We present the results of a 5.5-yr CCD photometric campaign that monitored 261 bright, southern, semiregular variables (SRVs) with relatively precise Hipparcos parallaxes. The data are supplemented with independent photoelectric observations of 34 of the brightest stars, including 11 that were not part of the CCD survey, and a previously unpublished long time-series of VZ Cam. Pulsation periods and amplitudes are established for 247 of these stars, the majority of which have not been determined before. All M giants with sufficient observations for period determination are found to be variable, with 87 per cent of the sample (at a signal-to-noise ratio of ≥7.5) exhibiting multiperiodic behaviour. The period ratios of local SRVs are in excellent agreement with those in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Apparent K-band magnitudes are extracted from multiple near-infrared catalogues and analysed to determine the most reliable values. We review the effects of interstellar and circumstellar extinction and calculate absolute K-band magnitudes using revised Hipparcos parallaxes.