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Round Mr Horne: The Life of Kenneth Horne [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Barry Johnston
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 May 2006
When Kenneth Horne died in 1969 at the age of 61, he was described as 'the last of the truly great radio comics'. In a broadcasting career spanning more than 25 years he starred in three of the most popular radio comedy series of all time - "Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh", "Beyond Our Ken" and "Round the Horne". Born in 1907, Horne was the youngest of seven children of a Congregationalist preacher and MP. He won a half-blue for tennis at Cambridge but was sent down for failing his exams. In 1939 he joined the RAF and rose to the rank of Wing Commander before he broke into broadcasting after compeering a troop concert on the BBC. With his brother officer, Richard 'Dickie' Murdoch he created the hugely popular Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh set on a remote RAF station 'somewhere in England' which ran for ten years. After leaving the RAF he successfully combined two careers, as a businessman and a broadcaster, until he suffered a stroke in 1958 and had to cut short his business career. During his convalescence he helped to devise the legendary radio series "Beyond Our Ken" in which he presided amiably over a cast of anarchic characters played by Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden and Bill Pertwee. This was followed by "Round the Horne" which has been called 'the funniest comedy series in radio history'. In 1969 Kenneth Horne collapsed and died on stage while presenting a television awards programme.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd; illustrated edition edition (12 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845131231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845131234
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.4 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 772,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barry Johnston appeared with the vocal group Design on more than fifty TV shows in the 1970s, such as Morecambe and Wise, Benny Hill and The Two Ronnies. He presented the breakfast show on KLOA-AM in California and then presented a daily show for many years on BBC Radio Sussex. He now runs Barn Productions and has produced more than 100 audiobooks, including the number one bestsellers 'An Evening with Johnners' and 'The Wit of Cricket'. He has also edited and compiled several books including the Sunday Times top ten bestseller 'Letters Home 1926-1945', 'The Wit of Cricket' and 'The Wit of Golf' and is the author of biographies of Kenneth Horne and of his father, Brian Johnston.

Product Description

Review

An affectionate tribute to Kenneth Horne, the genial father-figure of the BBC radio's Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne. -- William Cook, The Independent, June 7, 2006

An affectionate tribute to Kenneth Horne, the genial father-figure of the BBC radios's Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne. -- William Cook, The Independent, June 7, 2006

Barry Johnston's lovingly detailed book is a long overdue tribute to a maestro of the microphone. -- Barry Cryer, The Oldie, September, 2006

Delightful ... one is drawn irresistibly towards a gifted comedian who was also, rather more importantly, a warm-hearted, thoroughly good man. -- Michael Henderson, The Times, June 3, 2006

Delightful...one is drawn irresistibly towards a gifted comedian who was also, rather more importantly, a warm-hearted, thoroughly good man. -- Michael Henderson, The Times, June 3, 2006

Johnston is especially entertaining when tracing the development of programmes...his quotations from scripts often made me laugh out loud. -- Jonathan Cecil, Daily Mail, August 18, 2006

Sympathetic and well-researched ... Barry Johnston brings the golden age of the wireless nostalgically to life. -- Hugh Massingberd, Daily Telegraph, July 22, 2006

Sympathetic and well-researched...Barry Johnston brings the golden age of the wireless nostalgically to life. -- Hugh Massingberd, Daily Telegraph, July 22, 2006

About the Author

Barry Johnston has previously published Johnners: The Life of Brian, a biography of his father, Brian Johnston, who worked with Kenneth Horne on BBC radio and has compiled three anthologies of his father's work in researching this book he has had the active cooperation of Kenneth Horne's surviving family as well as the help of many of the performers who worked with Horne over the course of his broadcasting career.


Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Son of a preacher man 8 Feb 2009
By Bantam Dave TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Kenneth Horne had a remarkable life. The youngest of seven children, his father was an MP and a renowned preacher who would fill churches with people wanting to hear his stirring orations. After Kenneth was sent down at Cambridge University he gained employment in the glass industry and was so successful at this that in time he became the Sales Director of the major car windscreen manufacturers, Triplex, and would have probably have become the Chairman and Managing Director (and therefore one of the most important figures in the British motor industry) had he not tendered his resignation on a point of principal. What makes Kenneth Hornes life remarkable though, is that at the same time as being a captain of industry, he led a double life because he was also an extremely popular figure in radio entertainment, starring in countless highly rated comedies and quiz shows. In modern day terms, this would be like Peter Kay being on the Board at Tesco's or Alan Carr running BT; I can't see this happening somehow!

It is now forty years ago since he died (almost to the day as I write this) and, apart latter day repeats of Round the Horne, I knew little of his work and nothing about his life. After reading this book though, I now know a great deal and to his credit, Barry Johnston does it in a very enjoyable way which for me, made this book a pleasure to read. I don't think that you could ask any more than this from a biography.

Any good show biz biography should provide the reader with a few quotable anecdotes, and this book has plenty of these. I was particularly amused to read that one of Hornes writing team was an official in the Salvation Army; not only that but she provided Horne, famous for his double intendres, with some of his fruitiest innuendoes.

Well worth a read for anybody who wants to read about a giant (and pioneer) of British comedy and an obviously very good man.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't mention your Dad too much! 11 April 2007
Format:Hardcover
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this fascinating biography of Ken Horne is the number of times the author mentions his father; the cricket commentator Brian Johnston. His father must have told the young Barry many anecdotes of his meetings with Kenneth Horne and Johnston Junior certainly rememberd them........However well done to Mr Johnston for a throughly enjoyable read and I heartily recommend this book to all Round the Horne fans!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read 23 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good book well written, informative, a true insight to that side of kenneth Horne few people ever saw. A very good read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely man of mirth. 19 May 2013
By ADB
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kenneth Horne held many shows together. This is his life showing what an interesting man he was, and how loved and respected he was by all who worked with him .
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could do better 10 Jun 2008
By Mrs. A. C. Whiteley VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Barry Johnston's very detailed biography provides a wealth of information about the late, great Kenneth Horne. It is fascinating but can on occasions be a little difficult to wade through. Some of the information on Kenneth's father (whose biography is this again?) was superfluous and Johnston's constant remarking on his favourite bits of the various radio programmes was unnecessary and a little tiresome. It gathered pace towards the end, however, where it improved significantly.

It's a shame, really, since the endorsement by Barry Cryer on the front cover promises a riotous read. Ultimately, however, the book fails to be as humorous as the man himself or to accurately convey the warmth and conviviality which came across so well in Beyond Our Ken and Round The Horne. Worth reading for the detailed information, therefore, but a little disappointing.
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