Saturday 29 January 2011

Tony Blackburn - Happy Birthday

It’s Tony’s 68th birthday today-sensational! Today he was presenting Radio 2’s Pick of the Pops live for the first time since taking over the programme last November. To help celebrate he was playing a brand new set of PAMS jingles re-sings by s2Blue, and great they sounded too. Anyone who knows their PAMS Sonosational, Jet Set and Music Explosion jingles will have recognised them.

Tony’s broadcasting career is well known and there are plenty of audio examples ‘out there’.

Here’s Tony back in 1984. This was in the old Junior Choice slot but by that time just known as the Tony Blackburn show. Both recordings are made from medium wave broadcasts.

First from Sunday 12 August 1984

Secondly, here's Tony's final show on Radio 1 from Sunday 23 September 1984. He ends by playing the first record he played on the station, Flowers in the Rain.

The only clip I have of Junior Choice with Tony Blackburn is this short 6 minute segment from 1981. Perhaps of even greater interest is the 5 minute Radio 1 start-up sequence. This one was used at weekends only I believe and uses a mix of early JAM, PAMS and Audio Producers jingles and beds.   

Friday 28 January 2011

Sunday Afternoon at Home

Ask anyone who grew up in the 60s and 70s about their memories of Sunday afternoons and chances are they’ll mention the family roast lunch with Family Favourites on the radio in the background. They might also mention the comedy show that followed, such as The Clitheroe KidRound the Horne or Hello Cheeky. Later in the day, if the wireless was still on there’d be Pick of the Pops and Sing Something Simple.

I’ve looked back at some old schedules to see how this seemingly collective memory of Sunday radio actually played out.

Firstly back forty-four years to the Light Programme at Easter 1967. Sure enough between 12 noon and 1.30 p.m. is Three-Way Family Favourites with Jean Metcalfe. Note the use of Three-Way as the programme linked London, Cologne and Cyprus.

At 1.30 p.m. we get Round the Horne followed by The Clitheroe Kid. Result! Between 4 and 5 p.m. Alan Freeman presents Pick of the Pops and sure enough at 6.30 p.m. The Cliff Adams Singers and the Jack Emblow Quartet are on the air.

Of the programmes listed that day the only one still going strong today is, of course, Sunday Half-Hour. Note too the presence of some broadcasters who went on to become Radio 2 stalwarts – Humphrey Lyttelton, Benny Green, Michael Aspel, John Dunn

Fast forward six and a half years to Radio 2 in September 1973. Family Favourites is there at noon now presented by Sandi Jones. This is followed by The Navy Lark, then on its 12th series and a regular fixture on Sundays. The chart show, now presented by Tom Browne, is on Radio 1 from 4 p.m. and carried on Radio 2 as well between 6 and 7 p.m. Sing Something Simple follows after the news at 7 p.m. This programme continued at various times on Sunday afternoon, except for a period between 1974 and 1978 when it aired on either Wednesday or Friday nights, until its demise in 1981. 

Note the regular presence at 9 p.m. of Your 100 Best Tunes with Alan Keith. Though this programme had already been running for fifteen years, back in 1967 it was on the Home Service and not the Light.

OK time for some audio memories from Sundays past.

The genesis of Family Favourites can be traced back to the programme Forces’ Favourites that started in 1941 on the General Overseas Service, before moving to the Forces Programme between 1943 and 1946.

Family Favourites itself launched on 7 October 1945 on the Light Programme. In 1960 it moved to its Sunday lunchtime home and became Two-Way Family Favourites though, as we have seen, it was occasionally billed as Three-Way and for a while also had the prefix Worldwide.  By the end of the 60s it was back to plain Family Favourites until it ceased as a stand-alone programme in early 1980.

From 13 January 1980 it continued as part of Pete Murray’s Sunday Show and subsequently Ed Stewart’s weekday afternoon show.

Its best known presenters at the London end were Cliff Michelmore, Jean Metcalfe, Michael Aspel, Sandi Jones and finally Jean Challis. The theme music, Rodgers & Hart’s With a Song In My Heart, was most famously arranged and played by Andre Kostelanetz and his Orcherstra. By the late 70s the arrangement was one by Norman Candler (aka Gerhard Narholz).

This is an except from the penultimate show on 6 January 1980 hosted by Jean Challis.

The show was revived in July 1995 as part of Radio Two’s celebrations of the Light Programme, fifty years after its creation. Sandi Jones was back in the chair for this show.

