Monday 30 December 2013

The Thatcher Legacy

One news event of 2013 that polarised opinion was the death of Baroness Thatcher in April. I’ve no intention of stepping into that political minefield. However, for students of political history I’m offering this interview with Margaret Thatcher from November 1980, just 18 months into her premiership.  

The interview, conducted by Michael Charlton, is from the BBC Radio 4 series Analysis and was broadcast on 26 November 1980.

Sunday 29 December 2013

Radio Lives – Paddy O’Byrne

Paddy O’Byrne was a “giant of South African radio”, one of the best-known and much-loved broadcasters in the country over four decades.  Not bad for a lad from Dublin who only went to South Africa when he was posted there by his insurance company employer.

When I first wrote about Paddy for my post on Radio 2 newsreaders I only knew a little about his time in South Africa. Earlier this month I was contacted by Jean Collen who told me that Paddy had just passed away and this news set me off to uncover more about the man once described as “the best known Irishman in South Africa”.
Paddy was born in Killiney in County Dublin in 1929 and educated at St Mary’s College, Castleknock College, where he won prizes in English and was active in the performing arts, and University College Dublin.  He, somewhat reluctantly, followed his father – Supreme Court Judge John O’Byrne - into law, being called to the bar in 1952. But his main love was the world of entertainment and he gave up law after a couple of years and left for London, joining the George Mitchell Singers (he was considered to have a “first rate bass” voice).  

On tour in Llandudno he met his wife-to-be, Dublin-born singer and dancer Victoria Fitzpatrick, his beloved “Old Vic”. They married in 1956 and Paddy obtained a steady job working for an insurance company. Within a couple of years they had posted him to South Africa. But like the law, insurance wasn’t really for him either and in 1961 he took part in the Voice of South Africa competition organised by the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation, which he won. Part of the first prize was to read a serial on the English service of the SABC. Thus his course was set for a career in broadcasting.
Paddy’s work for SABC was extremely varied on both the English language public service and the commercial Springbok Radio as an announcer, newsreader, presenter and quiz-master. For a while he played Mark Saxon in the adventure serial No Place to Hide. Other shows for which he was remembered are Sunday at Home, Twenty One, Quiz Kids and Deadline Thursday Night.
Springbok Radio Revisited posted this short tribute to Paddy:

In the early 1970s Paddy returned to the UK (for reasons I’m unable to establish) and in 1974 was employed by Capital Radio as one of the presenters of Night Flight and as the voice of Capital Jobspot. Those overnight shows proved far from satisfying as a lack of needletime meant the playlist consisted wholly of library music. By 1976 he was now at BBC Radio 2 as an announcer and newsreader. This role also gave him presenting opportunities on shows such as Music from the Movies, the Northern Radio Orchestra shows, Marching and Waltzing, You and the Night and the Music and, between March 1979 and January 1980, Saturday’s Early Show.
From my own collection of recordings here’s Paddy on Capital and Radio 2:

In 1980 Paddy was back in South Africa for a second time, initially helping to launch Channel 702 (now known as Talk Radio 702) and then returning to SABC with his daily Top of the Morning with Paddy O’Byrne. It was known that during the latter years of his imprisonment Nelson Mandela was a regular listener to Paddy’s shows. The O’Byrne’s got to meet him at a Gala Banquet and subsequently Mandela’s daughter Zindzi became a family friend. There was a sad irony that Paddy and Nelson Mandela both died within a day of each other.    

In 1995 Paddy mentored a young broadcaster, Vuyo Mbuli, and for a while they co-hosted an afternoon show on the renamed English service, SAfm. Mbuli (pictured left with Paddy) went on to become a household name in South Africa but tragically collapsed and died shortly after his 46th birthday in May of this year.

By 1996 Paddy had retired from SABC but continued to broadcast on the community station 1485 Radio Today, at the request of station chairman and former Springbok Radio presenter Peter Lotis, as well as Radio Veritas in Johannesburg and Fine Music Radio in Cape Town.
The O’Byrne family returned to Ireland, to Mullingar in County Westmeath, in 2001. For a while Paddy was still doing the occasional show on the classical station Lyric FM and some recorded shows for Fine Music Radio back in South Africa.  In 2010 he was inducted into the MTN Radio Awards Hall of Fame with the citation on the website reading: “Another giant of South African Radio, and an accomplished newsreader and presenter.  After a long stint at the SABC, he was also one of the founding voices of 702 before settling in Ireland”.

In January of this year Paddy’s wife died and he made a brief return to South Africa for a memorial service in honour of the “Old Vic”. During the visit he made a couple of guest appearances on the radio, on 1485 Radio Today and on Classic FM’s People of Note, reminiscing with Richard Cock. Here’s an edited version of that conversation.

Not long after his wife’s death Paddy was diagnosed with lung cancer. Though the treatment was successful he died of heart failure on 4 December. His death was widely reported in the media in both South Africa and Ireland. His friend and former writer and co-star on No Place to Hide, Adrian Steed remembered him as “a wonderful man in very many ways. The measure of the man was his humanity, his generosity, and his warmth to the many friends he made via radio”.

Paddy O’Byrne 1929-2013 

Thanks to Jean Collen. The 702 Launch Audio comes from Primedia Broadcasting and People of Note from Capital FM 102.7

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Welcome to Christmas

Every morning between 1978 and 2006 Radio 4 would usher in the new day with Fritz Spiegel’s Radio 4 UK Theme. Every day that is except Christmas Day when for many years listeners were treated to seasonal mix of carols played by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. This is my recording of Welcome to Christmas, though I suspect an opening bar or two are missing.

