2 x 30 minute episodes
MPEG-1 Layer 3
The Half Open University
Prequel to The Burkiss Way
You too can have one like mine!
On 25th August 1975, BBC Radio 3 made one of its rare excursions into the world of comedy with a show called The Half Open University. This was a send up of the BBC's Open University broadcasts and the subjects ranged from physics to chemistry and biology. It starred Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett, Timothy Davies and Christine Ozan. The script writers were Andrew Marshall, David Renwick and John Mason. The Producer was Simon Brett.
The show was quite successful, but it had a limited audience. Chris Emmett was originally a physicist and he would have understood the occasional highbrow jokes such as the one about Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, but jokes like these probably went over the heads of much of the audience, so subsequent shows were aimed at a more general audience.
This show was followed by a second Half Open University show on Radio 3 with the same cast as the first show. The show was about history from prehistoric man to Samuel Pepys. Barry Took claims in his book Laughter in the Air that Professor Burkiss appeared in The Half Open University. In fact the first show starred Professor Jim Einstein and the second show starred Professor Edward the Confessor.
The shows were quite successful and the script writers revamped it as The Burkiss Way (To Dynamic Living) A series of six shows were broadcast weekly from 27th August 1976 on Radio 4 and starred Denise Coffey, Nigel Rees, Chris Emmett and Fred Harris. The Producer was Simon Brett. The shows, or lessons as they were called, took the form of a radio correspondence course run by a Professor Burkiss. It was a slightly faster moving show than its Radio 3 predecessor.