Web Page 1044
Top Picture: Victor Sylvester
Second Picture: Gang Show Scouts in the late 1950’s
Things gone by
Whilst thinking back the other day several odd thoughts and names came to mind. Names and events from our younger days, names and things we do not hear of any more.
To start with from the good old days of Victor Sylvester and Come Dancing do you remember the Frank and Peggy Spencer Formation Dancing Team? They always seemed to be appearing on the show. For years I thought that Frank and Peggy were a husband and wife team but actually they were actually brother and sister in law. Whose home territory was the Royston Ballroom in Penge.
Another name that came to mind was Tom Arnold. He was know in the entertainment world at the pantomime king but I will remember him for his fantastic ice shows at the Haringey Ice Rink. As far as I can remember I was only taken to the Ice Show once back in 1951 but for years afterwards my parents would receive free ticket through the post every December, I know not why.
No Bank Holiday was complete without Disney Time for the kids at 5.00pm and later in the evening a Whitehall farce with Brian Rix. Sir, (later Lord) Brian Rix was the actor-manager who produced and acted in farces at the Whitehall Theatre and also appeared in farce on TV and in films. Much of his work from the Whitehall Theatre also feature two other well known actors of the time Larry Noble amd Leo Franklin. After his retirement Brian Rix became much involved in charitable works. He married Elspet Gray in 1947 and it is a partnership that still survives.
Anyone involved with Scouting or Guiding will remember the name of Ralph Reader. This ex USAF wartime flyer after a show business career in the USA returned to the UK where he choreographed dance routines in West End Shows and staged big events at the Royal Albert Hall. Became well known for producing 'The Gang Show', the annual Boy Scouts shows for which he wrote many of the songs, while continuing to stage other productions. He died in 1982
Ronnie Ronalde was a famed whistler from the days of music hall who first broadcast in 1947 on radio's 'Variety Bandbox' and also in 'The Voice Of Variety'. He made many records which sold well. 'In A Monastery Garden' was his most popular tune and also remarkable for his bird whistles and he was a regular performer on Workers Playtime on the Light Programme.
Having mentioned Workers Playtime what do you know or remember about it? The programme began before we were born on May 31st. 1941. It was a revolutionary new show and was meticulously planned and organised but no-one was to know where it was to be broadcast from or who was appearing in it. It was secret and it was always broadcast live. It was actually a simple comedy and music programme and it became part life in England from the days of the Blitz right up until the mid 1960’s. It was one of the very first touring variety shows on the BBC and was scheduled to run for 6 weeks but went on broadcasting for 23 years. It was one of the longest running radio shows in history.
It started out on the BBC Home Service and was broadcast live from a factory canteen "Somewhere in Britain". It had the support of the Government with the Ministry of Labour choosing which factory canteens the show would visit.
Throughout the War the Minister of Labour and National Service, would appear on these shows from time to time to congratulate the workers. When the War ended it was realised that the show had worked and it was agreed that Worker's Playtime would continue to raise the morale of the workers, whilst the Government rebuilt Britain and the British economy. The BBCwere very happy to continue with a show which had proved a national success even if it did mean moving the technical crew, cable, microphones, two pianos, a producer, two pianists and a troupe of variety artists and musians up and down the country three times a week. On 1st. October 1957 the programme switched to the Light Programme. For all 23 years of its existence, the producer was Bill Gates and he would always finish each programme by wishing "Good Luck All Workers!".
Many famous variety and comedy artists appeared over the years such as Charlie Chester, Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd, Ann Shelton, Betty Driver, Eve Boswell, Dorothy Squires, Julie Andrews, Morecambe and Wise, Peter (the voice of them all) Cavanagh, Janet Brown, Bob Monkhouse, Peter Goodwright, Percy Edwards, Ken Dodd, Ken Platt, Cyril (odd ode coming up) Fletcher, Elsie and Doris Waters and many, many more. The programme became an institution and a way of life.
Ah well more memories from the past!
Stay in touch,
I REMEMBER THE CHEESE OF MY CHILDHOOD
And the bread that we cut with a knife, When the children helped with the housework, And the men went to work not the wife.
The cheese never needed a fridge, And bread was so crusty and hot, The children were seldom unhappy And the wife was content with her lot.
I remember the milk from the Billy, With the yummy cream on the top, Our dinner came hot from the oven, And not from the fridge; in the shop.
The kids were a lot more contented, they didn't need money for kicks, just a game with our mates in the paddock, And sometimes the Saturday flicks.
I remember the shop on the corner, Where a pen'orth of lollies was sold Do you think I'm a bit too nostalgic? Or is it....I'm just getting old?
I remember when the ‘loo’ was the ‘ dunny’, And the pan man came in the night, It wasn't the least bit funny
Going out the back with no light. The interesting items we perused, From the newspapers cut into squares,
And hung on a peg in the outhouse,
It took little to keep us amused.
The clothes were boiled in the copper,
With plenty of rich foamy suds
But the ironing seemed never ending As Mum pressed everyone's ‘duds’.
I remember the slap on my backside,
And the taste of soap if I swore
Anorexia and diets weren't heard of
And we hadn't much choice what we wore.
Do you think that bruised our ego?
Or our initiative was destroyed
We ate what was put on the table
And I think our life was better enjoyed.
News and Views:
Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb died on the 20th May following a lengthy battle with cancer.In a statement, Gibb's family said they were announcing his death with "great sadness".He had undergone intestinal surgery, notched up dozens of hits with brothers Maurice and Barry - as performers and writers - and sold more than 200 million records.
On this day 26th May 1960-1965
On 26/05/1960 the number one single was Cathy's Clown - Everly Brothers and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Wagon Train (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Stirling Moss wins Monaco Grand Prix.
On 25/05/1961 the number one single was You're Driving Me Crazy - The Temperance Seven and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 25/05/1962 the number one single was Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 25/05/1963 the number one single was From Me To You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show of the week was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story was Manchester Utd had won FA Cup.
On 25/05/1964 the number one single was Juliet - Four Pennies and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 25/05/1965 the number one single was Where Are You Now (My Love) - Jackie Trent and the number one album was Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the week was Muhammed Ali floors Sonny Liston