To all readers of the blog Merry Christmas.


Monday 23 December 2013

Radio Lives – David Jacobs

In my late teens you may have found me browsing the record racks of Sydney Scarborough in Hull not just for the latest pop offerings, but flicking through the Frank Sinatra back catalogue. The reason for my loitering in the Easy Listening section? It was down to the musical education I received every Saturday morning from David Jacobs and my introduction to the world of the American songbook and the voices of Ella Fitzgerald, Vic Damone, Keely Smith, Tony Bennett and co.

Yes, I did follow the latest trends in pop music, and develop a love for jazz and big band – with thanks to Alan Dell, Benny Green and Humphrey Lyttelton - but over the years it was the tunes that David called “our kind of music” that stayed with me. So it was a very sad moment in August when he presented his last show, illness now robbing his voice of the tone and fluency that had set him apart from many other broadcasters.  

Reading the obituaries for David you might think that his career was bookended by Juke Box Jury and The David Jacobs Collection. In researching this post I’ve been amazed by the sheer volume and variety of shows that David has been involved with, both radio and TV. As far as I can tell from 1948 to 2013 there wasn’t a single year he wasn’t on the radio and from the late 1950s and through sixties he remained a constant on the nation’s TV screens. Sadly, of course, little remains of his radio and TV work from the early years as most shows were live – only two editions of Juke Box Jury survive for instance. I can’t, of course, include every programme that David worked on – guest appearances on Hello Cheeky or the infamous Fred Emney Picks a Pop and so on - but I trust that this post includes all the significant ones in what was a remarkable career.

David was born in Streatham Hill, South London on 19 May 1926. He had a good ear for voices and at an early age would entertain his family with impressions of film stars, radio performers and local characters such as the milkman. The performing bug led to local talent shows and amateur dramatics. Early jobs included working at a pawnbrokers, a gents outfitters, a warehouse and a tobacco company. He joined the Home Guard as an officer cadet before plumping for the Navy in the summer of 1944.

His Navy service was all shore-based with training at HMS Royal Arthur in Skegness (at Butlins holiday camp), moving to HMS Ganges in Ipswich and then HMS Valkyrie (a row of boarding houses) on the Isle of Man.

A chance meeting with a young girl called Kay Emerson, who turned out to be a junior programme engineer on the BBC show Navy Mixture, led to David’s first radio appearance. The producer Charles Maxwell was not exactly overwhelmed by his range of impressions but nonetheless asked him to work it up into an act which, in the event, turned out to be imitations of Howard Marshall, Stuart Hibberd, Vic Oliver, Jack Benny and Rochester, Winston Churchill and –“in a crescendo of frenzied quacking” – Donald Duck. Sadly no recording of the show survives.

Coming off stage he was introduced to naval lieutenant-commander Kim Peacock (later to play Paul Temple) who told him that a career as an impersonator might be limited but had he thought of becoming an announcer in the services broadcasting unit. Within a couple of weeks he found himself at ORBS, the Overseas Recorded Broadcasting Service, in Drury Lane. There he met Jon Pertwee – they would become life-long pals – George Melachrino, George Mitchell, Sidney Torch and Eric Robinson, names that would become familiar in post-war broadcasting. David’s first announcing duties were for Services Music Hall.  

In May 1946 David was posted to a new station being set up in Ceylon, Radio SEAC (South Eastern Asia Command). It had immense coverage and could be heard in India, East Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Indo-China, Japan and even the west coast of the States.

David was the station’s senior announcer but had no experience of live broadcasting. His instruction came from Captain McDonald Hobley - later one of the BBC’s team of in-vision announcers – and he was finally let loose with his first live announcement: “This is Radio-Seac, Ceylon, broadcasting on 6.075 megacycles per second in the 49 metre band.”

Also at Radio-SEAC were Desmond Carrington, who like David would have, and continues to have, a long radio career, future BBC radio producer Charles Chilton and Alexander Moyes, who would join the BBC’s Overseas Service announcing team. David continued to have links with Radio Ceylon, as SEAC became after hostilities ended, until the mid-50s, providing batches of scripts for a weekly record feature.

Posted home in January 1947 - a somewhat enforced return following an unfortunate dalliance with a married woman - David had been due to return to the Army Broadcasting Service when he was invited to join the BBC’s Overseas Service who were short of announcers. Working alongside Jack de Manio, Jean Metcalfe and Mary Malcolm the strait-laced corporation didn’t seem to be the place for someone who, by his own admission, was an uncontrollable giggler. In his autobiography David recalls how his job was cut short following a Home News bulletin:

At that moment one of the sub-editors came over with what was evidently an urgent piece of lately-arrived news. He slipped it into my hand and I glanced down at it. It was simply a photograph of a remarkably unclad young woman. And it was so unexpected and incongruous that I began to laugh. And having once begun to laugh, I couldn’t stop. I managed to take a deep breath and stay straight-faced long enough to get out ‘That is the end of the news’. It had finished five minutes too soon.

After just nine months on the staff David went freelance, and his career flourished. Poetry producer John Arlott asked him to narrate Book of Verse, sharing the duties with John Whitty. Book of Verse was a weekly programme that went out on the Eastern Service, and later also on the Light Programme. Meanwhile he was also busy on English by Radio and Radio Newsreel.

