more attractive for domestic use, but judging by my tape-copy, the AM radio receiver quality of the '66's tuner must have been only average. Straight off tape, these episodes only have a frequency response of about 100Hz to 6KHz and with the typically high AC/DC loadline-induced detector distortion as exhibited by 99.9% of AM receivers. And on top of that, they've been recorded at too high a level - so there's been tape overload as well! So apologies in advance for the limited quality on these.
Such limitations aside, they're still well worth hearing. So turn out your lights, pull up a nice comfortable chair or a couch or a bed, and lie back and enjoy any (or all) of these excellent examples of BBC radio drama of the late 1950s.
And there's even a bit of background to the good doctor and Miss Frayle here if you're curious.
|Benny Hill, another classic British comedian, caught here off one of his TV shows in 1976 - just before the days of domestic VCRs. A wee bit hard to follow in audio-only format for the uninitiated, perhaps, but for those who loved and laughed at Benny's antics, probably no real problem. Forty minutes or so of that totally unique Benny Hill naughty humour. And I couldn't resist leaving the Telecom Loan ads in - this was back in the days when we Australians still owned that organisation, and so thousands of our kids could actually aspire to getting a job there when they left school. (RealAudio or MP3)|
Australian Radio Shows
RS Playhouse, starring Graham Kennedy, was a bold experiment by the Australian Broadcasting Commision (ABC) to bring a completely new comedy series back to the medium of AM radio. Written by Gary Reilly and Tony Sattler (who also did The Naked Vicar), this particular episode - He's my brother - went to air on Saturday August 11, 1979. RealAudio or MP3 (running time - approx 30 minutes).
After signing up with well-known Australian agent, Harry M. Miller, Graham then went on to make a few films, host a series of the "Blankety Blanks" TV panel show, had a couple of stints on the Melbourne arm of ABC radio (3LO) doing "drive-time" with Richard Combe ("my little Dicky"), and later 3DB. He also continued to return to TV from time to time with other new shows, such as "Graham Kennedy's funniest home videos" and a humorous one hour news show, "Graham Kennedy's News Show" in 1988.
Here's about 15 minutes worth from one of those 1975 3LO drive sessions with Graham and Richard Combe. It contains the 6PM "News in brief" towards the end, which is interesting in itself. (Streaming RealAudio or the much better quality 8Mb MP3 or Ogg versions that you can either stream or download)
And from another GK/RC/3LO fan, Nadia, who incidentally lives in Sydney but loved listening to their Drive Time show even at a distance of 1000 Km with occasional fading, static and distortion, here are some more MP3 cuts. These are off a CD she made from her audio cassettes. Thanks, Nadia!
Cut #1 (5Mb, 10 mins)
Cut #2 (a titch tinny sounding!) 1.5Mb, 3 mins
For this next one (sent some weeks later), Nadia commented:
"This one is earlier than the others - it's from the second-last week of
the first series, in early August 1975. It's quite long, but it's a good
example of one of those cumulative things Graham was famous for."
Plenty of static and fading-distortion on this one, but hilarious as usual.
And again quoting Nadia when she sent this last one:
"This is from Richard's
last show, in mid-1976, so six months after the series proper finished.
Graham popped in to say farewell, and this is a bit from that segment.
They count down to "Wonderful Baby", which is followed by a mini crow-call,
then they play the version they recorded themselves of "Some of Us Belong to
the Stars", which I think is a great way to remember him. (Hopefully one
day you will be able to replace it with a broadcast-quality version, since
they played it quite a lot.)
And here's one recorded in at 3LO by Dave (VK3ASE), who just happened to be doing panels on this particular night when the news became lost. It starts with Dave talking to John Faine during the morning program, joining hundreds of others who rang in on May 26, 2005:
For those who have the interest and the patience (*), I'll even include
a couple of video snippits of Graham now. I know this is supposed
to be a "radio" page, but television was always Graham's natural medium.
Particularly with IMT, he consistently out-rated anything that the other
channels could bring on - and not only that, he did it across all age groups.
