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Val Doonican Music Show, The

McGinty's goat not pictured Some of his best friends

Genial, Irish besweatered rocking chair maestro fronted this never-changing pleaser from “the BBC Television Theatre” for pretty much a quarter of a century. Some guests seemingly showed up every week: John Denver, Elaine “Two Ronnies” Paige, horrible 70s supergroup Sky (them of ‘Toccata’) and The Geoff Love Orchestra (‘Up, Up And Away’). Harmless, well-tailored and well-kept entertainment, always discharged with quiet professionalism by the man himself. Christmas Eve specials genuinely fondly remembered by many. Extra bonus points for releasing an album called Val Doonican Rocks…But Gently.



  1. Arthur Nibble

    July 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Let’s see, last week he sang the one about Riley pushing the donkey, so tonight it must be “Rafferty’s Motor Car”.

  2. Kevin

    August 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Val-fucking-Doonican was a blight on the teatime schedules on Saturdays. Who is the name of Christ thought this was what people wanted to watch in 1985?

  3. Glenn Aylett

    November 11, 2022 at 8:18 pm

    Val Doonican was very popular to the point nearly half the population watched his shows in the seventies. Children loved his novelty songs like O Rafferty’s Motor Car, parents and grandparents enjoyed his more mature songs like Walk Tall, and the standard of guests was always good. Little remembered now, but in the late seventies Val helped promote the British country singer Crystal Gayle, who was briefly popular in the late seventies and did quite well in America.

  4. Richardpd

    November 11, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    According to the Wikipedia Crystal Gayle was born in Kentucky, maybe she spent some over hear before she was famous.

    • George White

      November 12, 2022 at 9:29 am

      She’s Loretta Lynn’s baby sister.
      About as British as her sister.

  5. Sidney Balmoral James

    November 12, 2022 at 8:42 am

    Not sure quite fair to call Sky ‘horrible’, given the musical pedigree (top-notch classical performers like John Williams – the top classical guitarist of his generation – Tristan Fry, and some heavy-weight rock talent like Herbie Flowers, Francis Monkman), but certainly a bit of oddity in late 70s – antiseptic, rocked-up versions of classical music, a good ten years after the Nice, Lovesculpture etc. did it with real flair. Perhaps epitome of middle-aged, middle-class dinner party prog-lite – I’d also put Vangelis in this category (who had of course begun with proper prog in Aphrodite’s Child). I remember my parents watching a Sky concert from Westminster Abbey which the BBC televised in 1981 .

    • David Smith

      November 15, 2022 at 6:56 pm

      I once purchased a Sky LP by mistake (shades of Withnail and I), under the erroneous belief that their John Williams was the movie soundtracks bloke.

  6. Glenn Aylett

    November 12, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    Error on my part about Crystal Gayle, it is a long time ago and I thought she grew in England and moved to America. Also like Sky, another act who was very popular in the late seventies and early eighties, but not much heard of now.
    However, I wouldn’t class Sky as horrible, they were merely interpreting classical music for the mass auidience and doing very well out of it. Also in 1981, when Sky were playing Bach in Westminster Abbey, there was the Hooked On Classics singles, where an orchestra played snatches of classical pieces to a disco beat.

  7. Richardpd

    November 12, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    Earlier in the 1970s the likes of Deep Purple, Emerson Lake & Palmer and The Electric Light Orchestra had dabbled in classical rock.

    • Droogie

      November 14, 2022 at 11:30 pm

      Doonican was one of those ubiquitous performers of the 70’s who has been completely forgotten by most people today. . This isn’t a bad thing – his songs were awful! The TV show was rotten too -seeing flautist James Galway playing Annie’s Song encapsulates the tedium of watching this show as a kid.

  8. Glenn Aylett

    November 15, 2022 at 6:24 pm

    My abiding memories of Val Doonican on BBC1, the rocking chair, the fake stained glass window and his anthem, Some Of My Best Friends Are Songs. James Galway seemed to be never away from the show either. However, we sneer now at such middle of the road fare and such unhip guests, but 20 milion people loved this show.

    • Droogie

      November 15, 2022 at 9:39 pm

      @GlennAylett. But to be fair they’re nearly all dead.

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