By the late 40s/early 50s David had established himself as both an actor and a disc jockey. For the independent producer Harry Alan Towers there was the marathon 150 episode serial The Scarlet Pimpernel, playing Lord Tony Dewhurst to Marius Goring’s Sir Percy Blakeney. This series was syndicated in North America and on Radio Luxembourg. For the BBC, written and produced by his old Radio SEAC colleague Charles Chilton, was Journey into Space (1953-58). Famously Jacobs played all the roles not taken by the four principal characters: a total of twenty-five. He recalled that on at least one occasion “I found myself having a conversation with myself.”

As ‘DJ the DJ’ he joined the roster of presenters on Housewives’ Choice, getting his first booking for the fortnight beginning 25 January 1949. He left nothing to chance and after a week wrote himself lots of letters from various imaginary people telling him how good he was. He needn’t have bothered: “the BBC, scrupulously refraining from poking its nose into other people’s business, politely forwarded all the letters to me – unopened”. Nonetheless he continued to present the show at intervals until 1966.  

Meanwhile David was also doing commercial voiceovers and recording shows in London for transmission on Radio Luxembourg, most running at just 30 minutes each. Some of his 1950s shows were sponsored by Bournvita and during the 60s he fronted some EMI-sponsored shows produced by Ken Evans, who would later produce his Radio 2 shows in the 1980s. (Ken died just last month). Shows on 208 included Roxy Time, Woodbine Quiz Time, Lucky Couple (an early version of Mr and Mrs), Record Roulette, Pops Past Midnight, David Jacobs’ Startime, David Jacobs Plays the Pops and, not unnaturally, The David Jacobs Show. He worked on and off for Radio Luxembourg until 1968, when such recorded shows were faded out.   

The Amazing Adventures of Commander Highprice (1947 BBC TV)
A programme starring Jon Pertwee and David’s first TV appearance.
Little Women (1950-51 BBC TV)
Playing the part of Laurie
Jazz Club (1940s Light Programme)
Both the BBC’s biography of David and Gillian Reynolds writing in the Daily Telegraph list Jazz Club. I can’t be certain when he presented the programme as it tended to have a different compere each week. 
Puffney Post Office (1950 Light Programme)
Comedy series with Jon Pertwee and Eric Barker
She Shall Have Music (1954 Home Service)
Providing the announcements for this show featuring Gracie Cole and her All Girl Orchestra
Purely for Pleasure (1954 Home Service)
On the Brighter Side (1950s Home Service)
David’s first show with producer Derek Chinnery
Grande Gingold (1955 Home Service)
A series starring Hermione Gingold
Paradise Street (1954 Light Programme)
Comedy with Max Bygraves, Peter Sellers and Hattie Jacques
Saturday Show (1954-55 Home Service)
Featuring Cyril Stapleton and the BBC Show Band, Alfred Marks and Rikki Fulton. Produced by Johnnie Stewart, later of Top of the Pops.
The Man About Town (1955 Home Service)
Star vehicle for Jack Buchanan with Vanessa Lee, Pat Coombs and Hubert Gregg
Curiouser and Curiouser (1956 Home Service)
Reading humorous verse along with Peter Sellers
My Patricia (1956 Home Service)
Radio show with Pat Kirkwood and Hubert Gregg. When Hubert died in 2004 it was David that presented the tribute version of Thanks for the Memory.
Movietone News (1955-56)
David had previously voiced newsreels for the BBC and had stood in for Leslie Mitchell at Movietone. When Leslie joined ITV full-time in 1955 he suggested David for the job.
Dateline London (1950s BBC)
Programmes for the North American Service of the BBC in which David interviewed big name US stars visiting the UK.
Top Town Tournament (1959-60 BBC TV)
A Barney Colehan produced show in which towns round the UK competed in a talent contest to find the best variety acts, a kind of early It’s a Knockout and Britain’s Got Talent hybrid. The series ran from 1954 to 1960 but David Jacobs is only credited in later series.

Here's David with a Movietone News report in December 1955. You can listen (and see) more on the British Movietone website.

An honorary mention must go to the one-off (and deservedly so) 1955 BBC show Music, Music, Music in which the panel had to identify tunes tapped out with a pencil, played backwards, speeded up or other disguised. At Jacobs recalls, “it might have kept a couple of schoolboys amused for part of a wet afternoon but it had no general appeal at all.”

Focus on Hocus (1955 ITV)
David presented this short-lived series featuring the magic tricks of David Berglas
The Vera Lynn Show (1956 ITV)
Make Up Your Mind! (1956-8 Granada TV)
“Competitors with an eye for value have a chance to show their skill by saying which is worth more-an object or a certain sum of money. There are prizes for viewers as well as for studio challengers”
Tell the Truth (1957-58 ATV)
With regular panel John Skeaping, Jacqueline Curtis, Roberta Leigh and Bill Owen.

Although we think of David as mainly a BBC man he became one of the early star names on the fledgling commercial television channels in the late 1950s. He got this break thanks to an offer to compere Focus on Hocus from producer Tig Roe who’d worked with David on the Scarlet Pimpernel radio series. 

David was chairman of Make Up Your Mind!, a kind of early The Price is Right with valuations provided by Arthur Maddocks. Tell the Truth was the more successful show, coming as it did from the Goodson-Todman stable, and enjoyed a UK revival in the 1980s. When David left the show the next host was McDonald Hobley (1958), his old Radio SEAC colleague, and then Shaw Taylor (1959-61)   

Juke Box Jury (1959-1967 BBC TV)
The Wednesday Magazine (1959-62 BBC TV)
A daytime show aimed at the housewife – it had previously been billed as Mainly for Women and though having a female production team was fronted by John Whitty.
Top of the Pops (1964-66 BBC1)
David was one of the quartet of hosts of when the show started in January 1964 with Pete Murray, Alan Freeman and Jimmy Savile.

