Saturday, 15 December 2007

PARTRIDGES & PEAR TREES

Today the BBC is providing listeners with a blast from the Sibley past...

It was back in 1977 - which, heaven help us, is thirty years ago - that I wrote what was only my second programme for radio, but which turned out to be something of a classic. Entitled And Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree, it was a quirky take on that well-known song about the seasonal gifts which someone sent to his True Love on the twelve days of Christmas.

It was, I later discovered, not exactly a new joke and it has been re-worked by others since, but it had the distinctive twist of literally following the cumulative list in the lyrics, thus providing the recipient not with one partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, three French hens and so on, but with twelve partridges, twenty-two turtle doves, thirty French hens and so forth.

Fresh milk is one thing. Eight enormous Frisians in the drawing room is something else altogether. True, the milkmaids have a certain rustic charm, but you wouldn't believe how much they eat. You may also care to note that my bath has only so much room in it for swans with a seemingly insatiable urge to be a-swimming, and it will definitely not hold fourteen of them. Take that from one who has tried!

I was extremely fortunate in having Penelope Keith (then at the height of her fame as Margot Leadbetter in the wildly successful TV sit-com, The Good Life) to play Miss Cynthia Bracegirdle, the increasingly harassed lady who has to cope with (among other nuisances) forty maids a-milking, thirty-six ladies dancing, thirty lords a-leaping and twenty-two pipers piping...

And Yet Another Partridge
was repeated annually for many years and is still broadcast at Christmas in all kinds of places from America to Australia. In fact, every year I get requests for copies of the broadcast (which unfortunately is not possible because the BBC have never commercially released the programme) and transcripts of Miss Bracegirdle's correspondence.

Anyway, if - like others - you remember this little piece of fluff and would like to hear it again
or if you've never heard it and think it might tickle your funny bone, then TODAY'S the DAY!

BBC 7 is celebrating five years of broadcasting with a day's programming chosen by listeners and Miss Bracegirdle and her Christmas gifts was one of the programmes selected alongside such classic series as Just A Minute, I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again and The Men from the Ministry Marsh.

Details here, but essentially the partridges come home to roost at 17.00, 23.00 and (for early risers and later retirers) 06.00 the following morning! I hope you enjoy the experience more than poor Cynthia!

7 comments:

Boll Weavil said...

It's worth mentioning that the programme will appear on the net the following day after broadcast and stay there for a week.This means that anyone can get it anywhere else in the world so your non-UK listeners will beable to catch it as well ! The address is http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbc7/listenagain

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, Boll!

LisaH said...

I look forward to hearing it. And it would be nice to catch I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again. When I was a teenager we all used to listen to Professor Prune and his Amazing Travelling Time Trousers et al and even parties on a Saturday night were interrupted for the broadcasts.

Qenny said...

Wow! I had read that years ago, but never heard it. I had no idea that you wrote it. Hat's off to you, Mr S!

Stephen Poppitt said...

The complete script of "And Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree" is on-line at www.smoe.org.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, Stephen - it's on various sites, apparently, which is very probably a compliment! I'll be publishing it on my blog on Friday...

Anonymous said...

Brian,

WFMT, Chicago, just played "Partridge..." and I wanted to thank you for having written this little wonder. It may not, as you've said, be completely original a notion, but it is truly a bit of inspired brilliance.

All the best of the Season to you and my best to London. I lived there from 1966-70.

Larry Santoro
Chicago, USA
http://blufftoninthedriftless.blogspot.com/