Saturday, 4 December 2010

The bearable lightness of being

We had a lovely time at the live recording of Friday Night is Music Night -Tribute to the Soaps last night!

This show is Radio 2's longest running programme, and is one of the last bastions of "light orchestral" music left on mainstream radio (now that Radio 3 has got rid of its Light Music Show). Last night was an especially great occasion, as we welcomed none other than Tony Hatch (a master of that particular musical genre, and composer of a myriad of songs for the likes of Petula Clark and Matt Munro) to conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra with arrangements of his great themes for such classic TV series as Emmerdale, Crossroads and Neighbours.

His spot, however, was merely the star turn of the evening's entertainment. The whole two hour show was dedicated to the creators of this gentle art, such as Eric Coates (who composed music for Mrs Dale's Diary, as well his more famous Desert Island Discs theme and Dambusters' March), Arthur Wood (who wrote the tune Barwick Green, better known as the theme from The Archers), and Robert Farnon (famous for writing the themes to The Prisoner and Colditz, as well as his medley of British TV themes they played last night, Sounds Familiar). We also had the themes from Doctors Kildare and Finlay, plus (of course) Eastenders.

Not wanting to seem too parochially British, the orchestra also tacked versions of the themes from Dallas and Dynasty, but it was the UK that provided the majority of the inspiration. We had songs performed by stars of British soaps, Richard Shelton (aka murderous Dr Forsythe in Emmerdale) and Wendi Peters (better known as "Cilla Battersby" from Corrie).

In a nod to the 50th anniversary of our nation's longest-running and possibly best-loved soap Coronation Street, we were impressed by a selection of songs from the new Corrie musical Rogues, Angels, Heroes & Fools. The talented young cast performed some pithy little numbers based upon some of the Street's most famous scenes, including Ena Sharples' first appearance in episode 1 back in 1960, through the troubles of Elsie Tanner's family and Annie Walker's reign in The Rovers, to (the hilarious) Stan and Hilda Ogden's second honeymoon, and up-to-date with Elsie singing from the grave to Becky McDonald.

But best of all was when "Curly Watts" (none other than Kevin Kennedy in person) came on to sing a very poignant little number about the time he bought a star and named it in honour of his bride-to-be Raquel - just before she told him she was not going to marry him after all... Sad, but brilliantly done!

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In all, a superb evening of entertainment, and a great pick-me-up - all for free! As host Ken Bruce said, "It comes with the licence fee!"

We loved it!

Friday Night is Music Night

Just visit the BBC Shows website and choose the show you'd like to see. If seats are available, that's it, you're in! Simple.

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