Saturday, 28 September 2013

Big Band Blues

Another long-running programme ended this week with the dropping of Radio 2’s Big Band Special. The decision is purely financial rather than artistic with the station stating it has had to “make some difficult choices in terms of which content we prioritise for investment”.  When challenged on the detail of the cuts they stonewalled, blaming the “sensitive commercial nature of our budgets”, though it is unclear who the commercial competitors for Big Band Special.

The first billing I can find dates from 6 October 1979 and featuring the
Nelson's Column Big Band rather then the BBC Big Band. On VHF only
as MW carried coverage of the Horse of the Year Show.
The programme had run for 34 years (see Radio Times billing) and offered a showcase for the BBC Big Band, then a section of the BBC Radio Orchestra.  The first host was broadcaster and trombonist Sheila Tracy (pictured below), who remained with the show for 22 years.

Here’s Sheila introducing the 500th edition recorded at the Golders Green Hippodrome and featuring regular conductor Barry Forgie.  This show was broadcast on Monday 12 February 1990. The opening continuity announcer is Alan Dedicoat, showing that some things never change!

At the time of writing you can still hear this week’s final show online here.

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