Sunday, 29 May 2011

National Radio Goes 24 Hour


… or the importance of You and the Night and the Music
You and the Night and the Music jingle

Radio Times illustration for the first edition of You and the
Night and the Music on 23 November 1978 that wasn't
broadcast. By the time the series started in 1979 Ruth Cubbin
hosted the show for just a few months. Tim Gudgin and
Bill Rennells went on to be regular overnight presenters.

We now take 24-hour broadcasting for granted but there was a time when early risers or
insomniacs could only tune through the dial to hear the World Service, the odd foreign station or just a load of static.

It was back in 1965 that the Light Programme started to extend its broadcasting hours with a 5:30 a.m. start and a 2:00 a.m. closedown. Both the Home and Third tucked their listeners up in bed before midnight.

This pattern continued into the 70s with just an extra half-hour added to Radio 2, with a 5:00 a.m. start, in 1972. The economic crisis and tight licence fee settlements meant cutbacks in 1975 when Radios 1&2 kicked off at 6:00 a.m. and closed at 0:30 a.m. Later that year another 30 minutes was lost with closedown after the midnight news.

During this decade Britain’s first batch of 19 independent radio stations were opening and the large city stations – Capital, LBC, Clyde, BRMB, Piccadilly and City – offered 24 hour listening.

By 1978 the BBC had plans to extend Radio 2’s hours and make it the first national 24-hour network. In April they reverted back to the 5:00 a.m to 2.00 a.m. pattern. By September the BBC announced the changes for Radio 2 as well as a greater separation of programmes for Radio 1 and the introduction of more Newsbeat bulletins. Here’s Head of Radio Aubrey Singer, the Radio 4 newsreader is Laurie MacMillan:

In the event Radio 2 opted to go 24-hour in the early hours of 23 November, to coincide with the frequency changes. The Radio Times showed that a new series called You and the Night and the Music was due on the air at 2:00 a.m. -the first presenter was to be Bill Rennells with a rota of announcers hosting on a daily basis.

This was the plan – but it failed to happen and that night Radio 2 closed down as usual. Industrial action by the Association of Broadcasting Staff (ABS) meant that Radio 2 had to delay its round-the-clock programming until early 1979. The ABS action culminated in the shutdown of BBC tv and the temporary merging of all the radio networks on 22 December 1978.

The new launch date for You and the Night and the Music (or YATNAM in BBC acronym-speak) was rescheduled to the early hours of Sunday 28 January 1979. The first presenter was to be Colin Berry and he popped into Ray Moore’s Late Show to talk about You and the Night in a live link-up with BBC2 tv where the continuity announcer is Jenni Bayle. As you’ll also hear the programme had a ready-made theme with the opening version from Jack Jones. The closing theme was an orchestral arrangement of the tune by Manuel and his Music of the Mountains (aka Geoff Love).

Like Night Ride, Music Through Midnight and The Late Show before it, YATNAM was presented by the continuity team. Initially it was a different announcer each night but by the end of its run they would host 3 or 4 shows per week.

Here are a three programme excerpts all taken from 1980 featuring Vivien Stuart, James Alexander Gordon and Sheila Tracy.

YATNAM James Alexander Gordon
YATNAM Sheila Tracy

As you’ll hear even from these brief clips needletime restrictions meant that the programme relied heavily on BBC session recordings. In the show presented by Sheila Tracy you would’ve heard, as well as the BBC Midland Radio Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra conducted by Brian Fahey, the BBC Northern Radio Orchestra conducted by Brian Fitzgerald, the BBC Radio Orchestra, the BBC Big Band, the Mike Sammes Singers, the Colin Campbell Trio and the Quartets of Harry Stoneham, Tommy Whittle, Ray Swinfield and Harry Pitch. Actual records were few and far between. 

The final You and the Night and the Music went out on 20 January 1984, presented by Richard Clegg. It was replaced by Nightride (not to be confused with the late 60s/early 70s Night Ride) with Jean Challis hosting the first show.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Always remember ther listings for this show - especially with a delightful Moon graphic in RT -remember trying to stay up and listen to the show and falling asleep - ultimately killing the batteries on my transistor radio!!!

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