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Those Studio Audiences

When writing about The Starlings and The Reason Why, the two non-Goon-Show Goon Shows recorded without an audience, I stated that both episodes lacked the energy of the normal broadcasts as there was no live laughter.

Others felt differently, however, as this letter to the Radio Times from a Lady Helen Graham-Little demonstrates.

May I add my voice to the vast majority of listeners who are maddened by the hideous cacophony of shrieks and noises made by studio audiences wrecking thereby all enjoyment of your humourous programmes. The offensive noises damage both the great reputations of the BBC and the artists performing.

(‘Those Studio Audiences’, from Radio Times issue 1675, 16 December 1955)

Dame Helen is not the only one who felt this way. In his autobiography A Kentish Lad, comedy writer Frank Muir (co-creator of Take It From Here, as well as countless other shows) tells of being invited to lunch with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, the latter of whom also objected to studio audiences.

I was seated next to the Duke of Edinburgh who had a bee in his bonnet about studio audiences at comedy shows, and he would be pleased if I got rid of studio audiences so he could enjoy his comedy unprompted by squeals. [...] The Duke [was] arguing fiercely with me on a good point about studio audiences being so excited at being present at a recording that they were not a natural audience.

(from A Kentish Lad by Frank Muir, published by Corgi Books, 1998)

That told me.

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