Bristow Radio Programme And Cartoon

History of the Bristow cartoon and radio sitcom plays with cast list and episode guide and general trivia

Bristow started life as an Evening Standard cartoon in 1962 by Frank Dickens. The character of Bristow was a short grumpy bald bloke with a bristle moustache. He worked as a down trodden buying clerk for a large company called the Chester Perry Organisation. He had big ambitions, but had a run of bad luck. He dreamed of being an author and had written a book called Living Death in the Buying Department but it remained unpublished.

Bristow Radio Michael Williams In 1999 Bristow became a BBC Radio 4 comedy play. Each episode was thirty minutes in length and centered around the antics of the office employees and the cutting of red tape. The scripts were written by the cartoonist Frank Dickens and were based on his cartoons. The actor Michael Williams played the lead role of Bristow with supporting cast of Rodney Bewes as Jones. There is a full cast list below the episode guides.

There was three series of Bristow and it was originally broadcast from 1999 until 2000. It is often repeated on BBC7.

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Episode Guide For Bristow

Series One

1. Fair Shares: Bristow describes his family genes and then we are introduced to his work colleagues. Terror strikes the heart of Bristow as the word Take Over is overheard. He fears about Jones' loose tongue over the stocks and shares, portfolio and investments. Though it may be too late if the cleaning lady now knows. Mind you the wet slippery floor might help break a leg or three!

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2. Follow That Star: Bristow no longer enjoys his Beef Wellington and decides to rebel against the office canteen. Jones takes a good long look at himself in the mirror and only sees a messenger boy, not a company man. Mrs Purdy goes on holiday and tea breaks suffer but can a man off the street get into the staff canteen? It is against the rules and Bristow decided to break the rules.

3. The Girl Next Door: Bristow compares working for the Chester Perry Organisation like having a tooth pulled without an anaesthetic. His opinion may change when an attractive employee starts work in the office opposite and creates quite a stir. Now that it is raining Bristow and Jones return to eating at the staff canteen.

4. Sun, Sea And Sabotage: The last two week's holiday leave in July always belong to Bristow. It is tradition and came with his desk. New Boy Hewitt wants these two weeks to enjoy the English culture. Can a cancelled holiday push new boy Hewitt over the edge and can Bristow save him?

5. Stranger On A Train: Bristow contemplates hidden depths and hidden talents such as piano playing. How do they find the time to practice he wonders? Bristow is amazed at Jones' prowess at rugby during a walk in the park, but his skills fail to impress at a job interview. The window cleaner points to Bristow and tells his son that if he doesn't keep his chamois leather clean he'll end up like a hopeless white collar worker like Bristow. Bristow considers throwing himself under a train - but they never arrive on time.

6. The Great Escape: Who was the God of the Sun and will Bristow ever be able to escape from work? He plays safe by booking with Funboys travel agency. All should be well - he got the brochure from a bin in the park! At his last day of work he contemplates ankle length leopard skin swimming costumes. When he goes on holiday he feels right at home.

Series Two

1. When Melancholy Autumn Comes To Chester-Perry: The promise of a Christmas bonus lifts Bristow's spirits - for once, his generosity knows no bounds. He feels optimistic that the Chester-Perry organisation will pay out the Xmas bonus this year because they have been making money hand over fist. A brief encounter with Miss Golightly at the railway station may compensate. Either way Bristow cannot help but sing Money Money Money and when he learns that Fudge is off he starts singing Jubilante. The theme tune has a great Christmas jingle for this episode.

2. The Power Of The Press: Bristow meets the cleaning ladies, Gert and Daisy, at the railway station. They are on their way to apply for jobs at rival company Miles and Rudge. He starts a campaign to improve their working life. Bristow suggests an article about the cleaning ladies for the in-house journal but upsets Lift Boy who refuses to let Bristow into the lift. His bad luck continues when Mrs Purdy, the tea lady, takes umbrage about the two lying cheating old hags getting all the publicity when she puts up with Bristow's cheek all week and gets to mention in the house journal. The Sisters of Sanitations, as the Editor, Hickford, calls the cleaners, are causing problems with all the staff. Soon the heating is switched off. Bristow's crusade for better conditions for Gert and Daisy the cleaning ladies bites the dust. The article nicknames the cleaning ladies The Apple Pie Girls because they keep everything at the Chester-Perry organisation in apple pie order. Can the Chester-Perry organisation survive without them?

