Variety Bandbox

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Variety Bandbox was a BBC Radio variety show transmitted initially in the General Forces Programme and then the Light Programme. Featuring a mixture of comic performances and music, the show helped to launch the careers of a number of leading British performers.

Presented by Philip Slessor, it became a feature of Sunday evenings for more than eight years between February 1944 and September 1952.[1] Hosting duties would later be taken over by Derek Roy.[2]

Amongst those who launched their careers on the show was Frankie Howerd, who first appeared on Variety Bandbox in 1947 following a provincial tour.[3] Howerd was to become a fixture of the show and honed his catch phrase-driven comedic style in these appearances.[1] Tony Hancock also featured on the show early in his career.[4] March 1950 saw the debut of a fortnightly series within the show called Blessem Hall which featured several characters voiced by a young Peter Sellers in one of his earliest performances, alongside Miriam Karlin.[1]

Arthur English, who debuted on the show in 1949, also gained prominence through his broadcasts and was for a time 'resident comedian' on the show, despite his tendency to upset the producers by also including visual gags in his act.[5] The show also provided Bill Kerr with his first break in the UK[6] whilst Max Wall was a regular performer on the show.[1] Although not a performer on Variety Bandbox, Eric Sykes cut his comedy teeth as a scriptwriter on the show.[7] As well as comedy Variety Bandbox also featured big band music with the likes of Ted Heath, Geraldo, Ambrose, Woolf Phillips, and Joe Loss all leading their orchestras.[8]

See also[edit]