Sunday, 12 August 2012

Date with Dell

Just over a year I wrote about Alan Dell and was pleasantly surprised by the comments and interest I had in the blog as a result. So I’m taking the opportunity to once again dip into the Dell archive.

Alan was already an established radio voice when this illustration appeared in the Radio Times in 1956, in the week that he was the compere on Housewives’ Choice. In the next couple of years he would present Pick of the Pops, the daily magazine show Roundabout and the weekly Date with a Disc – billed as “a choice of gramophone records for the family circle”.

By 1959 Date with a Disc had become a Saturday lunchtime fixture, sandwiched between Sports Parade and Movie Matinee and now billed as “music for moderns”. It was these shows that Chris Wray recalled when we wrote to me earlier this year saying he’d stumbled across an old home recording of one of Alan’s shows. Though the reel was undated Chris believed it was recorded in 1959.  Anyone who remembers Big Band Sound and Sounds Easy will find the presenting style and playlist somewhat familiar. Date with a Disc continued its run intermittently until the mid-60s.

And speaking of Big Band Sound I was also contacted by Glenn Harvey who had rediscovered an old cassette recording of Alan’s 100th show, possibly from early 1972. If anyone can accurately date this show please contact me.

You can read Glen’s blog Lysander Days which he describes as a “canalised version of a Diary of a Nobody”.

This edition of Sounds Easy from my own collection was broadcast on Sunday 14 December 1980, what a wonderful way to spend Sunday afternoon. This was just a couple of days after Frank Sinatra’s 65th birthday so the playlist has a heavy slant to ‘Ole Blue Eyes’.  

And a big thank you to Paul Langford who sent me a whole slew of Sounds Easy recordings. From those shows I’ve selected this excerpt for two reasons: first it contains a show favourite Henry Mancini and secondly Alan plays Mancini’s “sonorously beguiling” Dreamsville that he used as his theme tune when hosting Music Through Midnight.

Finally a correction to my earlier post. Sounds Easy’s closing theme That’s All was, in fact played by Henry Mancini & his Orchestra. The opening theme was by Andre Previn & his Orchestra entitled Blame It On My Youth. Both are commercially available.

For the record
The first series of Big Band Sound was actually presented by David Gell on Radio 2 in late 1967 and early 1968. This was succeeded by a Radio 1 series (back in the days when Radio 1 was home to not just pop but folk, country and big band music too) called Swing Session. This was hosted by Hector Stewart, Ken Sykora and Alan Dell and ran in 1968/69. The first Big Band Sound with Alan Dell was broadcast on Radio 2 in late 1969 on a Saturday afternoon. It moved to a regular Thursday night slot in April 1970 and it’s from then that Alan dates the show’s main run in the 100th show above. Over the years it was either billed as Big Band Sound or Big Band Era.

The series Dance Band Days started life as a short series called The Golden Age of Dance Band in October 1972 at the time of the BBC’s 50th anniversary. The main series itself was first broadcast from October 1973 and was either scheduled as a separate programme or preceding Big Band Sound. For many years both shows went out on a Monday night. 

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