Double Acts

New collaborative plays by writers new to radio.

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20180725

Barbara Windsor tells the tragicomic story of America's comedy duo, Abbott and Costello.

Dame Barbara Windsor tells the tragicomic story of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, America's most popular double act during the 1930s, 40s and early 50s on Radio, TV, Stage and Screen.

Bud, the lean, mean straight man and Lou the roly-poly comic, their quick-fire verbal dexterity propelled them to the pinnacle of show business.
They won the hearts of audiences everywhere...from Burlesque, Vaudeville, Broadway and Nightclubs to Hollywood, Radio and TV, they conquered it all!

Bud was born into show business whilst Lou had dreams of Hollywood and when they met on the Burlesque circuit in 1934, they knew that they were right for each other and a partnership was forged that would last for 26 years.

When Burlesque was banished by New York City in 1937, Bud and Lou moved over to Vaudeville which led to weekly appearances on 'The Kate Smith Hour', a hugely popular radio show.

Next stop was the Broadway show 'Streets Of Paris' where Abbott and Costello were spotted by Hollywood talent scouts and they signed to Universal for just one picture, 'One Night In The Tropics'. Bud and Lou stole the movie with their comedy routines and a long-term contract was signed. In the first 24 months of their Universal contract, an incredible ten Abbott and Costello films were released.

By 1942, Bud and Lou ranked as the No. 1 Box Office attraction in America and in October of that year, The Abbott And Costello Radio Show was launched featuring some of the biggest names in show business as the duo's special guest stars.

Bud and Lou were actually very good friends, a rarity amongst double acts, but they were also fiercely competitive; if Bud built a pool, Lou's would have to be bigger...similarly with cars, boats and homes and their between-takes card games on the movie sets were legendary with thousands of dollars passing across the table.

In November 1943, tragedy befell the Costello family when Lou's baby son, just short of his 1st birthday, drowned in the family swimming pool. That night, Bud and Lou began a new series of their radio show and Lou bravely went on, despite his heartbreak. The audience only learned of the terrible accident when Bud announced it over the air at the end of the show.

In the early 50s, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were investigated by the US government's Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The payments and fines that they incurred were crippling; a bitter blow for the popular duo who had volunteered their time so generously, selling millions of dollars worth of War Bonds all over America, during World War 2.

The movie hits continued through the 1950s and the new medium of television brought even greater success to Bud and Lou.
Their partnership ended in 1957 after a falling out in Las Vegas and the boys went their separate ways. In 1959, Lou Costello was felled by a heart attack and died aged just 52. When Bud Abbott heard the news, he said, "My heart is broken. I've lost the best pal anyone ever had".

Bud Abbott died in 1974 aged 78. Groucho Marx said of Bud Abbott that he was "the greatest straight man ever".

20180801

Christopher Biggins celebrates the Waters sisters' famous double act, 'Gert and Daisy.'.

Christopher Biggins celebrates the English sister-double act of Elsie and Doris Waters, better known by their character names as 'Gert and Daisy.' Elsie played Gert and Doris was Daisy.

Elsie and Doris Waters were born within the sound of Bow Bells at the turn of the last century; Elsie was the elder by ten years and their brother Jack became the famous actor Jack Warner of 'Dixon Of Dock Green' fame. Their family was musical and as young girls they got their first engagements in Concert Parties and Music Hall and came up with the idea of 'Gert and Daisy' in 1930.

This was a new kind of comedy; observational 'over the garden wall' gossiping based on everyday life, their neighbours and their fictional other halves, Bert and Wally. The sisters moved onto BBC Radio, becoming regulars on 'Workers Playtime'.

During the World War Two, they made three films together 'Gert and Daisy's Weekend' (1942), 'Gert and Daisy Clean Up' (1942) and 'It's in the Bag' (1944). They toured with ENSA, entertaining the troops in India and the Far East, and back home they were enlisted by the Ministry Of Food and appeared regularly on BBC Radio's 'Kitchen Front', giving advice on how to make the best of the daily food rations including recipes for such gastronomic delights as 'Woolton Pie' and Christmas 'Murkey'!

In 1956, Elsie and Doris Waters starred as 'Gert and Daisy' in the popular radio series 'Floggit's', with a supporting cast that included future stars Ronnie Barker, Joan Sims, Ron Moody, Hugh Paddick and Anthony Newley.

