January 2, 2017


Basil Radford (1897-1952) b. Chester, Cheshire, England.

Basil Radford

Radford was born in Chester. He was on stage from 1922, made his film debut in America, but stuck mostly to the English stage until the late 1930s. In 1938 Alfred Hitchcock teamed him with Naunton Wayne in The Lady Vanishes. They played Charters and Caldicott, names dreamed up by screenwriters Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, later to become famous producer-directors. As Englishmen on a train going through dangerous European territory, they were more interested in cricket scores than in bodies in the corridor or missing ladies. The characters cropped up again in the Gilliat/Launder-scripted Night Train to Munich (1940): more trains, more Nazis. They also popped up in wartime shorts like the multi-story Millions Like Us (1943).

When Radford and Wayne returned to radio, Launder and Gilliat claimed copyright on their film characters. So it was as Woolcott and Spencer that Radford and Wayne appeared in their first post-war series, Double Bedlam. Them was another film, too, a funny number called It’s Not Cricket (1949), in which, as Bright and Early, the priceless pair are prime eyes dogged by a lunatic Nazi on cases that end, appropriately, with a cricket match – in which the ball contains a stolen diamond. These most popular wearers of the old school tie were half-way through their 1952 radio adventure, Rogues’ Gallery, when Radford collapsed and died from a heart attack. He was 55.

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