Whack-O!
This classic sit-com started life on BBC Television in October 1956 and starred 'Professor' Jimmy Edwards. Written by the masterful team of Frank Muir and Denis Norden, this was undoubtedly one of the major successes of early British television. There were 8 series in all with a couple of special shows, giving a grand total of 60 half hour shows, and 3 shorts. But the story doesn't stop there, and this is one of the more unusual shows where a radio series and even a film were spawned from the TV version.


Television | Radio | Film

TELEVISION.

The cast list is huge for the entire series, but the main jobs in Chiselbury were taken by...

Headmaster, Professor James Edwards MA (applied for)... Jimmy Edwards,
Deputy Headmaster, Oliver Pettigrew... Arthur Howard (Series 1-7), Julian Orchard (Series 8).

The series were produced by Douglas Moodie (1-6), Eric Fawcett (7), Douglas Argent (8) with the scripts written by Muir and Norden and adapted for series 8 by Robert Gray.


SERIES 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Series One.

Broadcast fortnightly between the 4th October and 13th December 1956, the show went out generally on a Tuesday evening at 8pm. The first series consisted of 6 half hour shows.

There was also a special short broadcast as part of These Are The Shows on Saturday 28th September 1957 at 8pm.

Series Two.

The second series contained 10 half hour shows broadcast weekly, generally of a Tuesday evening at 7.30pm between the 1st October and 3rd December 1957.

Series Three.

A further 7episodes broadcast between the 23rd September and 4th November 1958 of a Tuesday evening at 7.30pm. There was also a short special on Christmas Night With the Stars broadcast on Christmas Day 1958 at 6.25pm.

Series Four.

Series four was broadcast a year later between 12th May and 16th June 1959 of a Tuedasy evening at 7.30pm and consisted of 6 episodes.

Series Five.

Another 6 episodes formed series five and were broadcast from the 10th November to the 15th December 1959 of a Tuesday evenings at 7.30pm. There was also a short special, Christmas Night With the Stars, broadcast on Christmas Day 1959 at 6.20pm.

Series Six.

The sixth series was another 6 episodes broadcast between the 13th May and 17th June 1960, and went out mostly on a Friday at 8.30pm.

Series Seven.

The last in the main run of series, there were 6 episodes broadcast between 22nd November and 27th December 1960 of a Tuesday evening at 7.30pm.

Series eight.

Series eight was a revival of the show some 11 years after the main run and contained 13 colour episodes. Broadcast between 27th November 1971 and 26th February 1972 on BBC1on Saturdays at 5.05pm.

RADIO.

Cast list
  • Professor James Edwards- Jimmy Edwards
  • Mr. Oliver Pettigrew- Arthur Howard (first show only)
  • Mr. Aubrey Potter- Roddy Maude-Roxby
  • Mr. Alfred Tennyson- Frederick Treves
  • Mr. Arnold Halliforth (series 2&3)- Edwin Apps
  • Matron- June Whitfield
  • A.J.Lumley (series 2&3)- Roger Shepherd
  • Phipps (series 2)- John Coxall
  • Fenner (series 3)- John Coxall

SERIES 1 | 2 | 3

Series One.

TitleTX DateSynopsis
The School Strike23/5/61A school beyond comparison...buses run through North end of Assembly Hall'/ Specialised Maths teaching... Headmaster's study as he wonders how many whacks he has done on Tatlow
30/5/61Missing
The Grange School For Boys6/6/61Light airy classrooms, large yet cosy dormitories'...Chiselbury being run on democratic lines/School Council's discussion of school play production. AKA 'Nicholas Nickleby
The French Mistress13/6/61Missing
The MarchionessMissing
20/6/61One of the few schools where the practical is combined with the theoretical'...riding class/ More conventional subjects thoroughly covered-Headmaster's class in elementary arithmetic.
The Student Prince27/6/61By dropping into the study of the Headmaster himself...Beau Edwards.
Potter Takes Over4/7/61Completely rounded education'...handicrafts...'proper little baskets'/ emphasises the arts-'concert in the Great Hall
The 25 Outing Money11/7/61Old Boys returning to gaze at hallowed old pile/'nothing but the best'...Sir Anthony Dorchester's Visit as he tries to sell Jim school supplies.
The Boxing Championship18/7/61Old Boys sending their sons to Chiselbury/Dartmoor and Pentonville visiting days...signs of incipient manhood...Lower Third shaving.
The Inspector's Visit25/7/61Sons who have gone onto be more than gentlefolk'- Empire builders...Scientists being of value- Tennyson presents progress graph to Headmaster.
The Popularity Ballot1/8/61Pupils that 'will make their mark in future years' but some will also be able to write names/'all work and no play...'school Outing...English literature class as Potter reads poetry.
Exposure!8/8/61School's record proudly displayed on Honours Board... before boys return from half-term holiday Potter scrubs Headmaster's floor.
Task Master15/8/61Like all progressive schools...excursions for boys to see wheels of government in motion/judicial drama...Jim on trial for being violent towards Lumley! AKA 'On Trial'
The Dismissal22/8/61Old Boys well represented in cabinets'/Secrets of success is careful planning via. staff meetings...Senior Common Room staff meeting AKA 'The Sack'
The Book Prizes29/8/61Despite imposing qualifications Headmaster is not aloof...'giving praise where praise is due
The New Post5/9/61Sons following colours to many a foreign field...Customs & traditions/ Ceremony in Headmaster's Study.
The Cricket Pavilion Fire12/9/61School encouraging pupils to keep a straight bat as opposed to Vampire Bat/ Details involved in running a school...staff photograph in Headmaster's study in front of model of new Cricket Pavilion.
The Burglary19/9/61School steeped in ancient tradition... love the boys have for their Headmaster shown in small ways'... 3.00 a.m. surprise outside his bedroom door.
This Is Your Life26/9/61Delegating authority...Potter & Matron's sock darning discussion. Guest star-EAMMON ANDREWS.
The End-Of-Term Report3/10/61School maintains ancient tradition ...if pupils marched past in line...identification parade...mixed emotions of end of term.

