Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show! was commissioned BBC Radio 4 in 2005, following a year of monthly appearances on the Mark Radcliffe Show on BBC Radio 2. The BBC Radio 4 sitcom ran for seven years from from 2005 to 2012 and hears a confused and muddled ‘day in the life’ of the one time Variety Star, Count Arthur Strong.
Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show! features a regular cast of Dave Mounfield, Alastair Kerr together with Joanna Neary (series 1), Sue Perkins (series 2& 3) and Mel Giedroyc (series 4-7). Guest spots have been performed in episodes by Terry Kilkelly as Malcolm (series 1-7), Barry Cryer as himself (series 1 & 5), Kate Van Dike as Mrs Strong (series 5), Peter Serafinowicz and Martin Martinez (series 7). The series are a joint Komedia Entertainment and Smooth Operations production, written by Steve Delaney and script edited by Graham Duff. Sound recordings were made in front of live audiences at Komedia Brighton, Komedia Bath and the Dancehouse Manchester by David Thomas with editing by Annie Grundy. Producers have been John Leonard and Mark Radcliffe, with Richard Daws as Executive Producer.
In 2009 the Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show! picked up the Sony Award for Best Radio Comedy. In total there have been 48 episodes recorded over the eight years of production, including four pilots, seven series, an Edinburgh special and a glorious Christmas special.
Book Signing 25/12/2005 After some confusion with the local pharmacist, regarding his enlargements of Danny La Rue and a missing cauliflower, Arthur has a visit from Television Licensing. Eventually it transpires that his cleaner’s son has bought his licence on the internet. Arthur is then interviewed at Jerry’s about his diaries prior to a book signing at Wilf Taylor’s Quality Meats.
Cookery Show 30/12/2005 We join Arthur philosophising on the alphabet and The Sound of Music whilst queuing at the Post Office where he is buying stamps. After turning the tables on a charity collector Arthur goes for a hair cut and then on to the studio for the recording of his cookery show. Arthur has to improvise a meal from a selection of ingredients supplied by his guest, who was once an understudy for Private Pike on Dad’s Army. After the ingredients prove unsuitable Arthur decides to order a take away and moves onto some wine tasting resulting in the show descending into drunken chaos.
Radio Play 06/01/2006 Arthur visits Wilf’s, on his way to the BBC to take part in the recording of a radio play, and swats a fly on one of Wilf’s pork chops. Once at the studio Arthur manages to aggravate the director and then takes a young actor under his wing. A visit to the local pub during the lunch break leads to his protégé being sick and the recording falling behind schedule. It then transpires that Arthur was never cast in the show at all, in fact it was down to him that the original producer is off with a broken leg. After injuring the replacement producer Arthur takes his protégé back to the pub before inviting him to share the soiled pork chop.
James Bond 13/01/2006 Arthur is attempting to make toast, using the VCR he bought at a car boot sale, when he is interrupted by a mini-cab driver who has arrived 12 hours too early to take him to the Women’s Institute where he is due to give a talk on his life in show business. Returning to the matter in hand Arthur calls the helpline where an assistant thinks he is the subject of a prank call when Arthur explains he “put a slice of Nimble in an hour ago and it’s still not popped up”. Arthur later takes the bus to the WI where he gives a talk covering topics including his audition for James Bond, returning home he manages to catch an episode of Minder on his toaster.
The Audition 20/01/2006 Arthur awakes from a nightmare where he is starring in a Second World War drama set during the Siege of Stalingrad. A door to door salesman of household goods meets his match in Arthur who manages to wangle himself a free scouring pad. After some difficulties getting through the studio door Arthur delivers his own unique style of audition.
Piccalilli 27/01/2006 We find Arthur in his “laboratory” where he is experimenting on a new range of Piccalilli. His protégé, Malcolm, turns up to practise his audition speech for the musical Cats, but is roped into testing the Piccalilli. Malcolm’s nerve induced diarrhoea is exacerbated by Arthur’s piccalilli. Visits to Jerry’s and Wilf’s to try and market the new celebrity condiment are followed by Arthur having to stand in for Malcolm at the Cats audition due to his incapacitation.
