How “In Town To-night” is Put on the Air 

7 May 2018

‘In Town To-night: The Story of the Popular BBC Feature Told from Within’
by J C Cannell,
published in 1935 by George G Harrap & Co


THE TEAM BEHIND ‘IN TOWN TO-NIGHT’. A photograph specially taken outside St George’s Hall, the home of B.B.C. variety. Left to right: “Mike” Meehan, George B. Fuller, Leslie Baily, Eric Maschwitz (creator of “In Town To-night”), Mary Sharpe, A. W. Hanson, George Inns, and J. C. Cannell. Bryan Michie is standing, mostly hidden, immediately behind Hanson.

It must be difficult for listeners who have never been inside Broadcasting House to visualize the actual process of presenting the programme. It is done chiefly from one set of studios — those on the sixth floor — though studios of varying size in other parts of the building are frequently used.

On floor No. 6 there are four studios. The first, named 6A, is a rather large place, containing two or three microphones, and is used for small bands or groups of people in the programme. Studio 6B, about the size of a suburban drawing-room, has one microphone. Studio 6C is almost precisely the same in appearance and equipment as 6B, and 6D is the sound-effects studio, often used for giving extra rehearsals to people before the programme, and on some occasions for actual broadcasts in which special microphone arrangements have to be made.


Studio 6D is full of the weird contraptions employed to create sound effects over the microphone — a metal sheet to produce the sound of thunder, a box of gravel to give the effect, when trampled on, of marching feet, a tank of water used for various water sounds, drums of different sizes, two barrel-organs, a large brass bell, an electric machine to produce a hurricane, and so on. In addition, there is a great store of ‘effects’ records, upon which some hundreds of real noises, varying from aeroplanes in flight to lions roaring in the jungle, have been impressed.

‘In Town To-night’ as it appeared in the Radio Times listings for the BBC National Programme on Saturday 12 February 1938

Where larger studios are required for items in the “In Town To-night ” programmes such a one as 8A, a huge place on the top floor, is brought into service. It was from this studio that the hundred grandfathers, members of the Grandfathers’ Club, broadcast. On occasions St George’s Hall, which is no more than a hundred yards or so from Broadcasting House, is used. An example of this was when a large crowd, including a choir of Welsh visitors to London to see a football-match, formed an item in the programme.

Once a bathroom in the basement at the headquarters of the B.B.C. played its part. An opera star was to be heard singing in his bath; and he really did sing in the bath, for there is definitely no ‘fake’ of any kind in the “In Town To-night” programmes. The opera-singer, having got into the bath just before transmission was about to begin, complained that the water was not hot enough. An attendant was called, and the water was brought to a higher temperature.

“That’s enough!” cried the singer. “It’s too hot now! Too hot, I tell you!”

Then the cold tap came into use, and the hot tap again, until the water was of the right temperature. The result of these adjustments, however, meant that the room was now filled with hot steam, dense as the thickest fog. Bryan Michie, the B.B.C. producer, had to interview the singer, and perspiration flowed like a stream of water from poor Michie’s face as he peered at his script. He came rushing up to the sixth floor to continue his work, looking as though he had hurried prematurely from a Turkish bath.

The use of these various studios involves a complicated system of co-ordination, which is controlled by one man sitting at what is known as the ‘Dramatic Control Panel,’ on the eighth floor. The ‘panel’ is a board crowded with switches, knobs, gadgets, and lights, and the slightest mistake on the part of the man who operates it could easily cause awkward and embarrassing moments during the programme. Placed before the operator there is a sheet bearing highly complicated instructions, indicating that he must flick a green light in this studio, fade out that item in another, wait for some gramophone music in a third, and so on, with endless complexity. Twenty millions of listeners — that is a reasonable estimate of the number of those who hear “In Town To-night ” — would notice the effect of any mistake made by the man on the panel, such as, for example, allowing a clumsy pause to occur.

Eric Maschwitz and A. W. Hanson have always been proud of the fact that “In Town To-night” moves with great ‘slickness.’ The announcements, the fading in of the various gramophone records appropriate to particular items, the fading out, the general timing, all are worked out to seconds; and behind all this there are keen experience, deft hands, and exceptionally alert minds.

A GROUP OF TYPICAL “IN TOWN TO-NIGHTERS,” TAKEN AFTER THE BROADCAST. From left to right: Ted Williams (window-cleaner), Herbert Evans (postman to the Pool of London), H. J. Watts (manufacturer of Jews’ harps), Rev. A. W. Barker (known as the “Costers’ Bishop”), Donald White (Cook’s representative at Victoria Station), A. W. Hanson (producer).



First Series (1933-34)


Austen Croom-Johnson. Composer, playing his own compositions

Ripley. Cartoonist, famous for his series of “ Believe it or Not ” cartoons.

The Stone Mason’s Band. Consisting of the most famous dance-band leaders in London, who played for Christopher Stone’s silver wedding.

Virginia Cherrill, Cary Grant, and Randolph Scott. American film stars from Hollywood.

Tom Webster. Sporting cartoonist, introducing Len Harvey, the English boxer.

Marthe McKenna. Belgian War spy.

Joan Maude and Binnie Barnes. Actresses, both playing “Catherine Howard” parts in Town.

R. H. Naylor. Author of “What the Stars Foretell,” in the Sunday Express.

Reginald Forsythe and his Band. Coloured band from the Café de la Paix.

