It’s A Square World – 1960
Groundbreaking comedy from an all too often forgotten comedy genius – Michael Bentine. It’s A Square World was a sketch based series that appeared on the BBC between 1960 and 1964. Fifty six episodes were broadcast over seven series. It was revived briefly for one episode in 1977 for BBC 1 under the title Michael Bentine’s Square World.
Despite the fact you don’t hear too much about this show today it was huge in it’s day. The series earned Bentine a BAFTA award in 1962 for Light Entertainment and a compilation show, screened by the BBC in 1963, won that year’s Press Prize at the Rose d’Or Festival in Montreux. The shows themselves were devised and written by Michael Bentine and John Law.
It was in the days before videos but some sketches made it onto an LP release in 1962.
Sadly of the 56 episodes only 45 still remain in the archives.
Innovative sketch show. Using scale models, Bentine sunk the Woolwich Ferry, sent a Chinese junk to attack the House of Commons (a sketch that was temporarily banned by the BBC as it was considered too political coming up to election time), and planted a forty-foot whale trying to enter the Natural History Museum, a stunt that required 25 men standing inside the whale to move it along, which caused traffic delays. He also sent the BBC TV Centre into orbit with rockets in their basement.
Some of the best loved sketches were his miniature plays on tiny sets without characters. Bentine stood over the sets and narrated as special effects and noises portrayed the movements and adventures of an imaginary tiny cast in what could be a western town one week and a haunted house the next. This idea would be revived in a later series – Michael Bentine’s Potty Time.
The show also featured cartoon sections, an idea that woud later feature in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. One section (2 November 1961) had Richthofen’s Flying Circus. Other times, the cartoon characters interacted with the real people. The cartoons were by Biographic Cartoon Films Ltd. The actors were seen in many different disguises and Dick Emery started a number of his characters there, like the old codger, and developed his funny voices.
Written and Devised By: Michael Bentine
Original Transmission Dates: 16th September 1960 – 20th December 1964