This first one is an extract from a 1960s IMT - a comedy skit called "A funny thing happened on the way to the Colosseum" as replayed on one of his 80s "News" shows. Keep in mind that IMT was live (video tape having only just arrived), so what you'll see here is a recording of a live B&W broadcast. The DivX version is large - around 78Mb - and could easily take you 90 minutes to download, so you'll certainly need to be patient. NOTE: It's probably best to do a right-click and select "Save Target as" so you can play it directly off your own system after the download finishes: (Or try the WMV version first). Choose from the large (78Mb) DivX format, or the slightly more reliable but even larger (99 Mb) MPEG-1 format, or maybe even just check out the smaller (7Mb) and lower quality M$ WMV version first.
Here's another (shorter) video snippit, also from the 1988 News Show, on the history of the Chum song. Choose from the 27Mb DivX format, the 33Mb MPEG-1, or the minimal (2.4Mb) and lower quality M$ WMV format.
And just for good measure - here's the first 75 seconds from a typical GK News Show opening, just for a bit of added flavour ... either the 10Mb DivX format, the 12Mb MPEG-1, or the minimal (1Mb) and lower quality M$ WMV version.
Looking back at IMT now, perhaps the best description one could give for the benefit of those who never saw these shows (*) may be to imagine a longer version of David Letterman's "Late Show", but with the addition of live comedy skits, live commercial "reads" that often dragged out for 5 minutes more than their nominal 30 seconds, songs and variety acts from all over Australia and the rest of the world, and plenty of guests. And of course, the legendary "Darrods Wheel" (click to hear jingle), where viewers would be invited in to have a go at winning a prize each night. These people were chosen by having their names drawn from a barrel at the end of the segment (and Graham even managed to make this process quite hilarious and/or suggestive at times).
And of course, live productions such as this gave Melburnians something to go to during the week. I was lucky enough to get along to a couple of IMT shows, and the experience was just electric. You'd be sitting there in studio 9 being a part of it, waiting for the show to start. Just before 9:30, there'd be a short warm-up by Bert Newton. And then, right on the dot, the Channel 9 band (led by Billy Hyde) would strike up with the IMT theme, with Pete Smith doing the voice-over intro from the booth upstairs ("Welcome to Television City in Melbourne ..."), and suddenly, there was Graham - briskly strolling out toward the "desk", casually resplendent as ever in Whitmont shirt and Raoul Merton "brothel creeper" suade shoes.
Graham's live commercials were often hilarious, especially when Rover (his dog) refused to eat the product being advertised (Pal dog food). Graham would pick up the bowl, take a sniff, and make a comment such as "I don't blame you, it smells like a gay monkey's armpit to me too" Sponsors were initially furious, of course - until they discovered that sales figures for the product had gone through the roof.
Of course, it finally had to happen. One night, there was an inexplicable roar of laughter from the audience, and for several seconds, all we saw was Graham doubled up with laughter at the desk. Finally the explanation went to air as the picture switched to that poorly lit but unmistakable shot of Rover cocking his leg on a camera dolly.
Knowing that we had these shows on in Melbourne and that we could write for tickets and go along was a great feeling. But alas, such things are no more. The network owners have long since worked out that it's much easier and cheaper to pre-tape their formularised plastic shows in one place (Sydney, naturally) and simply pipe those around the country. Or in other words, as with nearly all organisations that initially establish themselves via risky and innovative ideas, once the big money starts rolling in, the bean-counters quickly get control and it's all downhill from there.
More on Graham
If you'd like to read more about Graham, there are any number
of properly informed sources out there - such as:
The conclusion to an amazing life. In fact - as Graham was wont to say - "Arrrr, stuff 'em!", which is to say: Let's celebrate this amazing guy's life with some more video clips from IMT for those of you who are interested (and patient enough) to download them! All are in good ol' open standard MPG-1 (non-Microsoft and non-Apple) format. Enjoy:
Or here's an hour of chat from back in 2003 with Phillip Adams and some others who knew him fairly well (MP3 - 25Mb).
