Radio 2 Comedy Season

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01Carry On Forever! - 120100719

Over two laughter-packed programmes, Carry On star Leslie Phillips traces the development of the comedy series and considers its ongoing legacy.

He hears from surviving cast members, plays classic clips, and listens back to Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques and Joan Sims via the BBC's vast archive.

The genre is said to reflect the changing Britain of the 50s, 60s and 70s and Carry On experts are on hand to analyse what it all meant.

They'll be looking at how the films would often send up British institutions like the NHS, Monarchy and Empire, while others would spoof Hollywood blockbusters with a Carry On take on espionage, the Wild West and horror.

Part one looks at the origins of the first Carry On film (Carry On Sergeant) and examines how the sophomore outing (Carry On Nurse) was such a big hit in America.

It also explores how the Carry On franchise worked and the team's approach to the schedule.

Helping Leslie remember the good old days are fellow Carry On actors Anita Harris, Shirley Eaton, Valerie Leon, Liz Fraser, Kenneth Cope and Jacki Piper.

The programme also hears from Carry On experts Robert Ross and Steve Gerard, as well as writer John Antrobus.

And, via archive, from producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas.

There are also regular interruptions from 'Kenneth Williams' and 'Frankie Howerd', courtesy of Carry On fan and impersonator David Benson.

Leslie Phillips traces the development of the Carry On series and considers its legacy.

02Carry On Forever! - 220100720

Oh Hello! Leslie Phillips continues his two part exploration of the world of Carry On, looking at how the films evolved over the years.

In part two, he examines their increasing loss of innocence as more relaxed rules on censorship made the series writers and producers ever bolder.

The programme looks at the controversy over payments to the Carry On stars.

It also examines the often overlooked Carry On TV series and the numerous stage shows the films spurned.

Leslie discovers more about the films that were never made, before coming back to the series' last entry, 1992's Carry On Columbus.

Julian Clary and others offer their thoughts on why, according to many, the last Carry On just didn't make the grade.

There's also a look at why the franchise remains popular to this day - with stamps, cups, t-shirts and DVDs - as Leslie examines why Britain just seems to want to Carry On Forever.

There are further great clips of Sid, Kenny, Babs, Charlie and the gang as well as interviews from the archives with Jim Dale, Bernard Bresslaw and Jack Douglas.

Remembering the 1970s Carry On era are Shirley Eaton, Liz Frazer, Kenneth Cope, Anita Harris, Valerie Leon, writer John Antrobus and Carry On experts Robert Ross and Steve Gerard, as well as producer Peter Rogers and Director Gerald Thomas via the BBC's archives.

And 'Kenneth Williams' and 'Frankie Howerd' continue to interrupt as their voices are brought back to life via impersonator and actor David Benson.

Leslie Phillips concludes his two-part probe into the world of Carry On.

03Tommy Cooper: Just Like This!20100721

Sean Lock looks at the life of a man who is as popular today as he ever was, and who is still finding new fans via the wonders of the internet.

In a magical mix of Tommy from the archives, as well as new interviews, Radio 2 celebrates the career of a unique force in British comedy.

From his early days and the first magic set, to the health problems and the fateful last television appearance, the programme looks back at his rollercoaster life.

Sean Lock looks at how much of the comic's outward persona was a deliberate barricade [some friends have said they never really got to know the real Tommy] and how he found it difficult to be taken seriously because people started to laugh the moment he spoke.

Tommy broke every rule in the comedy book, he told jokes no other comedian would get away with, and he based his act around getting things wrong.

In doing so he secured his place in our hearts forever.

Eric Morecambe said he wouldn't go on stage after Cooper; Spike Milligan said his face was a call for help; and Bob Monkhouse called him an aggravated assault on the funny bone - what more indication of comedy genius do you need?

The programme features a host of new interviews with people who knew and loved him including Michael Parkinson, Ronnie Corbett, Barry Cryer, Sheila Steafal, Jimmy Cricket, John Miles (the man who looks after Tommy's estate), Royston Mayoh (producer and director, who worked on The Tommy Cooper Hour) and David Ball (from the Magic Circle, and Tommy's bank manager!).

Sean Lock celebrates the life and career of the one and only Tommy Cooper!

04Being Here: The Peter Sellers Story20100726

30 years after his death, Alexander Armstrong profiles the life and times of a man who brought laughter to millions.

This documentary explores how a one time drummer and banjo player from Southsea become the toast of Hollywood and one of Britain's greatest ever comedy exports.

He became famous for his vocal skills in The Goons as well as his chameleon-like ability to adopt many different personas.

