Celebrating 50 years of Round the Horne with Apollo Theatre

Round the Horne was one of the biggest BBC radio series of the 1960’s regulalry attracting 15 million listeners to hear the comedic exploits of Kenneth Horne, Betty Marsden, Hugh Paddick, Bill Pertwee and Kenneth Williams.

It ran for four series between 1965 and 1969 and was written by Barry Took and Marty Feldman.

With its infamous movie spoofs and hilarious regular characters such as Rambling Sid Rumpo, Charles and Fiona, J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, and Julian and Sandy, Round the Horne was one of the biggest and best radio comedy shows of all time, and still endures today, 50 years on.

For our latest behind the scenes interview we spoke with the artistic director of Apollo Theatre and director of Round the Horne: 50th Anniversary Tour, Tim Astley about the cultural signficiance of Round the Horne and its enduring appeal.

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Hello Tim, thank you for your time today. When did you first listen to Round the Horne?

I inherited a Round the Horne cassette from my Grandfather when I was twelve years old. I was already a fan of classic TV comedy and was familiar with Kenneth Williams from the Carry On films but this was something else! The chaotic world Kenneth Horne and his merry crew created was unlike anything I had ever heard and instantly drew me in. From then on I gradually built up the complete collection of tapes which I would listen to over and over again.

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Image: Apollo Theatre

What do you think is the enduring appeal of Round the Horne?

Good comedy is timeless and I believe that Round the Horne is as funny today as it ever was. Although much a product of its time and undoubtedly influenced strongly by the swinging sixties of which was a part, the fact that the original programmes didn’t focus too much on topical humour, rather surreal, clever sketches and characters, means that it really doesn’t feel dated in the way that lots of comedy programmes can.

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Image: Apollo Theatre

What is your favourite Round the Horne sketch?

Although I have great affection for the recurring characters like Julian and Sand, Rambling Syd Rumo and Charles and Fiona, I always loved the movie spoofs. We have two of the best in our show, The Admirable Loombucket and one of the funniest sketches in the whole of Round the Horne, Kenneth Horne, Master Spy on the trail of the stolen Eiffel Tower.

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Image: Apollo Theatre

How significant do you think Round the Horne has been culturally?

Round the Horne undoubtedly changed the British comedy scene forever in many ways, not least because it was the first programmeof any kind to feature openly gay characters in Julian and Sandy. The genius of the writing of these characters by Barry Took and Marty Feldman was to use the underground cam slang, Polari to not only great comedy effect, but to mask the, often very rude, things they were saying that would otherwise have never got past BBC censors.

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Image: Apollo Theatre

What can the audience expect on stage in Round the Horne: The 50th Anniversary Tour?

We have stayed as true to the original programmes as possible. Our show transports the audience back to the BBC’s Paris Studios in 1966 to the original recordings and recreates the anarchic atmosphere that we all know and love so well, whilst still allowing the audience’s imaginations to run wild.

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Round the Horne is at the Wyvern Theatre from Monday 31 October to Tuesday 1 November

For more information and to buy tickets please visit: http://bit.ly/RoundTheHorne

Follow Apollo Theatre Company on Facebook & Twitter.

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