Recorded at the 2GB radio auditorium in Sydney and broadcast around Australia
via the Macquarie Broadcasting Service through the late 1940s and 1950s, Jack
Davey's quiz shows were legendary in their day. As a 4 year old, I can
vividly remember crawling under my grandparents card table of an evening
and curling up there to listen to them, peering out at the fire crackling
away in the corner of the room, and at my grandfather leaning back on the
couch with his pipe as he rustled through the latest copy of "The Scotsman".
And listening to these wonderful radio shows with fascination, and with my
imagination running riot.
Ampol Show - Jack meets the detective who once booked him ... MP3 only
The Persil Show (with Mrs Milan and Mrs Nicholl) ... MP3 only
The Pressure Pak show (Animal, vegetable or Mineral), where the panel try to guess the secret - and they were very good at it, judging by this little snippet ... MP3 only
Barry Jones (now a Federal Labor MP in Oz) became famous as the result of being the longest running contestant on Bob Dyer's "Pick A Box" quiz show. They just couldn't find anyone who could defeat him! And I didn't realise it until hearing this excerpt, but Barry also appeared on Jack Davey's Dulux Show. This week, Jack was doing some shows from the Brunswick Town Hall in Melbourne (and to a packed out audience by the sound of it). Hilarious - MP3 only (14 minutes).
A few weeks later, and it's another of Jack's Dulux Shows with Barry Jones (now back home in Sydney at the 2GB auditorium) - MP3 only
This is a rarity - someone started the recording early, so what we have here is part of Jack's warmup routine over in Adelaide - MP3 only
Arrrr - what the heck, let's sneak in an excerpt from Jack's arch-rival, Bob Dyer - again with Barry Jones. It's "Pick A Box" - MP3 only
And more to come as I get time to add them ...
|Life With Dexter|
When we used to listen to Life With Dexter of a Wednesday night, the
situations and, indeed, even Willie Fennell's voice as Dexter Dutton
invariably conjured up a mental image of Dagwood Bumstead in our minds.
That's part of the reason for the picture at the left - (the other
part being that I can't locate a picture of Willie Fennell - oh well ...)
The 30 minute Life With Dexter series ran for around 10 years on Australian radio through the early 1950s and 1960s. As with so many other successful radio shows, it was recorded at the 2GB radio auditorium in Sydney in front of a live audience and broadcast around Australia via the Macquarie Broadcasting Service. And many thanks to John (an ex-Telstra radio engineer up in Sydney) for passing on this episode:
Life With Dexter - Episode 47 (MP3 - 13 Mb)
Life With Dexter - Episode 53 (MP3 - 13 Mb)
And more to follow ...
|Sounds of the 70s|
Sounds of the 70s
- and nope, it's not the music, but rather a
portion of a special ABC (Oz) news program that went to air on New Year's Eve
1979 to wind up the 1970's. I started listening to this by accident while
I was looking for some other material a while ago and found that I couldn't
stop listening. The names and voices that went floating past ...
Won't mean much to you unless you (a) live in Oz (or did in the '70s), and (b) were at least a teenager during that decade. To listen, choose from streaming RealAudio or (if you want good quality), the MP3 or Ogg version.
(Added Tuesday Oct 15, 2002)
Yes, What? was an early Australian radio comedy series recorded in the
late 1930s and early 1940s. Produced in the studios of 5AD in Adelaide, the
first 40 or so episodes went to air before 5AD had recording facilities.
The actors playing the "school kids" in this series were actually aged from
about 16 to 18 when the series started, and some had already been involved in
radio in Adelaide for 5 or 6 years before taking up their roles in
Sony (Australia) have now released many of these priceless radio programmes on CD. There are a number of good sites around Oz which discuss the show, the book, and the CDs (and where to buy them) - good examples being Andrew's and Ralph's.
