BBC Radio 4
A Family Gathering on 4 Extra
Wednesday 10 May 2017, 17:37
Radio 4 Extra
The 1960s domestic sitcom 'Life with the Lyons' features in 4 Extra's family season.
Family… Whether you have heaps of squealing children, an arms-length relationship with an ex-partner, siblings, step-parents, grandparents or a huge tabby cat; families come in all shapes and sizes.
Radio 4 Extra invites you to celebrate the ‘Family’ in all its different guises showcasing famous radio comedy and iconic drama from the BBC archives including including TS Eliot’s drama Family Reunion not broadcast since original TX in 1965.
Here’s the family related delights that Radio 4 Extra has lined up for you:
Noel Coward’s inter-war play This Happy Breed starring John Moffatt. The story of the working class Gibbons family coping with life between the wars and stars Rosemary Leach. This Happy Breed was also produced as a highly successful film in 1944 by David Lean. 
A family drama cataloguing the lives and loves across three generations in the The Cazalet Chronicles. Elizabeth Jane Howard’s family saga brought her success in her 70s. She was a writer who transferred and recycled the mistakes in her own family life into brilliant novels.

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi presents The Comedy Club to talk about the influence of her family and introduce a selection of family comedy. 
Jeremy Hardy faces up to fatherhood and gives tips on How to Be a Father.
Shappi sees the funny side of being divorced and a single mother and discusses this with Jerry Hall in Shappi Talk.
Dominic Holland discusses the journey of life and points out the pitfalls of growing up, becoming an adult and having children in The Small World of Dominic Holland.
Mark Steel proposes a radical idea to improve our lives in The Mark Steel Solution: No One Should Live in the Same Family for More than One Year…
Stephen K Amos shares his teenage years in 1980s South London in Jonathan Harvey’s comedy, What Does the K Stand For?
In Isy Suttie's Guide to the Family, Isy returns to Derbyshire the home of her teenage years as she ambles through the archives to celebrate family life in a three hour showcase.
We hear from the classic comedy families across the decades starting with 50s & 60s families in Meet the Huggets and Life with the Lyons. The latter features the real American Lyon family in 60s London, starring Bebe Daniels and her husband Ben Lyon. For the first time since its original transmission, the silent film actress chooses her castaway choices in Desert Island Discs. Bebe visited Britain for 3 weeks with her family in 1936. They loved it so much she was still here 20 years later.
From the 1960s, we bring you Not in Front of the Children, the family sitcom adapted from television with Wendy Craig and Frances Matthews. Jennifer nags stubborn Henry due in court over a treehouse. 
From the 1970s comes the iconic comedy Steptoe and Son adapted from television with Wilfred Brambell and Harry H Corbett. Harold falls for his drama society’s leading lady. 
Simon Brett’s After Henry is a comedy drama from the 1980s featuring a widow, her mother and daughter, starring Prunella Scales and Joan Sanderson. 
From the 1990s, the Conroy family are braced for school reports – and a loan in Stockport: So Good They Named It Once. Starring Dominic Monaghan (The Lord of the Rings) and Beverley Callard (Coronation Street). 
And from the 2010s, Simon Greenall and Kay Stonham star in Robin and Wendy’s Wet Weekend. Away from their model village, the duo tackle a civil war recreation.
There are elements of family tragedy that we all recognise in Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, a portrait of a fractured Baltimore family, with details that ring sharply true and characters that are both truthful and entertaining. Starring Barbara Barnes as Pearl and Nathan Osgood as Beck. The narrator is Lorelei King.
After 20 years away from poetry, during which he co-wrote The Royle Family and produced Gavin & Stacey, amongst others, Henry Normal returned to Radio 4 in 2016 for a comic and poetic look at his family life. Recorded in front of an audience in Brighton, A Normal Family is centred around Henry’s son, Johnny, who was diagnosed with “mildly severe” autism. Through stand-up and poetry, Henry explores what this means for Johnny, for himself, and for his wife, Angela. 
And finally, TS Eliot’s drama Family Reunion echoes Eliot’s own first failed marriage and looks at the family dynamics at a birthday gathering - always an opportunity for high tension. 
Whilst in the beginning radio gathered the family together, whatever your family make-up today, radio can also be enjoyed in perfect solitude.
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1 comment
11:38 17 May 2017
There could be no better family gathering program than Forces Favourites
Come on BBC, play it again. Before it’s too late let’s have a programme from the golden days of radio.
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.
That was probably one of the most famous announcements on radio during the 1950s and '60s. At its peak it had an audience of 16 million in Britain alone.
The signature tune With a Song in My Heart orchestrated by Andre Kostalanetz must surely be one of the most played records ever on the BBC.
So many memories, but not for long, most of us who shared the experience are tip-toeing into the infinite!
The BBC could revive a host of memories from millions of listeners and be inundated with stories of golden moments from the horror of that war.
The programme started during the war as Forces Favourites. Jean Metcalfe along with Marjorie Anderson, Joan Griffiths and Barbara McFadyean presenting.
All through the war and after, in the 40s, 50s and 60s, it was listened to by just about everybody over the Sunday roast.
We were regular listeners in Hammersmith through the war, after church Mum would always time the roast lamb to be on the table in time for Family Favourites.
And, as a soldier in 1946, in the 72nd British General Hospital in Athens, I would listen to it and think it was nice that mum would be there.
There was a BBC romance in it, too, Jean Metcalfe and Cliff Michelmore were two of the presenters, she in London and he in Germany. They didn’t know each other except over the airwaves, when they eventually met they took a liking to each other and lived happily ever after.
Tony Moy 17th May 2017
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