Pan Teh Ming. Chinese walker making a tour of the world on foot, with brief intervals on his bicycle.

Martin Taubman. Inventor playing the ‘electrond,’ a new musical instrument.

Suzanne Lenglen. Ex-tennis champion.

“Men of Aran.” Cast of Men of Aran, Robert Flaherty’s wild-island film.

Dr Ma Saw Sa. Burmese woman delegate to the Joint Committee on Burmese Constitutional Reform.

Horatio Nichols. Lawrence Wright, song-writer and music publisher.

“Whimsical Walker.” Eighty-four-year-old clown from Bertram Mills’s Circus.

The St Dunstan’s Dance-band. Conducted by Henry Hall. The band had played during the same week before the Prince of Wales.

G. D. Lynch. Author of rhyming mottoes for Christmas crackers.

Beryl Laverick and Daphne Courtney. “Alice” and “Wendy.” The Choirboys of All Souls’ Church, Langham Place. At choir-practice. (O.B.)

Bray Wyndham. Producer of Sinister Deeps, a film about the Loch Ness Monster.

Mrs Louise Kelly. Mother of Renee Kelly. Elderly actress playing at the Victoria Palace in a Christmas show.

Fireman Lewis Amis. Reported having seen a ghost in Streatham Astoria Cinema.

Gate Theatre Production. A ten-minute burlesque of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Mrs Nelson. Woman chimney-sweep.

Carl Brisson. Continental film star.

Eddie Oliver. Young boy of thirteen who exhibited films in a basement room, and was summoned. Introduced by the Mayor of Ramsgate.

Hughie Green and Laurie Lane. Impressions, etc.

Amelita Galli-Curci. Operatic star.

Munn and Felton’s Works’ Band. From Kettering.

Eddie Swan (Francis George). Celebrated young parachute-jumper. Jumped 4000 feet from an aeroplane with a dynamo strapped to his chest, so as to provide a flood of light.

Mary McCormic. American operatic star.

Sheikh Jalal Quraishi. Tramped 12,000 miles from Mecca. Hobby, collecting perfumes.

Teddy Joyce. American dance-band leader.

Dr Paul. Flea-trainer.

“Jew Süss.” Relay from the film studio of some of the shots.

Shankar Biniwale. Indian violinist.

Hermione Gingold. Broadcasting star, with her dresser.

R. C. Sherriff and James Whale. Scenario-writer and producer, talking on the Invisible Man film production.

S. H. Benson, F.Z.S. Talk on canaries. The speaker was accompanied by his birds. The broadcast was direct from the National Show of Caged Birds at Crystal Palace.

Merle Oberon. English film star.

C. E. Driver. Commercial traveller talking of his experiences.

Charles Harrison. “The Human Ostrich.” His diet for the past thirty years has consisted of anything from lighted cigarettes to broken glass.

Ethel Barrymore. American actress, in an interview.

Gibson Gowland. Just back from making a film in the Arctic, and about to play the lead in the film about the Loch Ness Monster.

Maurice Martenot. With his musical waves, a new musical instrument.

Tom Webster. Sporting cartoonist, introducing Larry Gains, the coloured boxer.

“Old Harry” Hopkins. Chairman of music-halls of the nineties, recalling songs of old music-halls days.

Mme Moussine Pouchkine. Seventy-five-year-old Russian actress from the Russian Imperial Theatre.

Paul Muni. Star of the film I am a Fugitive.

Babuji. Eyewitness of the big Indian earthquake.

Marion Chase. New York cabaret star.

Prebendary Carlile and an Unemployed Man (Mr Wolfingden). The Honorary Chief Secretary of the Church Army talking with an unemployed man, who told the story of having come to London to find work.

“Yours Sincerely.” Rehearsal by the company.

Victor Barna. World champion of table tennis, in England to compete in the championships. Introduced by Mr C. Corte-Woodcock, Chairman of the English Table Tennis Association.

Nova Pilbeam. Child actress, chosen to play in the film Little Friend.

Sir George Henschel. Eighty-four-year-old musician and singer of Lieder, singing on the occasion of his birthday.

Marian Marsh. American film star making a picture at Elstree.

Mme Schiaparelli. French dress-designer, on making clothes for the films.

Teddy Joyce’s Band. American dance-band.

“Rem.” Pavement artist who draws outside St Martin’s-in-the-Fields.

Florence Desmond. Impersonator.

Julius A. Gems. On making figure models, etc.

June. Famous musical-comedy star.

Tommy Orange and Norman Baines. Old boxer talking with a coming champion. Orange is seventy years old and a champion of bare-knuckle days.

Cab Calloway. American dance-band leader and inventor of ‘scat’ singing.

Scott. Barber of Shaftesbury Avenue who has cut the hair of nearly every theatrical celebrity of the past thirty years.

Eustace Smith. Known as the “Bird Man.” Retired to a caravan in the woods in Kent, and lives with his birds. Known to theatre queues in London and the suburbs.

Musical-box of George III’s Reign. Present owner playing the musical-box. The box was owned originally by George III himself.

Jimmie Walker. Ex-Mayor of New York.

Yacht Club Boys. American cabaret stars.

Signor Vittorio Podreca. Puppet showman.