Anyway, here are a few samples if you're curious. Keep in mind that this stuff even pre-dates magnetic tape recording and the programmes were recorded directly onto single-sided 16 inch acetate discs. In other words, no editing - if anything went badly wrong (which was rare), the whole show had to be re-recorded! Yep ... this was real "steam radio".
|Dad and Dave|
with his wife Nell
No Australian web page that includes samples of Australian radio history would
be complete without mentioning one of our earliest and longest running
all-time favourite classic serials, Dad and Dave.
I first heard it via a re-run in the late 1950s as we sat around our dinner table in Elwood when I was about 10. A few years later, after we bought a house in Elsternwick, it was still part of the dinner ritual. As far as I remember, 3AW (a member station of the Macquarie Broadcasting Service) ran Hop Harrigan at 6pm, Captain Silver and the Seahound at 6:15, Superman at 6:30, and finally - the re-run of Dad and Dave at 6:45.
According to the web page over at Screensound Australia, Dad and Dave "first went to air in 1937 and ran for an amazing 16 years. It was created by George Edwards, a radio actor and producer famous for being able to play numerous characters. He was popularly known as The Man with a Thousand Voices. He played Dad until he died in 1953.
The serial was based on Steele Rudd's book On Our Selection, first published in 1899. The dramatic rights were purchased in 1912 by actor and enterpreneur Bert Bailey who played Dad on stage for almost 20 years, as well as in four films directed by Ken G. Hall in the 1930s.
Australian radio audiences took to the serial with enthusiasm. It achieved extremely high audience ratings, made the mythical Snake Gully a much-discussed place, and had Australians of all ages whistling its theme song, 'On the Road to Gundagai'."
You can buy a 2-CD set containing quite good quality transcriptions of these Dad and Dave radio serials from Screensound. Here are a few examples (keep in mind the quality of the Screensound CDs would be better than these compressed versions - kindly mailed over to us by Geoff down in Tasmania):
|Peter Evans - 3LO Breakfast|
In Melbourne and throughout most of Victoria, Peter Evans did something
From an Australian Broadcasting Commission (=government funded) 50 Kilowatt AM wireless station, 3LO (which is not supposed to worry about such things as "ratings"), he managed to comfortably hold the top rating for the much sought after breakfast programme slot for 20 years, until his untimely death in 1987.
Melbourne's commercial stations tried everything during that time - beautiful music, shock-jock, comedy, sport - you name it. But the majority of Melbourne listeners still preferred to listen to Peter Evans' dulcet tones as they burned their toast and headed off to work - especially on those cold, depressing Melbourne Monday mornings.
Why? Well, because he was intelligent, witty, very layback, didn't seem to have the slightest interest in the music he was given to play (bright and tuneful though it usually was), and just had a way of making you feel that you were somehow listening into the private musings of a disgruntled yet amusing gentleman who'd somehow wandered into a radio announcing career against his better judgement.
Here are a few surviving air-checks. First up - a 27 minute sample from a 1979 breakfast session:
And here's another 13 minute classic air-check of an Evans breakfast session from 1985. This one is particularly special, as it contains a replay of that all-time classic Spike Milligan ABC news interruption about 6 minutes in. The latter happened back in 1972 during one of Spike's visits to Australia when the ABC made the dreadful mistake of allowing him to remain in the news booth during the reading of the 5 minute ABC National Bulletin.
