Elstree Calling (1930)

 |  Comedy, Musical  |  February 1930 (UK)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 206 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 2 critic

A series of 19 musical and comedy "vaudeville" sketches presented in the form of a live broadcast hosted by Tommy Handley (as himself). There are two "running gags" which connect the ... See full summary »

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Credited cast:
Tommy Handley ...
Himself, Compere
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Gordon Begg ...
Teddy Brown ...
Helen Burnell
Donald Calthrop ...
The Charlot Girls
Bobbie Comber ...
(as Bobby Comber)
Cicely Courtneidge ...
Will Fyffe ...
Lawrence Green
Gordon Harker ...
Jack Hulbert ...
Hannah Jones ...
George's Wife
Ivor McLaren


A series of 19 musical and comedy "vaudeville" sketches presented in the form of a live broadcast hosted by Tommy Handley (as himself). There are two "running gags" which connect the sketches. In one, an actor wants to perform Shakespeare, but he is continually denied air-time. The other gag has an inventor trying to view the broadcast on television. Four of the sketches are in color (in shades of yellow and brown only). Written by Bruce W. Christopher <bwintonc@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Musical





Release Date:

February 1930 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Hello Everybody  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)


| (Pathécolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Alfred Hitchcock is credited on screen with 'sketches and other interpolated items'. Adrian Brunel in his autobiography Nice Work describes how he originally shot The Taming of the Shrew spoof only to have John Maxwell, the producer, reject it for not being funny enough. Brunel states that Hitchcock was brought in to re-shoot the sketch. Hitchcock is believed to have directed the Gordon Harker sketch, The Taming of the Shrew, and the 'thriller' sketch with 'Jameson Thomas'. See more »


Featured in Shepperton Babylon (2005) See more »


The Thought Never Entered My Head
Written by Vivian Ellis
Performed by Helen Burnell and Jack Hulbert
See more »

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User Reviews

This is a film for the Hitchcock fanatic or movie historian only.
11 March 2003 | by (Sudbury, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

Is it worth it to buy this movie? To a Hitchcock fanatic like myself (Vic Evans)I would say "Yes!" but to any person other than a movie historian I would say "Forget it!"

It is a collection of skits and songs with a bit of comedy in the form of a London stage musical and comedy "Vaudeville" revue. Revues like this one have been done on the London stage from time to time since Vaudeville days. I remember seeing one in London in 1974 called "Carry On London" with Sid James and many other members of the "Carry On" movie comedy crew.

"Elstree Calling" (1930) is presented in the form of a very early live TV broadcast hosted by Tommy Handley. You also see a family attempting to tune into this program. Every so often between skits, you see how they are making out. They experience great difficulty throughout the show. The picture comes and goes as they attempt to adjust the set. The TV set even blows up and is later repaired. By the end of the presentation, the reception finally is restored and the program ends. The problems with this new medium (television) is one of the running jokes.

To the audiences of today it is of little interest. The singing, dancing and comedy is standard for this type of English variety show of the day but terrible by today's standards. For dancing, think of "The Pleasure Garden" as a comparison. Those familiar with Hitchcock's work may remember "Mr. Memory" from "The Thirty-Nine Steps". The music hall in that film is a similar setting. Alfred Hitchcock said to Francois Truffaut about this film

  • `Not good.'

There is little evidence of Hitchcock except perhaps for a short scene about a murder of the "wrong man". You should recognise the Hitchcock touch in it.

While I don't think anyone knows for sure, I have read that Alfred Hitchcock may have been responsible for the TV broadcast/TV viewing family framework that links the skits together and a running gag with Donald Calthrop attempting to recite Shakespeare periodically throughout the broadcast.

Best wishes,

Vic Evans (marmalade_man [NOSPAM] at yahoo.com

6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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