Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School

1952 | United Kingdom

William George Bunter was an oversized schoolboy who attended Greyfriars School and often got involved in a number of comic misadventures. In fact it was from the children's comic Magnet that Bunter sprung, transferred to television by his creator Charles Hamilton under the pseudonym of Frank Richards. The shows were performed live twice a night (at 5.25pm and 8pm) on Tuesday's, from 1952 to 1961 and made a star of lead actor Gerald Campion (who was 29 at the time), but not as big a star as one of his schoolboy tormentors, namely, Michael Crawford. 

In spite of receiving mixed reviews when it debuted and complaints about the show's low production values, the series continued to increase its rating over its entire 9 year run and was only bought to an end when creator Charles Hamilton, who wrote every single one of the televised scripts, passed away in 1961 at the age of 85. Out of all the recordings only nine still exist today as telerecordings (obtained by pointing a film camera directly at the screen of a television or video monitor), although this does include the entire third series. 

Anthony Valentine, Kenneth Cope and Melvyn Hayes also got early TV exposure and the series gave rise to two catchphrases; "Yaroo" and "Oh, Crikey!" Well, it was the nineteen fifties!

Published on November 29th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.