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Round the Horne was a 1960s British radio comedy starring Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Bill Pertwee, and their announcer Douglas Smith. The main writers were Barry Took and Marty Feldman. The show was a Spiritual Successor to Beyond Our Ken, which had featured many of the same cast but a different head writer; when he left it was decided to revamp the series with a new title and characters.
It took the form of a ramshackle local Variety Show with Kenneth Horne as MC, with sketches, songs, incomprehensible public service announcements, and "the answers to last week's questions" (the questions themselves were never actually announced). Double Entendre and corny old gags were rife, and sketches frequently appeared to break down into out-of-character bickering about the size of the parts and the quality of the scripts.
The show was also populated by a collection of eccentric local characters (actually played by the cast, but treated as separate people within the show and never broke character). These included the folk singer Rambling Syd Rumpo, whose songs were peppered with incomprehensible words that sounded like they'd be extremely rude if one only knew what they meant; J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, the world's dirtiest Dirty Old Man; and the show's breakout stars, the perpetually out-of-work actors Julian and Sandy, who were originally only supposed to appear in a single sketch but wound up returning in nearly every episode for the rest of the series.
Was scheduled to return in 1969 for a fifth series but Kenneth Horne died of a heart attack aged 61 in February of that year, precluding any further series.
BBC Four broadcast stage performances of the original scripts in 2004.
Not to be confused with Around the Horn, the ESPN sports pundit show.
The series provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: Julian and Sandy are textbook cases: walking camp stereotypes, not to mention speech peppered with Polari, but it's never actually stated that they're gay, and indeed the subject of sexuality is never discussed, only sniggeringly alluded to. In what turned out to be the final episode, they casually reveal that they both have wives.
- As Himself:
- Kenneth Horne always acted as if he was himself, even in the main sketches where he's usually playing a part. (A lot like Neddie Seagoon, except even more of a Straight Man).
- Douglas Smith really was a BBC continuity announcer, who were VERY straight laced at this period.
- Author Existence Failure: Kenneth Horne's unexpected death put an end to the series.
- Bad Bad Acting: Douglas Smith, nominally just the announcer, whenever he was called on to play a small role in a sketch.
- Bawdy Song: Rambling Syd Rumpo.
- Catch Phrase: All the recurring characters had one; probably the most famous was "Hello, I'm Julian and this is my friend Sandy."
- Department of Redundancy Department: Charles and Fiona were prone to this.
Charles: I know.
Fiona: I know you know.
Charles: I know you know I know.
Fiona: Yes, I know.
- Dirty Old Man: J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, undoubtedly.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: Spasm the butler, in the recurring skit "The Clissold Saga"
- Double Entendre
- Faux Documentary: The 'Backroom Boys of the BBC' sketches were essentially this.
- Folk Music: Rambling Syd Rumpo.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Julian and Sandy did this by using Polari to great effect:
'We're a couple of omi-palones'
- Gratuitous French: The writers were quite fond of using your actual French.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Played absolutely deliberately
- Hey, It's That Guy!:
- Kenneth Williams was that stuck-up guy with the expressive nostrils in the Carry On films. He also went on to become a regular on Just a Minute, where he was often The Prima Donna persona very similar to the one he played in the "out-of-character" moments of Round the Horne.
- Bill Pertwee played the warden in Dads Army.
- Hugh Paddick would many years later play a thespian in Blackadder.
- Inherently Funny Words:
- Pretty much every character's name would adhere to this.
- Interactive Narrator: Douglas Smith is this. Oh boy, is he this...
- Larynx Dissonance: Lotus Blossom
- Parody: Everything from Moby Dick to Brief Encounter. The plays Charles and Fiona star in are caricatures of Noel Coward's style.
- Running Gag: Phew, where do we start?
- Kenneth Williams breaking character to rant about how he's not being serviced ("I need servicin'").
- Whenever a question is asked, it's followed by "Answers on a post card, care of the BBC..."
- Douglas Smith going off on narcissistic tangents.
- "Many times. Many, many times."
- Shout-Out: "A handbaaaag?"
- Straight Man: Kenneth Horne. (Not like that! Although, admittedly, when he's up against Julian and Sandy...)
- Strapped to An Operating Table
- Talking to Himself: "Listeners may have gathered from this sickening dialogue that Kenneth Williams is playing both parts."
- Theme Naming: All of Julian and Sandy's business tended to be called 'Bona' followed by whatever the business dealt with.
- Throw It In: Usually subverted, most of Kenneth William's 'Rants' were written by the writers.
- Unusual Euphemism
- Variety Show
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Julian and Sandy tried a new job every week while waiting for their acting careers to pick up. The standard set-up for their sketches was for Kenneth Horne to enter a shop or some other place of business and discover that, coincidentally, it was the place where Julian and Sandy were working this week.
- Yellow Peril: Parodied with the villainous Dr Chou En Ginsberg, MA (failed) and his concubine, the lovely (but suspiciously deep-voiced) Lotus Blossom.