O.B. from Heston Airport. Captain Stack and Mr Clifford before setting off to the Cape.

Robert Todd. Newmarket racehorse plater and ex-bodyguard to the late Edgar Wallace.

Gipsy Petulengro. Appeared twice in “In Town To-night,” chiefly on account of numerous requests to hear him again on cures by herbs, etc.

Street Criers.

Sam Smy. Ninety-year-old town-crier of Orford, in Suffolk.

Fred Perry. Tennis champion, on his return to England from Australia.

Captain Purvis. Captain of a ship taking a new missionary out to Tristan da Cunha.

Tsegundo Maki. The “ Japanese Chaliapipe.”

Howard Flynn and Edith Evans. Replaying an old record (1890) of Florence Nightingale.

Billy Wetherall. World’s long-distance road-skating champion.

Vic Huxley. Captain of Australian speedway team visiting England.

Coleman Hawkins. Coloured saxophonist.

Blind Match-seller of Holborn. Mr Abbott, who lost his sight in an explosion for which members of the Fenian movement were alleged to have been responsible.

Twenty-fifth Birthday of the Port of London Authority. An O.B. of a short visit to West India Docks.

MIKE STERN, AN INTERESTING PERSONALITY FROM PETTICOAT LANE. Mr Stern cried his wares over the air to “In Town To-night.”

Mike Stern. Petticoat Lane cheapjack.

The Shorthand and Typing Champions. Miss Harris and Miss Smith.

Algernon Blackwood. Celebrated author, telling a ghost-story.

Edward Crocker. Man with a telescope on the Embankment.

Vilna Troupe of Yiddish Players. Two members of the cast in an extract from a Yiddish play.

Joan Meakin. Girl glider, who glided over the Channel from Germany.

Leslie Bloom. President of Gallery First Nighters’ Club.

The Last Night of the London Pavilion as a Theatre. O.B. from the dressing-room of one of the performers (Joe O’Gorman).

Robert Buchanan. Edinburgh postman (retired) who has travelled on foot 225,000 miles on his rounds in Edinburgh. Later he travelled all over South America, New York, South Africa, etc. Has been shaved by the Prince of Wales on crossing the Line.

Jack Haynes. Newspaper-seller from Piccadilly.

Willie Clarkson. Theatrical wig-maker and costumier.

Rass Prince Monolulu. Abyssinian racing tipster.

R. M. Freeman. “Samuel Pepys” of The Listener, reading a page from his diary.

Ex-Corporal Moyse. Hero of the Zeebrugge attack.

Nat D. Ayer. British composer returned from America.

Heath Robinson and K. M. Gleason. Famous cartoonist and the inventor of an electric fly-catcher.

“The Silver Lady.” Miss Betty Baxter, who runs a coffee-stall on the Embankment at midnight.

Bobby Howes. Musical-comedy star before returning to variety at the Alhambra.

Gene Dennis. Thought-reader, who had been appearing at the Palladium, interviewed by Andre Chariot, Harry Roy, and Gordon Conway.

Sir Malcolm Campbell. Holder of world’s land speed record on his return from an expedition to the Namib Desert.

A “GOSSIP HOUR” PROGRAMME. Several “In Town To-night” characters may be seen in this group, taken just after a programme, arranged by Cecil Madden (centre). Notably there is Jack Smith (standing on the front row), of Little Pulteney Street, who has sold fruit in the streets of London for more than fifty years. Kneeling on Jack’s right are Mr Fraser, the coffee-stall keeper, and Monolulu, the famous racing tipster. In the back row, on the extreme right, is Tod Slaughter, prince of melodrama, standing next to Algernon Blackwood, the author, who broadcast short ghost-stories in the “In Town To-night” programme.

Jack Smith. Fruit-seller. The first to sell tomatoes in the streets of London.

Bandmaster of the Selma Mouth-organ Band.

Tom Webster. Sporting cartoonist, on his return from the U.S.A.

Geoffrey Toye. Governor of the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells talking, in an O.B. from Sadler’s Wells, about the opera season just starting at Govent Garden.

W. C. Buckney. An O.B. from the clock-tower at Westminster. The last chimes from Big Ben before the clock underwent repairs for two months.

Charles Farrell and Monty Banks. American film stars on arriving in England to make a picture.

“The Zoo Man.” O.B. from the lions’ house at the Zoo.

Charlie Brown. Landlord of the Blue Posts in Limehouse.

Lord Naas. Peer working as a labourer on a building job.

Kullman. American tenor over here for the Covent Garden season. Known for penchant for singing in his bath. Broadcast a song from a staff bathroom.

A. Fraser. Coffee-stall keeper at King’s Cross Station.

Captain Sune Tamm. Captain of the s.v. Abraham Rydberg, first home in the race from Australia of grain-ships, with his cadets, singing sea-shanties.

Kathleen Gordon. Autograph-hunter.

A. L. Turnbull. Broadcast anonymously. Is actually a Civil servant, and feeds the sparrows in St James’s Park.

Jan Kiepura. Film star of Tell me To-night fame.

Mary Jane Edwards. Old bargee of eighty-two. She and her husband, known as the Darby and Joan of the canals, were interviewed by a member of die Canal Boatmen’s Institute.

Harry Harlow. Secretary of the Variety Artistes’ Benevolent Fund, in a trailer for the Royal Command Performance.

