Round Mr Horne: The Life of Kenneth Horne

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  1. Horne, solo | The Times
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  5. Round Mr Horne: The Life of Kenneth Horne

Barry Johnston, the son and biographer of Horne's BBC colleague, Brian "Johnners" Johnston, brings the golden age of the wireless nostalgically to life. The absurdities of "Auntie's" bureaucratic approach to entertainment are deftly delineated. I particularly enjoyed the details of the BBC's ban on jocular references to the McGillycuddy of the Reeks after the Irish chieftain's solicitors had complained in that he had been similarly libelled on air in , and Among the book's more surprising revelations is that much of Horne's fruity material was written by a woman who worked for the Salvation Army.

Without labouring the psychology, the author presents a rounded portrait that hints at the complexities underneath Horne's genial facade. We glimpse the ladies' man who could not consummate his first marriage, to a duke's daughter, and was later bossed around by his materialistic little third wife; the workaholic who was afraid of being alone, never wanting "to stop and think", and who determinedly drove himself to death at Horne's philosophy was to "live with cheerfulness and a certain amount of politeness, and you won't go far wrong".

Horne, solo | The Times

Happily, it is the jokes that dominate the proceedings. My favourite is the anecdote about Arthur Askey being thanked profusely after entertaining the patients at an Army hospital in Lancashire in This is a VD hospital. Love puzzles? Get the best at Telegraph Puzzles. Books on Amazon.

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Beyond Our Ken (Excerpts from the Popular Radio Series) (Medley)

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Subscription offers. Subscription sign in. Read latest edition. Meanwhile Kenneth was popping up on loads of other shows such as host of Monday Night at Eight and, from , starting an association with a programme that was to last almost twenty years. He first appeared as the chairman of Twenty Questions in December and subsequently acted as panellist or chairman until his final appearance in December Parallel to all this radio work he'd returned to Triplex as General Sales Manager for his day job with a punishing schedule of meetings and country-wide travel.

Round Mr Horne: The Life of Kenneth Horne

Comedy writing and performing duties were confined to evenings and weekends. He maintained that, if asked to choose. There were business ructions for Kenneth in the mids when he was appointed as the Managing Director of the British Industries Fair Limited but was given the ultimatum of staying with Triplex or joining BIF full-time, so after 27 years with the company he tendered his resignation, losing his company pension in the process. Although Kenneth remained loyal to the BBC for many years he was keen to take on more TV work and by the end of the 50s was regularly taking the train up to the Tyne-Tees studios in Newcastle to record one of those admags, this one titled Trader Horne , that were so popular at the time.

The start of Beyond Our Ken - the first recording was 18 June - was nearly in jeopardy as just four months earlier Kenneth had suffered a stroke whilst on a business trip. His recovery was remarkably swift, though he now had a limp, and he was back at work on Twenty Questions just a couple of months later. However, his doctor was adamant, either give up business or give up radio.

As we know radio won the day but he still maintained a fairly relentless pace of broadcasting work. Merriman and Took created some memorable characters for the show that, thanks to many repeats over the years, remain fresh today. Eric Merriman who continued to write alone for the next five series, a remarkable output.


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Barry Took was called back along with his now writing partner Marty Feldman to come up with scripts for a new show for Kenneth. Initially reluctant to take it on they developed some ideas for a series they originally wanted to call It's Ken Again. Hugh: Oh hello. I'm Julian and this is my friend Sandy. I've got me articles and he's took silk. K en W: Frequently. Well, Mr Horne. How nice to vada your dolly old eek again. What brings you trolling in here? Kenneth: Can you help me?