It was Juke Box Jury that made David Jacobs a household name and the show became a Saturday teatime fixture throughout the 1960s. When the show was first muted the idea was that David would be on the panel but he pointed out that he had considerably more experience as a chairman so he ended up in the hot seat. In fact three of four years earlier he’d already suggested to the BBC a similar show under the title Hit or Miss but they demurred. But Hit or Miss stuck in one way or another as it’s the title of John Barry’s theme for the programme.  
David puts the early success of Juke Box Jury not down to the opportunity for the TV audience to hear the latest pop records or hear the opinions of the panel but to his mock feud with panellist Pete Murray. This had started on the radio when David was on Saturday night’s Pick of the Pops and plugged Pete’s Sunday night show, Pete’s Party.

The introductory music faded down: I began to introduce the panel; and when I came to Pete Murray I said ‘And now it is my pleasure-or, at least, my duty- to introduce Pete Murray.’ Pete, keeping his face perfectly straight, looked at the camera and said: ’Oh, I’ve nothing against David Jacobs. I think the world needs men like him: in fact, there’s a very good job going for him in the gentlemen’s lavatory in Leicester Square Underground Station.’ I raised my eyebrows and replied: ‘Thanks – mention my name and you’ll get a good seat.’
To my consternation and embarrassment, hundreds of letters began to come in, protesting at Pete’s ‘ill-mannered and completely unprovoked attack’ on me. Thanks to all this undeserved criticism of poor Pete Juke Box Jury was kept on long enough to settle down and become one of television’s most unexpected and apparently unshakeable successes.  
Earlier this year David spoke to Shaun Tilley for Top of the Pops Playback about his time presenting the Pops between 1964 and 1966.

Roundabout (1958-59 Light Programme)
David was the Tuesday host of this new daily show, in what we would now call a drivetime slot. Looking after the other days of the week were Peter King, Alan Dell, Ken Sykora and Richard Murdoch. The programme ran until 1970 though David only appeared for the first couple of years or so.
Pick of the Pops (1956-61 Light Programme)
David succeeded Franklin Engelmann and Alan Dell to become the third host of POTP. Nearly 40 years later he’d take over from Alan Dell again on Sounds Easy.
The DJ Show (1961 Light Programme)
A Monday night show in which he “spins The Top of the Pops”
Late Night Saturday (1963 Light Programme)
Twelve O’Clock Spin (1964 Light Programme)
The DJ Show (1964 Light Programme)
On Sunday afternoons with “news and views of current records”
Follow That Man (1964 Light Programme)
Jacobs plays Rex Anthony, a BBC producer “caught up in a curious and violent train of events”. Each week a different set of writers take up the story. Those producing the scripts were Edward J.Mason, Eddie Maguire, John P. Wynn, Lawrie Wyman, Philip Levine, Ted Willis, Bob Monkhouse & Denis Goodwin, Gale Pedrick and Frank Muir & Denis Norden.
Midday Spin (1965 Light Programme)
Music Through Midnight (1966/67 Light Programme)
Eurovision Song Contest (1960, 1962-66 BBC TV)
David provided the television commentary. His involvement in Eurovision actually goes back to 1957 when he hosted Festival of Popular British Songs, a series of heats to decide that year’s UK entry (All sung by Patricia Bredin). 
Hot Ice (1963 BBC TV)
This series had started in 1961 with Alan Weeks introducing. The competition catered for “ice-skating enthusiasts and for lovers of pop records.” Seven days before each show the competing teams were supplied with records, chosen by a listening panel, to which they had to rehearse a routine.
The Cool Spot (1964 BBC1)
Similar to Hot Ice it was filmed at the Ice Stadium in Nottingham and as well as the skating there was music from the likes of The Yardbirds (in the first programme on 7 July), Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen, Shane Fenton and the Fentones and Lulu and the Luvers.
Hot Line (1965 BBC1)
A live Saturday night show in which “viewers have the opportunity to discuss any subject they like with any member of the panel via the Hot Line telephone”.

As a lad David whiled away many an hour at the Streatham Ice Rink. His brother Dudley became a professional skater and his best chum Freddie Tomlins went on to win World and European silver medals in figure skating. Perhaps then, it’s not surprising that David was chosen to host Hot Ice and The Cool Spot, though there’s no evidence that he went on the ice for these shows. However, he did for a December 1955 edition of Television Ice-Time (from a time when television seemed obsessed with shows on ice).  He’d suggested that he should jump a row of barrels during the programme. The BBC insured him for £10,000 which helped to boost publicity for the stunt. “The inevitable happened,” he recalled, “at rehearsals I soared over the barrels like a bird; on the broadcast I clipped the last one and went scudding across the ice like a tipsy penguin. Fortunately the result was only breathlessness and bruises.”   
Was Hot Line Britain’s first phone-in? I’m not sure but such broadcasts were rare at the time. Only running for three weeks in May 1965 the Radio Times proclaimed that “David Jacobs presides over a team of personalities who will answer questions on the telephone put to them by members of the public”.  The first programme gave viewers a chance to quiz Peter Ustinov, Randolph Churchill, Italian painter Pietro Annigoni and fashion house director Ginette Spannier. However, this was the mid-60s so the public couldn’t just phone in on the night as “the jamming of the Shepherd’s Bush telephone exchange could interfere with essential services.” Instead they had to write into Television Centre giving their details and the question they wanted to pose. Hot Line wasn’t exactly live; BBC engineers had to introduce a tape delay in case of any choice language from a caller.

