Radio and Variety

  1. Introduction ….. 1.
    2. Variety Theatre Practitioners and Radio ….. 1.
    3. Programmes and Series ….. 1.
    4. Troupes and Ensembles ….. 2.

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(1928) Dorothy Dewar, Mavis Walker, Jack Buchannan and Stan Crawford came together as the Four Bright Spirits for Sydney radio station 2BL on 20 September 1928. They presented another four shows, with last being aired on 12 November. Although no titles have yet been identified, each programme was described as either a revue or a “musical cocktail,” and presented in two parts. An intermission of sorts was provided by a brief selection of numbers by individual performers or various orchestras.

  • For further details see: “Radio and Variety Programmes and Series: 1928



(1928-1929) English comedian Harry Graham and his wife Dorothy Manning had been appearing regularly on Australian radio since at least April 1927. The couple’s career in Australia goes back to the mid-war years, with Graham identified as a solo comedian as early as 1909. The Snapshots was not the first costume comedy-style company he had led, but it was likely his first to be formed in order to work specifically in radio. The troupe, which comprised around half a dozen performers, made its debut for Sydney station 2FC on 22 September 1928 and later appeared on 2BL. Surprisingly, none of the artists in the ensemble appear to have been named in any of the programme listings and previews/reviews digitised by Trove to date.

  • For further details see: “Radio and Variety Programmes and Series: 1928



(1927) Farmers Service producer Laurence Halbert conceived the idea of creating a musical comedy revue especially for radio in late-1926, and soon afterwards began putting together a line-up of variety artists he believed could work in the new medium. The first broadcast is believed to have gone to air on 15 January. Among the performers to engaged were singers Gwladys Fimister, Eileen Boyd, Peggy Peat, and comedians Wally Baynes, Shirley Cooke, Rus Garling, Ad Cree, and Sam Stern. Laurence Halbert, a baritone, also often performed with the company. Featured orchestras and bands included the Lyric Wintergarden Orchestra, Alf Tremain’s Dance Band, the 2FC Orchestra, the Wentworth Café Orchestra, and the N.S.W. Tramway Band. The series continued throughout until February 1928.

  • For further details see: “Radio and Variety Programmes and Series: 1927
  • See also: Laurence Halbert
1: Garling and Cree went on to form their own radio revue companies.
2: Visiting English artists James Summers and Dorothy Taylor also appeared with the Revellers in 1927.



aka Wal Rockley’s Christy Minstrels / Wal Rockley’s Court Minstrels / Wal Rockley’s Kentucky Minstrels / Mohawk Minstrels / Veterans of Minstrel and Variety World / Darktown Minstrels

(1930-1936) Wal Rockley and Ward Lear presented a “real old time minstrels” show on radio station 2FC in 1930, and over the next six years, under the sole direction of Rockley, 2FC and later 2BL presented these minstrel revivals several times a year. Although the programme names changed over time, Old Time Minstrels was more commonly used. Among the big name performers engaged were George Drew, Les Warton, Maurice Chenoweth, Arthur Morley, Florrie Ranger, Stella Ranger, Maud Fanning, Will Leslie, George Dean, Will Raynor, Walter George, Georgie Martin, Arthur Tauchert, Harry Little, Will Bovis, Jack Lumsdaine, and Syd Haynes. Music directors included Percy Davis and Fred Whaite. Laurence Halbert produced at least one show.

  • For further details see: “Radio and Variety Programmes and Series: 1930
  • See also: Wal Rockley


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Published on June 1, 2017 at 1:22 am  Comments Off on Radio and Variety