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Still one of the most underrated singers of the age was Mel Torme 'The Velvet Fog ' as he was known. When he came to Hertford Street to be interviewed, the receptionist put him in the waiting room and forgot about him. Half an hour later, wondering if he was a no-show, we finally discovered him in the gloomy room where apparently he had been engrossed in Country Life. Mr. Torme was a really nice guy. All of these live musical shows that had to fill the needle time space were in addition to the normal Luxembourg DJ shows with Peter Murray, Jack Jackson, Alan Freeman, Sam Costa, Beryl Reid, Dickie Murdoch, Charles (Bud) Tingwell, Eric Winstone's Butlins kid's shows and many more. We had a one hour listener's request programme every evening and people were invited to write in with a request. Often none arrived - one of the reasons being people addressed their letter to Radio Luxembourg c/o BBC London. The BBC used to save this mail until a sack was full then return it to the GPO with a note 'Not known at this address' . Thus it was apparent that at least someone at the beeb had a sense of humour! It's probably not hot news by now, but sackfuls of these request items were later 'sold' to the cheaper football pool companies. Horace Bachelor was a famous Luxembourg name. His 'Infra-draw' method promised football pool success and his producer George Harman and I were convinced there must be something in his method as he regularly won dividends himself every week. Horace did his own voice over adverts. His winning lines were always on cheaper pools (farthing a line) and often his permutation investments exceeded his winnings. But, he could always say, truthfully, 'last week I won two first dividends and six second dividends' Vivian Gale, our very posh sound technician once gave Horace the name of his (Harley Street) dentist as Horace emitted a whistle on certain words. Horace merely boarded his waiting chauffeured Rolls Royce with a smile. The music shows were a Godsend, the variance of the sound mixing bonanza was invaluable. The Ted Heath Shows achieved something of a record. One hundred and fifty-six programmes sponsored by Gillette, ran continuously for three years. We used to record three at a time in Wandsworth Town Hall between 0930 and 1300. Dennis Lotus, Bobby Britton and Lita Roza usually did one song per show. Our recording schedule was crippling, traversing the country every weekend besides working the studios throughout the week... Not much spare time at Radio Luxembourg, 75-hour weeks were common. No overtime was payable, but what terrific experience. We had a sound crew of five, of which (by 1958) I was the Chief Engineer! This title could not be more of a joke as my technical knowledge was (and still is) dire. Often technical letters came from listeners requesting information concerning reception criteria etc. I was totally unable to handle this. I often buried these letters in the Request Programme sacks. However (to the management's delight) one of the first things I ordained was that all tapes would be recorded at 15 ips thereby cutting air-freight charges by half. All programmes were assigned a 'producer'. They booked artistes, oversaw scripts, shaped the look of the show to fit in commercials, attended the recording session before editing the final show preceding despatch to Luxembourg; a busy job, to say the least. Today, an office of several people would be formulated to cover that workload. Some names spring to mind; Adam Leys left early on to write. Peter Pritchett-Brown left to become transmission controller at an ITV station. Tom Masson returned to the BBC. Tom was producer on the Winifred Atwell series and after a lengthy edit session he retired to his checking room (After a brief visit to the local). Whilst listening to a final playback to ensure the tape was ready for transmission, he fell asleep. The cleaners found him the following morning, still a slumber. The tape reel was still going round and round but the tape had completely disintegrated and the air in the small checking room contained thousands of small particles of floating tape. Even Tom had an inch layer on his inert body. Tom recovered and went sick. The show was lost for all time and another show was compiled from the others in the series and no great harm was done. Winnie never knew. Her manager/husband Lew Levensen rarely allowed Winnie to waste time listening to the radio. They were on the road too much. We did the first Winifred Atwell Show at the Kursaal Ballroom, Southend. Lew had 'found' a new star and he was to have his first broadcast that night. It was Matt Monroe. I believe Lew got him a job on the buses for a short time so he could reveal him as 'the singing bus conductor'. After the show, Lew asked Sam Cartmer, who mixed the show, how to get to the railway station. Sam replied; 'Don't know Lew, why not ask your ****** singing bus conductor'? Sam didn't last too long after that and I got to mix the remainder of the series. Joy Sharpen, another Luxembourg producer left to become a freelance music producer. Of Peter Fox, I know not what happened. Amongst other shows, George Harmon produced the Horace Bachelor commercials. George and I were convinced that Horace had a secret method of winning the pools. One day, we plucked up the courage