The story of the first five yars of the popular radio show is chronicled here by its producer, LESLIE BRIDGMONT
The hundredth edition of A Life of Bliss takes the air in the Home Service on satisfaction to at least one man--that is the author, Godfrey Harrison, for it is all his own work; he has had no collaborator.
'Bliss' has been a surprise to all of us who brought it into the world. In the first place we never expected it to be a big laughter-maker. We anticipated gentle chuckles, perhaps, at a light ingenuous comedy, but not the seat-rocking roars of hearty laughter that have in fact marked the halting progress of this shy young bachelor.
Surprise number two came with the hold the sentiment took on the public. David's love affairs assumed an importance that was quite extraordinary, and when at the end of one series, Penny Gay (Petula Clark) left him at the altar we were deluged with indignant letters from romantic listeners, not only from Great Britain but from South Africa and Australia. What they didn't realise, of course, was that had we allowed him to live happily ever after it would have been the end of Bachelor Bliss.
The series nearly came unstuck right at the beginning, for it was tailor-made for David Tomlinson, in the role of Bliss. Tomlinson was playing in The Little Hut at the time, and when the show ended its London run, six weeks after we started, he was under contract to go on tour with it, which made it impossible for him to do the Sunday recordings. We were in a dilemma, for the programme was obviously a success. Either it had to be taken off or we had to change horses in mid-stream. We realised that to find another David Bliss was not going to be an easy task; but fortune smiled, and we hit on the absolutely right person in George Cole, who has been with us ever since; that is for ninety-four episodes.
The only member of the cast who has been with us for the complete series is Psyche the dog. Psyche presented quite a problem as we didn't know any dog impersonators. Then we thought of contacting Percy Edwards the famous bird imitator, who agreed to tackle the part of the espressive and almost talking dog. Some listeners didn't take kindly to the canine influence in the Bliss household at first, but now Psyche seems to have won all hearts and has quite an impressive fan-mail.
Diana Churchill and Colin Gordon, who play the roles of married sister and brother-in-law respectively make up the permanent basic cast. Or perhaps I should say 'team' for undobtedly it is a well-knit and happy team. There has been a succession of girl friends. But whether wedding bells will ever ring for David will be determined not so much by the Goddess of Love as the steely heart of Godfrey Harrison's typewriter.
March 6, 1959