David Jacobs' Words and Music (1966 Rediffusion TV)
Series looking at trends in music. Guests included Georgia Brown, Dennis Lotis and Millicent Martin.
The David Jacobs Show (1968 Tyne-Tees)
A Wednesday night show in which David meets ”show business personalities, politicians, and members of the public who have a point of view to put.” Broadcast in some ITV regions April-July 1968.
The Wednesday Show (1968 BBC1)
A live early evening show with guests and music. Each week there was a song from folk singer Deena Webster. Broadcast from July to December.
It’s Sunday Night (1969 LWT)
A late-night chat show for which the executive producer was LWT’s Head of Variety Tito Burns. Tito had been a warrant officer in the RAF and had guested on one of David’s SEAC shows as an accordionist. The programme ran in most ITV regions from June to September 1969.
The David Jacobs Show (1967-68 Radio 1 & Radio 2)
Surprisingly David was a Sunday night fixture on the new pop station when it launched in 1967 although the accent was more on the “tuneful end”, playing LPs and featuring music, in the first show from the BBC Radio Orchestra and the Mike Sammes Singers. He also talked to ‘People of Choice’, the first being Julie Andrews.
Any Questions? and Any Answers? (1967-1984 Radio 2 then Radio 4)  

For someone so closely associated with popular music Jacobs was, perhaps, not the natural choice for the role of chairman on Any Questions? Since the programme’s inception in 1948 Freddie Grisewood had been in charge of proceedings but by the winter of 1967 he was unwell and his doctor had ordered rest for a week or two, in the event he didn’t return to the show apart from a one-off to celebrate his 80th birthday. Five different chairmen were given a try-out, one of whom was David Jacobs. Producer Michael Bowen, writing in 1981, recalled the circumstances that led to his appointment:

The first thought that David might be the next chairman of Any Questions? came from Bobbie my wife. She heard him doing Desert Island Discs in which he revealed his love of horses, and to Bobbie that is always a prime, indeed an essential, attribute to anyone seeking high office. She was very impressed by the whole broadcast and told me about it. I put the idea forward that we should invite David to be one of the chairmen during the interregnum and Robin Scott, for one, was enthusiastic.  
That Desert Island Discs appearance had, in fact, been some three years earlier, but it makes a delightful story. David became the permanent chairman from April 1968 and remained with the programme until July 1984. He was masterful at dealing with some occasionally rowdy audiences, notably the 1976 Enoch Powell incident and this interjection in 1980.       

After Seven (1971-73 Radio 2)
David hosted the Tuesday evening edition of this hour-long show. Other nights were, at least initially, covered by Michael Parkinson, Alan Freeman, Ray Moore and Michael Aspel. After Seven ran from 4 October 1971 to June 1973.
Christmas Morning later David Jacobs’ Christmas Crackers (1972-77 Radio 4)
Every Christmas Day morning for six years David provided the links for a miscellany of seasonal comedy clips and music. Writers included Barry Pilton, Pete Spence and David Rider. There were also other holiday shows in a similar vein such as Spring Into Summer (May Bank Holidays 1976-78), Fall Into Summer, The August Jacobs and so on. The Summer Show on August Bank Holiday in 1977 featured sketches written by Alastair Beaton performed by Bernard Cribbins, Sheila Steafel and Royce Mills. From Christmas 1978 the shows were replaced by Christmas Briers with Richard Briers.   
Melodies for You (1974-84 Radio 2)
David was the third presenter of this long-running show playing light classical music.
David Jacobs with Star Sounds (1978-90 Radio 2)
Starting on 11 December 1978 this was a two-hour Saturday morning show featuring the kind of music that would later make The David Jacobs Collection. The Star Sounds title was eventually dropped and the show cut down to an hour when Sounds of the Sixties was introduced.
David Jacobs (1985-91 Radio 2)
Weekday show from 1 to 2 p.m. running from 7 January 1985 to 20 December 1991.

Here’s the man himself coming in for some light-hearted criticism on Radio 4’s Feedback in 1983.

Those Radio 2 weekend shows of the late 70s/early 80s (Star Sounds and Melodies for You) were recalled by former Radio 2 presenter and newsreader Charles Nove, writing shortly after David’s retirement:

When I joined Radio 2, David was presenting two shows every weekend. On a Saturday morning, he’d be offering a mix of Sinatra, Torme, Sammy Davis et al, while the Sunday show would be the classical repertoire. As David put it, in a turn of phrase that may in part be lost on today’s CD and MP3 generation, “I’ll turn myself over and play you music from my other side.” Or, as the late, great Ray Moore would have it: “On Saturday David will play you songs from his front side, and then on Sunday he’ll turn over and show you his……..”. David took this weekly ribbing in good part.

The lunchtime shows that ran between 1985 and 1991 were, in fact, the first time in his career that David had presented a regular daily programme (indeed for five years he was on six days a week!). They came at a time when the network music policy was more melodic and less pop-orientated, ideal for David but sounding a little out of place elsewhere in the schedule.  

In 1972 David was part of the Capital Radio bid for an ILR licence. Programme proposals show that he was penciled in for a Sunday lunchtime show: “The period between ten and two o’clock will be in the hands of David Jacobs and apart from providing an appreciable music content will take advantage of Mr Jacobs’ talent and experience as a programme moderator. One o’clock Sunday lunchtime is traditionally the time for the family to be together and David Jacobs will direct the show towards them in a spirit which includes those listeners who are unable to enjoy the company of their own families.”

David didn’t make it on air at Capital. Instead Sunday lunchtimes would eventually feature that other old smoothie Gerald Harper with his Sunday Affair.

