|Home||Books and Story Papers||Greyfriars Gallery||Television and Radio||Ephemera||Hamilton||Acknowledgements||Links|
In a BBC Radio 4 production on 19th Feb 2008 Gyles Brandreth paid tribute to Billy Bunter, the perennially youthful schoolboy who first appeared in print 100 years ago, and his creator Frank Richards. Contributors include Martin Jarvis, Greyfriars memorabilia collector Laurie Mansfield, Brett Kahr psychoanalyst and children's literature expert, biographer Mary Cadogan and Jeffrey Richards, professor of popular culture at Lancaster University. Click here to listen to the broadcast or right click on the link and select 'save' to download the file to your computer.
On 21st July 2002 the Radio 5 Brief Lives program carried a short obituary on the life of Gerald Campion. Click here to listen to the broadcast or right click on the link and select 'save' to download the file to your computer.
I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again (often abbreviated ISIRTA) was a BBC radio comedy programme that originated from the Cambridge University Footlights revue Cambridge Circus. It had something of a cult following. Episode 5, series 7 (1970) featured Greyfriars. You can listen to the episode here
The Burkiss Way is a BBC Radio 4 sketch comedy series that was broadcast from August 1976 to November 1980. Series 2 episode 9 was called "Skive from School the Burkiss way" and was loosely based on Greyfriars. Click here to listen to the episode or right click on the link and select 'save' to download the file to your computer.
Radio 4 featured Gerald Campion with Jenni Mills in the radio series "famous for 15 minutes" in 1991. Thanks to Gary (and Darrell Swift who recorded it originally) you can listen to it here.
The Radio 4 program "Start the Week" from May 1980 featured Richard Baker, Gerald Campion, Gyles Brandreth, Nicholas Parsons and Michael Palin. Again thanks to Darrell and Gary you can listen to it here.
The BBC Spoof comedy series "Whatever happened to...." charted the lives of celebrated fictional characters. In 1991 the BBC broadcasted the episode "Whatever happened to Henry Horace Samuel Quelch". Gerald Campion played the part of Lord Bunter of Hoave and Andrew Sachs played Quelch. Spoiler: The Greyfriars class of 1926 are now retired business men and politicians. Sir Johnny Bull is the retired editor of the Daily Telegraph which Quelch was said to have written children's animal and nature adventures entitled "Digby Squirrel" 2 pages away from the back page. It is revealed that on leaving Greyfriars at the end of the 5th form, Bunter and Vernon Smith both separately had the idea of gluing the construes on Quelch's desk. On bumping into each other in the dark study they peeked into Quelch's desk looking for Quelch's History of Greyfriars and they were surprised to find transcripts of "Digby Squirrel". Major Vernon Smith reveals that after leaving Greyfriars he eventually joined the British secret service and that it came to his knowledge that coded messages were passed to the USA secret service through the Telegraph's Digby Squirrel adventure stories, but Sir Johnny Bull dismissed this as rot. You can listen to the broadcast here.
Four other episodes exist in sound format only. Click on the links to listen to them or right click on the link and select 'save' to download the file to your computer.
Bunter's Bike Loder's Telegram Quelch's Article, Tankerton Hall.
Six Christmas shows featuring Bunter were put on at various London theatres between 1958 and 1963. They were written by Maurice McLaughlin and performed in various London Theatres at Christmas.
A short film featuring men auditioning for 'Billy Bunter's Swiss Roll' at the Victoria Palace Theatre London can be viewed here.
Naveed has been in touch with Angela Buckley, daughter of the late Maurice McLoughlin and she has kindly given permission for the plays to be reproduced here. Angela has also provided a biography of her Father and has kindly scanned some letters sent to her Father from Frank Richards. You can find them here.
I have been rather fortunate in the 'hobby' for encountering personnel links to (Charles Hamilton or his works) over the years, and none more than when the seller of a Maurice McLoughlin Bunter play edition (the first published Bunter play "BB's Mystery Christmas") turned out to be the daughter of the late play-writer himself! I already had several copies of this play, but this particular edition turned out to be more 'special' coming from where it did.....
A happy correspondence followed, in which Angela also forwarded me further plays by her father, some even signed by him. I must say some of his other non-Bunter plays are very good. I recommend folks to read them. They cover both the more serious drama and comedy genre..
Some items very much in the latter category she kindly forwarded to myself were the scripts of the second and third West-end Bunter plays, Billy Bunter Flies East & Billy Bunter's Swiss Roll. Even more kindly she gave permission for these Bunter plays of 1959 and 1960 to be made available to Friardale for general public reading. This is all the more note-worthy, as these plays have not been read by the general public since their debut. So here they are---judge for yourself how the audience must have been pleased and tickled to have once seen these two Bunter plays in the West-end of London.
A thank-you to Angela (McLoughlin) for her making available these Bunter plays and a potted biography of her father, and also a thank-you to her for the personal largesse to myself......
By all accounts Frank Richards was pleased with the idea of the Bunter shows, though in the event he was unable to travel to London to see any of the productions. In a post-war letter to a fan he was thinking of a trip to London to see the Bunter play. (Letter to Mr Cawley, December 3rd 1958): "It has pleased God to grant me quite amazing health for my time of life and I feel going on, like the little brook, for ever. In fact I am pondering on a trip to London to see the Bunter panto at the palace, if the weather isn't too awfully bad".
In a letter to Frank Richards dated early 1959, Charles Skilton (the publisher of the Bunter books) mentioned "BB's Mystery Christmas":
"I did indeed see the Bunter play with my wife and daughter and we were all extremely pleased with it. The casting was excellent and the whole thing went over quite successfully. There was a large and enthusiastic audience, and I hope that this does become an annual feature."
