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They Played the 'Alls

1 hour, 57 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 08 June 2012

Friday Night Is Music Night - "They Played the 'Alls".

Hot foot from accompanying the likes of Dame Shirley Bassey; Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney at the Diamond Jubilee last Monday - the BBC Concert Orchestra are back on regular duty for this week's "Friday Night is Music Night". Tonight they are joined by special guests Barbara Windsor, Anita Harris, Roy Hudd and Mark Walsh to celebrate the golden days of variety and the music hall.

The British music hall heyday was from 1850 to the end of the First World War - the amusements included: song, comedy; dance, magic, animal acts; hypnotists, contortionists; fire eaters, siffleurs(whistlers) and funambulists(tightrope walkers).

Tonight's show is presented by Barbara Windsor. Anita Harris pays tribute to a performer who started life as Matilda Alice Powles and ended life as Lady de Frece - wife of Sir Walter de Frece, MP for Ashton Under Lyme and later for Blackpool. She was one of the top paid music hall artists of her day - her act was as a male impersonator and her stage name was Vesta Tilley. Anita recalls 3 of Vesta's songs - "Burlington Bertie"; "Following in Father's Footsteps" and "After the Ball".

Roy Hudd - an authority and devotee of the traditions of the music hall - pays tribute to a number of his heroes including Harry Champion ("The End of Me Old Cigar"), Morny Cush ("I Live in Trafalgar Square") and Will Fyffe. Fyffe is best known for his composition "I Belong to Glasgow" - though in fact he was born and raised in Dundee! The story goes that Fyffe was inspired to write the lyrics when he met a drunk on Glasgow Central Station. "Do you belong to Glasgow" Fyffe asked. "No" the inebriate replied "Glasgow Belongs to Me". As a character actor Fyffe was sought after on both sides of the Atlantic and tonight Roy recalls one of Fyffe's great comedy monologues - "The Scot's Man's Lament".

Mark Walsh is a young man whose act includes tributes to Max Miller; Billy 'Uke' Scott, Frankie Howerd and George Formby. A ukulele virtuoso he performs with the BBC Concert Orchestra in " Leaning on a Lamp Post" and "Limehouse Blues Medley".

The BBC Concert Orchestra under the baton of Mike Dixon perform Luigini's "Egyptian Ballet" as used by sand dancers Wilson, Keppel and Betty; Johann Strauss II's "Memories of Covent Garden" incorporating a host of music hall songs and "Roses of Picardy" perhaps as you have never heard it before - performed on the musical saw.

The evening is brought to a close by Barbara and Anita as they lead the audience in two songs made famous by Matilda Alice Victoria Wood - better known as Marie Lloyd, "The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery" and "My Old Man Said Follow the Van". Lloyd was queen of the 'double entendre'. She was once refused entry to the United States on the grounds of her racy stage lines. When confronted by a journalist about her act being a bit "blue" she told him "They don't pay their sixpences and shillings at a music hall to hear the Salvation Army".

During tonight's interval - Joe Haddow takes a trip to two of the UKs most prestigious musical halls to discover what is on offer for a 21st century audience. International chart sensation, Gotye, talks about his love for Wilton's Music Hall in London and Joe takes a tour of The Leeds City Varieties. Plus fellow Radio 2 presenter, Paul O'Grady, tells Joe about his fond memories of "The Good Old Days".

Friday Night is Music Night - "They Played the Halls" was recorded at the Mermaid Theatre in London.