Elsie and Doris kept 'Gert and Daisy' gossiping and singing on Radio, TV and live shows until Doris passed away in 1978, followed by Elsie in 1990 at the grand age of 97.

In 1986, 'Gert and Daisy' were awarded the Burma Star.

Elsie and Doris Waters were trailblazers for British female comedians, being one of the first highly successful female double acts who wrote their own material and songs. They formed their own production company, taking full charge of their incredible career spanning more than fifty years.

20180808

Bill Kenwright looks back at the stellar comedy partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis

Bill Kenwright looks back at the comedy partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Between 1946 and 56 they were a worldwide sensation on film, TV, radio, and as live performers.

But things were very different when Dean and Jerry first met in 1945. In those days both of them were going nowhere fast. Dean was a pleasant but unremarkable singer and Jerry had an act that involved miming to records dressed as Carmen Miranda. But things quickly changed when they got together at Skinny D'Amato's 500 Club in Atlantic City. Their energy and anarchy was an instant hit with audiences, something that Jerry described as 'lightning in a bottle'. From there they quickly moved on to TV with their hit show, The Colgate Comedy Hour and when Hollywood came calling they signed to Paramount Pictures.

However, all of this this success would come at a great cost to their friendship, and ultimately their partnership. After their split in 1956 Martin and Lewis didn't speak a word to each other for 20 years until their mutual friend Frank Sinatra brought them back together in a surprise reunion in front of millions of TV viewers. In this programme Bill looks back at their story with frank and revealing archive interviews featuring both Dean and Jerry, and some of their most memorable film and TV sketches. Plus interviews with writer James Kaplan (author of Dean & Me - A Love Story) and Dean Martin's daughter Deana Martin.

20180815

A look back at the work of cinema's best loved comedy duo.

A look back at the work of cinema's best loved comedy duo. 80 years since their golden era, Laurel and Hardy continue to delight their legions of fans the world over. Radio 2 finds out why as we explore some favourite moments from their archive with the input of some of today's most prominent Laurel and Hardy fans.

These include actor Jeffrey Holland who is currently playing Stan Laurel in his own show, Mr Laurel at the Edinburgh Fringe and Jeff Pope, writer of Stan & Ollie, the soon to be released film that tells the story of Laurel and Hardy's British variety halls tour of 1953. Yvette Fielding examines the role of strong female characters in their films and Mark Greenhow talks about his work as curator of the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Stan Laurel's home town of Ulverston in the Lake District. Plus celebrity fans Fran Healy, lead singer of Travis and actor Perry Fenwick (Billy Mitchell from EastEnders) share their passion for all things Stan and Ollie!

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis20180808

Bill Kenwright looks back at the stellar comedy partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis

Famous fans of today tell the stories of some of the great comedy duos of the past

Bill Kenwright looks back at the comedy partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Between 1946 and 56 they were a worldwide sensation on film, TV, radio, and as live performers.

But things were very different when Dean and Jerry first met in 1945. In those days both of them were going nowhere fast. Dean was a pleasant but unremarkable singer and Jerry had an act that involved miming to records dressed as Carmen Miranda. But things quickly changed when they got together at Skinny D'Amato's 500 Club in Atlantic City. Their energy and anarchy was an instant hit with audiences, something that Jerry described as 'lightning in a bottle'. From there they quickly moved on to TV with their hit show, The Colgate Comedy Hour and when Hollywood came calling they signed to Paramount Pictures.

However, all of this this success would come at a great cost to their friendship, and ultimately their partnership. After their split in 1956 Martin and Lewis didn't speak a word to each other for 20 years until their mutual friend Frank Sinatra brought them back together in a surprise reunion in front of millions of TV viewers. In this programme Bill looks back at their story with frank and revealing archive interviews featuring both Dean and Jerry, and some of their most memorable film and TV sketches. Plus interviews with writer James Kaplan (author of Dean & Me - A Love Story) and Dean Martin's daughter Deana Martin.

Dean Martin And Jerry Lewis20180808

Bill Kenwright looks back at the stellar comedy partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis

Famous fans of today tell the stories of some of the great comedy duos of the past

Bill Kenwright looks back at the comedy partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Between 1946 and 56 they were a worldwide sensation on film, TV, radio, and as live performers.

