Life With The Lyons
By Phil Watson
This BBC radio comedy series, probably the first sitcom in Britain, ran for twelve years between 1950 and 1961, and starred American movie stars Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels, and their children Barbara and Richard. It broke the mold of BBC radio comedy of the day, which usually comprised sketches alternating with musical items or guest star spots.
Bebe & Ben
Bebe Daniels was born in Dallas, Texas, on January 14th, 1901, and went into silent films in her early teens in westerns and Hal Roach comedies. She dated stars such as Harold Lloyd, and became a big star in 1920 after she signed for Paramount and Cecil B. DeMille. She was one of Hollywood's top stars during the silent era, but when sound was introduced in the late 1920's her career faltered.
Ben Lyon was born on February 6th, 1901, in Atlanta, Georgia. He always wanted to be an actor, working in stock companies for several years, drifting into Hollywood and films in 1923, working in supporting roles, continuing with stage work when he could get it.
Ben & Bebe met in New York in 1925. She didn't like him and they didn't meet again until 1928 in Hollywood at a bridge party, recreated years later in one of Bebe's radio scripts.
When the talkies came in, Bebe's contract expired and not renewed. With few offers in the new talkies, she worked for a part of the profits of "Rio Rita", which became an unexpected hit, and she made a lot of money.
Ben signed for Sam Goldwyn, made his way up the ladder in films, and was in the smash hit "Hell's Angels" in 1928, mainly because he was one of the few actors who were qualified pilots. Bebe was impressed that he could fly and they started dating. Ben was financially wiped out by the Wall Street crash of 1929, but eventually repaid all his debts, with Bebe's help. They married on June 14th 1930, and on September 9th 1931 their daughter Barbara was born.
Ben & Bebe first visited England in 1933 for a theatre tour, just after Bebe filmed a supporting role in the smash hit "42nd Street". On their return they continued working but they were frightened by a kidnap attempt on Barbara, one of many involving actors' families, following the Lindberg baby murder case. They had an armed bodyguard look after the child but decided to work in England for a while until things settled down at home. They worked with variety acts, playing a married couple in a cross-talking squabble routine. They were a big hit in England, making several tours. In 1937 they adopted a son, Richard, moving their home to London later that year with their children.
They worked on independent radio, recording transcriptions with Tommy Handley in London but broadcast from Luxembourg. In early 1939 they sent their children back to America due to the impending war. However, unlike many American entertainers, they elected to stay in London, living in Southwick Street in Paddington.
They devised the radio variety show "Hi Gang" which was broadcast "from the heart of London" each week from 26th May 1940. Bebe wrote the scripts, and Vic Oliver and Benny Lee joked and sang. They were bombed out of several theatres, eventually moving to the underground Paris Theatre, in Lower Regent Street, which became the most popular BBC studio for comedy and light entertainment for over forty years, until its closure in 1995. Radio audiences became very loyal to the Lyons for remaining in the capital, among the bombing, when they could have escaped back home. They continued to work on stage, both in London and around the country. They earned long term respect from the British public for braving the danger when so many others left.
They made a low-budget film of "Hi Gang" in 1941 which was very popular.
When America joined the war, Ben & Bebe devised a coast to coast American show, "Stars & Stripes in Britain" for their servicemen in England to pass messages to their families back home. "Here's Wishing You Well" was another of Bebe's shows aimed at the Armed Forces in England. In 1942 Ben, forty-one years old, joined the US Air Force in England and Bebe visited troops overseas, broadcasting right up to enemy lines. Recordings still exist of her chatting to soldiers while shells explode nearby. As a result, she was decorated by the US Government for her war efforts.
After the war they went home to collect their children, and Ben joined 20th Century Fox as casting director, signing and renaming Marilyn Monroe. They soon returned to London, Ben working for Fox as casting director for the UK, working on his radio and stage career when he could. Hi Gang continued after the war, until it ran out of steam in 1949.
Life With The Lyons
Bebe Daniels, the creative side of the couple, came up with the format of the Lyons playing themselves, with Ben working for a film company, living in London, bringing up their children, even giving their (almost correct) home address.
From 1950 to 1961 we listened to them raising their children, watching them mature, get engaged and married. She made them larger than life, but basically they played themselves. Bebe was the scatterbrain, Ben the authoritarian father, Barbara the teenager flitting from romance to romance with the catchphrase "I'll die...... I'll just die" when things went wrong. Richard would do anything for a shilling but never spent one. They had a hard time with Barbara & Richard who didn't want the discipline of a regular radio show, with Bebe's rules - no nights out, no onions or garlic, before a broadcast. Barbara especially became a "star" in her own mind until Bebe sorted her out.
Bebe worked as script editor from the writers' layouts, honing the scripts until she was happy. They recorded rehearsals, playing the acetates that night to cut out unsuccessful lines, or make improvements. Acting was second nature to her, but praise for her scripts brought her real pleasure. Bebe finalised the scripts in her basement at Southwick Street, from drafts by Bob Block, Ronnie Hanbury and others, including at one time Bob Monkhouse. Brad Ashton was brought in to help following Ronnie Hanbury's death in a car crash in France.
During out-of-season breaks each year, they went back to America where in 1954 Bebe was surprised by "This Is Your Life", thinking she was going to praise Louella Parsons.
The Supporting Cast
The regular cast was ITMA's Molly Weir as their housekeeper Aggie, another ITMA team member Horace Percival as Mr. Wimple, Doris Rogers as Florrie Wainwright, Ian Sadler as her henpecked husband George, Hugh Morton as Ben's boss, Mr. Fox (sic), with future Carry On star Charles Hawtrey popping up in several small roles from time to time.
When Richard was called into the American Army to do his national service at 18, in 1955, they wrote in a second son to replace him while he was away. Robin was played by the youngster Richard Bellaers, but Richard Lyon failed the medical and was sent home. They had to write him back into the series, and until 1957 both "sons" appeared. Unfortunately the episodes in which Robin joined and left the cast have been lost so the explanations in the scripts are unknown. Bellaers left the series when his voice broke, later working for the airline BOAC. Guest stars such as Vic Oliver, Richard Murdoch, Robert Beatty, Dick Bentley and boxer Len Harvey appeared from time to time.
Films and Television
They made two films "Life With The Lyons" in 1953 and "The Lyons In Paris" in 1954, for Hammer/Exclusive Films. While the latter was partly filmed in Paris, they were cheaply made and are sad final film appearances for the former Hollywood stars.
In the mid 50's they took "Life With The Lyons" to BBC Television for four episodes in 1955 and another four in 1956, all transmitted live every two weeks. They were made after the radio series has finished, so they were not working in both media at the same time.
After those two short series, they went to the ITV company Associated Rediffusion. There they made nine episodes in 1957/8, ten in 1958/9, again transmitted live every two weeks, and eleven in 1960, shown weekly. During January 1959, they were busy recording the radio series while working on the TV series. Usually they made sure they made the TV series when the radio series were off-air.
No episodes survive in the archives of the BBC or the present owners of Associated Rediffusion. One episode from the BBC exists in the British Film Institute, but none of the A-R series were thought to exist until an episode turned up in America where it had been offered to US networks in the 1950s, and was released in the 1990s on videotape as part of a series of unsold pilots.
Later TV stars Wilfred Brambell (Steptoe & Son), Richard Thorpe (Emmerdale), and Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) made early appearances in the TV series.
But the Lyons always had the radio series as well. There were over 250 episodes, listed after this article.
In 1957 Richard was in a car accident with his then-fiancee, film starlet Jill Ireland. Despite several injuries, he missed only one radio recording. Shortly afterwards she dumped him when she met and quickly married David McCallum, later known for the hit TV series "The Man From Uncle". Richard began to suffer from depression, which plagued him for many years.
In 1959 they moved to Abbottsbury Road, Kensington, because Southwick Street was being demolished, and Bebe and Richard opened an antique shop on Kensington High Street.
By 1961 Ben was becoming concerned at Bebe's health. Always active, and involved in every facet of the series, she became very stressed. Ben decided to take a desk job with the ITV company, Associated Rediffusion, and closed down "Life With The Lyons", leaving the BBC.
After Life With The Lyons
Molly Weir in particular was badly affected, not working for thirteen months. She later became a very busy supporting actress, working throughout the next four decades until retiring in 1988, aged 78. She died in London on November 28th 2004, aged 94.
Horace Percival died a few months after the series ended, on 9th November, 1961, aged about 75.
Doris Rogers worked in supporting roles through the sixties, and then retired. Her death date has not been traced.
Charles Hawtrey, who played several small roles throughout the 1950s, became a star in the "Carry On" film series, and died on 27th October 1988, aged 74.
Harry Fowler, who also played several roles, became a TV star in the late 1950's in "The Army Game", and then a businessman, and is retired.
The others in the cast moved onto other roles on the radio or whatever work they could get.
Barbara was a fair singer and in the mid '50s made several records for Columbia and Capitol Records, gaining chart success with a couple. She was top of the bill in a variety show celebrating Independent Television's launch in 1955, and even had a short-lived TV musical series called Dreamtime With Barbara. She was briefly engaged to John, son of one of the world's richest men, Paul Getty.
She carried on recording, with a single in 1960 for the legendary producer Joe Meek, on his Triumph label. It didn't sell. When the radio series finished, Barbara, who had married and divorced Russell Turner during the show's run, tried to pick up her career in America, worked in "Sale Of The Century", and had bit parts in television shows such as "McHale's Navy" and "My Three Sons".
She couldn't get work so around 1970 she retired. She had remarried, to Colin Burkitt, her accountant, now deceased, and had a son, Bruce, now an estate agent in the London area.
When traced in 2003, he said he has a few tapes of the radio shows, but none of the lost episodes, and is not in contact with the rest of the Lyon family. He really didn't know his mother until he was older as she often went to America to see Ben, leaving him with his paternal grandparents for long periods.
He appeared on British television in January 2004 in a reality show "Boss Swap" when he came over as a successful, if unlikeable, businessman. Indeed his company has convictions for illegal professional practices.
Richard, who had appeared in several films in supporting roles, made an unsuccessful pop record in the 1950's for Fontana, and became a photographer for the British Film Institute. He married Angela Ferguson, a dancer to whom he had become engaged during LWTL (she appeared in several episodes), raising two children, Timothy Daniels DeForrest Benjamin and Penelope.
He apparently moved to Wales, working for a charity. Although his son Tim and ex-wife Angela have been traced, Richard remains unwilling to discuss his career and refuses to be interviewed.
The BFI were trying to trace him at the turn of the century to obtain his permission to include some of his photographs in their 50th Anniversary Exhibition, but were unable to find him. In December 2004 his son Tim reported he has finally found a copy of Richard's only record.
Bebe suffered a stroke in May, 1963, so she and Ben moved from Abbottsbury Road into a flat in Dolphin Square in central London to avoid stairs. She had a second stroke in 1970 and died on 16th March, 1971. After cremation at Golders Green Crematorium, her ashes were placed in her mother's grave in a London cemetery. Bebe's mother had always lived with them in England until her death in 1959, although the fact was never mentioned in LWTL.
After her death Bebe's collection of memorabilia from her long career were donated by Ben to the British Film Institute's archives. They hold three very large and fragile scrapbooks holding news cuttings etc going back to the silent movie days. They may be made available to researchers on request but they have not been examined for many years. They are housed in a purpose built cabinet in the archives.
Soon after Bebe's death, Ben retired to California, leaving his children living their own lives in England. He remarried, to old friend Marion Nixon, and worked on cruise ships, reminiscing about his time in Hollywood and telling show business stories to the passengers. He died on such a trip on the QE2 on March 23rd, 1979, near Hawaii, while working with songwriter & singer Hubert Gregg. At some point he had recovered Bebe's ashes, which were placed next to his in Hollywood Forever, a cemetery in Los Angeles County, California, USA. They are located at the Chapel columbarium, second floor, niche 7-8, tier 3, North wall.
The Eighties and later
By then divorced, Ben's death "left Barbara profoundly saddened, and she seemed to lose one of the props of her life. Her life lost momentum and she was forced to exchange an ample central London home for a flat in a featureless suburb" according her an obituary.
She lived alone in Maida Vale, in very poor health after several strokes and in early 1995 she was placed by her son Bruce in Brinsworth House, the entertainment industry's home for retired performers, unable to look after herself, probably after another stroke. She died of a brain haemorrhage in a London hospital on 10th July, 1995.
In 1986 Richard donated his father's collection of radio recordings to the BBC, but when auditioned they were deemed unsuitable for broadcast. The BBC were about to scrap the tapes when they were contacted by the late Barry Hill, owner of ORCA, the Old Time Radio archive, based in Leeds. Hill agreed to take the reels from the BBC for his archive and copy them for release to members of his library.
Availability of "Life With The Lyons"
Many episodes of the radio show survive among collectors, but they have not been broadcast for many years. In the 1970s the BBC destroyed whole warehouses of old radio show discs, retaining only a few representative samples of entertainment series such as the Lyons. Four episodes were released in 1991 in the BBC's Radio Collection series of twin cassettes, but no further sets were released. Happily, over a hundred episodes are available on rental from ORCA, taken from Ben Lyon's own reels donated by Richard to the BBC. Unfortunately they were incomplete, and over 20 episodes are entirely lost. Until Barry Hill's death in October 2004 he occasionally worked on Ben Lyon's decaying old tape reels, copying them for issue for ORCA members. Other episodes are available from various collectors in Australia and America.
A partial revival
In 2003 the two Hammer/Exclusive films were released in the UK on a two DVD set, and the new BBC digital radio station, BBC7, broadcast "Crooner In The House" in May 2003, as part of a series of the best comedy shows of the 1950's. Featuring Ronnie Harris, it led to the release of a CD featuring Barbara Lyon and Ronnie Harris, from the vaults of Columbia, on the Vocalion label in the UK in late 2004.
Regrettably this fine show is history. It's warm, funny, old fashioned yet reassuring. They may have been movie stars, but they had the same ups and downs in life as the rest of us. Over the years the series presented a fictional front to the real lives behind the scripts, yet listeners grew to believe that the radio series was their real lives. In a way it was, because most events in their lives were adapted and portrayed on radio.
Complete Radio episode listing, prepared by David J. Elliott, assisted by Barry Hill, Penny Fabb & Graeme Stevenson of ORCA, and Julie Snelling at BBC Written Archives. Intros for later series by Phil Watson to aid identification.
Episodes in Phil Watson's collection are marked **
Episodes not in Ben Lyon's collection of tape reels are marked ##
Foreword by David J. Elliott (slightly amended by Phil Watson)
Many actors and actresses appeared as guest artists on LWTL from time to time, some famous and well known - others less so - but all who appeared played a valuable part in starring in one of the most enduring and entertaining sit-com series of all time.
Some names to mention who starred as special guests are actors Michael Rennie, Patrick Barr and Robert Beatty; Musical comedy star Jack Buchanan; Ccomedians Ted Ray, Dick Bentley, Richard Murdoch, and Charlie Chester; sports commentators Raymoond Glendenning; singers Ronnie Harris and Bruce Trent; radio & TV presenter Godfrey Winn; boxer Freddie Mills, and of course Vic Oliver, from Hi Gang
The Lyons were joined by a regular and occasional cast including Molly Weir, Horace Percival, Doris Rogers, Hugh Morton, with David Enders, Wilfrid Brambell, Charles Hawtrey, Ian Sadler, Philip Ray, Clive Baxter, Harry Fowler, Gwen Lewis, Wilfrid Babbage, Molly Rankin and Patricia Field. Scriptwriter Bob Block made several appearances.
Special mention should be made of non-actors Russell Turner, the TV producer who married Barbara Lyon, and Angela Ferguson, who married Richard after the series finished, who played themselves; and young Richard Bellaers who played Robin Lyon in three series. His part was dropped when his voice broke in 1957. He had been brought in to replace Richard who was to be drafted into the U.S. Army, but he failed the medical.
On several occasions the scheduled episode was cancelled at the last minute and Ben introduced the show and apologised for the change due to illness of a cast member and then put on an episode recorded earlier, usually a repeat of a previous show. The fact that Ben introduced the show gave it a very personal touch.
On completing the draft log David discovered that some of Ben Lyon's original tape reels had been incorrectly labelled but the transmission dates and titles as listed are now correct. The log has been prepared "as broadcast" and not "as scheduled".
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Sundays at 3pm, repeat unknown.
The episode titles are given by the announcer.
01-001 Thirteen For Dinner 50-11-05
02-002 Fairy Cakes 50-11-12 **
03-003 Is There A Doctor In The House? 50-11-19 **
04-004 It's In The Air 50-11-26
05-005 Dented Wing, The 50-12-03
06-006 Let Ben Do It 50-12-10
07-007 Pardon My Glove 50-12-17
08-008 Under The Tree 50-12-24
09-009 Under The Table 50-12-31 **
10-010 It's A Man's World 51-01-07 **
11-011 Bebe Buys A Bargain 51-01-14 ##
12-012 Ben Bluebeard 51-01-21 **
13-013 Ben Does It Again 51-01-28 **
14-014 That Old Friend 51-02-04 **
15-015 Tally-Ho 51-02-11
16-016 Three Little Pigs Stayed At Home 51-02-18
17-017 Time Marches Back 51-02-25
18-018 Ben Holds The Baby 51-03-04 **
19-019 Green-Eyed Monster, The 51-03-11
20-020 Ben Builds A Garage 51-03-18
21-021 It Could Happen To You 51-03-25
22-022 Private Life Of Ben, The 51-04-01
23-023 Spring Is Here 51-04-08
24-024 Other Green-Eyed Monster, The 51-04-15
25-025 Family Affair 51-04-22 ##
26-026 Back In October 51-04-29
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Thursdays at 9.30pm, repeated on Sunday at 5pm.
01-027 Home Again 51-09-27 ** Title also used for the first show of theseries 3, but it is different. 02-028 Life Of The Party, The 51-10-04 *
03-029 Sorry, Right Number 51-10-11
04-030 Female Of The Speeches, The 51-10-18
05-031 Accidents Will Happen 51-10-25
06-032 Let The Women Do It 51-11-01
07-033 Keep Up With The Kids 51-11-08
08-034 Let Them Eat Cake 51-11-15 ##
09-035 It's A Wise Father 51-11-22 **
10-036 Stranger Things Have Happened 51-11-29
11-037 I Don't Know What To Get Her 51-12-06
12-038 It Happens In Every Family 51-12-13
13-039 I Dream Of Santa 51-12-20
14-040 Let's Go To The Party 51-12-27 ##
15-041 Foreign Romance, A 52-01-03 **
16-042 Wife's Birthday, The 52-01-10 **
17-043 Family Trouble 52-01-17 **
18-044 Tree Of Knowledge 52-01-24 **
19-045 Too Young 52-01-31
52-07-07 no broadcast
20-046 There Goes That Song Again 52-02-14 ## Thursday broadcast on 52-02-14 cancelled due to the death of the King; broadcast on usual repeat slot on Sunday 5pm 52-02-17
22-047 Family Secrets 52-02-21
22-048 Dangerous Age 52-02-28
23-049 Rocks In Your Garden 52-03-06 **
24-050 Home Sweet Home 52-03-13 **
25-051 Upper Set, The 52-03-20 **
26-052 There's Always Room At Our House 52-03-27
27-053 Play's The Thing, The 52-04-03
28-054 Back In November 52-04-10 ##
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Fridays at 8.45pm, repeat unknown
01-055 Home Again 52-11-14 Title also used for first show in series 2
02-056 Hole In The Road, The 52-11-21 **
03-057 Mr. Jones Is Missing 52-11-28 **
04-058 Duel & The Son, A 52-12-05 **
05-059 New Maid, The 52-12-12
06-060 Sauce For The Gander 52-12-19
07-061 Christmas Story, A 52-12-26
08-062 Ben's Handicap 53-01-02
09-063 House On The Route, The 53-01-09
10-064 Muscles 53-01-16
11-065 Barbecue, The 53-01-23
12-066 Stupid Cupid 53-01-30
13-067 Ben's Birthday 53-02-06
14-068 Cousin From America 53-02-13
15-069 It's Never Too Young 53-02-20
16-070 For Art's Sake 53-02-27
17-071 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie 53-03-06 **
18-072 How To Be A Good Father 53-03-13 **
19-073 Ten Gallon Hat, The 53-03-20
20-074 It's An Ill Wind 53-03-27
21-075 Easter Parade 53-04-03
22-076 You Can't Get Blood Out Of A Stone 53-04-10
23-077 Cross My Palm With Silver 53-04-17
24-078 Ne'er Cast A Clout 53-04-24
25-079 Place In The Country, A 53-05-01 ##
26-080 Wedding Bells 53-05-08
27-081 And How Are All You Kids 53-05-15 cancelled due to Richard having 'flu. Replaced by repeat of 52-01-31 Too Young
28-082 El Gaucho 53-05-22
29-083 Great Day, The 53-05-29
30-084 Lovely To Look At 53-06-05
31-085 Anniversary, The 53-06-12
32-086 Once A Ham 53-06-19
33-087 Back In The Autumn 53-06-26
Special (not part of series)
00-000 Gala Performance 53-02-27 ** This is an extract from a Royal Variety Show, hosted by Ted Ray. The Lyons' segment last about five minutes.
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Thursdays at 9.30pm, repeat unknown
01-088 Coming Home 53-11-12 ##
02-089 Nature Boy 53-11-19 **
03-090 Let The Men Do It 53-11-26 **
04-091 Come To The Fair 53-12-03 **
05-092 No Rest For Ben 53-12-10 **
06-093 Christmas Shopping 53-12-17 **
07-094 T'was The Night Before Christmas 53-12-24 **
08-095 Who Gave Me That ? 53-12-31 **
09-096 Once Upon A Mime 54-01-07 **
10-097 Love Sneaks Up On Richard 54-01-14 **
11-098 Father's Day 54-01-21 **
12-099 Let The Kids Do It 54-01-28 **
13-100 New Neighbours 54-02-04
14-101 Be My Valentine 54-02-11
15-102 I Hear You Calling Me 54-02-18 **
16-103 Unlucky Winner, The 54-02-25 **
17-104 Oliver Twist, An 54-03-04
18-105 I Did It With My Little Hatchet 54-03-11
19-106 Go To Your Corner 53-03-18
20-107 Left Bank 53-03-25
21-108 April Fool 53-04-01
22-109 Say It With Music 53-04-08
23-110 Ghost In The House, A 53-04-15
24-111 Take Back Your Lawn Mower 53-04-22
25-112 Kick-Off, The 53-04-29
26-113 Back In The Autumn 53-05-0
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Thursdays at 9pm, repeat unknown
01-114 Let Them Eat Cake 54-12-02 Emergency edition as Barbara was ill. First broadcast 51-11-15
02-115 Lyons In Hollywood, The 54-12-09
03-116 Danger - Richard At Work 54-12-16
04-117 Christmas Story, A 54-12-23
05-118 New Job, The 54-12-30
06-119 Just Call Me Curly 55-01-06 ##
07-120 Bebe's Birthday 55-01-13 ##
08-121 Crooner In The House, A 55-01-20 **
09-122 My Hat 55-01-27 **
10-123 Poet, The 55-02-03 **
11-124 Your Presence Is Requested 55-02-10 **
12-125 Neighbour Trouble 55-02-17
13-126 Family Heirloom, The 55-02-24
14-127 Bonnie, Bonnie Heather 55-03-03 **
15-128 I've Got You Covered 55-03-10
16-129 Other Generation, The 55-03-17
17-130 New Wallpaper, The 55-03-24 **
18-131 Second Honeymoon 55-03-31
19-132 Home Stretch 55-04-07
20-133 I Can Do It By Myself 55-04-14
21-134 Afternoon On The Thames 55-04-21
22-135 Ben Vs. Scotland Yard 55-04-28 ##
23-136 (Show cancelled) 55-05-05 Reason unknown. Replaced by repeat of 55-03-03 Bonny, Bonny Heather
24-137 Three Blind Dates 55-05-12 **
25-138 Bottom Of Our Garden, The 55-05-19 **
26-139 Children Should Be Seen And Heard 55-05-26
27-140 We'll Send You A Postcard 55-06-02 **
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Thursdays at 7.30pm, repeat unknown
01-141 It's Good To Be Home 55-11-03 **
02-142 £100 Quiz, The 55-11-10
03-143 Good Citizen, The 55-11-17
04-144 Flitch, The 55-11-24
05-145 Who Knows? 55-12-01 **
06-146 Bazaar, The 55-12-08 ##
07-147 Ben Kicks Off 55-12-15 **
08-148 Make Me A Child Again 55-12-22 **
09-149 Happy New Year 55-12-29 ##
10-150 Alibi, The 56-01-05
11-151 Stranger, The 56-01-12 **
12-152 Curtain Up 56-01-19 **
13-153 Robin's Birthday 56-01-26 **
14-154 For Men Only 56-02-02 **
15-155 Comic Valentine, The 56-02-09 **
16-156 Intruders, The 56-02-16 **
17-157 (Show cancelled) 56-02-23 Reason unknown. Replaced by repeat of 56-01-12 Stranger, The
18-158 Law & The Lyons, The 56-03-01 **
19-159 This Must Be Love 56-03-08
20-160 Out Of Space 56-03-15
06-161 Come Back Little Bebe 56-03-22 **
06-162 When Fools Rush In 56-03-29
06-163 Double Trouble 56-04-05 **
06-164 Young & Foolish 56-04-12 **
06-165 Garden Fete, The 56-04-19 **
07-166 It's Not Goodbye 56-04-26 **
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Sundays at 3.15pm (episodes 1-7), or at 3.15pm (episodes 8-end), repeat unknown
01-167 Here Comes The Bride 56-11-11 **
02-168 Way To A Man's Heart, The 56-11-18 **
03-169 How Now Brown Cow 56-11-25 **
04-170 From Rhythm To Rachmaninov 56-12-02
05-171 Barbara Buys A Bargain 56-12-09 **
06-172 Don't Give Me That 56-12-16 **
07-173 And A Very Merry Christmas To All 56-12-23 **
08-174 Star Is Born, A 56-12-30 **
09-175 Bend & Be Beautiful 57-01-06 **
10-176 It's A Snap 57-01-13 **
11-177 You Are My Lucky Star 57-01-20 **
12-178 House Divided, A 57-01-27 **
13-179 Danger Is My Job 57-02-03
14-180 (Show cancelled) 57-02-10 Cancelled as Richard taken to hospital. Replaced by repeat of 56-12-02 From Rhythm To Rachmaninov.
15-181 You're The Doctor 57-02-17
16-182 Separation, The 57-02-24
17-183 Get Rich Quickly 57-03-03
18-184 Stop Thief 57-03-10
19-185 Birds & The Bees, The 57-03-17
20-186 Gone Fishin' 57-03-24 **
21-187 It's Mothering Sunday 57-03-31 **
22-188 Table For Three, A 57-04-07
23-189 Lyon Has Wings, The 57-04-14
24-190 Happy Easter 57-04-21
25-191 Richard Opens A Shop 57-04-28 ##
26-192 Back In The Winter 57-05-05 ##
00-193 Let's Drop In For Christmas 57-12-25 ##
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Sundays at 6.30pm (episodes 1-8), or at 1.45pm (episodes 9-end), repeat unknown
01-194 Barbara's Dinner Party 58-02-02 **
02-195 Rising Son, The 58-02-09 **
03-196 Dial Special Branch 58-02-16 **
04-197 Keep Moving 58-02-23 **
05-198 House Divided, A 58-03-02
06-199 Hold That Man 58-03-09
07-200 Put A Light In The Window 58-03-16
08-201 Luck Is No Lady 58-03-23
09-202 It Shouldn't Happen To A Dog 58-03-30
10-203 Easter In The Country 58-04-06
11-204 First Fight, The 58-04-13 **
12-205 Man In The Box, The 58-04-20 ##
13-206 For Love Or Money 58-04-27
14-207 Goodbye For Now 58-05-04
00-208 Don't Open Before Christmas 58-12-25
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Fridays at 7.31pm, repeat unknown
From this series, the announcer gave a short introduction instead of a title. For the purposes of this log, the title has been devised from the plot. Episodes can be identified by the short introductions listed.
01-209 Voyage Home 59-01-30 ** Our old friend Ben has always Believed in the theory...
02-210 Man From Texas, The 59-02-06 ** No matter how old or young we are, we all like a surprise...
03-211 Lyon, Cub Reporter 59-02-13 ** In every family there are days which live forever in our...
04-212 With Murder In Mind 59-02-20 **
05-213 (Show cancelled) 59-02-27 Reason unknown. Replaced by repeat of 58-03-09 Hold That Man
06-214 (Show cancelled) 59-03-06 ** Reason unknown. Replaced by repeat of 58-03-16 Put A Light In The Window
07-215 Set Another Place At The Table 59-03-13 ** According to the English dictionary, a boomerang is a.....
07-216 Confused Cupid, The 59-03-20 ** We've all been led to believe that a triangle has but three...
08-217 Scroungers, The 59-03-27 ** ## Over 300 years ago it was said in Rochester by the Earl...
09-218 This Was Your Wife 59-04-03 ** Almost everyone enjoys the fun of appearing in amateur...
10-219 Teddy Trouble 59-04-10 ** Problems never worry the Lyon family, in fact if Ben hasn't...
11-220 New Address, The 59-04-17 ** In just two weeks time, the Lyon Family will be moving...
12-221 Colonel's Dilemna, The 59-04-24 ** Due to the fact that clever old Ben let the house in ...
13-222 Trouble In Camp 59-05-01 ** When the Lyon family leased Col. Warwick's house on Salisbury Plain they didn't realise that the permanent fixtures included the Colonel & his batman...
14-223 Strike It Rich 59-05-08 ** When the Lyon family leased Col. Warwick's house on Salisbury Plain for a few weeks, the last thing they expected was that this move would make them millionaires ...
15-224 Saying Goodbye 59-05-15 ** It seems that the Lyon family got back to their old house... this episode describes their move from Southwick Street; the ending in particular is very poignant)
00-225 Christmas Special 59-12-25 ##
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Wednesdays at 7.31pm, repeat unknown
01-226 Meddler, The 60-02-24 ** As we all know, Spring won't be along for some time....
02-227 Unwelcome Guest, The 60-03-02 ** Over 100 years ago it was Toro (sp?) who said "Some...."
03-228 Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage 60-03-09
04-229 Mr. Cupid Shoots Again 60-03-16 ##
05-230 Eye Of The Little Green-Eyed God 60-03-23 ##
06-231 Big Joker, The 60-03-30
07-232 Stranger From Sorrento, The 60-04-06 ** Our old friends the Lyons have been living in their new ...
08-233 Weaker Sex, The 60-04-13 ** In every family there are red- letter days, like the day...
09-234 Your Policemen Are Wonderful 60-04-20
10-235 Maid To Measure 60-04-27
11-236 Top Of The Pops 60-05-04
12-237 Relatively Speaking 60-05-11 ##
13-238 Invest With Richard 60-05-18
14-239 Let's Go Fishing 60-05-25 ##
15-240 Big Fiddle, The 60-06-01 ** It was once said "If the wise erred not, it would indeed..."
16-241 My Four Legged Friend 60-06-08 ** There is a time of year when everybody starts planning...
Series 11 (last series)
For this final series the announcer's opening introduction was dropped after episode two. The opening lines of the script have been used for episode identification.
Broadcast on the Light Programme on Fridays at 7.31pm, repeat unknown
01-242 People Who Live In Glass Houses 61-01-20
02-243 Sorry The Lyon's Engaged 61-01-27 ** As you probably know, Richard is now engaged. However...
03-244 External Triangle, The 61-02-03 ** ## (No intro) Mrs Lyon, I've been out in the garden again....
04-245 Barbara's Birthday 61-02-10 ** (No intro) Mrs Lyon, would you like some more mushrooms..
05-246 Thanks For The Memory 61-02-17 ** (No intro) Oh Aggie, Daddy has to be at the studio at 5...
06-247 Lyon In Sheep's Clothing, The 61-02-24 ** (No intro) Oh Bebe, I'm home. Hello dear. Sorry I'm late...
07-248 Along Came Mr. Jackson 61-03-03 ** (No intro) Miss Barbara, my hands are full, will you take my....
08-249 Dog's Tale, A 61-03-10 ** (No intro) Mother, it's 3 o'clock, don't you think we'd better..
09-250 What's Buzzin' Cousin ? 61-03-17 ** (No intro) Oh ma, we needed some more coat hangers in...
10-251 No Holiday For Strings 61-03-24 ** (No intro) Mrs Lyon, could I have the furniture polish...
11-252 Don't Be A Freud 61-03-31
12-253 I Passed By Your Widow 61-04-07
13-254 Once Upon A Dream 61-04-14
14-255 Tree For Two 61-04-21 ** (No intro) Oh pop, I've planted all the pansies & violas (sp?)..
15-256 Pardon My Bumper 61-04-28
16-257 Keeping Up With The Brownes 61-05-05
17-258 On The Wrong Side Of The In-Laws 61-05-12 ** (No intro) Mrs Lyon, I'll chop the meat up if you'll roll the...
18-259 Roaming Scandals 61-05-19 ** (No intro) Mrs Lyon I thought we'd better put loose covers on the furniture now.
Life With The Lyons (TV version) Details taken from www.phill.co.uk - the UK TV Comedy Database.
Ben Lyon as Himself
Bebe Daniels as Herself
Richard Lyon as Himself
Barbara Lyon as Herself
Mollie Weir as Aggie MacDonald
Doris Rogers as Florrie Wainwright
Richard Bellaers as Robin (Series 1 - 2)
Horace Percival as Mr Wimple (Series 1 - 2)
Writers: Bebe Daniels, Bob Block, Ronnie Hanbury, Bob Ross, Richard Waring, Bill Harding
Director: John Phillips, Joan Kemp-Welch
Producer: Bryan Sears, Barry Lupino
BBC Television (Series 1 - 2)
Series 1 transmitted on alternate Wednesdays, time unknown.
01 Untitled 55-06-29
02 Untitled 55-07-13
03 Untitled 55-07-27
04 Untitled 55-08-10
Series 2 transmitted on alternate Thursdays, time unknown.
05 Untitled 56-05-31
06 Untitled 56-06-14
07 Untitled 56-06-28
08 Untitled 56-07-12
(Phil Watson has one BBC episode on videotape)
Associated Rediffusion (Series 3 - 5)
Series 3 transmitted on alternate Tuesdays, time unknown.
01 Green-Eyed Monster, The 57-09-17
02 Family Secrets 57-10-01
03 I've Got You Covered 57-10-15
04 Cool Cat On A Hot Roof 57-10-24
05 Going, Going, Gone 57-11-12
06 Where There's A Will 57-11-26
07 Unlucky Winner 57-12-10
08 Christmas 57-12-24
09 Signs Of The Times 58-01-21
Series 4 transmitted on alternate Fridays, time unknown.
10 Who's Your Lady Friend 58-09-19
11 Reluctant Genius, The 58-10-03
12 Dangerous Curves Ahead 58-10-17
13 Boxing Gloves 58-10-31
14 Secrets 58-11-14
15 Guest In The House, A 58-11-28
16 Thirteen Shoplifting Days To Christmas 58-12-12
17 Sheriff Of Fractured Wrist, The 58-12-26
18 It's A Woman's World 59-01-09
19 King Richard The Last 59-01-23
(Phil Watson has a videotape of a 1958 show, probably 58-11-28)
Series 5 transmitted on consecutive Fridays, time unknown.
20 Cowboy In Kensington, A 60-01-01
21 Home Sweet Homicide 60-01-08
22 Stupid Cupid (radio: Confused Cupid, The) 60-01-15 **
23 Teddy Boys' Picnic 60-01-22 **
24 For Love Or Money 60-01-29
25 Just What The Doctor Ordered 60-02-05
26 Top Secret 60-02-12
27 Tease For Two 60-02-19 **
28 Your Presents Are Requested 60-02-26
29 Chip Off The Old Blockhead, A 60-03-04 **
30 Nelson Touch, The 60-03-11
31 Sauce For The Goose 60-03-18
32 Be My Ghost 60-03-25
** soundtrack recordings are in my collection.
Additions and correction welcome. Please write to