Music Played

21 items
  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Friday Night Is Music Night


  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Theatreland


  • Image for Anita Harris

    Anita Harris Burlington Bertie Medley

    (Hargreaves/Rogers/Harris) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Can Can (Orpheus In The Underworld)


  • Image for Roy Hudd

    Roy Hudd The End of My Old Cigar

    (Weston/Worton) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • Mark Walsh (Ukulele) Mary From The Dairy & Limehouse Blues

    (Various) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Egyptian Ballet – 1st Mvt Allegro Non Troppo


  • Image for Roy Hudd

    Roy Hudd I Live In Trafalgar Square

    (Murphy) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Memories of Covent Garden

    (J Strauss)

  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Sunday Night At The London Palladium


  • Image for Roy Hudd

    Roy Hudd Monologue – The Scotsman’s Lament

    (Kitty & Kennedy Allen) (Ft. Ian Smith on piano)

  • Image for Roy Hudd

    Roy Hudd ‘Arry ‘Arry ‘Arry

    (Le Brunn) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • Image for Anita Harris

    Anita Harris Mad About The Boy

    (Coward) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Nola


  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Roses of Picardy

    (Wood) (Ft. Richard Watson on musical saw)

  • Image for Anita Harris

    Anita Harris Someone To Watch Over Me

    (Gerswhin) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Limelight


  • Mark Walsh (Ukulele) You Can’t Have Everything & Leaning On A Lamp-post

    (Various) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • Image for Roy Hudd

    Roy Hudd It’s A Great Big Shame

    (LeBrunn) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • Barbara Windsor, Anita Harris & Ensemble Marie Lloyd Medley

    (Leigh) (Ft. BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon)

  • BBC Concert Orchestra/Mike Dixon Friday Night Is Music Night




    Barbara Windsor and Anita Harris giving their all at the pre-show rehearsal.



    Roy Hudd and Anita Harris pose before taking to the stage.



    Mark Walsh waiting in the wings ready to delight with his singing and ukulele talents.



    Mike Dixon graduated from Trinity College of Music in 1979 and since then has become one of the most experienced and respected musical forces in London’s West End and on British television. His work spans all genres of music as Musical Supervisor, Musical Director, Arranger and Composer.

    Theatre: Hair, Zorro, Never Forget, We Will Rock You, Daddy Cool, Footloose, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, Aspects Of Love, Doctor Dolittle, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, La Cage Aux Folles, Bernstein’s Peter Pan, Bless The Bride, Mr Cinders, Andy Capp, Godspell, Look To The Rainbow.

    Television: Text Santa, Over The Rainbow (Guest MD), Children In Need Rocks the Royal Albert Hall, The Electric Proms, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, We Are Most Amused, For One Night Only, Concert for Diana, Glastonbury 2007, MusiCool, Pop Idol, The Royal Variety Show, Miss World, The British Comedy Awards, Star For a Night, Call Up The Stars, Night of a Thousand Stars, The Brian Conley Show, The Shane Ritchie Experience, Whatever You Want, Late Night with Jerry Springer, We Are The Champions; A Nation Celebrates, The Queen’s Jubilee Rock Concert, The Prince’s Trust 30th Anniversary Concert at the Tower of London, BBC Proms in the Park, Saturday Night Divas, Guilty Pleasures, An Audience with…Jimmy Tarbuck, Joan Rivers, Another Audience With… Shirley Bassey and An Audience with Lionel Richie…Live!

    Radio: Titanic - Minute by Minute, Elvis Forever, Elbow at Abbey Road, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Birthday in the Park, Friday Night Is BOND Night, Cheltenham Jazz Festival – The Billie Holiday Story – The Billy Strayhorn Story – Jazz Royalty, Friday Night Is Music Night, BBC Radio 2 Voice of Musical Theatre Competition.

    Recordings: The Sound of Rodgers & Hammerstein with Helena Blackman, The Performance with Dame Shirley Bassey, Zorro, Seven by Tony Banks with The London Philharmonic Orchestra, We Will Rock You, Grease, Doctor Dolittle, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Aspects of Love, Evita (The Movie).

    Special Events: Macmillan Centenary Gala, Wimbledon Theatre Centenary Gala, Welcoming The World (Project for London 2012), St Pancras International Royal Opening, Dame Shirley Bassey – The Dame is Back! (Arena Tour), Launch of Ventura, Arcadia & Adonia.

    Awards: Australian Entertainment Industry Helpmann Award 2004 for Best Musical Direction.


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