Mr Leyton. Rat-catcher from Mme Tussaud’s.

Five Tyrolean Guides. Five Tyrolean singers and yodellers in London for the Austrian Exhibition.

Mark Hill. Ninety-year-old penny-farthing cyclist.

Captain Drury-Coleman. Secretary of the Institute of Patentees, on weird inventions brought for patenting.

Gordon Fellowes. English journalist, ‘taken for a ride’ in Chicago, on American gangsters, etc. Mr Fellowes was a crime investigator in New York, and wrote They took me for a Ride.

Colonel F. Bourne. Rorke’s Drift survivor.

O.B. from Regent’s Park Open-air Theatre. As You Like It in rehearsal.

Albert Frisbee. Old hansom-cabbie.


Second Series (1934)


The Right Hon. George Lansbury, M.P. Leader of the Opposition in Parliament on the East End during his early days.

Piper Dan Laidlaw, V.C., C. de G. Man who rallied B Company of the Scottish Borderers with his pipes at Loos on September 25, 1915.

O.B. from the London Trunk Exchange. Miss Jones describing her work at the Trunk Exchange.

Jack O’Brien. London County Council sewer ganger.

Richard Dabson. Waiter and cocktail-mixer at a West End restaurant (Monico), who composes music in his spare time. Mr Dabson wrote Fighting Fours, That Sweet Refrain, and When the Sun goes down.

Cecil Hunt. Fiction editor of the Daily Mail, and an expert on schoolboy howlers.

Johnny Weismuller (“Tarzan”). American film star, interviewed by John Watt.

Rev. A. W. Barker. The “Costers’ Bishop,” describing his experiences and life among the costers.

H. J. Watts. His family have manufactured Jews’ harps for over a century.

Ted Williams. Witty window-cleaner.

Robert Tredinnick presents the Street Serenaders. Six street musicians heard by Tredinnick. One of them, Fred Baron, composes.

Donald White. Cook’s representative at Victoria Station.

Stanley and Ida Lupino. Film star interviewed by her father, musical-comedy and film star, after her return from Hollywood.

Herbert Evans. Only river postman who is delivering mails by boat.

The Marquess of Donegall. Describing his adventures when living as a ‘down-and-out’ for a week.

Maggie Teyte and Charles Mayhew. Stars of the operetta By Appointment, singing a duet, accompanied by the composer, Kennedy Russell.

J. Moar. “Sardine King.”

The Hon. Ruth Cockayne. Girl who takes people for motor trial-runs.

F. E. Sharpe. Man in charge of the Maze at Hampton Court.

Arthur J. Lennardo. Fireman of an L.M.S. express, who is an operatic baritone away from the footplate.

Mr and Mrs Ely Culbertson. American contract-bridge experts.

W. Larkins. Steeplejack who cleaned the Nelson Column for the centenary celebrations in 1905.

Welsh Miners. Five men, led by David Hengoed, who has worked in the South Wales mines for fifty years, singing Welsh hymns and anthems.

Mrs Hathaway (“La Dame de Sark ”). Queen of the island. Feudal ruler of Sark, in the Channel Isles.

Dr Wilhelm Grosz. Composer of the Isle of Capri. Also played a medley of Strauss waltzes he discovered in a bookshop in Vienna.

Steve Donoghue and Tom Webster. Sporting cartoonist interviewing the famous jockey.

Jasmine Vickers. Artist’s model.

Edward Britton and Gordon Courtenay. Welsh ex-miner street-singer, engaged by the manager of the Prince of Wales’s Theatre to play on the stage there.

Mrs Molly Moore. Knocker-up from Limehouse.

Harold Davy. Toast-master.

Tullio Carminati. Film star, with Jack Cohn. Mr Carminati played opposite Miss Grace Moore in the film One Night of Love.

Robert Burnett Choir. O.B. from the Queen’s Hall of a rehearsal for their concert.

Roy Brock and Madge Damon. Firework-maker interviewing an employee.

George Mackenzie. Fourteen-year-old piano accordionist found playing in the street.

W. Shaw and W. T. Clarke. Ice-cream vendors in dialogue.

O.B. from a Fire-station. From the headquarters of the London Fire Brigade.


Mrs Wheelabread. “The Chocolate Lady” from Kensington Gardens.

Norman Evans. New Lancashire patter-comedian, discovered by Grade Fields.

Charles Phillips. London lamplighter. Interviewed by C. Whitaker-Wilson.

Ivor Novello and Elsie Chick. Novello interviewed by a fan.

Lieutenant Cathcart Jones and K. W. G. Waller. Aviators interviewed after the Mildenhall-Melbourne Air Race.

W. J. Nicel. “Dinkum Nobby,” newspaper-seller on Salisbury Plain during the War. Known to thousands of troops.

Captain the Hon. Arthur Eliot. Manager of Punch’s Club, on his experiences.

Clifford Hill, H. Medcraft, F. Clark, and J. Powell. Vocal quartette from the “Star and Garter” Home, Richmond.

Reuben Castang. Trainer of wild animals.

Felix Powell. Composer of Pack up Your Troubles.

Mrs Albert Rogers. “Mademoiselle from Armentieres.”

Clive Brook and Richard Haestier. Film star interviewed by the Star film critic.

Dagenham Girl Pipers. Girl pipe troop.