Thanks to Stephen Spicer (one of that rare breed who managed to successfully evade the dreaded exclusion committee and actually graduate from Monash University's Electrical Engineering faculty) for passing this on. Recorded off his crystal set:
Peter Evans (and Spike Milligan replay), 3LO breakfast, 1985 - via RealBadAudio or the equally bad sounding Windows Media format or via a (6 Mb) MP3 or the best quality of the lot - the 7Mb Open Standards Ogg Vorbis
And here's the final 25 minutes or so from Thursday morning, October 20th, 1977. This particular one was actually recorded off the desk in at 3LO by Dave, VK3ASE (who was doing panels for Peter that morning), and it has Peter chatting with Terry Lane about 7 minutes in:
A quite 'fi Peter Evans (and Terry Lane), 3LO breakfast, October 20th, 1977 - via RealBadAudio or the (12 Mb) MP3 - or for maximum quality, the (14 Mb) VBR Ogg Vorbis version, which extends up to around 14KHz with this cut. You'll hear Peter rattling and crossing off each piece as he reads it, and tapping his feet against the desk as was his habit. You can even hear (or feel) the city traffic out in William and Lonsdale streets in the background. This was when ABC radio was still on the corner of that intersection, right in the middle of Melbourne (before moving out to South Melbourne in the late 1990s).
Thankfully, Terry is still on ABC big power AM wireless via Radio National, midday on Sunday (replayed at 1pm AEST on Mondays). The last 4 weeks worth of the latter can also be accessed via the ABC web site here (but be warned - you'll need that dreaded "Real" player to hear them). Terry used to have an interesting web site of his own too, although it seems he may have killed that off now.
And unfortunately for us Melbournites, he's now retired from his Thursday morning 3LO stint, the 11am Conversation Hour (see "Lane and Faine" below if you'd like to hear some of those classics).
And one last Evans session ... just for the road! This is a long (one hour) off-air recording from 1976, and my well-used Ampex tape (see box at left) also exhibits quite a few dropouts. It's also somewhat over-recorded, unfortunately (which was entirely my fault).
Peter was coming down with a virus on this particular day, as you'll hear.
Typical Evans back-announcement (50 minutes into this one): Music fades, followed by a time call "Quarter past seven ... (pause) ... You don't believe me? Alright - don't. It's a quarter past seven!"
Once again, my apologies for the tape overload throughout this one ... but I reckon it's still worth hearing.
So, Peter ... we around Victoria (Oz) really enjoyed your brekky shows (and your music) while you were here.
|Lane and Faine on 3LO|
Talking of Terry Lane on the Oz ABC, I may as well include a couple of
semi-recent programs with Terry and John Faine from 3LO's Thursday morning
"Conversation Hour" (from 11am). I've always enjoyed listening to Terry for
a number of reasons - his depth of knowledge, his (naughty) sense of humour,
his command of the English language, and even just for his precise diction.
Interestingly, Terry got himself and John Faine (and even the ABC) into some degree of trouble with Media Watch (and subsequently with the ABA) back in the year 2000 with one particular "Conversation Hour" - simply by telling a large number of terribly naughty and "politically incorrect" jokes. Which is rather amazing when one considers that Media Watch is a national TV program, whereas the weekly "Lane and Faine" hour is only broadcast in one Oz State, Victoria. Hmmmm ...
Anyway, onto the replays. Even though 3LO is an AM station here in Melbourne, these sessions are also taken by ABC regional radio, and many of these transmit on FM. So to get good quality and low noise, I recorded most of these via the ABC's Ballarat FM transmitter (just audible here in Melbourne). So if you enjoy listening to Terry Lane, here we go with some of those ...
Thursday 20th of May, 2004 - and we discover why Terry's previous Sunday program on Radio National was just a replay. We also meet one of the band members from the Oz group "The Seekers" (Keith Potger), who's since embarked on a solo career - and Mem Fox, the author of "Possum Magic". You can listen via streaming RealBadAudio or the 14 Mb MP3 (passable), or for near-CD quality, the (32 Mb) Ogg Vorbis
Thursday 17 of June, 2004 (and what colour is Thursday on Channel 9, and who presented "Family Favourites"?) Anyway, we eventually meet a very interesting NZ playright, and a Circus Oz performer who broke her neck. You can listen via streaming RealBadAudio or the 13 Mb MP3 (passable), or for near-CD quality, the (26 Mb) Ogg Vorbis
Thursday August 26, 2004 was right in the middle of the 2004 Olympics. Unfortunately, I had a marginal and slightly 'scratchy' signal from the ABC's regional FM transmitter up in Ballarat, so I've chopped out the first interview and edited the whole session down to 30 minutes.