Indeed the first play did prove popular enough to merit successive annual showings so that Bunter plays followed during Christmas holidays for a number of years.
Eric Fayne, the past editor of Collectors Digest, in a letter to myself (dated 8th October 1990) reminisced:
"As you will well understand, I greatly enjoyed playing for the Bunter shows over consecutive Christmas seasons. I recall being at the Palace theatre, the Victoria Palace, the Queen's Theatre, and the Shaftesbury Theatre. Actually Maurice McLoughlin was the writer, not the producer, of the Bunter shows. He was a delightful man, and a great friend of mine over many years. He visited me several times at Surbiton, and I visited him at his home just outside London. He died some years ago now.
All the shows with the exception of "Billy Bunter Meets Magic", were on for 3 weeks over the Christmas season. With the "magic" show, however, that one was on for a month. This was because David Nixon, who starred in the show, only agreed to take part if the season was on for 4 weeks. Actually 4 weeks is a rather long time for a Christmas show, as by the 4th week all the youngsters are back at their schools. However I think he had pretty substantial audiences even in the last week.
David Nixon was a very famous stage magician, also very popular on TV.........
The producers of the Bunter shows were Michael Anthony and his wife, Bernadette Milnes. They were charming people, great friends of mine in those days as well." (end of quote)
Aleric Cotter played the cad Skinner
Keith Banks as Billy Bunter
The Greyfriars Song and Henry Samuel Quelch were a labour of love for Ken Humphreys, a retired schoolteacher and well known Greyfriars collector of the time. They were recorded in January 1993 and released on cassette tape a few weeks later. Ken even managed to persuade Hubert Gregg then on Radio 2 to play them a few times.
The tape was advertised on page 2 of the Collectors Digest issue 557.
Thanks to Gary Panczyszyn you can listen to both songs via the links below.
The following video clips were initially sent on to Naveed Haque by Betty Acraman (the widow of the late Bob Acraman) in 2009. They were consecutively taped on a VHS (cassette recording).
Its possible that some of the footage had been acquired in past years by Bob Acraman from Edith Hood herself. In any event, I think these video clips enhance our perspective of Charles Hamilton, and it is pleasing to now have them for our viewing pleasure on Friardale.
Naveed comments: "Personally I especially like the short length footage of Charles Hamilton in the garden of Mandeville with his niece---he must have been in his middle age by that time, but it seems was still rather active for some quick gymnastics! The video showing Edith Hood in Rose Lawn is also of especial interest, as it shows a little interior portion of the home and some of Frank Richards items during the 1970's (such as a part of the bookshelves, some books and his typewriters) , and also Edith relaxing in the garden".
Note- When you click on the link there may be a short delay before the video starts)
Mandeville- This footage was taken in the garden of "Mandeville", the home opposite Hamilton's home "Rose Lawn" in Kent probably during the early 1930's. Mandeville had been acquired by Frank Richards for his sister and her family so that they could stay in it when visiting him in the area. The video shows a garden party for his niece Una, with her friends in attendance and others. (5MB)
OBBC Meeting Margate 1971 - The OBBC lunch party and gathering held in September 1971, at the Nayland Rock hotel in Margate. Mary Cadogan, Una Wright (Franks niece), Brian Doyle, John Wernham, Edith Hood (FR's housekeeper).........and others in attendance. There is also some video footage along the walkway and front in Folkestone. (19.5 MB) A scan of the menu can be found here.
Chapman at Home - Footage of CH Chapman (the famed Magnet and post-war Bunter artist) in his nineties, simulating some artistic work in his studio at his home "Wingfield". He is also shown in the garden, and riding a bicycle. Mr Chapmans two daughters are also shown in this video clip. (13MB)
Inside Rose Lawn - Some Rose Lawn footage. Edith Hood (FR's housekeeper) in the home during the 1970's. Shows the authors bookshelves and some of his reference books, also a selection of a few story-papers, his table, desk, chair and typewriters, amongst other things. At one point Edith Hood simulates typing on Frank Richards main original principal Remington 1922 typewriter. There is also footage of Edith Hood in the Rose Lawn garden , browsing over some Magnets and Gems. John Wernham looks over some story-papers in the Rose Lawn cupboard towards the ending. (14MB)
Pathe Pictorial - Following some illustrations depicted (mostly of Bunter), we have "Personality meets Frank Richards", the Pathe pictorial film which shows Frank Richards at Rose Lawn with some of his youthful admirers. (12mb)
John Wernham Interview (part 1) - BBC interview with Mr John Wernham during the 1960's at his Frank Richards museum at Maidstone of the time. At one brief point, some personal items of the author are quickly shown on a table, including his chess set, dominoes, playing cards and pipe. Unfortunately the sound is briefly lost at one juncture. (36MB)
John Wernham Interview (part 2) - Unfortunately there is no sound on this segment. After some reading by a fan from the Magnet, this clip continues with the interview of John Wernham on the hobby. (102B)
Radio 5 Gerald Campion - BBC radio 5 radio segment on Gerald Campion as Billy Bunter on television. Actor Michael Simpkins comments. (14MB)
BUNTER PLAY IN EXETER 1989. Footage of the Bunter play at the Northcott theatre in Exeter in 1989. Includes interview with John Judd the producer, and Dave Timson (who played the role of the fat owl). There is also footage of actual scenes/dance numbers from the play but unfortunately the quality of the video clip is rather grainy. Also unfortunately Bunter!, did not make it to a West-end run. This section is in 3 parts. Part 1 shows a news report from the "Today" program. Part 2 has the first half of the show and Part 3 shows the second part and the finale.