In 1937 the BBC Audience Research department discovered that dance band shows were not as popular as had previously been thought. The BBC were planning to produce a series of such shows, so it was decided to broaden their scope by adding a resident comedian and compere. Gordon Crier, one of the shows two producers suggested that the compere should be Richard Murdoch, a song and dance man and juvenile lead, whose background was in musical revue. The choice of resident comedian caused a few problems. Gordon Crier and his co-producer Harry H. Pepper thought that either Tommy Trinder or Arthur Askey would be suitable. They were considered to be equally good so a coin was tossed to decide which one of them should get the job - Heads for Trinder, tails for Askey. It came down heads but Tommy Trinder was unavailable so Arthur Askey joined the show. Arthur had made a few radio appearances but his background was mainly in music-hall.

A writer was hired and the first three shows were broadcast starting on 5th January 1938. They were a disaster so the scriptwriter was sacked and a scriptwriting team of Gordon Crier, Vernon Harris, Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch took over. The plan was to have a dance band show with organ interludes featuring items such as what do you think -A radio problem with Hans W. Priwin and New Voices - a sort of early Opportunity Knocks.

Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch provided the comedy and their spots soon came to dominate the show. Many of their sketches had Arthur and Richard sharing a top floor flat in Broadcasting House along with Lewis the goat, and pigeons named Basil, Lucy, Ronald and Sarah. Other regular characters included Mrs Bagwash the char and her daughter Nausea, both of whom were often referred to but never heard. Arthur was courting Nausea but he never seemed to be getting anywhere - In 1938 the BBC had a strict code of conduct about such things.

Their adventures often ended violently with Arthur falling off a ladder, piloting a cinema organ through the roof and the like, which always ended with the famous Bandwaggon crash. A corner of the stage was roped off like a boxing ring, and a large pile of assorted metal objects were piled up inside. At the appropriate moment it was pushed over by a sound effects man. This became a very popular part of the show and the sound effects man began to enter the spirit of it all by coming dressed for the part and bowing to the audience when they applauded. This carried on until Arthur Askey shouted 'Oi! I'm the comedian. I get the laughs'.

Bandwaggon was the first radio show to use catchphrases in a big way. The show was on at the same time every week so phrases could be repeated until they caught on.. The studio audience helped by their enthusiastic response, and this enthusiasm then spread to the listeners at home. The first of these phrases appeared in the very first show, when Arthur Askey said 'Big hearted Arthur that's me', a phrase he had been using in real life for several years. Another early catchphrase was 'Hello playmates'. This started out as 'Hello folks' but was changed when Tommy Handley complained that it was his catchphrase. Others included 'Ah happy days' - sighed by Arthur and Richard when reminiscing about the past, 'Light the blue touchpaper and retire immediately' which was used when retreating from any confrontation with Mrs Bagwash, 'You silly little man' - Richard's comment about Arthur and 'Ay thang yew' - a pronunciation which Arthur had picked up from London bus conductors.

In the 1930s, radio comedy shows were usually split up with musical items and features. One of Bandwaggon's most popular features was 'Mr Walker wants to know', in which Syd Walker played an old Cockney junkman. He would enter to the sound of his signature tune - Any rags bottles or bones. Then he would relate some recent events in his life and ask listeners to write in and advise him what to do, with his phrase 'What would you do chums'. Thousands of people did just that and his postbag grew to enormous size. Another popular feature was Chestnut Corner where Arthur and Richard exhumed very old and corny jokes for one last airing.

By the third series, Arthur Askey's career was developing rapidly, with films and stage shows, so it was decided to end the series after eleven shows. The last show, broadcast on 2nd December 1939, featured the realistic departure of Arthur and Richard from their famous flat and left many listeners in tears. A stage show toured the country for a while, and was broadcast on 8th June 1940. Then Richard Murdoch joined the RAF and Bandwaggon ended.

The show was revived for one last time on 13th November 1947 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the BBC, with Fred Yule as the late Syd Walker. Bandwaggon only ran for a total of 55 shows, but it had an enormous impact. It established a new formula - a regular weekly comedy and music show at the same time each week. It was the first comedy show to be designed specifically for the radio, as opposed to one made up of variety acts. Its catchy little signature tune , lavish musical items and irreverent clowning made it pre-war radios biggest success. The events and characters largely existed in the minds of the listeners, enabling them to take part in the act of creation - A feature of most popular radio comedy shows since then.

The show was produced by Harry S. Pepper and Gordon Crier, with the scripts by Gordon Crier, Vernon Harris, Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch. The Mr Walker wants to know was written by Ernest Dudley and Gordon Crier. The Radio Times mentions The Jackdaus, The Jackdaws and The Jakdauz.

Series 1

The cast was Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch with guests as indicated, with the music being provided by The Bandwaggoners conducted by Phil Cardew, The Jackdaus (Miff Ferrie, George Crow and Terry Brown), Reginald Foort at the BBC Theatre Organ (2-14), Charles Smart at the BBC Theatre Organ (15-18). A regular feature of this series was 'What do you think - a radio problem by Hans W. Priwin' This was in all shows where Priwin was present except the last in the series.