Count Arthur Strong’s Christmas Show! 26/12/2006 Arthur dreams of being Ebenezer Scrooge visited by “woefully under-prepared” ghosts before awakening and preparing for Christmas by a visit to Wilf’s to preview his turkey. After rejecting those birds with an “altitude” problem he moves on to present his own take on the Nativity Story for the cubs. He then pops into The Shoulder of Mutton before entertaining the inmates at the local old people’s home
Motivational Speech 28/02/2007 Arthur delivers a motivational speech, advertised by placing an advert in the Post Office. He uses the technique of making his audience wear Dunce’s caps and banging a dustbin lid while telling them how useless they are. Due to a mix-up at the printers, a banner he ordered is delivered reading ‘Closing down, everything £1.’
Just A Minute 07/03/2007 Arthur is engaged to appear on the radio programme Just a Minute. He enlists the help of his protégé Malcolm to make sure he is ‘match fit’. Together they pick topics from the newspaper and Arthur attempts to speak for one minute without hesitation, repetition or deviation, but finds it difficult to get the hang of the game. They lunch at Jerry’s, where Malcolm tries to perform his ‘homework’, a speech from Macbeth, while Arthur interrupts him without pause on the subject of Taggart. When Arthur arrives at the BBC he is given directions to join the audience and is eventually interviewed on a current affairs programme in place of Arthur C. Clarke, although he believes he is appearing on Just a Minute.
After Dinner Speech 14/03/2007 Arthur receives a call from Barry Cryer who asks that he step in at the last minute to give an after-dinner speech for the World Wildlife Fund. Arthur arranges to meet Barry at Gerry’s cafe, but is forced to pretend to be a pest-control officer in order to find a table. Repairing to The Shoulder of Mutton, they begin to plan Arthur’s speech but Barry ends up having too much to drink. When they come to give their speeches, Barry’s goes very badly and he falls asleep after the first few sentences. Arthur’s speech descends into confusion when he loses his temper and it’s back to The Shoulder of Mutton.
Oxford Union 21/03/2007 Arthur is invited to take part in a debate on Creationism vs. Evolution at the Oxford Union. He is reminded of his commitment only hours before the debate and borrows a book on Darwin from the local library, which he takes to The Shoulder of Mutton to do some swotting. At the Oxford Union he takes full advantage of the food and drink provided before the debate begins. He speaks for 45 minutes rather than the allotted 3.
Hospital Appointment 28/03/2007 Being a “busy terrible personality” we find Arthur in the middle of the official opening of a shoe shop, when posing for a photograph he mistakenly says “cheese” leading to a problem with Dyspepsia. During a visit to the Shoulder of Mutton it transpires that Arthur has been referred to the local hospital after a visit to his GP after a number of drinks he goes to the hospital but has missed his consultant. After mistaking a number of members of staff and dozing off he dreams that he is a famous consultant with unorthodox methods (“Let’s save this man’s life and we can have a post mortem afterwards”). He later discharges himself and returns to the pub, the true source of his ailment then becomes clear.
Ancient Egypt Speech 04/04/2007 Arthur’s application for membership of the British Egyptology Society hinges on the success of his lecture on ancient Egypt.
Late Review 28/12/2007 Arthur is due to review a book for the BBC and whilst searching for it finds a pint of milk and half a dozen eggs down the back of the sofa “well that’s a spot of lunch”, he also has to deal with a “non-recalcitrant” cat doing it’s “outrageous misdemeanours”. Being unable to recall either the name or subject of the book Jeffrey is dispatched to retrieve a tea towel which has the same picture. A visit to the library and then the librarian’s mother follows in the Arthur’s search for the book. When finally he gets to the studio he has to bluff his way.
