Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
In October this year, legendary broadcaster Desmond Carrington celebrates 30 years of his weekly show, The Music Goes Round, on BBC Radio 2. In a special edition on Friday 7 October from 7-8pm, 85 year old Desmond will be revisiting the playlist from his 1981 debut.
Bob Shennan, Controller of Radio 2 and Radio 6 Music, said: "Desmond is a fine broadcaster and I am so proud of his incredible heritage on Radio 2. Listening to his show is a highlight for his legions of fans. And at a sprightly 85 years of age, Desmond is one of very few elder statesmen in the radio world today whose experience cannot be surpassed."
When the Radio 2 series, All Time Greats, began on Sunday 4 October 1981, Desmond (already a successful actor and broadcaster) was chosen as its first presenter. He fully expected to be replaced after three months but the series took off and, three decades on, he remains an integral part of the station's weekly schedule.
Desmond's closing words at the end of the very first All Time Greats in 1981 were: "Funnily enough I have felt a little bit today like Roy Plomley must have felt all those years ago when he sat down to do the first programme of Desert Island Discs – you don't know what it's going to lead to!"
Reflecting back today, Desmond says: "Well I certainly didn't think it would lead to 30 years of weekly broadcasts and some 1500 programmes. I'm so very grateful to BBC Radio 2 and to my many listeners who have always been supportive and involved in the vast range of music – which is still going round!"
In 2004, All Time Greats was exchanged for a new series on Tuesday evenings – The Music Goes Round. This programme continues to the present day at 7pm on Friday evenings where Desmond gently guides listeners through an eclectic and often surprising mix of records new and old.
In each Friday night show, the playlist reflects a theme and features relevant tracks which could range from ballads to Big Band, rock to reggae, psychedelia to swing and everything in between. In what must be one of the most extensive and wide ranging personal record libraries, Desmond has over 250,000 tracks, built up since the 1940s and spanning rap and trance to pre-electric jazz and Enrico Caruso. Desmond's 30th anniversary show will feature all the records from that very first programme, including Duke Ellington's Satin Doll, the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, Peter Sarstedt's Frozen Orange Juice and the Clooney/Sinatra classic, Some Enchanted Evening.
Back in October 1981, Desmond was contracted to present All Time Greats, an hour long record show at Sunday lunchtimes which were scheduled for just three months. An instant success, the run was extended and the shows lengthened, first to 1-and-a-half hours, then 2 hours and eventually 3 hours every week. They were originally recorded in advance but soon became live transmissions; although never for a moment did Desmond expect that 30 years on, at his fine age, he would still be broadcasting weekly to listeners.
In The Music Goes Round, Desmond gently pilots listeners away from Radio 2's regular playlist tracks with his eclectic and often surprising mix of records, from pre-electric 1910 to current day sounds. His warm tones and informative chat are now welcomed by all age-groups both in the UK and around the world, as hundreds of letters and emails bear witness. And since 1996 the series has been an independent production which Desmond – and his producer Dave Aylott – broadcast from Desmond's home in Scotland, which is most fortunate given that last year's inclement weather meant he was snowed in!
A professional actor from the age of 16, Desmond began his broadcasting career in 1947 at Radio SEAC, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), as Lieutenant Carrington, Royal West Kent Regiment. The first person he met when he arrived at the station was a Petty Officer David Jacobs with whom, he was soon to discover, he shared almost exactly the same age and birthdays just four days apart in May. They became good friends – as they remain today – and their careers have continued on parallel paths through the decades.
In the late Fifties Desmond become a "heart-throb doctor" in ITV's first soap opera entitled Emergency Ward Ten, a role he played for nearly six years. That role made him a national celebrity and soon he was presenting Housewives' Choice on the BBC Light Programme.
Throughout his professional career he has always appeared in stage plays. His proudest achievement being a long tour in a two-hour one-man play about HRH the Duke of Windsor – written for him by the late Royce Ryton who was also the author of Crown Matrimonial – a role that Desmond also played to great acclaim in theatres across the UK. He now concentrates on radio broadcasting, the medium that has given him the greatest satisfaction and the longest single engagement.
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