EpisodeBroadcast DateBroadcast TimeNotes
1/1 5/1/38 7.55 to 8.40 pmWithout Murdoch, With Carlo, The Two Charlies, and Diana Ward
1/2 12/1/38 7.15 to 8.00 pmWithout Murdoch
1/3 19/1/38 8.15 to 9.00 pmWithout Askey
1/4 26/1/38 8.15 to 9.00 pmWithout Murdoch
1/5 2/2/38 8.55 to 9.40 pm
1/6 9/2/38 7.15 to 8.00 pm
1/7 16/2/38 7.15 to 8.00 pmWith Niela Goodelle
1/8 23/2/38 7.30 to 8.15 pmWithout Priwin
1/9 2/3/38 7.00 to 8.00 pmWithout Priwin, With George Formby
1/10 9/3/38 7.15 to 8.00 pmWithout Priwin
1/11 16/3/38 7.15 to 8.15 pm
1/12 23/3/38 7.00 to 8.00 pmWith Gypsy Nina
1/13 30/3/38 9.00 to 10.00 pmWith Phillis Stanley
1/14 6/4/38 8.00 to 9.00 pmWith Phillis Stanley
1/15 13/4/38 6.40 to 7.30 pm
1/16 20/4/38 8.00 to 9.00 pmWith Elizabeth Welch
1/17 27/4/38 7.30 to 8.30 pmWithHarry Richman
1/18 4/5/38 8.00 to 9.00 pm

Series 2

For this series, Askey and Murdoch were joined by Sid Walker, with the music being provided, as before, by The Bandwaggoners conducted by Phil Cardew, The Jackdaus, Charles Smart at the BBC Theatre Organ, and Bettie Bucknelle from show 5. Syd Walker provided the regular feature 'Mr Walker wants to know' for this series.

EpisodeBroadcast DateBroadcast TimeNotes
2/1 5/10/38 8.00 to 9.00 pm
2/2 12/10/38 8.25 to 9.25 pm
2/3 19/10/38 8.20 to 9.20 pm
2/4 26/10/38 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/5 2/11/38 8.20 to 9.20 pm
2/6 9/11/38 8.20 to 9.20 pm
2/7 16/11/38 8.20 to 9.20 pm
2/8 23/11/38 8.00 to 9.00 pm
2/9 30/11/38 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/10 7/12/38 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/11 14/12/38 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/12 21/12/38 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/13 28/12/38 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/14 4/1/39 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/15 11/1/39 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/16 18/1/39 8.00 to 9.00 pm
2/17 25/1/39 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/18 1/2/39 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/19 8/2/39 8.05 to 9.00 pm
2/20 15/2/39 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/21 22/2/39 8.20 to 9.20 pm
2/22 1/3/39 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/23 8/3/39 8.15 to 9.15 pm
2/24 15/3/39 8.00 to 9.00 pm


The cast for this series was Askey, Murdoch, Walker (from show 3), and Diana Clare (for the first two shows). Music was provided by The New Waggoners for all shows except 3 and 5, with The New Waggoners conducted by Billy Ternent for the fifth show. A regular feature of this series was 'Syd sees it through' starring Syd Walker. This was in all shows except the first two.

EpisodeBroadcast DateBroadcast TimeNotes
3/1 16/9/39 8.15 to 9.15 pmWith The Two Charlies
3/2 23/9/39 8.00 to 9.00 pmWith The Two Charlies
3/3 30/9/39 7.45 to 8.30 pmWith Pat Taylor, and Jack Hylton and his Band
3/4 7/10/39 8.15 to 9.00 pm
3/5 14/10/39 8.00 to 9.00 pmWith Vernon Harris
3/6 21/10/39 8.00 to 9.00 pm
3/7 28/10/39 8.00 to 9.00 pm
3/8 4/11/39 8.00 to 9.00 pm
There was no broadcast on 11/11/39 due to the Armistice Day broadcast
3/9 18/11/39 8.00 to 9.00 pm
3/10 25/11/39 8.00 to 9.00 pm
3/11 2/12/39 8.00 to 9.00 pm


Star Variety - From a Northern Theatre, 8/6/40, 8.15 to 9.00 pm, Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Charles Smart, Dollie Elsie, The Bandwaggoners conducted by Sunny Farrar.

Jubilee Show 13/11/47, 10.15 to 11.00 pm, Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, The Jackdaus, Bettie Bucknell, Bill Emmings, Fred Yule, The Bandwaggoners conducted by Phil Cardew, Charles Smart at the BBC Theatre Organ


There was a film version of Bandwaggon released in 1939 by Gainsborough. The plot involved Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch running a pirate TV station in a ghostly castle and rounding up a gang of spies. Producer : Edward Black, Director : Marcel Varnel, Cast:-Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Jack Hylton and his band, Pat Kirkwood, Moore Marriott, Peter Gawthorne, Wally Patch, Donald Calthrop.

I would like to thank Tony Lang for the use of his show guide for BANDWAGGON, and hope he doesn't mind me freely adapting it.