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RESEARCH - Summer Entertainment on the Isle of Man: The Joe Loss Years

Wed, 16 Sep 2020

 Summer Entertainment on the Isle of Man

The Joe Loss Years

Part 1: 1946-50

‘Let the good times roll again’

by

Maurice Powell

‘It was a golden period. The mix of reliable old, brilliant new, up and comers, down and outers, has beens, never was-ers and some of the most eccentric acts ever seen . . .’*

The world of entertainment slowly began to regain some of its pre-war vitality during the immediate austere post-war years. In 1947 the Crazy Gang returned to the London stage with Together Again, and in 1949 Billy Cotton and Tessie O’Shea appeared together in their touring show Tess and Bill. Radio reached the height of its popularity and influence* and two years later Billy Cotton launched the Billy Cotton Band Show, which cemented his enormous reputation, and with his signature tune Somebody Stole My Gal and raucous call of ‘Wakey, Wakey!’ the show became the backdrop to Sunday lunchtimes throughout Britain. In 1948 Frank Muir and Dennis Norden’s Take It From Here was soon attracting enormous radio audiences, mainly due to the weekly saga of the Glum family, starring ‘Professor’ Jimmy Edwards, Dick Bentley and June Whitfield. Ray’s a Laugh with Ted Ray replaced ITMA after the death of Tommy Handley in 1949, and Educating Archie, Peter Brough’s bizarre radio ventriloquist show, began a decade-long run the following year and helped launch the careers of some notable stars who appeared as Archie Andrew’s tutors, including Tony Hancock, Max Bygraves, Beryl Reid and Hattie Jacques. Worker’s Playtime, the popular lunchtime entertainment for factory workers begun in 1941 and broadcast directly from factories ‘somewhere in England’, introduced a myriad of stars including Jack Warner, Elsie and Doris Waters, and later Cyril Fletcher and Val Doonican. Another wartime favourite, Variety Bandbox, ran from 1944 until 1953, and helped launch the career of resident comedian Frankie Howerd, whose hesitant, seemingly disorderly delivery became his hugely successful trademark.  In 1950 Crazy People morphed into that warped, anarchic trailblazer The Goon Show.

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