Round The Horne was a popular BBC radio comedy sketch show which regularly pulled in huge weekly audiences of 15 million listeners. It ran for four series from 1965 until 1968 and consisted of a regular line-up of performers, including Carry On star Kenneth Williams. The show has now been brought back to life by Producer/Director Tim Astley, Artistic Director of the Apollo Theatre Company, recreating some of its best sketches by using material from the original radio broadcasts.
For some, this will be like taking a trip down memory lane. It's a warm and cuddly show, full of whitty one-liners, outrageously camp characters and innuendo. But does it have any appeal to comedy fans who are unaware of its past? The answer has to be yes. This is your chance to experience a gem that was amusing the country at the height of the swinging sixties. What's more, the sketch show element means that if one section doesn't quite hit the mark, then you don't have to wait very long until something else will come along that you can connect with.
The cast are all talented performers, but a special mention has to go to Colin Elmer, who plays the role of Kenneth Williams. Elmer's voice and mannerisms are very accurate and the show comes alive whenever it's his turn to take to the microphone stand. Williams was famous for going off-script, and this has also been cleverly incorporated into Elmer's portrayal of him.
The show includes movie spoofs and regular characters such as Rambling Sid Rumpo, Charles and Fiona, J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, and my personal favourities, Julian and Sandy. These two characters play out of work actors taking on various part-time jobs, and speak in a camp-slang language that doesn't always make sense, but at the same time manages to be completely hilarious. The Charles and Fiona characters, played by Jonathan Hansler and Eve Winters, also provide laugh out loud moments. They are a love-struck couple, speaking in the style of Noel Coward-type movie screen idols from the 1940's. So old fashioned now, but still incredibly funny.
This is a must-see show for fans of 60's humour, particularly if you were there at the time. It's very nostalgic and faithfully recreates the original comedy magic. With so much more classic material available, I look forward to a sequel that will again succeed in taking me back to those halcyon days of British comedy.
Round The Horne: The 50th Anniversary Tour is playing at the Museum of Comedy until 12 March 2016. If you are curious to hear some of the original radio broadcasts, episodes from Series 3 of the show are currently being broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra.
The Museum of Comedy is a 70 seat performance venue and can be found sixteen steps into the Undercroft of St George’s Church in central London (Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2SR).
Coincidentally, my Christian name is part of the camp-slang language sometimes used in the show. The translation of 'bona' is good, which is quite a relief! You could say that this is a bona review of a bona show!! But I should leave the comedy writing to the experts and so won't be giving up my day job just yet ...
s prodigal, pluralist talent."
Michael Billington for The Guardian
"Matthew Dunster directs a first-rank cast of 12...and already has an almost sold-out hit on his hands. If this doesnt get a West End transfer, itll be a major miscarriage of common sense."
Dominic Cavendish for The Telegraph