Series Two.

TitleTX DateSynopsis
The Russian Visitor1/3/62School's exclusiveness- high stone wall keeping all undesirables in/ Headmaster returns from Moscow.
Jim's Attempt To Win Respect8/3/62Headmaster's scholarly advice and academic encouragement...' pupils take trouble for Headmaster's benefit/ Lower Third Dormitory.
The Recording15/3/62Corridors have echoed....'/ virtues of charity which begins at home...music room auditions for charity concert. Guest star-VERA LYNN.
22/3/62Missing
Mr.Phipps' Bet29/3/62Headmaster sets social example... 'Willingness to work with unpromising material'/ practising having shots in his study
The Factory5/4/62Scientific encouragement...scientific experiment
Pools Win12/4/62School so exclusive Minister of Education not encouraged to visit it'/ Headmaster's success a result of keeping abreast of news...Headmaster at breakfast.
Chiselbury Experiment19/4/62Up-to-date equipment...good Headmaster knows value of personal touch to staff/ staff- meeting and Jim's criticisms
Mildred's Little Bit26/4/62...even now being discussed outside the Chiselbury picture palace'/ boys try to sneak in to films posing as adults
The New Master3/5/62Devotion of staff unequallled except by crew of 'Bounty'/A Master leaving... Ceremony in Headmaster's Office: farewell to Halliforth. AKA. 'Minimum Wage' or 'Welsh Harp'
The Old Lag10/5/62But let no one imagine...common philosophy...Common celebration in School tuck-shop
The Cross-Country Cup17/5/62Pupils go forth with confidence to 4 corners of world/hand of Headmaster missing from reign...Headmaster's absence causes puzzlement.

Series Three.

TitleTX DateSynopsis
Madison Avenue29/4/63Missing
The Quiz Game6/5/63 Many people would put school before Eton etc. ...unexpected incident in Headmaster's study- Jim suffering.
The Girl13/5/63Minister of Education visited recently - 'Chiselbury made me boil'/ Tour of school with new boys.
The Whacking Machine20/5/63Many of pupils will become familiar figures in courts of Europe...'One practical demonstration is worth a dozen theories'/Lower Third science group in Headmaster's study.
The New Matron27/5/63...'delinquency...Headmaster's are not the only ones to find life hectic'...Potter finds darning socks difficult and Jim refuses to get a new matron.
Jim's Better Self3/6/63'Even in the sternest atmosphere a mood of relaxation must prevail'...travel warrants being issued. AKA. 'Measles'
Top Of The Form10/6/63School officially classified as a seat of learning/ painful scene just taken place in Headmaster's study...Headmaster has cained Mr.Halliforth by mistake!
The New Uniform17/6/63Start missing - 'could go to a good school and walk down the street looking a lot of right twits....'
The Empty Cash Box24/6/63Even the most concientious Headmaster ...Headmaster leaves pay negotiations to Potter but strike is threatened by staff.
The Fete1/7/63The Three 'R's'...Pupils hang on Headmaster's every word...Jim's absence and the microphone set-up.
The Upjohn Statue8/7/63School leaves an indelible impression on pupils/ceremonial punishment for placing object on steeple.
The T.V. Set15/7/63School offers the most comprehensive curriculum in the country'...latest innovation of television for schools.
Jim Ahoy22/7/63A system of education unequalled by any teacher past or present'...Headmaster finds time for staff/ Mr.Tennyson prepares class for Headmaster's impending visit to Lower Third classroom.

FILM.

The film 'Bottoms Up!' was made at Elstree in 1960. The script was written by Michael Pertwee with contributions from Frank Muir and Denis Norden - some lines from the film are reproduced exactly in the radio series, identifying them as the work of Muir/Norden. The film was directed by Mario Zampi and provided Professor Edwards with a main student irritant by the name of Wendover (inspirationally played by John Mitchell), who would become Lumley in the radio series.