He was a Goon, Inspector Clouseau, Dr Strangelove - but there was much more to Peter Sellers than these comic creations.

This documentary looks at the films, but also the other radio work, the chart success [with multi-selling comedy LPs], and Sellers' life off-stage.

Sellers features extensively in the programme, via the BBC's archives, while friends like Eric Sykes, Denis Norden and writer John Antrobus are on hand to make sense of this comedic genius.

Actress Liz Fraser talks about his early film days whilst Simon Williams and Valerie Leon reflect on the latter ones.

Sir Michael Parkinson also recalls his memorable interview with Sellers.

To those who knew him, Peter could be difficult at times, but many of the friends he made stayed with him throughout his life.

To those of us who grew up watching him on the big screen or listening to him on the radio, the name Peter Sellers meant only one thing - laughter - and that laughter lives on through this programme.

The voice of Peter Sellers is used with permission of the Lynne Unger Children's Trust.

30 years after his death, Alexander Armstrong profiles the legendary Peter Sellers

05All Round Bob Monkhouse20100727

For the first time, we hear the real story behind a giant of comedy, as Bob's friend Barry Cryer celebrates the fascinating life of a consummate professional, whose public persona never once revealed his private heartaches.

Star of film, TV and radio, stand up comedian, game show presenter, joke writer for Bob Hope - the list goes on and this programme will showcase examples of all of them as Barry profiles Bob's remarkable career and contrasts it with his personal problems off stage and screen.

Bob was one of the best stand-up comedians of his generation but to many he was king of the game show.

Along with Bruce Forsyth, he made the genre his own.

He had a gift for putting people at their ease whilst remaining completely in control of events

The programme examines Bob the actor - noting appearances in everything from the very first Carry On film, through sitcom, to an episode of Jonathan Creek.

Barry also recalls how in 1979 his classic comedy film collection landed him in court and how he made the news again, a few years later, when his joke books were stolen!

Behind the famous smile, Bob's private life was sometimes turbulent and this programme traces his off-screen tribulations, and examines, with some of those who worked with him at the time, his bravery in front of the cameras.

The programme includes classic clips of Bob in action, new interviews, and archive interviews with Bob himself from the BBC extensive collection.

Contributors including Denis Norden, Bradley Walsh, Anita Harris, Ted Robbins, Sheila Steafel, Jimmy Cricket, and Tom Edwards (Bob's friend and voiceover man on Wipeout) are united by one word throughout - genius.

Radio 2's Comedy Season continues on Wednesday with Dave Allen: Goodnight And May Your God Go With You.

Radio 2's comedy season continues with a celebration of Bob Monkhouse

06Dave Allen: Goodnight And May Your God Go With You20100728

Ed Byrne celebrates Dave Allen, the sit-down, stand-up comedian, whose unique style entranced and entertained audiences all over the world for over thirty years.

To some, he was an alternative comedian before the phrase was even coined; never afraid to tackle previously taboo subjects, such as sex, death or, with the routines that he was most famous for, religion.

Acclaim and controversy followed him in equal measure, and his work has inspired many modern comedians such as Jack Dee, Dylan Moran and Eddie Izzard.

In this hour-long documentary, fan Ed Byrne examines Dave's life, career and comic legacy, remembering the impression his TV shows left on him as a small child growing up in Ireland.

Ed also explores how Dave's prowess as a storyteller came from the rich oral traditions of their shared Irish heritage.

Dave first found fame in the UK thanks to his appearances on The Val Doonican Show in the mid 1960s, and Val talks about how he first came to work with Dave.

But before the BBC television series, Dave had already toured much of the world and enjoyed his own massively successful TV show in Australia.

In 1971, Dave Allen At Large arrived on BBC TV and with its mixture of sketches and Dave's unique sit-down stand up, musing on life from his iconic stool with a glass of whiskey in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

He was a star in a golden era that included The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise.

Writer Peter Vincent and actor Michael Sharvell-Martin share their personal recollections of working with Dave throughout the 70s and 80s.

The programme also features a rare interview with Dave Allen's son, Ed Allen, who recalls a father who loved his work, but treasured his private time with family and friends even more.

Other contributors include Jimmy Tarbuck (who, like Dave, started his career as a Butlin's Redcoat); Helen Shapiro (who Dave toured with, alongside the Beatles, in the early 60s); Hollywood director Stephen Frears (who cast Dave in a 1979 Alan Bennett play); and comedians Mark Thomas and Jo Caulfield.

Ed Byrne examines the life, career and comic legacy of Dave Allen