Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Wireless - Post 151

Source: Wiki Commons

The word wireless means something totally different today to what it meant to me when I was growing up. It's an adjective today, when I was little it was a noun. The wireless was what's called radio today. Well most people call it radio. I don't, mostly I still call it the wireless.

I started wondering why it was called a wireless when it still had wires. So I looked it up and found some interesting stuff about it.

Apparently there's confusion over who invented radio, which at the time was apparently called wireless telegraphy, so understandably they shortened it to "wireless".

"Radio is the wireless transmission of signals, by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of light."
However, it still needed to be plugged in!

When I was little we used to listen to the wireless all the time, well we didn't have a telly until after the Coronation in 1953. Even after that we still listened to the wireless a lot as the telly programmes were only on in the evening.

My memories of listening to the wireless are mainly of Sundays after we'd been to church. Mam would be preparing the Sunday dinner, (we didn't call it lunch) and the wireless was always tuned to the BBC Light programme, (now Radio 2). The sounds and the smells of those Sundays are some of my strongest and happiest memories of my youth.

First was Two Way Family Favourites which had started life as Forces Favourites. It was a great request programme with Jean Metcalfe and Cliff Mitchelmore. There were other presenters but those two are the ones that stay in my mind. It must have had the most famous introduction to a British radio programme ever:

"The time in Britain is twelve noon, in Germany it's one o'clock, but home and away it's time for Two-Way Family Favourites".

Take a trip down memory lane with that famous theme music "With a Song in My Heart".

Don't know why they don't resurrect it again for the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Would go down a treat. Crumbs, I nearly said bomb!

There were other programmes such as The Billy Cotton Band Show and The Clitheroe Kid. However my favourite out of all of them was Round The Horne. I laughed 'til I cried listening to this.

It was absolutely wild and brilliant comedy, written by Marty Feldman and Barry Took. I'm sure the Python Team must have been influenced by it.

Rambling Syd Rumpold was one of my favourites. Here's a video clip of Kenneth Williams on the Michael Parkinson Show. He's one of the funniest people I've ever seen or heard. However I still think it was funnier on the wireless where you had to imagine all the visuals.

I think we laughed because we couldn't understand half of it. The double entendres went right over our heads. I wonder if that's how it got past the powers that be in the BBC. My Mam would have turned it off if she had understood what they were saying. We were obviously very naive back then. I grew up pretty clueless as she always switched off the telly if anything even slightly risque came on.

Here's an example of what now seems very rude. It's Julian and Sandy ( Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick) with Keep Britain Bona. Very topical with the General Election coming up!

It could never be broadcast now, too politically incorrect, although you can buy the CDs. Not all of the stuff is so rude. There's a brilliant skit on the BBC where they recruit Kenneth Williams for a BBC job. Great to listen to when you're bored. Maybe sitting in an airport? Really makes me laugh 'til I cry, partly through nostalgia no doubt.

I really miss those Sundays and the two Kenneths, bless them. Thank goodness for the wireless, it takes me back to a really happy time. I often wish I could go back there, just for the day.

Post 151


  1. I remember listening to the Billy Cotton Band Show every Sunday over at my grans. Didn't he used to say "Crikey Crikey" ?
    She had a very large floor model wireless sitting in the front room, I think it was called a radiogram.
    Yes, I liked those times.

  2. I guess we all would love to go back to our youth or childhood even if only for a day.

  3. I remember sitting around the fireplace with Grandma, listening to the wireless. She would be knitting jumpers or cardigans, she was always busy. I guess I would be drawing or reading, good memories.

  4. Kenneth Williams was an extremely funny person!

  5. Although I recall growing up with television, I remember the programming wasn't that great. Still isn't.

    My father always loved his radio. If there was a baseball game being broadcast on both television and radio, he'd take his radio outside, light a big cigar and listen to all nine innings.

  6. I love to read posts like this. I wish that more of us would write down our memories to share and keep for future generations. That is one thing I miss about my Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa. When I had a chance to listen to their stories about their youth. I wish they had written them down, so I could read them now. We had a television off and on when I was a young girl, but my Dad was also much more interested in the radio. We had one that had a console that I could sit on top of and listen to the rock music from the 50's. Thanks for helping me travel back in time here Winifred.

  7. It was always the radio to me but I think I can remember some referring to it as the wireless. I vaguely remember Amos and Andy show, The Arthur Godfrey Breakfast Club, The Shadow, and boxing. I like boxing to this day because of listening to it on the radio. What neat videos you have included. I laughed too but wasn't really sure why.

  8. Winifred, we didn't get a television until I was about 9 or ten years old. My mom and I (she was a single Mom until I was 9) listened to the radio every Sunday evening. The Shadow, Amos and Andy, Fibber Magee and Molly. I have decided to tak a little trip down memory land myself and do a future post on my radio memories.

    Thanks for this cool post.

    ~hippo hugs~

  9. This made me laugh Winifred. Such a trip down "Memory Lane" for me too. We used to listen to "Two Way Family Favourites" while my mum cooked Sunday dinner as well. I though it very romantic that Jean Metcalfe and Cliff Michelmore got married. We have some tapes and CD's of "Round the Horne" (one of husbands's favourites) and they are still making us laugh. As you say they wouldn't get away with it today. Definitely the good old days. A x

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  11. hmm very interesting never thought about the word wireless like that.

  12. Memories are made of this.


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