Growing up in the 50's and 60's

The Radio Programmes of the 1950s gave much entertainment to all the family

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1950's - The Radio

What we listened to on the Wireless, many had no TV

The thing to bare in mind here is that, during the early 50's, very few people actually had Television and it was seen as very much second fiddle to radio.
The early 50's was still experiencing the wartime years left overs, so Radio was often quite jolly and steered toward leaving your troubles behind you.

Some programmes, such as Workers Playtime which began during WW2, were still running from 'A factory somewhere in England'.
A few artistes of that time would turn up at a Factory Canteen and entertain live to the workers.
Singers were accompanied by Piano only and this was inbetween comedians such as Arthur Askey, Tommy Trinder, Charlie Chester and Ted Ray etc. All masters of their craft.

Morning Radio was heavily slanted toward Wives and Mother's (because career women were almost unheard of) with programmes such as 'Housewives Choice', 'Music while you work' and 'Mrs. Dales Diary' (an early Soap).

The afternoon radio was more relaxing and there would be a lunchtime light drama almost every day, seen as time for the hard working housewife (and they were) to put their feet up before the kids coming home and preparing herself for the return of their husbands from work!

Evenings were a mixture depending on what Channel you preferred. IN Sport, live Boxing was very popular and these fighters were more folk heroes to many. Band Shows were thriving still with Billy Cotton and Victor Sylvester leading the way.
There was also 'In Town Tonight' which was a national institution from 1933 - 1960. Basically an early chat show including reviews and celebrity gossip (with a very small 'c'!).

Personally, during the whole of the 50's, I listened to far more radio than I did watch TV and certain programmes still ring in my ear.
On Saturday evenings there was Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courrtnidge giving us short paradies inter-mingled with light music.
When that wasn't on, 'Variety Playhouse', another light entertainment programme with sketches etc. was being listened to. This featured such stars as Ronnie Barker, Elsie and Doris Walters (I named my first two chickens after them!) and Arthur Askey again.

Sundays was Family Favourites, The Billy Cotton Bandshow. These were always followed by a comedy series at Lunchtime. Programmes such as 'The Navy Lark' (Lesley Phillips). 'Hancocks Half Hour', 'Life with the Lyon's' and 'Beyond our Ken' (later to become 'Around the Horne') with the now folk legend, Kenneth Horne.
You would NOT listen to any programme whilst eating Sunday Lunch though!

Radio was a medium in which safety came first. There wasn't much experimentation and censorship was strict. It seemed it was for security. The World had gone through a catastrophic conflict and with The Cold War building up, serious stuff was for the News only. All around the news was entertainment and escape.

Children's Radio 1950's

was virtually non existent!
I'm sure the reason was that kid's in those days weren't inside when they got home, we were either outside playing, inside building thing's or reading a Book!
'Listen with Mother', a short 15 minute slot at about 1.45pm every day was for the youngest of listeners. This consisted mainly of a short story, some Nursery Rhyme reading and a song.
Again, a chance for Mother to have quiet time between the chores and hoping the little one would doze off and allow her to listen to the afternoon Play!

However, on a Saturday morning from the mid-fifties came 'Uncle Mac'.
Uncle Mac fronted the hugely successful 'Children's Favourites' on a Saturday morning.
I remember this as if it were yesterday. You'd sit through the whole programme waiting to see if your personal favourite would be played. Music still ringing in my ear to this day are 'Peter and the Wolf', 'Ugly Duckling', Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer', 'She'll be coming round the mountain', 'The Runaway Train', 'Teddy Bear's Picnic' 'Nellie the Elephant', 'A windmill in Old Amsterdam', 'Sparky the magic Piano' and my favourite...'Tubby the Tuba'! The list is endless!

By the late 50's, Radio did start experimenting with more alternative programmes and probably the most major step towards the 60's TV 'Monty Python' etc. was 'The Goon Show' and Michael Bentine's 'Round the Bend'.
These programmes based on complete madness and unbelievable situations!


Music as well was changing. Rock and Roll came in from the States and we were going into Skiffle with  Lonnie Donegan and 'pop' with Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard, all of which would lead to drastic changes in the 60's.

Without a doubt, many people of my age group were greatly influenced by Radio, not like today where it is more background, but because that was the number one media tool


I always call it 'BBC Talk'. During the 1950's, it was a must that presenters and commentators to have a southern accent. Northern asccents, it seemed, were for people who played sport or were comedians


Growing up in
50s and 60s
The 1960s

50's & 60's In the Blog

1960's Year by Year

The Three BBC Radio Channels
The Light Programme
This was the 'mixed bag' of general light entertainment, comedy and drama
The Home Service
More serious drama, more entertainment and the main news channel
The Third Programme
was the 'posher' one! It only broadcast in the evenings and would have more the 'arty' and alternative