One for our older readers perhaps. The Glums started life as a popular sketch on the successful BBC Radio series Take It From Here, making their debut in 1954.
Written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, the popularity of this sketch made them realise that they were on to something. They made one or two modifications to the characters, and The Glums became a regular part of Take It From Here. The Glums remained a regular fixture with Take It From Here until the series end in 1960, with Barry Took and Eric Merriman taking over writing duties for the final 1959/1960 season.
Such was the popularity of the sketch that the show was revived in 1978 as part of the unsuccessful Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night program. However, despite the failure of the Big Night program, The Glums Survived and went on to run for 2 series on ITV, produced by London Weekend Television in 1978.
The premise of The Glums was the long engagement between Ron Glum and his long-term fiancée Eth. As a result of post-war austerity, long engagements were common in 1950s Britain. A typical episode would start in the pub, with Mr Glum (played by Jimmy Edwards) talking to the barman (played by Wallas Eaton). It would be closing time, and Mr Glum would start telling the week’s story to the barman as a ruse for obtaining another pint of beer (or two). The story would be about some recent episode in the lives of Ron, Mr Glum’s dim son (played by Dick Bentley), and Eth, a plain girl for whom Ron represented her only chance of marriage (played by June Whitfield). Bentley, who played the son, was almost thirteen years older than Edwards, who played the father.
Most weeks the story involved some crisis in the relationship of the three protagonists. In several episodes this crisis followed from Ron’s laziness, and his resultant inability to find employment. Other weeks the crisis was due to Mr Glum’s refusal to let Ron and Eth marry (in one episode this is because he is not sure that Ron really loves Eth, in another Eth takes Mr Glum to court because he will not give his consent to the marriage). One story was about Eth getting into difficulties because she was accused of pilfering at the office where she was a secretary. Very often, the story arose from the consequences of some idiotic behaviour of Ron’s, who was incapable of competently carrying out any simple task, even going to the fish-and-chip shop (when he puts his change up his nose).
A great comic character, who never appears but is often to be heard incoherently behind the scenes, was Mrs Glum, the family matriarch. Voiced by (well noises made by) Alma Cogan, the singer . Although she never had a speaking part, Ma Glum provided comedy value by always being put upon by Mr Glum, and yet always getting her way (such as the episode where Mr Glum pawned her false teeth). Alma Cogan also played other sundry feminine parts, such as occasional extramarital romantic interest for Mr Glum.
Mr Glum – Jimmy Edwards
Mrs Glum – Alma Coogan
Ron Glum – Dick Bentley
Eth (Ron’s Girlfriend) – June Whitfield
Mr Glum – Jimmy Edwards
Ron Glum – Ian Lavender
Eth – Patricia Brake
Channel: BBC Light Program and ITV
Charles Maxwell (for Radio), London Weekend Television (TV)
Take It From Here (Glums sketches) – 1954 – 1960
Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night – 1978
TV Series – 1978 – 1979