Car Boot 04/01/2008 Arthur picks a few select antiques to take to the local car-boot sale, where he is to hold a meat and theatrical memorabilia stall with Wilf, before negotiating the sale of a priceless family heirloom. Arthur also plans to carry out valuations for a small “constipation” and to video his performance to send to the BBC’s “Antiques Roadkill”. When at the sale Arthur has an uncomfortable encounter with the buyer of his heirloom and then carries out a confused valuation with the long suffering Jeffrey.
The Advert 11/01/2008 Arthur is counting his loose change when Malcolm turns up looking for his “acting stagecraft and personality crafts lessons”. When Arthur discovers that Malcolm is preparing for a casting for a toffee advert featuring a granddad he realises this is an opportunity for him to attend the audition. After a visit to the Shoulder of Mutton an improvisational session at the audition allows Arthur to exercise all his skills.
Arthur Goes Camping 18/01/2008 Arthur buys a tent for a camping trip to the “Brecon Beaklands” avoiding the idiot proof one that injured his “friend”. He then pick up a flyer for a new “gastric pub” where he masquerades as a meeter and greeter, however the almost Communist number of owners lead to the premature end of his residency. After missing the “mini-bar” he ropes Jeffrey into driving him to Wales.
2001- A Space Idiocy 25/01/2008 Arthur decides it is time to join the 20th century by buying a mobile phone in the hope that it will help him compete with “Edward Woodworm” for work. He then becomes the victim of a scurrilous ear photographer before receiving a call offering him a job on the local hospital radio. Going home for a nap to repair he dreams of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey turning him into a baby. The slot on the hospital radio is then disrupted by the guest surgeon being called Hal and sounding remarkably similar to his dream.
Piddler On The Roof 01/02/2008 Arthur is staging a revue with songs from Fiddler on the Roof but due to a problem at the printers his fliers have an unfortunate misprint. Arthur visits his doctor’s surgery in order to place one of his posters on the notice board. He discovers that his GP has died — “blimey that’s not a very good advert for his business”—but then after looking for the lavatory he gets confused for a doctor, allowing him to dispense medical pearls of wisdom. A visit to the Shoulder of Mutton allows him to hand out “fly papers”. After attempting to post a flier at Wilf’s, Arthur receives a nasty knock on the head. A mixture of painkillers and a “medicainal bottle of spirits” leads to doubts about his ability to perform, but after a mixed grill the show must go on and Arthur performs concussed; “not be the first time I’ve performed concussed and I certainly hope it’ll not be the last”. The performance becomes increasingly erratic — “this is sodding grease all over again, is this”
Edinburgh Festival Special
Role Playing 25/08/2008 (Special recorded at the Edinburgh Festival) After a visit from a new neighbour trying to deliver a letter, Arthur gets confused between the small ads and the personals in his local paper and ends up propositioning someone he believes to be selling a hedge trimmer. He then takes part in a doctor training session, role playing the part of a patient before retiring to The Shoulder of Mutton
Alf Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmare 07/01/2009 Arthur prepares to clean his bay window only to find his galvanised zinc bucket has been “burgalered” so he resorts to item 2 on his agenda, breakfast at Jerry’s. After philosophising on the possibilities of a full Brazilian instead of the usual full English he discovers that Jerry has injured his back after falling over a bucket remarkably similar to the Arthur’s. As the cafe is closed for the foreseeable future Arthur steps in and takes over the running of the Gerry’s, doing an Alf Ramsey with Jeffrey acting as his “suicide” chef. Arthur attempts to move the cafe up-market organising a visit by local food “crickets” with predictable results before being re-united with the missing bucket.
An Audience With 14/01/2009 Arthur is reading from his Novel “The Malteser Falcon” when he is interrupted by a visit from the vicar reminding him about a fund raiser for which Arthur is meant to be organising entertainment. As usual however Arthur has forgotten so has to hastily organise some “X Ray Factor” style auditions at The Shoulder of Mutton. Due to the low calibre of the candidates Arthur decides to put on An Audience with … himself.
