As he prepares to perform operetta for the first time, comedian and entertainer Bernie Clifton explores the impact of Austrian Tenor Richard Tauber, the man who inspired him to return to the stage as a singer.
Bernie Clifton began his career singing with a dance band before cutting his teeth as a comedian on the northern club circuit. Famous for riding an ostrich and other outrageous props, Clifton became a regular face on television in the 70's and 80's, appearing on The Lulu Show, The Good Old Days and presenting Crackerjack.
A few years ago Clifton toyed with the idea of returning to the stage as a serious singer and, although his roots lay in Dance Band music, it was rediscovering the voice of Richard Tauber that inspired a new passion in him to perform operetta.
Tauber, acclaimed as one of the greatest singers of the 20th century was a favourite in the Clifton family home and the young Bernie was regularly exposed to his music. As the decades passed by, Tauber's songs including the classics 'My Heart and I' and 'You Are My Heart's Desire' were almost forgotten until Clifton purchased an album of recordings. One atmospheric night he relived them and they revived some wonderful memories and motivated a new career ambition.
In this programme we join Clifton preparing for a special evening of Viennese music where he'll perform songs before an audience in the Tauber style with The National Concert Orchestra.
He trains his voice at the Royal Northern College of Music under the tutorship of the celebrated tenor David Maxwell Anderson, visits Tauber landmarks in London and meets Tauber enthusiast Bernard Keeffe, the Chairman of the Anglo-Austrian Music Society.
Throughout, Clifton reflects on his own career and explores the more interesting aspects of the life of the Austrian singer. Much-admired Lancashire tenor Jon Christos is also on hand with music recordings to illustrate the uniqueness of the Tauber voice and his effect on 21st Century performers.
As the journey concludes we discover if Bernie Clifton has got what it takes to perform without laughter as he takes to the stage as a serious singer of operetta.
Produced by Stephen Garner