What’s My Line (1973/4 BBC2)
The first revival of the early television hit with David in the chair
Where Are They Now? (1979 BBC1)
A four-part series in August 1979 in which David meets “people who made headlines in the past.” Guests were Ruby Murray, Captain Carlsen, Buster Crabbe, Wing Cmdr Robert Stanford Tuck, Billy Hayes, Humphrey Lestocq, Ethel Whittaker, Reita Faria, Sir Alec Rose and Gerald Campion.
Come Dancing (1984-86 BBC1)
In fact it was a return visit to the show as David had been one of the presenters in the late 50s.
Primetime (1989-92 BBC1)
A daytime magazine show aimed at the “more mature viewer”.

The idea for Primetime arose from a letter that Sue Lawley read out on See for Yourself that argued that while youth had Janet Street-Porter to look after their TV interests, older viewers received scant attention and suggested that David Jacobs present such a programme.

Both David and his Radio 2 producer Anthony Cherry saw this programme and set about creating Primetime, broadcast on Wednesday afternoons on BBC1. On-screen alongside David were  co-producer Miriam O’Callaghan and assistant producer Sheila McClennon. The guest on the very first edition was none other than Vera Lynn, neatly linking back to those 1955 shows on ITV.  

This series of clips are taken from some of David’s Radio 2 shows: Star Sounds from 1980, the start of a 1986 daily show live onboard HMS Ark Royal, Sounds Easy, a Robert Farnon concert, Easy Does It from October 1997 and The David Jacobs Collection from September 2007.

David Jacobs (1992 Melody Radio)
Easy Does It (1993-1998 Radio 2)
Taking over this Saturday night show from Bill Rennells on 2 January 1993 the show featured music on record and sessions from the BBC Big Band. Ended 11 April 1998.
Sounds Easy (1994-96 Radio 2)
David sits in for Alan Dell on this Sunday afternoon show when he is unwell and eventually becomes the permanent host when Alan died in 1995.
The David Jacobs Collection (1996-2013 Radio 2)
There were two separate series of The David Jacobs Collection. The first, from 10 to 11 p.m. on Sunday nights from 6 October 1996 to 12 October 1997, and then the return of the much-loved show from 11 p.m. to midnight starting on 12 April 1998.
Frank Sinatra-Voice of the Century (1998 Radio 2)
Narrating a 13-part series
He’s Playing Our Song-The Music of Marvin Hamlisch (2002 Radio 2)
Narrating a six-part series

Following the end of the daily show in December 1991, David made only occasional appearances on BBC radio in 1992. These included a concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra in May (on the occasion of their 40th anniversary), a 75th birthday concert for the arranger and composer Robert Farnon (David went on to present other concerts featuring Farnon’s music and introduced a tribute programme on his death in 2005) and a Boxing Day special.

There was also a return to commercial radio in June and July when David presented weekend shows on London’s Melody Radio. His show producer at Melody, Gary Whitford recalls how he would “start on air at six in the morning and David would usually arrive by seven. During the first hour – while on air- I would pull David’s music and get a cup of tea and some custard creams ready for his arrival. David used the second studio/come production suite to broadcast from and after I read the news at eight I’d fade up the second studio and David would take over.” Gary told me that “David was a lovely man and a true professional. He was old school, an original pioneer.” But he wasn’t one to suffer fools gladly “and some less respectful people found that out quite quickly.”

Meanwhile back the Beeb, it was back to regular shows from January 1993 with Easy Does It and in 1994 sitting in for an ailing Alan Dell on Sounds Easy. But it was the culmination of all those years in the business and meeting all those star names and performers that came together in The David Jacobs Collection: “Hello there. Stay with me from now until midnight so that we can share that which many call Our Kind of Music. All of which comes from within the David Jacobs collection.” Cue I Love You Samantha by the Pete Moore Orchestra.

In The Collection Closes I posted a David Jacobs Collection show from May 2005.

In the last year it became apparent that David was unwell and he missed a number of shows. In July 2013 it was announced that David would step down citing treatment for liver cancer and Parkinson’s disease. His last collection aired on 4 August, by now he was too ill to make it into the studio and his links were recorded at his home by producer Alan Boyd. Less than a month later David passed away.

Tributes to David’s broadcasting longevity, his consummate professionalism, his charm, his sense of humour and his musical knowledge followed both his retirement and his death. After his last broadcast Janice Long’s post-midnight show was filled with tweets and emails from listeners saying how much they’d miss those Sunday night dates with Mr Jacobs. It was noticeable how many broadcasters paid heartfelt tributes when he died. Here are Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Tony Blackburn, Head of Programmes at Radio 2 Lewis Carney, Alex Lester (talking to John Foster on BBC Tees) and a close to tears Desmond Carrington.    

It had been hoped that David would have been well enough to record a Christmas show for Radio 2. As this didn’t come to pass, by way of a substitute, enjoy this Christmas show that was broadcast on Saturday 23 December 1989 (with thanks to Paul Langford for providing this copy). 

David Jacobs 1926-2013

Thanks to Paul Langford, Gary Whitford, Paul Easton and Charles Nove.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Rob and Chrissie

DJ departures in the commercial sector can be swift, almost brutal. Listeners to Smooth’s Pat Sharp and Kid Jensen won’t have heard them say goodbye this week.  But on Heart East Anglia it was a different story as the duo that have woken up listeners for the last fourteen years, Rob Chandler and Chrissie Jackson, got a full, and at times emotional, send-off.

This is how that final show sounded. (With thanks to David Lloyd).