Pub Quiz 21/01/2009 Arthur is interviewed for the a local radio station about the proposed new by-pass before moving on to Gerry’s. He discovers that Sally, Geoffrey and Wilf are all members of the Three Musketeers team in the Shoulder of Mutton’s quiz night. Arthur soon invites himself to become team captain before organising Sally and Geoffrey into swatting up at the local library. When they convene at the Shoulder of Mutton Arthur manages to acquire numerous free drinks and novel flavoured crisps. Arthur’s team is then joint first requiring him as team captain to take centre stage for the tie-breaker question.
Coach Trip 28/01/2009 Arthur postulates on the origin of the Zebra crossing, why no-one ever rides a Zebra and possible improvements in road safety before embarking on a day trip to Bridlington with the Legion. During a break at a service station he becomes detached from the rest of the group and is mistaken for an inspector from head office, allowing him to demonstrate his improvisational skills. Trying to board the wrong bus he is forced to hide in the ladies before going cross country and rejoining the coach four hours later. As usual the day ends in The Shoulder Of Mutton.
Charley Ant 04/02/2009 Arthur is gathering his costume and searching for his make-up when Malcolm arrives and is offered the position of Arthur’s dresser for the role of Auntie Charlie in “The Man from Auntie’s Uncle”. When Arthur fails to find his valise Malcolm suggests they go for a free makeover at the local department store where Malcolm’s cousin works on the make-up counter. After being transformed into a “spit of his Mother with a touch Margaret Lockwood, a handful of Anita Harris and a soup spoon (soupcon) of Brig Eggland”. Unfortunately their efforts are to no avail as they become stuck in a lift and never make it to the auditions.
Documentary 11/02/2009 Arthur has a day-mare in which he hosts a request show on Radio Doncaster where he receives repeated requests for “Play Misty for Me”, a tune which haunts him for the rest of the day. Jeffrey arrives and brings Arthur a cassette recorder as he is planning on making a documentary about his career in show-business, an idea which came to him on the lavatory where he has also storyboarded a quiz show, and other ideas on Izal toilet paper. Jeffrey is enlisted into operating the tape recorder for Arthur and following a visit Gerry’s to interview him about Arthur, they move onto the Hippodrome where Arthur used to “top himself regularly in 1960 something”, however the venue has changed use and Arthur makes the acquaintance of Pandora over a few glasses of champagne, followed by a warning from the local constabulary and a brief visit to the Shoulder of Mutton.
Beer Cruise 18/12/2009 (From RT website) It’s an early start for Arthur as he sets off on a day trip to France with his old friends Wilf, Sally and Geoffrey. Having brushed up on his French the night before, Arthur shows them all just how to communicate in a foreign tongue. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be many French people about to converse with. Still, there’s always the wine!
Murder Most Fouled Up 25/12/2009 (From RT website) Arthur steps in at short notice to play a prominent role in an Murder Mystery evening for Lord and Lady Preston, his new best friends – if they did but know it! Who committed the heinous murder? Can Count Arthur solve the case? Did he do it? Was it the butler?
Keep Fit 01/01/2010 (From RT website) Not one to turn down a free dinner, when Arthur sees an advert in the paper for free trial membership of a new gym, there’s no stopping him. There’s just one thing – to qualify he has to get the doctor to give him a clean bill of health.
Yes Count Arthur 08/01/2010 (From RT website) Frustrated by a dispute at the local opticians over repairs to his glasses, Arthur decides to stand up for the ‘little man’ and seeks high office in the local council elections. With his protégé Malcolm as his assistant campaigns manager, surely Number 10 has to be the next stop for the Dream Team?
Cookery Book 15/01/2010 (From RT website) Arthur’s latest scheme to secure an advance for his celebrity cookery book idea goes somewhat askew when he stands in for old pal Billy to demonstrate a kitchen appliance in the local shopping centre.
