On the Margin (1966)
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On the Margin was a British satirical comedy sketch show written and performed by Alan Bennett and a regular cast including John Sergeant, Virginia Stride, Madge Hindle and Yvonne Gilan. Guest performers included John Fortune and Jonathan Miller. The show also featured songs and poems by John Betjeman and Philip Larkin.
Each episode featured a mixture of sketches, some prophesying his later television dramas such as the quasi-soap, Streets Ahead, Life and Times in NW1, and more unexpectedly, serious poetry and music slots incorporating readings by Michael Hordern and Prunella Scales with archive footage of music-hall stars. This personalised nostalgic element distinguished On the Margin from other contemporary sketch shows, with Bennett’s satirical swipes at Britain, integrated with his genuine love of its cultural heritage.
It was directed by Sydney Lotterby, produced by Patrick Garland and was broadcast between 9 November and 14 December 1966 on BBC 2. It was repeated twice in 1967, but the tapes were wiped in the 1970s so the main surviving evidence of the series are the scripts. However, a compilation CD of audio extracts was released in 2009.