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RTH at the peak - superb,
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This review is from: Round the Horne, Series 3 (The Collector's Edition) (Audio CD)
This box-set includes all of the episodes from the third series of the most hilarious radio comedy series of the 1960s.
Written by Barry Took and Marty Feldman, and broadcast between 1965 and 1968, Round the Horne starred Kenneth Horne, Hugh Paddick, Kenneth Williams, Betty Marsden and Bill Pertwee, with significant contributions from news-reader Douglas Smith.
The series is perhaps best known for the outrageously camp Julian and Sandy (Paddick and Williams), and other memorable characters included folk singer Rambling Syd Rumpo (Williams), J Peasmold Gruntfuttock (also Williams) and tv personality Seamus Android (Pertwee).
A typical programme would start with answers to a non-existent quiz, followed by a big set-piece, typically a film spoof. This was followed (in the first three series) by a vocal harmony spot, which was (thankfully) replaced in Series Four by a humorous musical piece performed by the cast. J & S and Rambling Syd completed the programme.
For me, the third series represents the absolute zenith for Round the Horne. Back in 1965, RTH had hit the track running, but there had been continuous progress throughout the first two series, a new high being reached with the superb 1966 Christmas show which concludes the Series Two box-set. Despite the absence of Horne himself through ill-health, the outstanding dramatization of `The Hunchback of Notre Dame' had pointed the way ahead, and was accompanied by superlative contributions from Rambling Syd Rumpo and from Julian and Sandy.
From the first episode, broadcast in February 1967, it is obvious that Series Three was to continue where the Christmas Show had left off. The centrepiece was a movie spoof, "The Plastic Max", set in WWI, and was succeeded by such excellent productions as "Trilby", the jazz-inspired "Young Horne with a Man" and "The Bullfighter", in which Douglas Smith plays the bull.
Special mention must be made of episode nine, which departed from the usual format to present an utterly hilarious life history of J Peasemold Gruntfuttock. For me, this is quite simply the best Round the Horne episode ever produced.
The series' galaxy of talent, both writing and performing, produced programmes which are quintessentially sixties yet hilarious to this day. Though RTH was topical, todays' listeners' pleasure is little impaired by references to now-forgotten celebs - the essential humour is timeless. All four box sets are beautifully presented, with outstanding art-work, and can be very strongly commended. As Williams would have said, "Fantabulosa...."
Though good value for money, containing in this instance 10 hours of hilarious entertainment, these box sets are admittedly rather pricey. So, if you're looking to invest in just one, I'd have no hesitation about buying Series Three.