Radio is a sign of the times

NO soundtrack to the dark days of the second world war is complete without the wireless. Its crackle and hum preceded clipped tones of BBC newsreaders, stirring Churchill speeches and the routine fix of fun and laughter in light entertainment shows when these precious two commodities – along with everything else – were in short supply.

By James Fraser

NO soundtrack to the dark days of the second world war is complete without the wireless.

Its crackle and hum preceded clipped tones of BBC newsreaders, stirring Churchill speeches and the routine fix of fun and laughter in light entertainment shows when these precious two commodities – along with everything else – were in short supply.

After the 1960's disco sounds of a Slice of Saturday Night, the next production by the respected Gallery Players goes further back in time to revisit the days of the Blitz and a group of artistes involved in putting on one of these well-loved BBC broadcasts from a London theatre.

Written in 1992, Radio Times is a light-hearted nostalgia kick of a comedy with three funny men, a forces sweetheart, singing, dancing - and a lot of laughs. Set in 1941, the cast of Variety Bandwagon transmit live to America from the underground Criterion Theatre but things do not run as smoothly as planned.

Director Pat Taplin said: ""I like the show because it does give an insight into the problems of producing a live BBC broadcast during those difficult times and it does reflect the spirit of the times.

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"Life was changing and the BBC was going to have to change too. The Goon Show and Hancock's Half-Hour were in the future but light comedy was in demand by a growing audience and it was pushing then more mainstream items like classical concerts and educational lectures, which Lord Reith preferred, out of peak listening times."

The show opens on Wednesday at 7.45pm at the Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich, and runs until November 9.

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