More quotes from Maurice Reeve,
drama critic of 'Practical Wireless in the 50s
compiled by Roger Bickerton

November, 1949

Being perhaps the only person who not only loathes the signature tune but also considers them, with an occasional exception, to be quite redundant and nothing more than a nasty effusion of noisome, noxious notes, I was interestedly optimistic when I saw Mr. Sam Heppner's article "This Business of Signature Tunes" in the Radio Times of 5th. August. Mr. Heppner did little but catalogue famous signature tunes, both past and present, giving the origins of some and reasons for others. As to the reason why they should be "an integral part of radio", he fails to touch on this. Stating that he "is sure many listeners are frequently exasperated by hearing the same tune again and again without being able to fit a name to it", it should have been perfectly easy for him to find a name collectively suitable for the whole lot of them, followed by the case, unanswerable, and in a tenth the number of words he actually used, for their immediate and irrevocable abolition.

July, 1951

The narrators in the Sunday evening serials are clogs in the machine. Mr. Chapman and Mr. Hall (the original publishers of the Pickwick Papers), the two narrators in the current serial of that immortal masterpiece are, to put it mildly, blithering nuisances. I thought they stifled and clogged the pace of the story-telling horribly and most unnecessarily. The amount of 'Pickwick' material - there were, I think only 8 instalments - could have been nearly doubled, but for the twaddle of "Messrs. Chapman & Hall" to the benefit of all concerned.

December, 1951

"Music Hall", alas, is back. The recent inclusion of, or prefix of, the word "Festival" to its title did little to raise its general level of banality and raucousness. According to its first de-festivalised presentation, it will return to its unhonoured level. I did think, and was led to believe, it was to be abolished, but the wish was, presumably, father to the thought. There is, of course, the remedy of not listening to it which, now that I have done my duty and reported on it, I shall take.

October, 1958

The new Kenneth Horne weekly show, Beyond Our Ken, has a hidden meaning in its title which I leave readers to fathom for themselves. With script by Eric Merriman and Barry Took and with Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Ron Moody, Patricia Lancaster and Stanley Unwin in the cast, it seems a very ordinary affair indeed. The opening crack gives the clue to its general entertainment level : "Advice to the people of Iceland - wrap up." Really! Lincoln it was who said "you can fool all of the people all of the time etc. etc".. It must be admitted that there was a good deal of laughter from the studio audience. But an early return of Much Binding is called for if Mr. Horne's fan mail is not to drop seriously.

January, 1958

Tony Shrayne's and E.J. Mason's word game ("My Word!") doesn't seem quite so funny as when it first started under John Arlott's umpireship. The parodies of famous quotations are getting easy to anticipate, whilst the Muir-Norden cracks, always bearing the same stamp, wear just a little thin. "Third Programme", "Network Three". What has been gained by all the retiming, regrouping and rearranging of programmes? To me, personally, as a humble listener, nothing, other than annoyance and frustration at finding most of my favourite items moved around ten minutes earlier here, half an hour there and occasionally to a different day, compelling me to forgo it altogether.

December, 1958

"Advice to a water diviner - leave well alone" was another 'joke' which failed to make me revise my original opinion of the Kenneth Horne show Beyond Our Ken. Another warned him, on walking into a tent, not to do so as he might "be arrested for loitering with intent". If this sort of thing is beyond our ken, it is also beyond us to know how it can be put over each week.

RB; appeared in 'The Circular Note', the journal of the VRPCC, in 2000. Reproduced by permission.

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