A Film ‘Crowd’ Worker. Anonymous.

Sir Frederick Hobday. Principal of the Royal Veterinary College.

G. Arnold Byrne. Elderly public-school unemployed man who went to the sea and sang in the streets for a holiday.

An O.B. from the Clock-tower, Westminster. C. Whitaker-Wilson, giving a commentary on what can be seen of London at night from the clock-tower, Westminster.

Clayton “Peg” Bates. One-legged coloured man from the revue Blackbirds, who taught himself to dance with one leg and a wooden limb.

Albert Cochran. Savoy Hotel page-boy.

W. T. Tilden and Daniel Maskell. Tennis professionals.

Croydon Banjo, Mandolin, and Guitar Club. Winners of championship for all England, playing their test pieces.

T. C. Ritchie. Owner of a Welsh gold-mine, which supplied the gold for Princess Marina’s wedding-ring.

Mr Macdonald Wright. Seventy-one-year-old muffin-man, who has been selling muffins in Chelsea for fifty-seven years.

O.B. from Wembley Empire Pool and Sports Arena. Sir Noel Curtis-Bennett and A. J. Elvin interviewing young boxers in training.

Mr McMichael. Maker of the royal wedding-cake.

Gladys Wood andMrs Brewster. Mrs Brewster interviewing this year’s “Cotton Queen.” Mrs Brewster was her chaperon.

Frank Leo. Old-time composer of music-hall songs, in several of his own numbers.

Ernest Gregory. Great Western Railway fog signalman.

Andrew Buchanan and “Ted” Evans. Impressions of Gaumont-British Magazine studio.

Sir Philip Ben Greet. Celebrated actor and producer giving a talk before leaving for his farewell tour.

C. Poole. Maker of clocks and carillons.

Barbara Plimsoll. Chief of information bureau of large London store.

Hal Wyn and his Band. Band that went to Moscow for a dance-band engagement. Mr Wyn talked of his experiences.

James Whittaker. Twenty-five-year-old author of I, James Whittaker, recalling incidents of the past.

Percy Walden. Lost Property Office man at Victoria.

Eric Malpas. Young Australian who cycled 50,000 miles, paying his way by singing.

Sixteen Singing Scholars, with Signor Stefani. Sixteen Welsh boys, all under sixteen.

Sydney Howard. Stage comedian on his way to a new show.

Captain F. Dismore and Robert Brenard. Discussing commercial flying on the occasion of the inauguration of the Croydon-Australia Mail Service.

May Storey. Woman detective, on how she became one.

Chummy Barden and the Landlord of the New Inn, Winchelsea. Shove-ha’penny champion, interviewed by Peter Burnup.

Max Rivers and Angela Burnett-Craigie. Mr Rivers talking on training children for fairies in Christmas pantomimes. A few words from Angela, one of the fairies.

Maggie Stott and Sandy Powell. Sandy Powell, comedian, discovered Maggie in a ‘go-as-you-please’ competition.

Sergeant T. T. J. W. Sedgwick. First man of the British Army to enter Jerusalem under General Allenby, and to tell the citizens of their release.

Stanley Hubbard. District Messenger Boy No. 1220.

J. E. Williamson. Underseas photographer.

Harry Holden. Ex-coastguard talking on bombardment of Scarborough, 1914.

Mrs Adams (“Lulu”) and Joe Craston. Father and daughter, both clowns in the Olympia circus.

Jack Fischman. The schoolboy reporter.

King’s Kollege Karollers. Carol party, under the direction of Frank Mummery.

Captain C. W. R. Knight. Travelled 14,000 miles to South Africa to photograph the martial hawk eagle.

Richard Sutty. Bailiff’s man.

J. Lawler. Purser on the Aquitania.

Jane Baxter. English actress, on return from Hollywood.


P. C. Cecil Johnson (No. 438, A Division). Policeman from Parliament Square.

W. J. Browse. “Father Christmas” in a big stores.

Stanley Bullock. Old groom, who has been forty years with horses.

O.B. from Drury Lane Theatre. Part of the rehearsal of Cinderella.

Henry Blacketter. Street trader from the City.

Frank Buck. Wild-animal trapper, of Bring’ em Back Alive fame.

Jack Allen. Entertaining a party of children, with Harry Pepper and Doris Arnold.

Mrs Annie Shand. Pianist at Ghillies’ Balls at Balmoral.

Driver A. Skinner and Conductor C. A. Maple. Men from the London Passenger Transport Board.

Signorina Berthe Grossbard. Radio journalist from Rome Broadcasting Station.

Ex-Pipe Major Massie. Pipe-player from Trafalgar Square, who plays at night to theatre crowds.

Mrs Robert Nainby. London stores saleswoman.

F. Brambleby. Ex-naval cook.

Mabel Constanduros. Miss Constanduros, of “Buggins Family” fame, talking as herself.

Ancient Society of College Youths. Playing handbells. These youths have rung the bells of St Paul’s, etc.

“Robinson Crusoe” Company from Lewisham Hippodrome. Excerpt from the all-coloured pantomime, performed in the studio.

Mrs Donisthorpe. First woman radio announcer (not B.B.C.), seventeen years ago.

F. W. Cooper. House-to-house canvasser.

Reginald W. Bray. Sender of freak letters.

Anita Best. Singing dressmaker.

