Beyond Our Ken was the predecessor to Round The Horne. Running for 7 series clocking up 101 episodes plus 2 christmas specials. Eric Merriman had previously written material for Kenneth Horne on Henry Hall‘s Guest Night and Variety playhouse and written some stand up material for Barry Took. In June 1957 the BBC Radio Variety department asked Merriman to come up with an idea radio series starring Horne. Merriman devised a format for the show with the working title Don’t Look Now. This was to become Beyond Our Ken.
Beyond Our Ken featured characters similar to those later featured in Round The Horne, for instance Betty Marsden’s Fanny Haddock (parodying Fanny Craddock). It was also notable for Bill Pertwee’s Frankie Howerd impersonation, Hankie Flowered, and Hugh Paddick’s working-class pop singer Ricky Livid. Another favourite was Kenneth Williams’ country character, Arthur Fallowfield, who was based on Dorset farmer Ralph Wightman, who was a regular contributor to the BBC radio programme “Any Questions?” The scripts were full of innuendo and double entendre – on one occasion Horne introduced him as the man who put the sex in Sussex. Fallowfield’s reply to any question began: “Well, I think the answer lies in the soil!” Also, on one occasion, Paddick’s character Stanley Birkenshaw, aka “Dentures” who would re-appear in Round the Horne, gave a noble and rather damp version of Hamlet’s soliloquy: ‘To be – or not to be – that issssssssss the quesssssssssstion ….’
Williams and Paddick also played a couple of camp men-about-town Rodney and Charles, in many ways (although not as extreme) a precursor of Julian and Sandy in Round The Horne.
Douglas Smith (announcer)
Radio Channel: The Light Program
Written By: Eric Merriman and Barry Took (series 1 and 2), Eric Merriman (3-7)
Original Transmission: 1st July 1958 (episode 1) – 13th November 1964 (episode 1 of series 7)