'BAND WAGGON' - excerpt from last show of 2nd series, recorded from an actual broadcast HMV BD693(1st of 6 sides) recorded 15 March 1939
"BIG" AND "STINKER'S" PARLOUR GAMES HMV BD784 recorded 13 November 1939 (2 sides, 6'40")
Through the 1930s most BBC Variety shows were simply modelled on music-hall bills - a collection of unrelated acts. In 1938, as a deliberate attempt to mimic the success of American shows with a 'resident comedian' (such as Jack Benny or Burns & Allen) the BBC started Band Waggon, starring Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch. The 'resident comedian' idea was taken literally for comic effect, and the two were presented as living in a scruffy flat at the top of Broadcasting House together with two pigeons and a goat. (Many listeners thought this was actually the case and wrote to them there.) Both performers had a natural and relaxed approach, well served by simple but effective scripts by Vernon Harris (who was uncredited as the BBC wanted the public to believe it was all made up on the spot) with additions by Askey and Murdoch.
The shows consisted of sketches, often within the framework of the mythical flat, together with visiting artists and musical numbers: Band Waggon was a huge success and made Askey a major star, and established Murdoch as a superb comic support which he later was in other broadcast comedy series. The show ran for three years, finishing in 1940 when Murdoch was called up for war service. It was a landmark in BBC Variety, and paved the way for ITMA and countless other comedy-team shows.