Web Page No 2492
14th July 2018
1st Picture Jessie Matthews (with her arm in a sling) with Noel Dyson in 1963 in Mrs Dale's Diary.
2nd Picture Jessie Matthews in later life.
3rd Picture Jessie Matthews and Charles Simon, Mrs and Doctor Dale
4th Picture Recording the programme
Mrs Dale's Diary:
My mother and grandmother were avid listeners to this Radio programme and everything in the house stopped for that quarter of an hour so they could listen.
This was the first significant radio serial which began on 5th January 1948 and ended 21 years later on 25th April 1969 after 5,431 episodes. There was an outcry at the time, with Liberal MP Peter Bessell attempting to introduce a Parliamentary Bill to grant a reprieve to the programme, which was famous for Mrs Dale's catchphrase "I'm rather worried about Jim", her words about her fictional doctor husband.
The most famous Mrs Mary Dale was Jessie Matthews, who took over from Ellis Powell in 1963, a year after the show was re-named The Dales. Her GP husband was most famously played by Charles Simon, who died aged 93 in 2002.
Such was the popularity of the series that Charles Simon found himself treated as a star. "For six years," he recalled, "I could hardly open a paper without seeing my name and face." He was besieged by fan mail, and listeners would regularly write asking him for prescriptions. On one occasion, when his character complained of a slight cold, more than 100 bottles of cough mixture were delivered to BBC Broadcasting House.
Jessie Matthews, however was buried an unmarked grave in 1981. Her had a career had flagged after the end of the programme and she never hit the headlines again. More than 20 years later, she was recoginsed as a unique British talent and was celebrated in a West End show called The Jessie Matthews Story.
She was one of 16 children of a Soho stall-holder and first took to the stage as a child dancer at the age of 12 and was a star in the Thirties with stage and screen versions of the review Evergreen.
She was no goody two-shoes and she stretched her professional rivalry with Evelyn Laye as far as running off with her husband Sonnie Hale. She later married him, and the two dueted, perhaps insensitively, on Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love.
Her career then foundered after a series of nervous breakdowns, but she came back in the Sixties and recorded no fewer than 1,500 episodes of Mrs Dale's Diary.
The show struck a chord with the public because it was an accurate account of daily life during post-war recovery and reconstruction. The Dales lived at Virginia Lodge in the Middlesex suburb of Parkwood Hill and The Queen Mother was reported as saying this about the programme: 'It is the only way of knowing what goes on in a middle-class family." They had a son called Bob played by Nicholas Parsons, Hugh Latimer, Derek Hart, and by Leslie Heritage for nearly twenty years. and a daughter called Gwen who was successively Virginia Hewitt, Joan Newell, Beryl Calder and (for many years) Aline Waites. Bob was married to Jenny and they had twins. Gwen was married to her, not always faithful, husband David who was Jenny's brother but was eventually left a widow when David was killed water skiing in the
The title character was a nice middle-class doctor's wife, Mary, and her husband Jim who lived at Virginia Lodge in the Middlesex suburb of Parkwood Hill. Bahamas whilst holidaying with his rich mistress. Derek Nimmo was brought in at this time to play Jago Peters a boyfriend for Gwen.
Mrs. Dale's sophisticated sister, Sally, (always pronounced "Selly") lived in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, and ran a dress shop and also had a country cottage with a housekeeper called Zenobia.
There was also a char lady called Mrs. Morgan (played by Grace Allardyce) who subsequently married Mr. Maggs (played by Jack Howarth).
The neighbour across the road, the grumpy Mrs Mountford (played by Vivienne Chatterton) had a nervous companion called Miss Marchbanks and a parrot called Coco along with a liking for chocolate cake.
An occasional character was Mrs. Leathers who was a Cockney and rather common (played by Hattie Jaques). Mrs. Freeman (or Mother-in-Law as Dr. Dale always used to call her) had a cat named Captain (always pronounced "Kepton").
The milkman was played by Michael Harding.
Eventually the stories were relocated to a town called Exton and the cast had to roughen up the famous cut glass vowels and become a different kind of family. Gwen became a mature student and the characters started to have a social conscience.
The final episode, in 1969, featured Gwen's engagement to a glamorous TV professor played by John Justin and the final line of the last episode was "I shall always worry about Jim... " but who could forget Marie Goossens' amazing harp introduction to the programme?
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News and Views:
On this day 14th July 1960-1965.
On 14/07/1960 the number one single was Good Timin' - Jimmy Jones and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (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.
On 14/07/1961 the number one single was Runaway - Del Shannon and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Harpers West One (ATV) 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 14/07/1962 the number one single was I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia.
On 14/07/1963 the number one single was I Like It - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) 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 of the day was UK Ministry of Defence proposed.
14/07/1964 the number one single was It's All Over Now - Rolling Stones and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) 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 14/07/1965 the number one single was Crying in the Chapel - Elvis Presley and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. 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 day was Mont Blanc Tunnel officially opened.