The Good Old Days (British TV series)

The Good Old Days is a BBC television light entertainment programme produced by Barney Colehan which ran from 1953 to 1983.

The Good Old Days
GenreOld Time Variety, Family, music hall
StarringLeonard Sachs
Country of originUK
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons30
Producer(s)Barney Colehan
Production location(s)Leeds City Varieties Music Hall
Original networkBBC1
First shown in1953
Original release1953 

It was performed at the Leeds City Varieties and recreated an authentic atmosphere of the VictorianEdwardian music hall with songs and sketches of the era performed by present-day performers in the style of the original artistes.

The audience dressed in period costume and joined in the singing, especially "Down at the Old Bull and Bush" which closed the show each week. The show was compered by Leonard Sachs, who introduced the acts from a desk situated at the side of the stage. In the course of its run it featured about 2,000 performers. Each show was up to an hour long. All acts were in the style of late Victorian/Edwardian stage acts.[1]


Early in 1953 Barney Colehan devised a one-off show entitled "The Story of the Music Hall" presented by Deryck Guyler. The programme proved so popular that it was decided to create a series under the title of "The Good Old Days".[2]

The show was first broadcast on 20 July 1953 and the first two shows were compered by Don Gemmell. The show included many regulars such as Tessie O'Shea, Dudley Stevens, Hattie Jacques, Jenny Wren, Loraine Hart, Ray Alan, Roy Castle, Roy Hudd, Ken Dodd, Barbara Windsor, Eartha Kitt, Danny La Rue, Hilda Baker, Les Dawson and Arthur Askey.[3][4]

The Good Old Days was inspired by the success of the "Ridgeway's Late Joys" at the Players' Theatre Club in London: a private members' club that ran fortnightly programmes of variety acts in London's West End.The club was originally founded by Leonard Sachs and business partner Peter Ridgeway.

Out of 245 episodes, 108 are believed to survive complete.[5] 63 of the programmes were broadcast on BBC Four between November 2015 and January 2018.

On Friday 30 December 1983 a Goodbye to the Good Old Days was shown, a documentary celebrating the end of the 30-year run that year; Barry Cryer served as narrator for the documentary.


  1. 1001 TV Series You Must See Before You Die, Paul Conron, ISBN 978-1-84403-887-9
  2. The Good Old Days Songbook, BBC publications
  5. "Missing or incomplete episodes for programme The Good Old Days". Lost Shows. Kaleidoscope. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
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