Rob and Chrissie originally teamed up on Radio Broadland, with Rob on the breakfast show for 27 years in total. Dipping into my Broadland archive (yes I have one thanks to some Broads boating holidays!) here’s Chrissie in the afternoons in 1989 and Rob at breakfast in 1988 and 1989.

And as I’ve dug out the Radio Broadland tapes here are some more clips from 1988 and 1989. The DJs I can identify are Dave Brown, Paul Thompson, Mike Stewart.

Link to Rob & Chrissie website

Friday 20 December 2013

Take That and Party

Was there too much Gary Barlow on the radio this month? Well I’m afraid I’m adding some more with this show featuring the Take That boys, in the days when they were boys.

Their longevity cannot be disputed. Indeed as I write this Gary’s album is at number three in the charts and Robbie tops it with Swings Both Ways. You may have also caught him recently on Radio 4’s Mastertapes series.   
When The Take That Christmas Take Away aired on Radio 1 on Christmas Day 1993 the band were at the height of their fame, first time round, and there’s plenty of joshing and good-natured banter. I know this programme is unlikely to appeal to my core readership but for fans of 90s pop here’s a rare chance to hear Take That as DJs for the day, complete with Smashie and Nicey-like impressions.  

As for the rest of the Christmas Day on Radio 1 you could hear Neale James from 4 a.m. followed by Lynn Parsons and Simon Mayo. After Take That there was Johnnie Walker and, who’d have believed it, some religious programming with God in the Flesh featuring the Late Late Service and a Whitney Houston gospel special presented by Simon Bates. The day rounded off with Peel’s Festive 50.  
On Radio 2 the line-up was Colin Berry, Roger Royle (of course), Don Maclean, Ken Bruce, Michael Aspel, The News Huddlines and Chas and Dave’s Christmas Knees Up.  You could also catch Alan Titchmarsh, David Jacobs, David Mellor (!) and Gloria Gaynor.

Radio 3’s main offering was a broadcast of The Barber of Seville live from the Met in New York.
Unlike other Radio 4 Christmas Day schedules that I’ve written about this year, 1993 actually has a day that isn’t packed with repeats. After the 7 a.m. news John Walter’s Xmas Fayre gave listeners two hours of ”mystery time zone guests, some literary consequences and radio’s first ever crossword of the air”, all live apparently.  It Was Christmas Day in the Empire recalled those festive radio relays across the nation and from far-flung places around the world that used to go out on Christmas Day in the 40s and 50s. Pick of the Week That Wasn’t had Father Christmas looking back at seasonal broadcasts “that might have been”. Comedy came in the shape of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, News Quiz of the Year, The Discreet Charm of the BBC and The Masterson Inheritance with Comedy Store alumni Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Jim Sweeney and Lee Simpson. The dramas were a new production of a Ben Travers farce, Turkey Time, and a repeat of The Taming of the Shrew starring Bob Peck and Cheryl Campbell. 

Finally on Radio 5 Cliff Morgan had an early morning seasonal miscellany of music, humour and verse whilst in the evening there was a serving of Cult Radio’s Christmas Extravaganza with Marc Riley and Mark Radcliffe.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Check Mate

News today that Radio 4 is to broadcast a short series on chess – a game that perhaps doesn’t easily lend itself to radio. But, as the press release notes, chess made regular appearances on the old Network Three between 1958 and 1964. Sure enough here’s a Radio Times billing from 24 October 1958.

Across the Board with Dominic Lawson can be heard from 30 December . There’ll be more about Network Three on my blog in January.  

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Christmas Punch – Benny Green

Today Benny Green recalls how professional musicians are suddenly in demand over the festive season, if only to play for the conga line!  

This programme was the first in a series titled Christmas Punch and aired on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Eve 1984.

There’s more from Benny on Radio 2 this coming Christmas as his son Leo presents stories and music from the Golden Age of Hollywood with archive interviews that Benny recorded in the  1970s as part of his research for the documentary series Hooray for Hollywood.
Leo Green on Hollywood is a 2-part series on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.   

Monday 16 December 2013

Christmas Punch – Alan Coren

It was Alan Coren that ensured the popularity and longevity of The News Quiz, his wit and humour coming to the fore even when he didn’t know the answer. His day job was as a columnist in numerous publications and, for twenty years, literary editor then editor of Punch.

In this short series from Christmas 1984 writers from Punch such as Hunter Davies, Simon Hoggart and Ray Hattersley examine the humorous side of Christmas. Here Alan Coren looks at some variations on time-honoured party games. This edition of Christmas Punch was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day. The producer is Jennie Campbell. Tomorrow: Benny Green.

Elsewhere on BBC radio that day it was rather a low-key affair on Radio 4 with loads of repeats: Stilgoe’s Around, Quote…Unquote, Round the Horne, The Prisoner of Zenda (starring Julian Glover, Nigel Stock and Hannah Gordon), and an adaptation of Saint Joan with Judi Dench and Michael Williams. Amongst the new stuff was a morning comedy slot, The Rest of the Day’s Your Own, with Brian Johnston, Martin Jarvis, Tony Slattery and Alison Steadman.

On Radio 2 you could wake up to Ray Moore and then Good Morning Christmas with Paul McDowell. Terry Wogan had his last seasonal show for a while, he would leave the station, first time round, the following week. There was a throwback to the days of the Light Programme when Jean Metcalfe presented Forces’ Favourites from 1 to 3 p.m.  (There had been a Family Favourites revival on Christmas Eve with husband Cliff). Wallowing in nostalgia throughout the day were Nanette Newman, Stubby Kaye and Hubert Gregg. Comedy was supplied by The Grumbleweeds, The News Huddlines and The Impressionists.