The programme returned again on 30 September 2007 as part of Radio 2’s 40th anniversary celebrations. This time the host was Michael Aspel.

Here’s an excerpt from Sing Something Simple from July 1995. The opening theme will instantly be recognised by anyone who spent their Sunday afternoon recording the hits from the Sunday chart show and left the tape running.

And finally a taste of what you would have heard on Radio 2 just 21 years ago on Sunday 22 April 1990. This montage compresses twenty-four hours into just one.

You’ll hear Alan Dedicoat with Nightride, David Allan with The Early Show, Graham Knight with the Sunday Show, Roger Royle with Good Morning Sunday, Richard Baker with Melodies for You, Desmond Carrington with All Time Greats, Sunday Sport on 2 with Charles Colville, Benny Green, Alan Dell with Sounds Easy, Sing Something Simple, Charlie Chester with the Sunday Soapbox, Operetta Nights, Sunday Half-Hour, Alan Keith with Your Hundred Best Tunes and Radio 2 Arts Programme presented by Frank Delaney.

I’ll be posting more from Alan Dell and Benny Green in coming months so watch this blog.

From the North

The early history of the BBC synonymous with the development of regional radio broadcasting. The first broadcasts came from stations in London (with the call sign 2LO), Manchester (2ZY), Birmingham (5IT), Glasgow (5SC), Cardiff (5WA), and Newcastle (5NO).
In the early 20s each station would broadcast it’s own programmes and news bulletins and share others, thus forming an early national network.

Writing in the first issue of the Radio Times (“The Official Organ of the BBC”) in September 1923 Arthur Burrows, Director of Programmes, explained how this “simultaneous broadcasting” would work:

By such a process, it could easily be arranged for London alone to provide all the wireless entertainment for Great Britain, but such a scheme would meet with early disaster. These islands of ours contain…various well-defined areas in which the majority of the people have distinct tastes in music and other forms of entertainment. It was in recognition of this fact that certain provincial stations were opened, and for the maintenance of programmes catering for local tastes they will continue to be employed. In the future their supporters will have this local fare garnished with the tit-bits from other centres of art and music.

This patchwork continued until just before the outbreak of World War II when the BBC merged the National and Regional Programmes into one ‘Home Service’. After the war the new regionalised Home Service continued alongside the Light Programme, which started in July 1945.

The regional centres continued to provide some of their own opt-out programmes as well as commissioning what would become long-running series for the national service. The best known of these is, of course The Archers from the Midland Service.

This pattern of having different Home Services depending where you lived continued in the 1960s though by then most of the differences where in news and sports programmes and the odd musical interlude. Listeners in Scotland would hear the Scottish Variety Orchestra whilst those in the North would hear the Northern Dance Orchestra for example.

When the Home Service became Radio 4 in September 1967 it continued to refer to itself both on-air and in the Radio Times as “Radio 4 – The Home Service”. In part this was also for technical reasons; Radio 4 was broadcast on the medium wave through a series of transmitters each with a limited footprint. For this reason the BBC regions tended to follow the reach of the transmitters rather then any geographical or political boundaries.  

Following the reshuffle of wavelengths in November 1978 Radio 4 was now on 1500m long wave and was able to call itself Radio 4 UK. The first round of BBC local radio stations had now all opened (from Radio Leicester in 1967 to Radio Carlisle in 1973) so the need for regional news opt-outs was increasingly unnecessary. By the mid 70s only the South West (Morning Sou’West) and East Anglia (This is East Anglia) regions carried alternatives to the ‘Today’ programme as local radio had been yet reached those areas. By now the BBC studios in Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol had become Network Production Centres rather than regional HQ.

With a tight licence fee settlement the BBC was forced to make cutbacks in 1980 and this included the remaining regional news bulletins. Which brings me, after all this historic preamble, to the audio offering for this post.

This is the last ever regional news bulletin from Manchester as read by Dorina Brown on Friday 12 September. Broadcast from the same studio in Piccadilly that Ray Moore had started his BBC career it brought the curtain down on the regional Home Service from “the North” and the studios themselves closed the following year.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Ray Moore - Broadcasting Legend

Some twenty-two years after his passing Ray Moore is still one of the most missed British broadcasters. His warmth, his wit and his sheer professionalism mark him out as one of the greats.

