The Will Hay Programme, 1944
Through the war years the radio had kept the nation both informed of what was going on and entertained. Shows such as ITMA with Tommy Handley were hugely popular. However there was another hugely popular comic around the time and that was Will Hay.
Hay had appeared in many films by the time his BBC Radio series started in 1944, towards the end of the war.
Broadcast live from the BBC Paris Theatre it ran for four months, three series and nineteen shows. It has been reported that the show was cancelled as a result of Hay’s dispute with the BBC over the quality of the scripts. However this was not quite the end.
Just before Christmas, the show went live again this time from the Victoria Palace for six weeks. There would be one more performance at a gathering of variety entertainers at midnight on 4th May 1945 (4 days before VE Day) before the Royal Family and many military notables. This was at a private function performed at the Life Guards barracks in Windsor. It was not publicised in the newspapers due to security concerns.
In the shows Hays performed sketches as schoolmaster Dr Muffin, where his students would mock him by calling him “Old Crumpet”
Will Hay – Dr Muffin
Charles Hawtry – Smart
John Clark – D’arcy Minor
Billy Nicholls – Beckett
Channel: BBC Home Service, BBC General Forces Programme
Written By: Will Hay, Max Kester and Alick Hayes
Original Transmission Dates: 1944 – 1945