The Will Hay Programme - S01E05 The Cheque (15/09/1944)




Rating is available when the video has been rented.
This feature is not available right now. Please try again later.
Published on May 31, 2012

In The Will Hay Programme ('The Diary Of A Schoolmas­ter'), Will was back in the familiar setting of St. Michael's School for Boys as headmaster Dr. Muffin. Each episode began at his oppressive lodgings, where the insults flew back and forth between Muffin, landlady Mrs. Potts and her surly son Alfie. For the second half of the show, the action trans­ferred to the classroom where the head was battling wits with his troublesome charges: young know-all D'Arcy, thick old boy Beckett and insolent mischief-maker Smart (played by Carry On stalwart Charles Hawtrey but minus the campness which became his trademark). There was a Pilot and Series 1 broadcast on the BBC General Forces Programme, and then Series 2, a Special and Series 3 braodcast on teh BBC Home Service.

Despite ragged performances from some of the supporting players, the show was immensely popular — a welcome escape from more serious matters for a wartime British audience. In spite of its success, the radio show ended on a contro­versial note when, unhappy with inferior scripts, Will pulled the plug on the programme half way through the final series. The following year he suffered a stroke which left him partially paralysed.

William Thomson "Will" Hay (6 December 1888 -- 18 April 1949) was an English comedian, actor, film director and amateur astronomer.

Hay was trained as an engineer and joined a firm of engineers, but at the age of 21 he gave up that profession for the stage. Starting in Manchester as a juggler, self-taught after seeing W C Fields doing it in a film, later he took up acting. He had a relatively brief screen career: by the time he made his first film he was in his mid-40s and an established music hall artist, and his last role came less than a decade later. But between 1934 and 1943 he was a prolific and popular film comedian. He was credited on several films as a writer or co-ordinator, and was arguably the dominant "author" of all the films in which he appeared, in that they were built around his persona and depended on the character and routines he had developed over years on the stage.

He worked at the British film studios of Elstree, then Gainsborough, then Ealing; the Gainsborough period was the most consistently successful, particularly when he worked with the team of Marcel Varnel (director), Val Guest and Marriott Edgar (writers), and Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt (supporting cast) - as on the railway film Oh, Mr Porter! (1937), his most fondly remembered picture with its catchphrase, 'The next train's gone!', spoken by Marriott as the decrepit old deputy stationmaster. Hay decided to break up the partnership with Moffatt and Marriott and brought in Claude Hulbert as his side-kick for The Ghost of St. Michael's (1941). The Goose Steps Out for Ealing (1942) was an effective anti-Nazi piece of slapstick, and while he was never quite the same again without Moffatt and Marriott, My Learned Friend (1943) again with Hulbert, is considered a masterpiece of black comedy which some regard as his best.

Will's first regular appearances on radio, after occasional appearances on shows like variety Music Hall, were in the less humorous mode of quizmaster on the Double Or Quits segments featured on the Army editions of Merry-Go-Round, which he began several months before launching a comedy series. In all, he appeared on over two dozen of these segments up to February 1946.

On Good Friday 1949 he addressed an audience of his peers at a dinner organised by the Grand Order of Water Rats. He seemed in fine form and his health appeared to be improv­ing, but sadly another stroke a couple of days later proved fatal. At 60 years of age, Will Hay had passed away at the official retirement age for schoolmasters.


When autoplay is enabled, a suggested video will automatically play next.

Up next

to add this to Watch Later

Add to

Loading playlists...