But things were very different when Dean and Jerry first met in 1945. In those days both of them were going nowhere fast. Dean was a pleasant but unremarkable singer and Jerry had an act that involved miming to records dressed as Carmen Miranda. But things quickly changed when they got together at Skinny D'Amato's 500 Club in Atlantic City. Their energy and anarchy was an instant hit with audiences, something that Jerry described as 'lightning in a bottle'. From there they quickly moved on to TV with their hit show, The Colgate Comedy Hour and when Hollywood came calling they signed to Paramount Pictures.

However, all of this this success would come at a great cost to their friendship, and ultimately their partnership. After their split in 1956 Martin and Lewis didn't speak a word to each other for 20 years until their mutual friend Frank Sinatra brought them back together in a surprise reunion in front of millions of TV viewers. In this programme Bill looks back at their story with frank and revealing archive interviews featuring both Dean and Jerry, and some of their most memorable film and TV sketches. Plus interviews with writer James Kaplan (author of Dean and Me - A Love Story) and Dean Martin's daughter Deana Martin.

Laurel and Hardy20180815

Another Nice Mess: Al Murray recalls the comic genius of Laurel and Hardy.

Famous fans of today tell the stories of some of the great comedy duos of the past

80 years since their golden era, Laurel and Hardy continue to delight their legions of fans the world over. Al Murray explores some favourite moments from their archive and looks at the reasons behind their enduring appeal with the input of some of today's most prominent Laurel and Hardy fans.

These include actor Jeffrey Holland who is currently playing Stan Laurel in his own show, '...and this is my friend Mr Laurel' at the Edinburgh Fringe, and Jeff Pope, writer of Stan & Ollie, the soon to be released film starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly that tells the story of Laurel and Hardy's final British variety halls tour of 1953. Laurel and Hardy historian Randy Skretvedt reveals the painstaking efforts to preserve and restore the films of Laurel and Hardy plus Yvette Fielding examines the role of strong female characters in their work. Ross Owen, who was responsible for successfully bringing Laurel and Hardy back to cinemas all over the UK a couple of years ago visits Mark Greenhow, curator of the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Stan Laurel's home town of Ulverston in Cumbria. Plus celebrity fans Fran Healy, lead singer of Travis and actor Perry Fenwick (Billy Mitchell from EastEnders) share their passion for all things Stan and Ollie!

Laurel And Hardy20180815

Another Nice Mess: Al Murray recalls the comic genius of Laurel and Hardy.

Famous fans of today tell the stories of some of the great comedy duos of the past

80 years since their golden era, Laurel and Hardy continue to delight their legions of fans the world over. Al Murray explores some favourite moments from their archive and looks at the reasons behind their enduring appeal with the input of some of today's most prominent Laurel and Hardy fans.

These include actor Jeffrey Holland who is currently playing Stan Laurel in his own show, '...and this is my friend Mr Laurel' at the Edinburgh Fringe, and Jeff Pope, writer of Stan and Ollie, the soon to be released film starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly that tells the story of Laurel and Hardy's final British variety halls tour of 1953. Laurel and Hardy historian Randy Skretvedt reveals the painstaking efforts to preserve and restore the films of Laurel and Hardy plus Yvette Fielding examines the role of strong female characters in their work. Ross Owen, who was responsible for successfully bringing Laurel and Hardy back to cinemas all over the UK a couple of years ago visits Mark Greenhow, curator of the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Stan Laurel's home town of Ulverston in Cumbria. Plus celebrity fans Fran Healy, lead singer of Travis and actor Perry Fenwick (Billy Mitchell from EastEnders) share their passion for all things Stan and Ollie!

A look back at the work of cinema's best loved comedy duo.

A look back at the work of cinema's best loved comedy duo. 80 years since their golden era, Laurel and Hardy continue to delight their legions of fans the world over. Radio 2 finds out why as we explore some favourite moments from their archive with the input of some of today's most prominent Laurel and Hardy fans.

These include actor Jeffrey Holland who is currently playing Stan Laurel in his own show, Mr Laurel at the Edinburgh Fringe and Jeff Pope, writer of Stan and Ollie, the soon to be released film that tells the story of Laurel and Hardy's British variety halls tour of 1953. Yvette Fielding examines the role of strong female characters in their films and Mark Greenhow talks about his work as curator of the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Stan Laurel's home town of Ulverston in the Lake District. Plus celebrity fans Fran Healy, lead singer of Travis and actor Perry Fenwick (Billy Mitchell from EastEnders) share their passion for all things Stan and Ollie!