The Musical 22/01/2010 (From RT website) Owing to the huge success of shows like Miss Signon, Cats and Annie Get Your Coat, Arthur decides ‘his time is now’ and devises his own autobiographical musical tribute to himself, Count Arthur Strong: The Musical. Hoping to raise the money to take it into the West End, Arthur performs highlights of the show to an invited audience of potential investors. Will he raise the money he needs to make his dream come true?
Citizen’s Advice 15/12/2010 When Arthur attempts to return an item of clothing to a local shop, things don’t go quite to plan – leading him to take some ‘legal’ advice at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. With an ever-increasing list of complaints, plus the possibility of having to acquire a puppy (or puppies) to boot, Arthur’s day doesn’t go quite as he’d hoped. The occasion does give him a chance to take a trip down memory lane, however, re-living an acting moment in a legal TV drama – which of course enables Arthur to give some sound advice of his own!
Calendar Boys 22/12/2010 Arthur is informed by Malcolm that there is an emergency meeting to be held in order to discuss raising funds for the local Church Hall, which is in dire straits and requires important improvements to remain open. In true Arthur style he comes up with an idea or two to help the fund-raising process, hoping to involve as many of his friends in the process. With an idea finally put to the committee and inevitably agreed to, after Arthur’s persuasive words, the ‘stage is set’ for a fund-raising project that will surely turn heads and raise Arthur’s personal profile as well as the much needed funding for the Church…
Tour Guide 29/12/2010 After meeting a Tour Operator in the street whilst doing his daily chores, Arthur joins a Tour Bus giving guided journeys around the city – and is, as only Arthur can be, hugely disappointed with his experience. Misunderstandings and misinformation abound, and after a stop to buy some pies from the market Arthur heads to the Shoulder of Mutton to talk through his annoyance at the day-so-far with Jack. He comes up with a plan to develop his very own and much improved tours of the city and, not having a bus at his disposal, decides to conduct walking tours. Whilst starting this new venture in earnest, Arthur’s best-laid plans, as usual, don’t quite go as he’d hoped…
The Curse of Count Arthur 05/01/2011 With all things ‘horror’ on his somewhat confused mind, Arthur receives a phone call from his good friend Barry Cryer to say that they have somehow lost Barry’s briefcase containing the tickets they require to attend a lunchtime Hammer Horror convention at which they are due. They decide to re-trace their steps from the previous night, which includes taking in a visit to some local haunts and shops, as well as the Shoulder of Mutton. With the briefcase (and thus the tickets) nowhere to be found, Arthur and Barry are left to decide what they should do – try and get into the convention by relying on their good names and reputations alone, or risk missing out on the Hammer Horror lunch…?
Gone Fishing 13/01/2011 On a fishing trip to Spiggy Lakes with long suffering friends, Sally, Geoffrey and Wilf, things start to go awry for Arthur after he ‘finds’ a rowing boat. He thinks may give him the edge in their £5.10 per head sweepstake based on who will catch the most fish, and sets out into the lake unaccompanied.
Ship on a Bottle 19/01/2011 After problems assembling his model three masted schooner, Arthur goes in search of a free gift. After taking a well-earned break at Gerry’s Cafe he sees an advert in the local paper which gives him an idea… All he has to do is express an interest in a ‘no obligation’ timeshare apartment in the Canary Isles, and the free gift is his! What could possibly go wrong?
The Minx 21-02-2012 Planning to get his ancient Hillman Minx back on the road, Arthur tries to get an insurance quote, which leads to him trying to get Terry Wogan to sign a waiver.
The Viewing 28-02-2012 Arthur snoops around his neighbours house and is still in the loo when the owners return. He hears news that will take him to Spain.
Arthurish 07-03-2012 Arthur leaves for Spain and invents his own language.
The Arrival 14-03-2012 Arthur arrives in Spain to look after his friends cabaret and sings karaoke
Spanish Elvis 21-03-2012 Arthur continues to run his friends bar / cabaret bar in Spain, meets Spanish Elvis and re-arranges the kitchen
Knights of the Round Table 28-03-2012 Arthur prepares for an interview with the Round Table but bangs his head and is even more confused that usual