(Updated 19th July to add Beano links): As the Beano prepares to celebrate 80 years of comic fun, Two Doors Down star Elaine Constance Smith has been remembering its naughty older sibling The Dandy, created by DC Thomson in 1937, for BBC Radio Scotland – with the help of numerous comic creators.
For A Comic Celebration: The Dandy, Elaine, who grew up reading both comics, charts the history of The Dandy and the creation of famous characters like Desperate Dan, Winker Watson, Keyhole Kate, Biffo the Bear and The Numskulls.
An episode celebrating The Beano has also been broadcast.
By the 1950s, The Dandy was selling millions of copies a week to children all over the UK and the world and Elaine is joined on the show by Glasgow historian John McShane as well as many of the writers and artists who worked on the landmark children’s comic.
She recalls being fascinated by Keyhole Kate and hears from ex-Dandy editor and writer Iain McLaughlin about his memories of writing for the iconic characters Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat and Bananaman.
Comedian and actor Bill Oddie remembers reading the comic as a child and also doing some of the voices for the Bananaman TV series, collectable comics expert Malcolm Phillips of ComPal recalls the sale of a Dandy Issue 1 for a huge sum and writer Nigel Auchterlonie talks about the final print issue of The Dandy, where Korky the Cat makes a surprise return.
Managing editor of Beano Studios Craig Graham also reveals some of his memories of his time as Dandy editor, reveals why it failed as a digital title, the future of the comic in annual form, and why it went through so many changes from 2006 until 2012 when the final print issue was published.
Laura Howell is interviewed about the comic’s final years and there’s clearly still a lot of love for the title, whose characters such as Bananaman and Keyhole Kate now appear in Beano.
Elaine Constance Smith, who has also fronted a follow up show on the Beano, is a Scottish actress and comedian, who’s starred in the BBC sitcoms, City Lights, Rab C. Nesbitt and Two Doors Down, its third series now in production. Her stage credits include the original productions of The Steamie and I Dreamed a Dream.
A Comic Celebration: The Beano is a production for BBC Radio Scotland from the award-winning production company Made in Manchester, specialists in making radio and TV documentaries, features, drama, comedy and children’s for broadcasters worldwide, produced byIain Mackness.
• A Comic Celebration: The Dandy on the BBC Radio Scotland web site
• A Comic Celebration: The Beano on the BBC Radio Scotland web site
With thanks to Jeremy Briggs