0101That's Not A Name I Know20000717

by Alice Barry and Claire Bennett.

At a critical point in her career, a Birmingham businesswoman who 26 years ago gave up her baby for adoption is forced to reassess her life.

Meanwhile, in Cork, Mairead prepares for marriage.

With Eileen Walsh and Jillie Meers

0102The Gathering Wave & The Wide Open Sea20000718

Two plays about isolation and loss.

`The Gathering Wave' by Isabel Wright, starring Lisa Malcolm. On the east coast of Scotland nine-year-old Alex is having to grow up fast. Director: Gaynor Macfarlane. `The Wide Open Sea' by Don McCamphill, starring Gayanne Potter. On the north coast of Ireland ten years later, Alex struggles to survive loneliness and self-doubt. Director: Lawrence Jackson

0103Cottage Industry20000719

by Carl Grose and Eryl Roderick. Welsh farmer Rita and Cornish fisherman Reg plan an unusual form of revenge on irresponsible tourists. With Di Botcher and David Shaw. Director: Alison Hindell

0104Cardamom20000720

by Leila Aboulela and Sarah Phelps. A thirtysomething London couple holiday in Egypt and return with a female djinn who has been trapped for 900 years in a jar of cardamom seeds. With Adjoa Andoh and Lisa Coleman. Director: Bruce Young

0105 LASTMaking Waves20000721

by Sol B River and Gee Williams. The Rev Benjamin Stevens, a Jamaican minister, revitalises his new Welsh congregation and digs up the floor of the church to make a baptism pool. A leading member of the church and chair of the circuit committee fights him all the way. Who will win? With Burt Caesar and Christine Pritchard. Director: Polly Thomas

0201Kin20020304

By Paula Cunningham and Mark Illis. Alice is convinced the hospital has made a mistake and switched her baby with another born on the same day. Can she prove her case?

0202Touching The Linden Tree20020305

By Colin Hough and Rebecca Trick-Walker. When a high-powered advertising executive gives up the rat race, he finds rural life both exasperating and inspiring.

0203Route Number Twelve20020306

By Cynthia Hamilton and Nicola McCartney. Lena and Joseph met on the No 12 bus in 1968. More than 30 years later, Lena makes the same journey. Can their love have survived?

0204Milk20020307

By Nell Leyshon and Stephen McAnena.

Two parents have been forced to leave their dairy farm, and in unfamiliar surroundings, they face an even more demanding challenge.

0205 LASTWritten In Mist20020308

By Stephanie Dale and Ieuan Watkins. Two people who grew up together are now worlds apart, but their lives are about to collide in dramatic fashion.

0301We Got Tonight20041101

By Maria Connolly and Keith Law

A comedy about an idealistic musician who finds it hard to sacrifice his principals to save his marriage until he is kidnapped by two escaped convicts and his whole future is put in jeopardy.

Rick....Dan Gordon

Rita....Laura Hughes

Kiki....Martha Gordon

Herbie....Conor Grimes

Jock....Alan McKee

Clare....Niki Doherty

Pat....Gerard Jordan

Original music written and played by Keith Law

Directed by Tanya Nash

0302The Cyhiraeth20041108

by Ruth Jones and Debbie Moon. In 1775, Elizabeth is seeing spirits and in 2004, Jess is hearing voices.

0303The Distance Between20041115

by Charlotte Goodwin and Pamela Wells

On the day of recording, a writer finds his radio play handed over to a producer who hasn't even had time to read it. As the actors in the studio give voice to his drama, the writer's obsession with his female protagonist rises to the surface, and the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred.

The Writer....Andy Hockley

The Producer....Julia Hills

The Actress....Polly Lister

The Actor....Jez Thomas

Directed in Birmingham by Jenny Stephens and Kate Chapman

0304Falling Up20041122

by Helen East and Ruth Jones.

After being mugged, an ex-dancer develops an unlikely friendship with the teenager responsible.

0305 LASTScissors And Ribbon20041129

By Hannah and Rachel McGill

Big conspiracy comes to a small town in this light-hearted comedy. The town's local hero hasn't stepped out of her house for years until Pedro arrives from Columbia determined to make a miracle happen in Mecklington.

Barry....Martin Hyder

Darren....Andrew Mayer

Pedro....David Sant

Directed by Lu Kemp