Mr Kelly. Sandwich-board man.

Captain J. G. Bissett. Commanding Officer of the s.s. Ascania, whose ship rescued the crew of the British steamer Usworth.

Hugh Brady. Daily Mail crime reporter.

Dolly Vogelman. “The Singing Nurse.” Ex-nurse from South Africa who has taken up singing.

L. W. Newman, F.R.E.S. On breeding butterflies.

Bonar Thompson. Hyde Park orator.

George W. Richards. Sixty-seven-year-old fiddler. Street player who gave a recital in the West End, and went back to playing round the country in the streets.

E. Timmings. London guide.

Evelyn Laye and Frank Lawton. Stage and screen stars on their return from America on their honeymoon.

Francis Sullivan and A. W. Edwards. English actor who played in a Dickens’ film in Hollywood interviewed by the Secretary of the Dickens’ Fellowship.

A. V. Frost. London, Midland, and Scottish Railway restaurant-car attendant.

Budapest Trio. ‘Straight’ trio playing dance music.

Captain V. M. Deane and Mr Rose. Captain Deane (blind) interviewing Mr Rose (also blind), who brought his guide-dog Olga to the studio.

Commander Frank Worsley, D.S.O. “Treasure Island” expedition talk.

Swiss Yodellers. From Lake Constance.

Mrs Bigny. Caretaker from Feldman’s offices who had been a ballet-girl at Drury Lane.

Ton Pentre and the Ystrad Branch of the British Legion. Up to see the Rugby International.

“N’Gai” (Captain Marleigh Ludlow). Ex-officer selling charms at fairs, race-courses, etc.

“Tubby” Hayes. Filmland’s fattest ‘fat’ man.

J. W. Webb. “Dahlia Daddy.” Grows dahlias in his back-garden, and is known throughout the south-eastern suburbs.

Ann Seymour. Editress of Woman and Beauty.

E. J. Capell. Winner of cycling’s best all-round trophy.

S. I. Hsuing. Author of Lady Precious Stream.

Jackie Smith. Fourteen-and-a-half-year-old American variety star, singing and dancing.

The H.A.C. O.B. from headquarters. Talk by Lord Galway. Old and modern setting of The British Grenadiers.

Kaikee Kharas, Rustum Ghandi, and Rattan Shroff. Three Parsee youths who cycled from India.

Miss Fiddler. Anonymous girl who played the fiddle in Leicester Square to earn enough to buy a good violin.

Thomas Percy. Stud groom from the Horses’ Home of Rest, near Elstree.

Louis de Vries. Solo trumpeter from Holland. Introduced by Henry Hall, whose band accompanied him.

Nell Tate. “Old Nell” of Billingsgate.

S. H. Benson, F.Z.S., with Mr A. H. Turner. Bird expert from the Crystal Palace show, with two of his cockatoos.

A HUNDRED GRANDFATHERS FROM THE GRANDFATHERS’ CLUB. This was one of the “In Town To-night” items on February 2, 1935.

100 Grandfathers from the Upper Holloway Baptist Grandfathers’ Club, with the Rev. Mr Klaiber. Dialogue and singing.

Lilian Harvey. English film star over to play in an English film.

Dan, Bill, and Griffith Jones. Triplets. One of them swam the Jordan under fire, and was known as “Jordan Jones.”

Roy Wyndham. One-armed parachutist.

Donal O’Mahoney and J. Barret. Two Irishmen over for the England-Ireland Rugby International at Twickenham. They gave comments on London and the match.

1st Cadet Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Bugle band. This is the oldest cadet battalion, and the only one that gained battle honours in South Africa.

Arthur Rickets. Turkish bath attendant.

Walter Greenwood. Author of Love on the Dole.

Roy Lee. Rhyming reporter.

Francis Harley. Food-taster.

R. Corless. Air Ministry meteorologist.

Mary Sheehy. Irish maid who plays the mouth-organ in her spare time. She said that she loved the violin, and was later sent one by an old lady in Yorkshire.

Jevan du Berrie. From Euston market.

C. Reed. Captain of the Serpentine Swimming Club.

Levi Shaposnick. Jewish reader.

Ned Mann. Hollywood film-effects expert.

“Cyclone” Danny Carter. “Wall of Death” expert.

H. W. South. Porter with the loudest voice.

Gilbert Rumbold. Starving artist.

William Meikle. Scottish tartan-weaver, working on two hundred-year-old loom on a stand at the British Industries Fair, Olympia.

John Draghi. Wandering harpist, interviewed by Cathleen O’Connor, twelve years old, who suggested that he should take part in this programme.

Douglas King-Page. Insurance authority and writer.

Mrs Sadie Beer. Covent Garden car-minder.

Baden Powell Brabant Plumer Ladysmith Mafeking Russell. One of Britain’s youngest Great War soldiers.

Bernice Petkere. Composer of Lullaby of the Leaves.

Sam Rex. Last of the old armourers.

Lady Eleanor Smith, with an Albanian gipsy named Padua. Author of books on gipsies and circus people. Padua played Pan-pipe music.

Murray. Australian escapologist.

Mella Weersma. Dutch pianist, playing her own compositions. She is well known on the Continent.

John Tood and the Deputy Mayor of Ramsgate. Donkey king of Ramsgate.

Joseph Kirby. Man who arranges flying scenes for the theatre.