Radio 1 opened at 6 a.m. with Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin followed by Peter Powell, Simon Bates, Mike Read, Jonathan King, Bruno Brookes, Janice Long and John  Peel with his Festive 50.


Monday 9 December 2013

Trumpton Riots

Childhood memories will come flooding back with this celebration of the work of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin from Christmas Day 1995.

First a quick review of what else was on offer that day from the pages of the Radio Times.

On 1FM it was Chris Evans at breakfast, live one assumes, followed by Simon Mayo, Danny Baker, Wendy Lloyd and a Radio Tip Top Christmas special. The evening line-up included Peter Cunnah, D-Ream front man, reviewing the year’s dance music and a concert from Wet, Wet, Wet.

As was tradition for many years Roger Royle (he's back again this Christmas Day) was on Radio 2 before Don Maclean’s Good Morning Christmas. Daytime shows included Ken Bruce, Aled Jones and a Disney special. The late night DJ, sitting in for the holidaying Derek and Ellen Jameson, was Martin Kelner.

Radio 3 presenters doing the Christmas shift were Penny Gore, Paul Gambaccini, Piers Burton-Page and Susan Sharpe. Aside from classical music offerings there was a Dave Brubeck concert in celebration of his 75th birthday and Jeremy Nicholas spinning some old 78s in The Shellac Show.

The war in Bosnia had finally come to an end in December 1995 so Radio 5 Live had several shows live from the area with Sheena MacDonald and Liz Barclay. The station also had three different reviews of the year with Robin Lustig presenting Spotlight 95, Bill Hamilton presumably concentrating on the positive news only in Now the Good News and Sybil Ruscoe also in retrospective mood in the daily Ruscoe on Five.

Radio 4 was still providing the kind of music programme that have long since disappeared from its schedules: opening the day was Brian Kay and in the evening the BBC Singers gave us “music in a lighter vein”.  From 7 to 8.40 a.m. Russell Davies hosted Morning Cordial and during the day amongst the repeats were three new series: Walter’s Festive Frolics with John Walters, At Bertram’s Hotel, a Michael Bakewell  adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel starring June Whitfield and Trumpton Riots. Comedy came from The Masterson Inheritance, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and News Quiz of the Year with Barry Took in the chair.

Commercial radio listings for Christmas Day 1995

But back to the world of the Graculus, Professor Yaffle, Blue String and magic bean plants in the first programme in a five-part series paying tribute to children’s TV of the 70s (in fact the 60s and 70s), Trumpton Riots. In episode 1, Nogs, Togs and Clangers, Brian Cant remembers the creations of Postgate and Firmin’s Smallfilms outfit: Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, The Clangers and Pogle’s Wood.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Project Santa Claus

 It’s back to 1986 for this dip into the Christmas Day archives, the first in a short series of seasonal posts.

Flicking through the Christmas edition of the Radio Times - no special artwork on the cover just an EastEnders, it was the year of that Den and Angie episode –  BBC radio offered very traditional fare, with the highlight of the day being a 30 year-old repeat.

On Radio 1 there was a throwback to the days when Leslie Crowther and Ed Stewart used to trek round children’s wards with Peter Powell, Janice Long and Simon Mayo broadcasting from hospitals around the UK. It was pretty much a first team line-up during the day with Bates, Read, Mayo, and Brookes with the day rounding off with P and V’s Christmas Party (The Ranking Miss P and Robbie Vincent).   

Radio 2’s morning included Roger Royle with Good Morning, Christmas and Ken Bruce. There was comedy of the end-of the-pier variety with The Christmas Huddlines and Ken Dodd’s Christmas Cracker. Terry Wogan may have been in his BBC1 chat show period but didn’t entirely abandon radio as he popped up between 1 and 3 p.m. You’ll have nodded off post-lunch with this line-up: In with the Old! (a musical comedy starring Evelyn Laye, Elisabeth Welch, Dora Bryan, Maxine Audley and Richard Murdoch), Gerald Harper as DJ in My Favourite Things, Sing Something Seasonal and A Celebration of Christmas with Roy Castle, Cliff Richard, Dana, Mary O’Hara and Alvin Stardust.

Radio 3’s day including a live concert from Amsterdam, simulcast on BBC2, with Tony Scotland introducing the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink.

Radio 4 was living in the past that year. In the morning we had the Vintage Archers with the Archer family sharing memories and events from the last 35 years.  That 30 year old highlight was The Goon Show edition Operation Christmas Duff, originally broadcast on the General Overseas Service in 1956 but never heard on domestic radio until 1986. There was a 27-year old repeat in the evening with the start of a re-run of Paul Temple and the Conrad Case.  In fact there was a whole stack of drama to enjoy: part one of John Tydeman’s adaptation of Emma, Rattigan’s French Without Tears, Murder for Christmas was The Nine Tailors starring Gary Bond as gentleman sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey and a binaural production of Jenny Hursell’s A Winter’s Tale.

Tucked away at 23.30 was Project Santa Claus, an early Punt and Dennis collaboration with Steve providing the script and Hugh doing some of the voices. In fact it was almost a Week Ending spin-off. At the time Steve was writing for the programme, added to which Ending regulars David Tate and Sally Grace (she gets to do her Thatcher impersonation) were in the cast and David Tyler was the producer. You’ll recognise some of the musical cues too.

Project Santa Claus starred Tony Slattery as Michael Downhill, Joan Sims as Beryl Downhill, David Tate as Mr Claygate, Hugh Dennis as James and Richard O’Brien as Ambridge.

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