and naively asked Horace for the formula. He replied 'Just send two pounds to Horace Bachelor at Keynsham, Bristol . . . . .' which was, of course, his commercial blurb. George left to open a successful florist business. Colin Street on was probably the most successful Luxembourg producer, both at the station and his afterlife. Tall, dark and handsome, his persona was a ready smile and charming manner. Later, he was to leave and open his own production company. I remember doing the sound for him (when freelance) on a documentary for the Post Office. The secret of Colin's success was his ability to know everybody's job without letting on. In 1957, a high pitched whistle blocked English transmissions for three weeks. This nearly crippled the London arm of the station financially. It was discovered that the whistle was transmitted from Eastern Europe and that the Russians were responsible. It appeared that they had taken umbrage to a (rare) classical music programme hosted by Godfrey Winn. A brilliant wartime broadcaster, Godfrey lost the tips of several fingers on a convoy to Murmansk in the 2nd world war. Apparently, on hearing a massive explosion in the middle of the night, he dashed up on deck to see a tanker on fire having been torpedoed. Regretfully, he forgot to don gloves and touched the freezing cold handrails of the ship. Often, while commenting on classical performers he would make derogatory remarks about the Soviet Regime. Only after considerable high-level communications with the Russian Embassy did the blocking finally stop. We went very political correct from then onwards. II remember mixing a DJ show with a young, cheekie chap named Gus Goodwin. The programme was sponsored by a tobacco company and Gus had made three or four stinging references to cancer sticks. The producer (Jack Harris) didn't pick these remarks up, he was probably dreaming of the honeymoon he was soon to embark on. I prodded Jack saying 'Can he say cancer sticks Jack'? - Jack went berserk, dashing into the studio mid-announcement, shouting abuse to a very astonished Gus Goodwin. Jack Harris was a studious man, slight build, balding and probably ex-BBC. When he first appeared with his new girl friend we were all astounded. She was an absolutely stunning Swedish beauty. We looked at Jack in a new light from then. One evening I was editing in Studio A with Dickie Dawson, a radio producer with big ideas. The front door bell rang and Dickie said 'Oh it's probably my missus' I went to open the door and standing there was Diana Dors. Wow! Later, we went over to the pub in Shepherds Market where Diana had conversations with some of the 'ladies of the night' Diana was a charming, easy going, gorgeous lady with absolutely no side. In 1959 the advent of legal commercial radio was looming. I felt that Radio Luxembourg 's days were numbered. Driving around the country every weekend was getting tedious. One day, Hughie Green promised to get me sacked because I didn't turn the house PA up high enough. Explaining that a different company did the Public Address installation cut no ice. Hughie was not a bundle of fun. The Hughie Green radio quiz programmes were recorded at various locations all over the country. After an overnight in a local hotel we would set up the gear before lunch. Later (as previously briefly touched on) Hughie and his manager would check the dressing room and the layout of the stage. During this walk-through, Hughie would whisper into the microphone ‘Can You Hear Me?' to his manager in the auditorium. The manager usually replied ‘No, I can't' - Hughie would then make one of his faces before insisting the public address system be turned higher. It was superfluous my asking how his manager could reply to a question he hadn't heard! We invariably used local firms to supply and operate the PA, a concept that Mr. Green seemed unable to grasp. He was an extremely grumpy person although he always cheered up when selecting his girl hostesses for each programme series. It was apparent that radio broadcasting talent was not high on his list of qualifications. My young colleague, Colin Eldred, also suffered the slings and arrows of Hughie Green and his tiresome tirades Colin was at Luxembourg before my arrival and stayed long after I had left. He later joined ANGLIA TELEVISION as a very successful TV Director. Boredom was creeping in - time to move on. I applied for a sound job at Associated Television. Eventually being interviewed by Head of Sound, Ray McCabe, (probably the coolest sound mixer I have ever known) he said he'd be in touch. Four weeks later I was staring at Primo Scala and his Accordion band through the control room window of Studio A, the microphones in the studio were sticking up like Triffids amidst the fifteen accordions in full gallop. Suddenly, the phone rang, I muted the loudspeakers and Ray McCabe's secretary (Barbara Williams) asked me if I could start as soon as possible. Six years and four promotions later, I was a Senior Sound Director at ATV, the finest television production company in the world. Never generous with praise, I think that dad was finally proud of me. I had badly misjudged the demise of Radio Luxembourg by many, many years. But, I am still pleased I made the break into television sound when I did.

ATV Memories

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