3.Mr Bristow Regrets: Bristow has a twinge of conscious as Christmas approaches and he contemplates the feast of Stephen. Tommy Paine the troublemaker causes waves at the Chester-Perry Organisation. Miss Peach is selling tickets to the annual Chester-Perry Dinner Dance and Bristow announces his intention not to attend. Jones tries to persuade him - it is the only time of the year Bristow comes alive. He suspects he is just making a cry for attention, trying to be an individual. Sir Reginald, Lady Chester-Perry and their children will be attending the dinner dance. Bristow meets Tom Paine who tells him about the firms founder attendance as guest of honour. Paine explains to Bristow that he will be going to the ball to turn all the staff against the establishment. Bristow now decides he now wants a ticket to the dinner dance. Can he get a ticket now that demand has soared? He even visits Hickford for advice on getting a ticket. As the entertainment starts at the ball Tommy Paine sings If I ruled the world and delivers propaganda leaflets and changes the words of the song to describe the evil of the Chester-Perry Organisation. Fortunately Bristow is on hand to prevent a catastrophe. Will he be rewarded?

4.The Girl In The Yellow Overcoat: As Christmas approaches Bristow is in a general humbug mood. He sings along to some Christmas songs and makes up his own office lyrics such as: Twinkle Twinkle in the heaven I'm stuck here till half past seven. He and the station master are fed up with the extra crowds on the station platform. More especially as he mistakes Bristow for a shopper. At work Bristow notices that Jones has more cards than him, but on closer inspect he has added birthday, get well and anniversary cards. Does Bristow believe in love at first sight - Jones does. He tells Bristow in confidence that he fell in love with a girl in a yellow overcoat at platform five. The buying clerk and his department have a Christmas party with accounts. Meanwhile Bristow discusses Jones' love life with Mrs Purdy the tea lady. She tells Bristow that she met Mr Purdy on platform five of Guthnal Park train station. The office is abuzz with Jones' secret. One of the secretaries has seen the girl in the yellow overcoat and tells Bristow how beautiful the girl is and how she makes heads turn. When Bristow phones through to the exchange he is promised a kiss under the mistletoe. At the office Xmas party Bristow sees all the women as plain girls. That is until the girl in the yellow overcoat turns up - she is the wife of the Director Mr Moorcroft. She is distressed because she has found her stalker and asks her husband to call the police and points to Jones. Bristow keeps his appointment with the mistletoe but meets her irate husband Mr Witherspoon.
This episode features some jingly festive Christmas music for the Bristow theme tune.

Series Three

1.Of Moles And Men: Bristow is a private man and respects the privacy of other men. But he is interested in the cleaning ladies conversation about when they clean The Grange, the home of Lady Chester-Perry. It is nicknamed Gungwell Manor by the staff and they want to hear about the office cleaners employment at the home of their employer. But the cleaning ladies have signed the official secrets act. Bristow tries to convince them that Sir Reginald and Lady Chester Perry are in the public eye and are thus in the public domain. Jones goes to extra education classes to help his promotion. Bristow would rather find out some inside information which must surely lead to promotion. If Bristow is hard as nails and ruthless why is he only 18th in line for Chief Buyer?

2.The Good, The Bad And The Temporary: Cue western music - there is a new girl in town and the office is not big enough for her and Bristow. Has he been reading too many Zane Grey cowboy novels and watching too many Westerns at the cinema and on the telly? After all he knew one day a temp would come into his peaceful office life. Jones starts crying because he didn't get his suit dry cleaned and wants to make a good impression on the new temp. Sylvana Hunter the temp arrives and Hewett starts to sing. Even Mr Fudge mellows as she starts to sing too. He even opens the door wide - twice! Postboy finds Mr Bristow asleep on his feet. They plan a campaign to frighten away the temp that involves an electric hand shake and a whoopee cushion.
Oh Hello - This episode guest starred radio comedy veteran Leslie Philips as Mr Sam Perkins from personnel - Ding Dong!

3.Chapter And Verse: While writing for the Chester Perry house journal bumper summer edition, Bristow discovers the meaning of poetic justice. The Great Tea Trolley Disaster of 1967 took place before Bristow joined the company. Few survived, many fled the country and there is talk of an unmarked grave in Highgate woods. Did the big fire years ago destroy all the evidence of this and the Great Luncheon Voucher Swindle? Postboy thinks that Bristow has the time to investigate the past. Bristow finds his family archives useful to unearth skeletons in the cupboard. Mr Hickford persuades Bristow to publish the articles in future editions of the Chester Perry House Journal. He is more determined to get in print when he reads Jones' nature poems in the journal. Even Mrs Purdy's husband writes poems to release his inner inhibitions. Bristow is all the more determined to get published. He discovers the true identity of the phantom scribbler and the dark side of some of the Chester Perry employees.

