Whack-O! was a British sitcom starring Jimmy Edwards of ‘The Glums’ fame. Written by two of the most prolific writers of the time: Frank Muir and Dennis Norden.
The series ran for forty seven episodes from 1956–60 and for a further thirteen episodes from 1971 to 1972. The second block from 1971 was broadcast in colour, with updated scripts and slightly re-titled Whacko!.
The first six episodes were subtitled “Six of the Best”. As well as a TV series (including three special shorts), in 1959 a film was made based on the show, entitled Bottoms Up!. There was also a radio version, broadcast on the BBC Light Program (now Radio 2). This ran for forty five episodes broadcast from May 1961 – July 1963, with a special guest appearance from Vera Lynn who starred as herself in the second episode.
Jimmy Edwards plays Professor James Edwards, M.A., a drunken, gambling, devious, cane-swishing headmaster who tyrannises staff and children at Chiselbury public school.
The character played by Edwards bore more than a passing resemblance to that of Sergeant Bilko, as he tried to swindle the children out of their pocket money to finance his many schemes.
Most of the show’s episodes are missing, presumed lost. Only seven of the original sixty episodes exist in the BBC archives. These comprise six of the original black-and-white episodes and one of the colour series.
Many of the radio episodes were recovered by a BBC archivist from a listener’s collection of tapes in 2012 and are now among the many vintage comedies broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra.
Written By: Frank Muir and Dennis Norden
Original Transmission Dates (TV series):
4th October 1956 – 27th December 1960 (black and white series)
27th November 1971 – 26th February 1972 (colour series)