Song of the Week: North & South

Recording as ‘North & South’, the great Tommy Handley & Ronald Frankau sing Riding On A Camel and, on the flip side, Moscow (1929).

Tommy Handley and Ronald Frankau were an odd pairing for a double act, Handley was a family audience comic telling clean quick-fire gags whereas Ronald Frankau was one of the bluest comedians who often found himself banned by the BBC. His jokes about courted and the things people do were stronger and more obvious than Max Millers’.

The pair first performed together as a double act in 1929 as the act ‘North & South’. They released at least seven records together under this name for Parlophone whilst still releasing records individually under their own names too. Then in 1932 they released at least one record together as ‘Mr Black & Mr Blew’ for the Broadcast label, with no reference as to their real identities on the record, possibly because their names were under contract to Parlophone.

In 1934 they again got together, this time for Parlophone as Mr. Murgatroyd & Mr. Winterbottom, a slight tweaking of the North & South act under a new name. This double act was popular on BBC radio appearing together on may BBC variety shows as well as making at least thirteen records together from December 1934 until at least 1940, by which time Handley had ITMA running since 1939 which took up too much of his time for the act to continue.

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