I've kept the 2nd interview in its entirety because it's with Sophie Von Trapp - none other than the real great-grand-daughter of the Captain in the Von Trapp family as depicted in the Broadway production (and film) "The Sound of Music". And guess what - this generation of Von Trapp kids are singing again.
Not only that - Sophie really was 16 going on 17 at the time of this interview - and that was almost a little spooky. Anyway, just hearing some of the truth behind the legend is fun ...
Oh shock-horror. Thursday February 10, 2005, and tuning in, we all heard John Faine wishing Terry Lane a happy new year and all that - but then adding ... "What's this rubbish about you wanting to stop appearing on the Conversation Hour?" Terry then proceeded to explain why this would indeed be his last appearance as co-host. I walked around stunned as I heard this one - very sad. Still, I guess that's Terry's prerogative ... what can one say?
They recall many amusing incidents from the past 8 years in this program. And later, they had as special guest none other than Ita Butrose. (Terry was so impressed with that that he unequivocally promised to return to the Conversation Hour any time that Ita's invited back!)
The frequency response on this one is actually a bit limited (to around 5.5KHz ... I had to twist someone's arm to extract this one off the ABC off-air log :-), but it still sounds great. MP3 only (9.5 Mb) for this final Terry Lane 3LO Thursday conversation hour.
|The Science Show|
The Science Show, produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation,
has been a national institution in Oz radio since 1975. Hosted by
it provides a weekly insight into all things scientific ( and you
can now tune into it
via the web if you live outside Oz - or even if you live in Oz and you
just simply missed it).
Anyway, in skimming through the tape collection here at bluehaze, I came across this interesting piece re nutrition. It includes a talk by the late Dr Magnus Pyke at the 1979 ANZAS conference, together with some interesting (and conflicting) thoughts on junk food and obesity. Still quite relevant, I suspect, so you may well find it as interesting as I did. (RealAudio or MP3)
|Minor diversion re old broadcast microphones ...|
|If you've ever wondered what's so "magic" about those classic old wireless-studio microphones such as the RCA 44BX and others on the background of this page, Steve Spicer has written a very interesting article on them here at the Melbourne Audio Club site. These classic old workhorses were THE standard professional microphone for film, radio and recording work from the 1930s up to the late 1950s, and Steve's article gives some fascinating insight into the physics of their design and why they're so good via a very readable web page.|
|50 Years of (Australian) Radio|
These are rather silly, actually. This first one's a 25 minute extract from
a 2 hour documentary put together by Chris Long and myself (Tony, Bluehaze)
at the end of 1972. This (and the two that follow) don't really belong on
this page at all, but they probably don't belong on my somewhat strange
Ham Radio page
(even though they were transmitted on the 160 metre Ham band).
I did the audio mixing and recording for this one late Friday night (via my home-made mixer, onto my mediocre home-made tape recorder built around an English Collaro tape deck) - and Chris did the announcing.
The idea was to broadcast it as part of a regular New Year's Eve bash we used to hold around then. This centred around the setting up of a temporary radio station at a remote location and then transmitting silly things back into Melbourne on New Year's Eve and through to the early morning hours.
I might mention that when it did go "to air" for that NYE, the signal wasn't terribly strong back in the suburbs of Melbourne because the kite holding up our transmitting aerial on the beach we were using couldn't get enough wind (although see the postscript below).
Our efforts in getting the wire airborne nevertheless seemed to provide some degree of amusement to the other late-night beach users nearby. Not sure if they were too amused by our 240 volt Honda generator screaming away on the jetty, but that's another story.
The old radio transcriptions we used in this unscripted documentary nevertheless do provide glimpses of radio's golden era in Australia. Especially if the names Hop Harrigan (one of several 15 minute evening serials on the Macquarie Network) and Bonnington's Bunkhouse Show mean anything to you ... RealAudio or the MP3 (11 Mb).
