Following last year's celebration of the golden age of British dance bands, Brian Matthew charts the rise and fall of the BBC Dance Orchestra and profiles two very different leaders - Jack Payne and Henry Hall.
In Britain, the shifting of dance music from the ballroom to the radio studio began with the institution of the BBC Dance Orchestra, playing under the leadership of Jack Payne from 1928, and then, Henry Hall. Brian looks at the bandleaders, their particular attributes and foibles, and their musical achievements. This programme draws on archive recordings; the written memoirs of Payne, Hall and Sir John Reith; the newspaper pundits of the day; and the thoughts of current BBC Big Band maestro, Barry Forgie.
We hear how the two leaders' styles differed and listen-in to a live music broadcast - complete with acrobatics! Henry Hall's famous microphone technique is examined, as he introduces Johnny Mercer to the British public; and we find out how he learnt from Sir John Reith that the band was no longer wanted. The singer and Coronation Street actress Betty Driver also shares memories of touring with Henry's post-BBC orchestra.