I first started listening to Ray when he presented the Late Show on Saturday nights. Like many listeners I was immediately taken in by Ray’s quirky sense of humour, his wonderful turn of phrase and those invitations to join him in his nightclub of the air ‘Chez Ray’. 
I then followed Ray to the Early Show (see this post) where he amused us with his talk of the goings on at the BBC, problems at Gatport Airwick and on the rattlers and tales of the Radio 3 announcers of ‘Tarmac Rigby’ and ‘Miss Hughes’. 
Ray’s broadcasting career started in the 60s at Granada television where he was a young newsreader and announcer, working on the likes of What the Papers Say and University Challenge. He had a brief spell as an in-vision announcer at ATV in Birmingham before returning to Manchester to work for the BBC.

Based at the BBC’s studios in Piccadilly he worked on both tv and radio before getting his network break hosting Pop North for the Light Programme (and later on Radio 1). When Radios 1 and 2 started in late 1967 Ray headed off to Broadcasting House and started a wide and varied career on the radio networks.

Ray could be heard reading the news on Radio’s 1 & 2 as well as doing the odd announcing spot on Radio’s 3 &4. He was an early Breakfast Special presenter from the off but would often pop up on other programmes on both 1 & 2 within the same week.

Amongst the shows that Ray presented are Melody Fair, Coming Home, Stage One, Night Ride, After Seven, Ray Moore’s Saturday Night, Dancing to Midnight, The Saturday Morning Show, The Late Show, Sammes’ Songs, String Sound, Banners and Bonnets, The Eurovision Song Contest, Pop Score and The Monday Movie Quiz.  

Of course Ray is best known for his stints on the Early Show. Writing about this in his autobiography he said “my theory, if I ever had one, was that this show, broadcast at such a crazy time could only be successful if it were based on one assumption: that nobody in his or her right mind would choose to be up at such an awful hour. If we both had to be awake so early, I thought, let’s agree one thing: that it’s you and me against the world”

Ray had to step down from the Early Show on 28 January 1988 when cancer of the mouth meant he couldn’t continue. He died a year later on 11 January 1989.
I recall quite clearly hearing about the news of Ray’s death. By sheer coincidence I was on a training course in Manchester and staying at a hotel on Piccadilly Gardens, literally just round the corner from where Ray started with the BBC.
Here's a short audio tribute to Ray with clips from his shows in the late 70s and early 80s and a BBC tv trail from 1982.

Here are three extracts from The Early Show, firstly 29 May 1981:

This from 10 December 1982:

Finally 18 February 1985:

Pop Score had been running on Radio 2 since 1972 and was chaired by Pete Murray. By the time series 11 started Ray was hosting, here’s the edition broadcast on Tuesday 7 May 1985. Following Ray’s death Ken Bruce took over as chair.

Another fixture of the early 80s schedules was The Monday Movie Quiz in which Ray gave away “cash voucher” prizes for identifying film clips and actors. This show was broadcast on 28 February 1983

Following Ray’s death Radio 2 broadcast a tribute programme presented by Ken Bruce. This show aired on 29 January 1989.

By March 1989 the BBC had organised a celebration of Ray's life and career that was broadcast live from All Souls' Church in Langham Place. This extract includes addresses from Terry Wogan, Colin Berry and David Hatch as well as a performance from the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, whom Ray had introduced in concert a number of times of the years.

If you have any recordings of Ray's shows that you are willing to share I'd love to hear from you. You can read more about Ray Moore at Radio Rewind and Radiocafe

See also Ray Moore - A Little Bit More

Saturday 15 January 2011

A word or two about The Early Show

Ray Moore is very much associated with BBC Radio 2’s Early Show, but when exactly did he present the show? This post aims to make a stab at giving you the facts.

Firstly the nomenclature. We normally associate the Early Show as being the show that precedes the Breakfast Show. However, in the early-80s when Ray was on the air between 5.30 and 7.30a.m. - before Wogan - The Early Show was in fact presented by Ray’s friend Colin Berry between 4.00 and 5.30 a.m. So, for the purposes of this post I’m looking at the show pre-breakfast, sometimes know as the Early Breakfast Show. Confusing!

When I first started listening to Radio 2 in 1976 the Early Show was presented by Colin Berry. I’ve traced the history of the show since that year but my knowledge prior to that is a little sketchy. If anyone has any further details I’d welcome your input. 

