Sunday, 13 December 2009

Rediscovered Recordings: Bob Danvers Walker on Housewives Choice

I’ve always had a passion for nostalgia and one of my favourite pastimes is listening to recordings of old radio shows from the 1950s and 1960s.

I am therefore grateful to Mark Robinson, an acquaintance who recently drew my attention to a rare recording he had acquired of Housewives Choice, that flagship request show that dominated the BBC Light Programme on weekdays from 1946 to 1967.

Its distinctive theme music In a Party Mood by Jack Strachey heralded the arrival of many guest presenters from Neal Arden, and Sam Costa to George Erick and Bob Danvers Walker.

Bob’s rich distinctive voice was familiar to many cinema goers as the commentator for the twice-weekly British Pathe newsreel, as well as announcer on Michael Miles' popular television game show Take Your Pick.

On this particular recording, which I’m suspecting might have been recorded around Easter, 1958, we find Bob reading dedications and playing popular tunes of the day including Freight Train by Nancy Whisky and Chas McDermott, They Say It’s Wonderful by Liberace and King of Dixieland by Dickie Valentine.

A news report in the middle of the programme, reveals that The Prime Minister, Mr Harold MacMillan is set to meet the Canadian Prime Minister Mr Diefenbaker in Ottawa after a visit to the United States in June and that Mr Khrushchev’s latest letter to the Prime Minister calls on Britain to follow Russia in calling for a suspension to nuclear tests.

The programme ends with Easter Hymn performed by Elena Mikoli Monaco hinting at the time of year the show was possibly recorded, followed by a resurrection themed edition of Five to Ten.

This is followed by the opening moments of a programme featuring Lionel Falkman and his Apache band. Falkman originally hailed from Abertillery and formed a symphony orchestra in Cardiff which would rule radio airwaves via appearances on another Light Programme favourite 'Music While You Work for nearly 23 years.

If you can pinpoint when this recording was originally broadcast I would be delighted to hear from you.

Tracks on the recording
1. Nancy Whisky – Freight Train
2. Diana Todd – Its Wonderful to Be loved
3. Dean Martin - Good Morning Life
4. Petula Clark – Love Me Again5. Russ Conway (Cut)
6. Sydney Chaplin / Judy Holliday – Just in Time (From Bells Are Ringing)
7. Liberace – They Say Its Wonderful (Cut)
8. Undefined.
9. Ray Antony – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
10. Frankie Vaughan – Can’t Get Along Without You (Cut)
11. Miriam Workman – An Affair To Remember
12. Anton Cary’s - Harry Lime Theme
13. Dickie Valentine – King Of Dixieland
14. Dinah Shore – Buttons and Boes (Cut)
15. OST - Let The Grass Grow Under Your Feet (From Free as Air)
16. Elena Mikoli Monaco, Arno Protti - Easter Hymn
17. Housewives Choice – Closing Theme

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