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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Parsley Sidings (BBC)


Parsley Sidings was a BBC Radio sitcom created by Jim Eldridge. It starred Arthur Lowe and Ian Lavender (who were also starring in the television wartime sitcom Dad's Army at that time), together with Kenneth Connor from the Carry On films.

The scripts are by Jim Eldridge (who would later go on to write for many more series, the most successful being the BBC's King Street Junior). The show is set in a sleepy out of the way railway station on the main line between London and Birmingham, in the Midlands.

The main characters are the station master, Mr Horace Hepplewhite (played by Arthur Lowe); his son, Bertram (Ian Lavender); station porter Percy Valentine (Kenneth Connor); Mr Bradshaw, the signalman (also played by Kenneth Connor); and station tanoy announcer Gloria Simpkins (Liz Fraser, who was also in the Carry On films, and appeared in the Dad's Army feature film). The guest cast in some episodes included Bill Pertwee and Roger Delgado. The announcer for the programme was Keith Skues.

The series was produced by Edward Taylor, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 2. Due to the BBC's former practice of wiping tapes after the broadcast of a show, only a minority of the 21 episodes produced are still in their archives - Goodbye, Parsley Sidings and The Entente Cordial are aired on BBC 7 occasionally and have always been in the BBC archives, while A Night Out, A Bird in the Hand and The Secret Agent were recovered between 2001 and 2003 as off-air recordings from members of the public. These episodes too have been aired, in early 2007, on BBC 7. Other episodes are known to exist in private hands.

In 2008, more episodes were discovered, including the pilot. Only one episode, "The New Level Crossing", is still missing. It is not yet known whether these other episodes will be repeated.

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References: Old Time Radio Researchers Group, Wikipedia, Frank Passage & Others OTR Logs, Archive.org, Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning, Australian Old Time Radio Group

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