For many years, seventeen and a half in fact, the presenter of the Early Show was Sarah Kennedy. This continuous run for the Dawn Patrol, periods of sickness aside, is the longest by a single presenter. Prior to that role would chop and change on a fairly regular basis.

When Radio 2 started in 1967 it made no distinction between an Early Show and a Breakfast Show. Breakfast Special ran from 5.30 a.m. with different presenters each day that included Paul Hollingdale, John Dunn and Ray Moore, with Bruce Wyndham on Saturdays. So Ray was setting his alarm clock early from the very beginning of the station.

Breakfast Special ended in 1972, by now just presented by John Dunn, when Terry Wogan started his famous Breakfast Show run. That same day Barri Haynes became the presenter of the very first Early Show. Barri, I believe, was a Radio 2 announcer at the time who later went on to work at LWT. Barry Alldis was presenting the show in 1972 and 1973. By the middle of 1973 Pete Brady, now back on the radio after his stint on Thames TV’s Magpie, had the 5-7 slot.

From March 1974 to January 1976 Simon Bates presented the Early Show. This run doesn’t appear to have been continuous as Ray Moore was also on the show in 1975 as was Jeff Cooper.
From 1976 Colin Berry had taken over the reins for what was to be a long association with early morning shows on Radio 2. By January 1978 Ray Moore was back on the Early Show having finished presenting the Saturday night Late Show. However, before he got too comfortable, in August that year he was off and Tony Brandon took over.

Tony’s run lasted until November 1979 whereupon the picture gets very messy with essentially Ray Moore and Steve Jones alternating every 3 or 4 months for the next two years. For the record Steve Jones, he of The Pyramid Game fame, hosted as follows: Dec 1979 to March 1980, June to Sept 1980, July to Oct 1981, Jan 1982 and finally May to June 1982. From Jan to April 1981 Bob Kilbey had a go.

During this period Ray was at the microphone March to June 1980, Sept to Dec 1980, April to July 1981. Oct to Dec 1981, Feb to May 1982. Ray finally took over his main stint as presenter from Monday 28 June 1982.

In 1982 Ray was still doing holiday relief for Wogan at Breakfast, something he’d done for a number of years. Whilst Ray moved his shift to cover, the likes of Nick Page, Jimmy Mack, Don Durbridge and Colin Berry all took turns on the Early Show.

As is well documented Ray’s run as presenter came to an abrupt end in January 1988 when he became too ill to continue. “It was over” he said “not with a bang but a whimper”.

When Ray left staff including Bill Rennells, Charles Nove, Jean Challis, Liz Allen and John Marsh held the fort until April 1988 when Chris Stuart became the next permanent presenter. Chris was no stranger to the show, having sat in for Ray when he was on leave.

Chris’s stint came to an end after just under three years in December 1990. From January 1991 scheduling changes meant that Ken Bruce was on air between 6 and 8 a.m. prior to the Derek Jameson Breakfast Show. 

Further changes in 1992 meant that Steve Madden hosted until April when ‘the Dark Lord’ Alex Lester took over until December. These shows preceded the Brain Hayes Breakfast Show.

And so we come full circle when on 4 January 1993 Sarah Kennedy started her record-breaking run. The same day Wogan was back at Breakfast. Sarah left last September and since then Richard Allinson, Aled Jones and Lyn Parsons have covered. In November the BBC announced that Vanessa Feltz would host “the Early Breakfast Show” from this coming Monday. 


Sunday 9 January 2011

Bob Monkhouse

I hadn’t planned this post until I saw the fascinating documentary The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse on BBC4 last night. For many people of my generation we grew up with Bob the host rather than Bob the comic. I still remember settling down on Sunday afternoon to watch The Golden Shot.

What was most fascinating was the vast archive of films, tv and radio that Bob had amassed, with many programmes thought lost/wiped by the broadcasters. I’ve got nowhere near as much material as Bob had, and probably nothing as significant to the archivists. I know some of my recordings aren’t in the BBC archives and its these rarer items that probably haven’t been repeated that I’m posting on this blog.

With that in mind here’s Bob Monkhouse on the Radio 2 panel game Punch Line broadcast on Thursday 17 September 1981. I assume Bob wrote his own punch lines, though they may have been provided by sketch writers Raymond Harris, Bernard Cranwell and George Evans. The programme is presented by Leslie Randall with fellow guests Kenneth Connor and Dilys Laye. The announcer is Chris Aldred. 

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