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The Next Valentino

Donald Macleod explains how Ivor Novello becomes a star of stage and screen on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ivor Novello becomes a star of stage and screen on both sides of the Atlantic. Presented by Donald Macleod

Ivor Novello's Drury Lane musicals were box-office sensations, and more popular than the likes of Oklahoma or Brigadoon. At the height of his career Novello not only had plays and musicals running in London, but also four other productions of his spectacular musicals touring the country, to say nothing of amateur productions as well. Part of the attraction was Novello himself. He was a huge celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic. Novello was an actor and playwright for both stage and screen, credited with coining the phrase Me Tarzan, You Jane, and with his matinee-idol looks he was hailed as the next Valentino. His charisma and infectious personality charmed many, so that when he died, thousands turned out to line the streets to see the hearse pass on its way. This week, a first for Composer of the Week in its over seventy-year history, