Charters and caldicott

For the television series, see Charters and Caldicott (TV series).

Caldicott and Charters started out as two supporting characters in the 1938 Alfred Hitchcock film The Lady Vanishes. The two humorous and cricket-obsessed characters were played by Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford. The characters were created by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat. The duo became very popular and were used as recurring characters in subsequent films, in BBC Radio productions, and eventually in their own BBC television series.

Early 20th century films

In The Lady Vanishes, Charters and Caldicott are singleminded cricket enthusiasts, rushing back to England to see the last days of a Test match. They proved popular with audiences and returned in the Gilliat-and-Launder films Night Train to Munich (1940, also starring Margaret Lockwood) and Millions Like Us (1943), and in the BBC radio serials Crook's Tour (1941, made into a film later that year) and Secret Mission 609 (1942).

Wayne and Radford played similar double acts in several more movies, such as Dead Of Night (1946, sequence directed by Charles Crichton), A Girl In A Million (1946, Francis Searle) and Quartet (1948, sequence directed by Ralph Smart). Another recurring cricket-mad pairing played by them were Bright and Early in It's Not Cricket (1949, Alfred Roome), Helter Skelter (1949, Ralph Thomas) and Stop Press Girl (1949, Michael Barry).

They were intended to reappear in I See a Dark Stranger (1945, Launder), but Launder and Gilliat refused to give them the larger roles in the film that Radford and Wayne demanded, as befitting the high profile actors they had now become. As a result, the actors opted out of the film and two similar but differently named characters were substituted. This falling out, however, left Radford and Wayne contractually disallowed from portraying the characters under the names "Charters" and "Caldicott".


BBC radio wanted to broadcast more of their popular radio comedy thriller serials, and so they created the pairing "Woolcot and Spencer", characters they used in Double Bedlam (1946) and Traveller's Joy (1947). Subsequently "Straker and Gregg" were featured in Passport to Pimlico (1949), The Next of Kin (appearing at the end as a "Careless Talk Costs Lives" pair), May I Have The Treasure (1951) and Rogue's Gallery (1952).

Similarly "Berkeley and Bulstrode" were characters in Crime Gentleman, Please (1948); "Hargreaves and Hunter" in Having A Wonderful Crime (1949); and "Fanshaw and Fothergill" in That's My Baby (1950).

In mid-production on Rogue's Gallery, which was broadcast in 1952, Basil Radford died suddenly of a heart attack at age 55, and Naunton Wayne completed the adventure on his own.

Late 20th century film and television

The characters Charters and Caldicott made a re-appearance in the 1979 remake of The Lady Vanishes, with Arthur Lowe as Charters, and Ian Carmichael as Caldicott. In 1985 they were the main characters in a BBC television series, Charters and Caldicott with Michael Aldridge playing Caldicott and Robin Bailey as Charters.

External links

  • BBC Comedy Guide (archive version)
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