Beyond Our Ken

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For other uses, see Beyond Our Ken (disambiguation).
Beyond Our Ken
Genre Sketch comedy
Running time 30 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language(s) English
Home station BBC Light Programme
Starring
Announcer Douglas Smith
Writer(s) Eric Merriman
Barry Took (s 1–2)
Producer(s) Jacques Brown (s 1–5)
John Simmonds(s 6–7)
Charles Maxwell (s 1)
Air dates 1 July 1958 (1958-07-01) to 16 February 1964 (1964-02-16)[1]
No. of series 7 (+ 2 Christmas specials)
No. of episodes 123

Beyond Our Ken (1958–1964) was a radio comedy programme, the predecessor to Round the Horne (1965–1968). Both programmes starred Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden and Bill Pertwee, with announcer Douglas Smith. Musical accompaniment was provided by the BBC Revue Orchestra. The name is a pun on Kenneth Horne's name and the (now mainly Northern English and Scots) word ken, meaning "knowledge or perception".

Background[edit]

Eric Merriman had previously written material for Kenneth Horne on Henry Hall's Guest Night and Variety Playhouse and written some stand-up comedy material for Barry Took. In June 1957 the BBC Radio Variety department asked Merriman to come up with an idea for a radio series starring Horne. Merriman devised a format for the show with the working title Don't Look Now. The original memo on the subject still exists in the BBC archives.

The proposal was for a solo comedy series based on a formula of a fictional week in the life of Kenneth Horne. Other memos from the BBC archive show how the proposed format evolved and the discussion of alternative titles (including Around the Horne).

Production history[edit]

Pilot

The script for the pilot was written by Eric Merriman and Barry Took, and recorded on 2 October 1957. The supporting cast included Pat Lancaster, Betty Marsden, Ron Moody, Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams. It was very well received by the studio audience and the BBC agreed to proceed with a series.[2]

The project was put on hold in February 1958 after Kenneth Horne suffered a stroke that left him partially paralysed. However he made a rapid recovery and was left with only a slight limp.[3]

Work on the series resumed within months, but with a very tight budget of only £285 per episode.[citation needed]

Series 1

The first edition of Beyond Our Ken was broadcast on 1 July 1958.

Series 1 ran for 21 episodes plus a Christmas special. The scripts were written by Eric Merriman and Barry Took. The cast was Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Ron Moody, Stanley Unwin (for the first episode only), announcer Douglas Smith with music by Patricia Lancaster, the Malcolm Mitchell Trio and the BBC Revue Orchestra. The Malcolm Mitchell Trio was replaced by the Fraser Hayes Four from the 17th episode. The producer was Jacques Brown, except for episodes 20 and 21 which were produced by Charles Maxwell.

Series 2

Series 2 ran for 20 episodes from 19 March 1959 plus a Christmas special. The scripts were written by Eric Merriman and Barry Took. The cast was Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Bill Pertwee, announcer Douglas Smith with music by Patricia Lancaster, the Fraser Hayes Four, Edwin Braden and the BBC Revue Orchestra. The producer was Jacques Brown.

Series 3

Series 3 ran for 14 episodes from 19 April 1960. The scripts were written by Eric Merriman after Barry Took left over a disagreement. The cast was Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Patricia Lancaster, Bill Pertwee, Janet Waters, announcer Douglas Smith with music by Patricia Lancaster, the Fraser Hayes Four, the Hornets, Edwin Braden and the BBC Revue Orchestra. The producer was Jacques Brown.

Series 4

Series 4 ran for 20 episodes from 20 October 1960. The scripts were written by Eric Merriman. The cast was Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Bill Pertwee, announcer Douglas Smith with music by Patricia Lancaster, Edwin Braden, the Fraser Hayes Four and the BBC Revue Orchestra. The producer was Jacques Brown.

Series 5

Series 5 ran for 20 episodes from 12 October 1961. The scripts were written by Eric Merriman. The cast was Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Bill Pertwee, announcer Douglas Smith with music by Jill Day, Edwin Braden, the Fraser Hayes Four and the BBC Revue Orchestra. The producer was Jacques Brown.

Series 6

Series 6 ran for 13 episodes from 27 December 1962. The scripts were written by Eric Merriman. The cast was Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Bill Pertwee, announcer Douglas Smith with music by Eileen Gourlay, Edwin Braden, the Fraser Hayes Four and the BBC Revue Orchestra. The producer was John Simmonds.

Series 7

Series 7 ran for 13 episodes from 24 November 1964. The scripts were written by Eric Merriman. The cast was Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Bill Pertwee, announcer Douglas Smith with music by Eileen Gourlay, Edwin Braden, the Fraser Hayes Four and the BBC Revue Orchestra. The producer was John Simmonds.

Characters[edit]

Beyond Our Ken featured characters similar to those later featured in Round the Horne, for instance Betty Marsden's Fanny Haddock (which parodied Fanny Cradock). It was also notable for Pertwee's Frankie Howerd impersonation, Hankie Flowered, and Hugh Paddick's working-class pop singer Ricky Livid – the name being a mickey-take on contemporary pop singers' stage names such as Tommy Steele and Marty Wilde. Another favourite was Kenneth Williams' country character, Arthur Fallowfield, who was based on Dorset farmer Ralph Wightman, a regular contributor to the BBC radio programme "Any Questions?" Fallowfield's lines were full of innuendo and double entendre – on one occasion Horne introduced him as the man who put the sex in Sussex. Fallowfield's reply to any question began: "Well, I think the answer lies in the soil!" On one occasion, Paddick's character Stanley Birkenshaw, aka "Dentures", who would re-appear in Round the Horne, gave a noble and rather damp version of Hamlet's soliloquy: "To be or not to be, that issssssssssh the quesssssssssshtion ...".

Williams and Paddick also played a couple of camp men-about-town, Rodney and Charles, in many ways (although not as extreme) precursors of Julian and Sandy in Round The Horne.

Transformation[edit]

By 1964, Eric Merriman was very much in demand for television work and decided to end writing Beyond Our Ken. Because of the show's huge success, the BBC were determined that the comedy series continue. The show's name had to be changed because Merriman had given Beyond Our Ken its original title. Barry Took returned together with Marty Feldman to write a new series with the same cast, which became Round the Horne and was one of the most popular and influential shows of its day, despite having a shorter run. Without Beyond Our Ken, Round the Horne would not have existed.

Adaptations[edit]

In 2004 the BBC began releasing the series on CD in box sets, one per season.

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Arnold, Steven (2006). "Beyond Our Ken". britishcomedy.org.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Johnston, Round Mr Horne, pp. 171–2
  3. ^ Johnston, Round Mr Horne, pp. 164–178
Bibliography

External links[edit]