Thursday, 26 January 2012

On Radio: Vic Oliver - The First Castaway Remembered

Vic Oliver Remembered : BBC
Bill Pertwee today contributes to a programme about the comedian Vic Oliver, who coincidentally was the first ever castaway on Desert Island Discs, this week in 1942. Desert Island Discs Creator and Presenter Roy Plomley interviewed Oliver at the bomb-damaged Maida Vale studios, London, on 27 January 1942.

In the forties, as a comedian, musician, host and music hall act Oliver was a household name. He'd married Winston Churchill's daughter and found fame appearing on the wartime radio show "Hi Gang" while forging a successful stage career.

During those war years he'd also attracted the attention of the Nazi party who'd included his name on a list of people to be arrested in the event of a successful invasion of Britain, there are also false reports that his mother had perished in a concentration camp despite Oliver confirming in his 1950's autobiography that his mother was alive and well and living in London.

As David Baddiel discovers there's a series of false accounts, myths and contradictions concerning Oliver's personal life, his relationship with the Churchill family, his impact on the world of entertainment along with an untold story of how he appeared to keep his Jewish background private.

With archive of Oliver in conversation and performance, contributors include; Bill Pertwee, Writer Brad Ashton, Theatre Historian Chris Woodward and trumpeter Joan Hinde.

The programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 11:30am is written by Phil Collinge and produced in Salford by Stephen Garner. It will be available on the BBC "Listen Again" service for up to a week after broadcast.

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