4.Repaying Mr Piper: Bristow is feeling grumpy, for a change. He feels that everyone he looks at is lazy and incompetent. How do people that make such important decisions at interviews choose such bumbling employees? Bristow recalls a job interview at F and D Educational Toy supplier with Mr Piper. He tells the interviewer he will fit in like a pea in a pod - Bristow doesn't get the job but years later he meets Mr Sid Piper. He is now a tramp begging in the street. Bristow asks him why, all those years ago, he didn't give him the job. Mr Piper will reveal all for the cost of a drink. It seems Mr Piper feel on bad times when he asked for the hand in marriage of the daughter of his boss. He was told he wasn't good enough for his daughter and Mr Piper decides to bring his business down. This is why he didn't employ Bristow - he knew he would be good for the business. This pleases Bristow but he now worries that the Chester-Perry Organisation is having the same problem with their personnel officer, Mr Shelldrake. Can a cup of earl grey tea with Mrs Purdy help him and give him some gossip about Mr Shelldrake. Well he did have two teaspoons in his saucer and that is a sure sign of a forthcoming marriage. Is Mr Shelldrake planning to marry the daughter of the founder of the Chester-Perry Company and is he plotting the down fall of the Company? Well he did employ Jones and Hewitt. Lady luck smiles on Bristow when Mr Fudge sends him on an errand to Mr Shelldrake's office on the floor above. Unfortunately he is out getting a haircut. He chats with his secretary who describes Mr Shelldrake as a guitar playing pussy cat in love. She offers Mr Bristow some chocolate which she is always being bought by Mr Shelldrake and pops out to the hairdressers. He then tries the cleaning ladies Gert and Daisy who clean for the daughter, but their lips are sealed - they have signed the piece of paper. He then asks Postboy about his cousin Fiona, who is the daughter of Chester Perry. He puts Bristow at ease by assuring him that Fiona Chester-Perry would have nothing to do will Mr Shelldrake. The next day he meets Mrs Purdy who is on her way to Mr Shelldrake's wedding - Bristow wasn't invited and wasn't invited to the shindig last night, though it seems every other Chester-Perry employee was. As Mr Shelldrake walks up the aisle Jones tells him that he is marrying a bosses daughter and is coming into money - he is about to marry the daughter of F and D Educational Toy suppliers. As the vicar asks if anyone knows if the congregation has any just cause and impediment that the happy couple should not marry up pips Mr Piper...

Cast List Of Bristow

Michael Williams as Bristow
Rodney Bewes as Jones
Owen Brenman as Hewitt
Dora Bryan as Mrs Purdy the tea lady
John Glover as Fudge the manager
Katy Ody as Miss Sunman
Simon Schatzberger as the Post Boy
Carol Starkes as Miss Peach and the Liftboy
David Batley as Fred Stoats
Robert Bathurst as Mr Moorcroft the Director
Sheila Reid as Mrs Dimple
Jacky Neglia as Sylvana
Peter Kelly as Mr Witherspoon
Liz Fraser as Gert
Joan Sims as Daisy
Leslie Philips as Mr Perkins
Bernard Cribbens as Dan Quartly
Lucy Ackhurst as Miss Samantha Golightly
Royce Mills as Clement
Roger Lloyd-Pack as Mr Hickford
Jackie Neglier as Sylvana
The series was directed by Neil Cargill. The music for Bristow was composed and performed by John Whitehall. The sound recording was by Graham Harper.

Buy Bristow Books, CDs and Talking Books.

Trivia about Bristow

Michael Williams was married to Dame Judi Dench. He sadly died from lung cancer in 2001. Before he became a radio, film and television actor he worked in an office with soon to be actor Leonard Rossiter. They worked for the insurance company Commercial Union. Michael Williams played Doctor John Watson in the BBC Radio Sherlock Holmes plays which included A Study In Scarlet.

Rodney Bewes was famous in the telly role Bob in the sitcom The Likely Lads.

Owen Brenman played Nick Swainey in One Foot In The Grave.

The distinctive voice of Dora Bryan will be familiar to listeners from her various radio plays like Looks Like Rain and from her various roles on TV such as Carry On Sergeant, Last of The Summer Wine and Dinner Ladies.

Bristow cartoons were published in the London Evening Standard between 1962 and April 2001 and syndicated in many other newspapers.

Over 10600 Bristow strips were published in all.

There was a Bristow stage play.

There were no thought bubbles in the Bristow cartoons. Instead the author, Frank Dickens, typed or wrote the words next to the character. This became known as flinch flinch and he is credited with inventing this cartooning technique.

The distinctive voice of Roger Lloyd-Pack (Mr Hickford) will be familiar to television viewers of Doctor Who The Age of Steel and The Rise Of The Cybermen as John Lumic before he was turned into the Cybercontroller. He also played Trigger in Only Fools and Horses and Batty Crouch in the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

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