Dateline March 2002

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"Journal Into Melody’s" own Gossip Column

In JIM 148 (page 75) Paul Clatworthy gave a warm welcome to the Vic Lewis CD "With Love to Gerry". We are very pleased to report that this album has been nominated for a Grammy in the Small Group section, and send our warmest congratulations to Vic who is, of course, a member of our Society.

?Sometimes insomniacs hear better music on the radio than those of us who like to be tucked up before 11.00pm. Sunil Hiranandani enjoys record programmes introduced by Keith Skues, who broadcasts from the East Anglia region of England. Every night at 20 minutes past midnight he plays 20 minutes of music by one particular artist, and Robert Farnon was featured last October 20th. Sunil tells us that Keith has also had Bob as his ‘orchestra of the week’. Until 2000 Keith Skues was a Squadron Leader in the RAF Reserves. He is a Freeman of the City of London, and was in the film "Sunday, Bloody Sunday". His nickname is ‘cardboard shoes’, from his days at the British Forces Broadcasting Service when he was supposed to be anonymous. He was about to say his name when the management came in, so that was the soubriquet he chose. Among his other achievements, Keith has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

?Ray Clark has been checking out some new Videos and DVDs which might be of interest to readers. From 1959 until well into the 1980s the Central Office of Information produced a series of short Public Information Films designed to inform and amuse us all. Do you remember Charley, the safety-conscious ginger moggy? He’s here again in Volume 1 (catalogue number 7951095) of a collection of 73 animated classics released by Network Video. Volume 2 (cat. No. 7951109) comes from the same source, but features live action with many famous personalities of the 1970s – even the Dad’s Army platoon! These videos cost £10.99 each, and can be ordered through any MVC Entertainment video shop, or direct from: Network Video, 3 Wells Place, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 3DR – telephone 01737 646725. (Both videos are also issued together on one DVD for £14.99 – 7952095). There are also two new releases in the ‘Yesterday’s Britain’ series. "A Tonic To The Nation" (YB26) contains three films commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951. "Aspects of London Transport" (YB27) also features shorts form the 1950s. These two videos are available from: The Signal Box, 1 Albion Street, Anstey, Leicester, LE7 7DD.

?As we mentioned briefly in our last issue, Desmond Carrington celebrated 20 years of his BBC Radio-2 "All Time Greats" programme last October. To mark the event, Graham Clarke produced an etching called "The Cat’s Whiskers" showing Desmond and his producer David Aylott broadcasting in the studio at Desmond’s Scottish home, surrounded by a wonderful collection of artefacts, including a tin of Columbia Loud Tone steel needles! Jumping Bean was honoured and delighted to receive one of the cards reproducing the etching, with a friendly greeting inside from Desmond and David. Sunil Hiranandani reminds us of an interview that Desmond gave last year to Mike Alexander of the Radio Magazine: "Six years ago I moved to Scotland, and would regularly take my own equipment into a tiny studio at BBC Edinburgh to do the show with a producer coming up from London. In 1995 Radio-2 decided to advertise their first batch of independent productions; six months later I was the successful bidder for the ‘All Time Greats’ contract." Desmond went on to explain that the first shows were done in the front room at his house, while a special studio was being built in the barn. Today his shows reach a world-wide audience, via the Internet, and there is a webcam showing him actually broadcasting.

?We have previously mentioned famous musicians who achieve success in several different spheres of show business. Alan Watts wishes to add Frank De Vol to the list, after seeing the sleeve notes of his Italian Romance LP. It seems that Frank definitely qualifies as singer / arranger / composer / actor / comedian, mainly through his reputation for comedy on the Rosemary Clooney TV show. He also acted the funny man with Dinah Shore and George Gobel.

?Last autumn David Mellor devoted his 2-hour Sunday show on Classic FM to Light Music on two occasions, after a very positive response to the first ‘toe in the water’ exercise in September. First time round he concentrated mainly on Ronald Corp’s Hyperion CDs, but in his follow-up programme he cast the net much wider. It does seem that Light Music is gradually becoming more acceptable to broadcasters, even though we still get the impression that it is included in schedules rather grudgingly. The big problem in Britain centres around Radio-2. It is clear that the BBC no longer regards this service as a middle-of-the road station, so maybe we should be trying to persuade them to start up Radio-6. This could cater for the many millions of 50-plus listeners who no longer have a national network which plays the kind of music they would like to hear. We know that many in this category no longer bother to switch on, except for very occasional evening and weekend shows. The BBC must be reminded that it is a public service broadcaster. It has a duty to provide radio which is not available from other sources. There are numerous ‘Radio-2 sound-alikes’ being broadcast all over the place by the commercial stations, and even the BBC’s own local radio services seem to be in competition with Radio-2.

?Apart from Robert Farnon, another famous composer who made his home in the Channel Islands was Eric Spear. Sunil Hiranandani reminds us that he wrote the ‘Coronation Street’ theme, although before that he had composed the music for the early BBC TV soap ‘The Grove Family’. Why was the name chosen? Well, the programmes came live from the BBC’s Lime Grove studios in London.

?We all know that Arthur Wood composed Barwick Green, which has gained musical immortality through its use as the signature tune for BBC Radio’s "The Archers". But did you know that Arthur had an actress daughter? Thanks to Sunil Hiranandani, we can reveal that she is Peggy Ann Wood, who played the much put-upon Vera Poling in Simon Brett’s "After Henry".

?Other snippets from Sunil tell us that the composer of the 1958 hit "It’s All In The Game" eventually went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize (not for that song, we hasten to add!). His name: Charles Gates Dawes, and he wrote the song while still a student.

?Here are some more British Transport videos advised to us by Ray Clark. Volume 6 "Famous Friends" (BFIV116) includes classics such as John Betjeman Goes by Train, Journey Into History andThe England of Elizabeth plus 4 more. Volume 7 "Civil Engineering 1" (BFIV117) features Under the River, Making Tracks, Operation London Bridge and 3 others.

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