The abovementioned, impromptu "New Year's Eve" radio station sessions in VK3 went on for several more years after 1972. These were illegal in the sense that we played music on such occasions, and this was definitely not allowed by the relatively strict regulations governing Ham Radio operation. But as always, such events were technically challenging and highly entertaining - to us, at least.
Anyway, Paul (the BEK) taped a few of these off-air from his home in Glenhuntly, and what follows is a 30 minute excerpt from his log tape of the 1974 NYE session (digitally re-processed to remove hum and flatten the frequency response :-). At this point in the proceedings, it was around 2:30 am in the morning, and we finally had things sort of working. (Prior to this, we'd filled in much of the evening with a re-broadcast of the above "50 Years of Radio" doco while we got things running properly!)
We kept transmitting until around 10am on New Year's day (just to irritate the "straights" a bit more), and then spent the rest of the day cleaning up. A couple of the more daring girls even stripped off, stretched themselves out in the warm sunshine, and got themselves very nice "all-over" tans (the spot we'd chosen was fairly secluded, almost directly under a long row of tall pine trees).
We were transmitting from a secret site on the Western side of Port Phillip bay - very close to a certain smelly farm - and the total distance was around 70 Km. We were using a 3Kw generator and a 400 watt AM transmitter feeding a 300 foot high vertical antenna supported by a hydrogen filled met balloon, together with an earth wire running a short distance across the beach into the bay, so the aerial efficiency on 1840 KHz was probably around 75%. (The live audio usually sounds a bit hollow, mainly because the "announcers" were sitting on the back flap of the panel van that housed the turntable, tape deck and audio mixer)
If you listen carefully, you'll probably even hear our rented Honda 240 volt alternator running away in the background - especially during the drunken OB segment about 8 minutes in.
It features Mike (3AGR), the Stu (3ASE), Dan (3UI), Lemon tree (3LT), Frank (VK3EE), the Soak (3NM), myself (3AML), and many other assorted bods. The music's really gross, and it'll mean little or nothing to the uninitiated, but I'll include it for the sake of completeness.
On a sad note - we lost Dan Van Elken (3UI) to a brain tumour in 1985 when he was just over 30. He's the guy you'll hear on the microphone during the 2nd half of the above excerpt. I'd been fortunate enough to know Dan since we met via Ham Radio back in 1969 - and they don't come much nicer, smarter, or more stimulating than he was ... he was was one amazing guy. He was doing Elec Eng at Monash Uni, and probably more than anyone had encouraged me into enrolling there. He'd made it all sound like so much fun (and so it turned out to be).
His passing was a great loss to this world we live in - although he sure did brighten it up for many of us while he was around.
And from even earlier ...
Even earlier still, on New Years Eve 1971, I put to air a little home-made radio play called "The Tunnel" that I'd made with my younger cousin (Guy). In some ways, replaying this little effort on that particular New Year's Eve was probably the thing that started it all (as in all the subsequent NYE silly broadcasts).
One interesting thing about this particular "radio play" was that the depicted events had actually happened a year or so earlier. It's all about a late night unofficial trip down a large sewerage tunnel that was under construction at that time under Melbourne's eastern suburbs. (I was then 23, and my cousin was 13).
Many of the sound-effects (of locomotives, etc) were recorded down in the tunnel as well, for some extra authenticity. The humour's all pretty corny when you look back on it, but it was certainly fun doing it. And it filled in a couple of weeks of our Christmas holidays very nicely.
After broadcasting it on 160 metres for NYE 1971, there was quite some interest expressed by various people, and so I organised to have a dozen copies cut onto 12 inch LPs. So you'll hear a break in the middle.
To Chapter 3 (some Amateur Radio archives)
To Multimedia Chapter 1
To Ian Greive's Australian Old Time Radio Shows site
Or if you have young children, maybe even check out my original home page (re kid's stories) ...
Last update to this page by Tony (VK3AML), Bluehaze: Mon 13-Feb-2006 (Add "Life With Dexter")