16 May 1916|
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
|Died||2 February 1993
|Known for||The Braden Beat|
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Kelly (1942-1993) (his death) (3 children)|
Braden was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and educated at Magee Secondary School, Kerrisdale, Vancouver. He produced plays on CJOR Vancouver in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He married Barbara Kelly in 1942 and they moved to Toronto the same year. Seven years later, he, his wife and two children moved to England. (A third child, Kim was born in London in 1949.)
In Breakfast with Braden (from January 1950) for the BBC he played American serviceman "Brandon Marlow" (a caricature of Marlon Brando in "Streetcar Named Desire"). Other cast members acted as stooges, including Pearl Carr ("Sing, Pearl"), Benny Lee and bandleader Nat Temple ("Play, Nat!").
Other BBC radio shows followed: Bedtime with Braden (from September 1950), which included his signature sign-out song "Lullaby of Birdland"; Between Time; Bathtime; and Bedlam with Braden. Ronald Fletcher, the announcer, was drawn into the script which added to the ingenuity and enjoyment.
As a couple, with his real life wife, Braden also appeared in 1951 in An Evening at Home with Bernard Braden and Barbara Kelly.
Bernard is probably best remembered for On the Braden Beat, a popular consumer affairs television programme made for ITV by Associated Television, which ran from 1962 to 1967. Jock Watson and, later, Francis Coleman produced this Saturday late-night show which also examined current political issues affecting the British public. The show was interspersed with lighthearted sketches and music and helped a number of actors to get a start on television. Frequent performers were Peter Cook, Jake Thackray and Tim Brooke-Taylor.
A successor with essentially the same format, Braden's Week, appeared when he transferred to the BBC from 1967 to 1972. This show was cancelled when he advertised margarine on the BBC's commercial rival ITV; the BBC felt this was inconsistent with his role as the consumers' spokesman. Esther Rantzen, one of the researcher/presenters, went on to front a remarkably similar consumer show called That's Life.
In 1976, Braden hosted a quiz show for London Weekend Television called The Sweepstakes Game. Two contestants decided which of six star guests were most likely to help them to win cash and prizes.
Braden later (1987-1989) presented episodes of the show All Our Yesterdays.
Braden independently produced and shot an extended series of interviews conducted by himself (and sometimes by his wife) of public figures in 1967-68 for a series called Now and Then but the series was never completed or sold to a broadcaster. The series was re-edited in 2008 as "Sex Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll: The 60s Revealed", in which the original interviewees saw their 1968 interviews for the first time.
Film and stage
His few film appearances included The Full Treatment (1960), The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) as the Daily Express news editor, and the 1962 films Two and Two Make Six and All Night Long. The same year he played Flight Surgeon Randall in the British film The War Lover alongside Steve McQueen, Robert Wagner, and a young Michael Crawford.
Braden published an autobiography, The Kindness of Strangers, a reference to his role as Mitch in the London stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire.
- Bernard Braden Reads Stephen Leacock (1969) Capitol ST-6335
- Canadian Communications Foundation
- "Barbara Kelly Obituary". Daily Telegraph. 16 January 2007.
- Can be accessed. See External Links.
- Much of the detail is confirmed in the This is your life episode devoted to Braden. See External Links.
- "Now and Then (1967-68)", BFI screenonline