Four Boy Scouts on Return from Melbourne Centenary Jamboree. Interviewed by Mr Reynolds.

Harry Dot and “Sweepy” Connor. B.B.C. sweep and royal palaces’ sweep in dialogue.

Xaver Estermann. Swiss player of the harp-zither, who is featured in Continental concerts.

H. C. Charleton. Retired engine-driver and ex-Junior Lord of the Treasury.

Major Pat à Beckett. Match-box-cover collector. Has a collection of 22,000.

Frank Pettitt. Pianoforte-tuner.

L’Oonie and Sandler. Frank Groundsell (“L’Oonie, the Mad Conductor”) interviewed by Albert Sandler. L’Oonie acted as a spy in Berlin during the War while conducting there.

W. E. Moran. Cold-chamber worker from Smithfield Market.

Leonard Hawke. First man to sing over the air under the auspices of the B.B.C.

Fred Butler. Ex-golf caddie-master and Mayor of Henley.

Fred Roper’s Midgets and a Giant. Little Lady Godiva, Princess Mignonette, and Richard Steel, with Giant Dinny Duffy.

Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester. Stage and screen stars on their return from Hollywood.

W. Darnley. Fair and circus ‘barker.’

C. E. W. Mackintosh. British ski-ing champion, in yodelling songs.

Charles Over. Cornish fisherman.


Mrs May Phillips. Old-time barmaid.

Commander G. M. Dyott. Explorer on expedition in jungle east of the Andes.

John Harrison. “The Singing Cooper.”

“Beggar’s Opera” Company. Ensemble and orchestra in excerpts from the production at the Criterion Theatre.

Mrs Arthur Webb and Sophie Smith. Old Irish chairmender interviewed by Mrs Webb on St Patrick’s Eve.

G. Barradell Smith and Patrol North. First motorist stopped under new speed law, interviewed by an A.A. patrol.

Billy and Beverley Bemis. American fifteen- and sixteen-year-old brother and sister appearing in the Dorchester cabaret. They are the children of a millionaire who wanted to earn their own living.

George Burchett. Tattooist.

Scottish Newhaven Fisherwomen’s Choir. Talk by their conductor, Mrs David Ritchie, and songs.

D. G. Johnson, with Bill Good, Bob Mitchell and Ronald Walker. American and English weight-lifting champions interviewed by the editor of Health and Strength.

Miss G. M. Hodges. “Aunty” to 3000 bus-drivers at the Victoria Coach Station.

Sir Anthony Tichborne, Bart. On the Tichborne Dole and its origin.

Samuel Goldwyn. American film mogul.

W. Margrie and Competitors in London Explorers’ Club Race. President and members of the club describing the race.

Charles Brunton and Gordon James. Seventy-two-year-old stage dresser interviewed by a modem actor.

Arnold Waterfall. On “ Potholes in the Pennines.”

W. J. Smith. Whistling railway guard.

J. Hubbard. Chief electrical Engineer of s.s. Mauretania talking just before she went to be broken up.

Baroness Christa von Bodenhausen. German Society girl presented at Buckingham Palace at one of the Courts.

Dr Neville Whymant. Distinguished scholar and linguist, who has travelled in forty-five countries and knows the languages of many of them.

The Don Cossack Choir. Talk by Serge Jaroff, the conductor, with two Cossack songs.

J. N. Duckworth. Cambridge cox interviewed by John Snagge on Cambridge’s victory in the Boat Race.

Haidie Wright and Thea Holme. The old and new school of acting. Both appearing in The Aunt of England at the Savoy Theatre.

Biddy Stoneham and Barry Funnell. Champion tub-tumbler of England interviewed by the President of the Hastings Angling Club.

Albert Richardson. Singing sexton from Burwash.

Billie Neale. Talk on ‘making up’ film stars.

Captain T. W. H. Sarl and H. A. Conway. Two contestants in a canoe-race over the Boat Race course, one a meat-eater and the other a vegetarian.

Alfred West and Harry Moseley. London pillar-box painter talking to a pillar-box erector.

Colonel R. E. Crompton. Famous electrical pioneer nearing his ninetieth birthday.

H. Langley, with Hitchins and Cooper. Langley introducing two quoit champions from Somerset. (O.B. from the Bristol studio.)

Robert Steele. Reader at the British Museum.

John Montague and Albert Lombardo. Two street musicians, a ’cellist and a violinist, who have played with Jacobs and De Groot respectively, interviewed by Kneale Kelley.

Ernest Dixon. Taxi-driver for twenty-two years. He was subsequently engaged to compère a variety show for A. W. Hanson.

Salvation Army Young People’s Choir. From Glasgow.

Ed Wenstob. Cowboy boxing champion, interviewed by Mr Regan.

Sidney Towney. Champion hornblower and stage-coach guard.

Wynne Gibson. American film actress.

Percy Press, Fifi Savaro, and Norman Rita. “All the fun of the fair” item. A Punch and Judy man, a snake-charmer, and a fortune-teller.

Cyril Jenkins and W. T. Lanes. Hot-cross bun maker and an Easter egg maker.

JOHN TUSSAUD AND HIS SON BERNARD, WORKING ON A MODEL. John Tussaud, great-grandson of the founder of the famous exhibition, spoke in “In Town To-night” on the centenary of Madame Tussaud’s.

