For those of you who have led a life sadly sheltered from the glory of the 1960's classic BBC radio comedy series Round the Horne, it behoves us to explain it, insofar as this is possible.
For three years, from 1965 to 1968, former businessman-turned-presenter Kenneth Horne, the epitome of the BBC dinner-jacketed Establishment, led a band of irreverent comics, consisting of Kenneth Williams, Bill Pertwee, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden and plum-voiced announcer Douglas Smith, along with musicians Edwin Braden and the Hornblowers and close harmony quartet the Fraser Hayes Four in a riot of innuendo-laden, satirical and surreal sketch comedy which broke all previous boundaries of the genre and ushered in a new era.
It has been said, quite rightly, that without the influence of Round the Horne and similar shows of the time, the shift in comedy that brought us the likes of Monty Python and the Alternative Comedy Boom of the 1980s could not have come about, at least not so quickly.
The show introduced society to a breed of comedy which dared to burst the bubble of the grey and pompous BBC, poke fun at the leaders of the day and even introduce and normalise, without saying so, the first two obviously gay characters in British broadcasting, Julian and Sandy, at a time when such things were still illegal.
Of course, with changing times come changing attitudes, morals and standards, and so it has been necessary to make certain alterations. Some of these are effected to make our show more accessible to today's audience, but we hope this is still done sympathetically for those who are dyed-in-the-wool fans of the original.
We have made no attempt to impersonate the original performers and indeed you may find some characters have been interpreted quite differently to how you remember them. That is part of a broader theatrical interpretation which has also resulted in us substituting the names of the performers for ourselves, with the exception of Kenneth Horne and Douglas Smith who were not only their own people but also their own characters.
We have also localised certain references, again in the spirit of the programme.
So what we have tried to create is the atmosphere of a good night out in the 1960s. We have, against our nightclub-like backdrop, tried to meld the feel of a radio studio, with its sound effects paraphernalia, battered scripts and microphones, with the sense of a good-natured, rollicking cabaret which all comes together to form Castaway’s affectionate salute to one of the all-time greats of broadcast comedy.
- David Blumfield, August 2013.