Broadcasting House is 75 years old this week.
The official opening of the second greatest building in the world (after BBC Television Centre) was marked in suitable imperial fashion: a live performance by the legendary Henry Hall and the newly-formed BBC Dance Orchestra. Hall was, of course, a toe-tapper of trenchant form and became as much a fixture in the nation’s front rooms and parlours as the likes of Brucie many decades later.
He merits most acclaim, though, for penning a special song about and for no less an institution than the Radio Times. His whimsical ode was published within the magazine’s Christmas edition of 1934, “written clearly enough for you to play it on your piano”.
Incredibly, RT then had a circulation of over five million. Equally shamelessly, the song was played almost non-stop on all the BBC’s stations throughout the festive period. What Gill Hudson and Alison Graham wouldn’t give for that kind of generous promotion nowadays. What they wouldn’t give for any kind of promotion, for that matter.
The lyrics to the song don’t seem to be online anywhere, which is a pity. Instead, by way of a salute to Henry Hall’s tireless support for the BBC, and to the sublime Broadcasting House itself, here’s a photo taken on 16th April 1980, when a gaggle of Radio 1 DJs pushed Jimmy Savile in a bed all the way from Portland Place to Park Lane to raise money for some charity or other. The entire endeavour was clearly organised by that bespectacled gentleman on the far left. Although in retrospect this may be wishful thinking.
In the meantime, what chance the next series of Strictly Come Dancing elicits a spin-off single performed by Bruce Forsyth And The BBC Dance Orchestra?