John Tussaud. Great-grandson of the founder of Mme Tussaud’s, on its centenary.

Roy Case and Thomas Hinton. Shepherd from the royal parks talking with the birdkeeper of the parks.

Teddy Joyce’s Junior Jubilee Band. Band of boys all under sixteen.

Alexander Forbes. Maundy money recipient.

Signor Stromboli. Fire-eater.

Cherry Kearton. Naturalist-author-explorer, prior to showing of his film The Big Game of Life.

Treverva Prize Male Quartet. Cornish quartet, under the direction of Mrs Gray.

Captain F. C. Weeks. Piermaster at Brighton pier.

O.B. from Mount Pleasant. Visit to Mount Pleasant Post Office railway-station.

E. Buckley. “The Singing Laundryman.”

George Murdoch. Registrar of births, marriages, and deaths from the Guildhall, London.

Seaman’s Band of the Royal Naval Barracks, Chatham. Undo the direction of Bandmaster Holloway. This band played at Wembley for the Cup Final.

“Stainless Stephen,” with T. W. Gliddon, R. W. Starling, and Bill Chambers. Captains of the Cup Final teams interviewed by “Stainless Stephen,” and introducing a legless spectator of the match who came from Blackburn, propelling himself in a wheelchair.

Walter Hart. Sixty-year-old drayman from Whitbread’s chosen to drive the Speaker’s coach in the Jubilee procession.

The May Queen of Hastings and Eight Attendants. Dialogue between the May Queen, her attendants, and Miss Dorothy Catt, the organizer.

Donald Glass. Great-grandson of the earliest settler on Tristan da Cunha, who worked his passage to England via South Africa.

Bossy Phelps. King’s Bargemaster, interviewed by John Snagge on his office and duties.

Jean Batten. Holder of women’s flight record between England and Australia and Australia and England.

Parry Jones. Famous tenor. Survivor of the Lusitania disaster

Charles Coborn. Eighty-three-year-old comedian.

The Hon. H. M. Macon Marcar, Minister of Communication to the Ceylon Government.

Charles Turner. Ex-police inspector, aged seventy-six.

R. J. Minney. Author of Clive of India in a talk on Hollywood.

“Old Joe” Pates. Parish clerk of Ilford for sixty-one years.

Will E. Day. Pioneer of motion-picture photography. Hie recalled films of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, and compared them with present-day films.

Movietone Newsreel. O.B. from the Movietone studio of the film of the King and Queen’s drive through London being edited.

Patsy Hackett. London costermonger who had rescued twenty-six people (mostly children) from the Regent’s Canal.

Nella Webb. “Telling the Stars by the Stars.” Hollywood woman astrologer.

George Jennings. Flag-maker.

Alfred Smith. Roadsweeper and weather prophet.

H. L. McNally. Fleet Street reporter on his week’s diary.

Vivien Leigh. Stage star who became famous overnight in Mask of Virtue.

Arthur Poole and H. C. Turner. Cornish postman in dialogue with a City postman.

Imeson Family Symphonics. Family of six brothers all playing musical instruments.

A Bank Cashier. Anonymous.

Coxswain Griggs. Coxswain of the Hythe lifeboat.

Herr Cronfeld. Glider pilot on his flight to Paris for six shillings.

Driver G. W. Trower and Frank Giles. Driver of Enterprise, and the man who took Cock o’ the North to France for her trials, interviewed by Frank Giles, schoolboy autograph-hunter.

Tower of London Pageant. O.B. from the Tower. Commentary by Colonel Dudley Ward.

Chief Inspector Nicholls. Author of Crime in the Square Mile.

La Argentina. Celebrated Spanish dancer.

Frank Gerald. Witness of first cricket Test match between England and Australia at Lord’s, when the Aborigines came over sixty-seven years ago. Has seen every Test match since, and is now eighty-one years of age.

Ruston and Steel. Two Limehouse public-house entertainers.

Penrith Players. One of the last five competing teams in the Lord Howard de Walden Trophy competition organized by the British Drama League.

Polly Moran. American vaudeville and screen artist here to fulfil engagement.

Mrs Nora Midwinter and Mrs Emma Baker. Flower-sellers from Piccadilly Circus (pitch just outside the London Pavilion) who helped to make the original Piccadilly traffic-effects record for “In Town To-night.”


Claude Muncaster. Well-known artist who sailed before the mast in order to get ‘atmosphere’ for his sea and ship paintings.

Jack Morgan. “The Boy with the Large Ears.”

F. W. Gilbert and E. Peskett. Bus-driver, secretary of the busmen’s flying club, talking with a submarine rating.

Rosita Forbes. Famous woman explorer.

Patrick Macdonald, with Mr Willig. Sixteen-year-old diminutive page-boy at the Trocadero, who got a lift on a lorry from Glasgow to London in search of work and wealth, interviewed by the head receptionist of the Trocadero.

Harry James. Known as “England’s Honest Harry.” Rag-and bone man who found £300 in some old clothes, and received a ‘fiver’ for returning it.

Sir Walter Gilbey. Has witnessed fifty-seven Derby races.

John Clucas Cannell (1899-1953), known as “Jack” to his friends, was a producer at the BBC as well as being the author of a number of books exposing the ‘tricks of the trade’ of magicians.

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Liverpool, Saturday 15 June 2024