FOR all those who haven’t heard of the cult Sixties radio show Round the Horne, you are in for a treat at the Mercury Theatre next week, when it starts a short UK tour.

Round the Horne Unseen and Uncut features a special selection of material which has not been seen on stage before, based on the original scripts by Barry Took and Marty Feldman.

With its ground-breaking mix of innuendo, camp caricature and word-play, Round the Horne regularly captured more than 15 million listeners, more than any radio programme before or since.

The cast includes Jonathan Rigby, as Kenneth Horne, and Robin Sebastian, as Kenneth Williams, who both won great acclaim for their previous roles in Round the Horne Revisited in the West End and on tour, as well as the BBC 4 film based on the play.

Robin said: “This is all new material and we’ve only performed it once to see if it worked out, so it really is very new.

“It’s quite an anarchic show but that’s how the radio show was.

“Kenneth Williams was always mucking about and going off script, but that was what it was all about and that’s what we try to capture in the stage production.”

That and the bizarre collection of characters that came to life courtesy of the talents of the Kenneths Horne and Williams, as well as Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Bill Pertwee and Douglas Smith.

They include J Peasemold Gruntfuttock, the world’s dirtiest old man; itinerant folk singer Rambling Syd Rumpo; the heart-stopping but extraordinarily polite Dame Celia Molestrangler, and those two “resting professionals”, Julian and Sandy.

Robin has become quite an expert at performing Kenneth Williams, having played him in an earlier Round the Horne show in the West End and Stop Messing About, another stage production of a Williams’s radio favourite.

Robin said: “He was a comic genius, no doubt about that.

“There have been a few programmes recently about his private life suggesting he had large bouts of depression, but there’s a new biography coming out which has been written by someone who had access to his diaries. I’m told it indicates he wasn’t quite the depressive character people thought he was.”

Certainly, there was no sign of depression when Williams stepped up to the mike for his radio shows and it looks like Colchester audiences are in for a real treat.

Robin said: “I’m really looking forward to coming back to Colchester.

“I was there last year with ’Allo ’Allo and I remember the audiences we had were the best of our tour. I’ve got friends and relatives from America coming to Colchester to see me.

“They like a good laugh in Essex so I think they’ll probably like this. These sketches are from the first three series and some are brilliant.”

  • With live musical interludes provided by Not the Fraser Hayes Four and the Hornblowers Big Band, Round the Horne Unseen and Uncut takes to the Mercury Theatre stage on Wednesday, running until September 12, at 7.30pm.

Tickets, priced from £9.50 to £20, are available by calling the box office on 01206 573948 and at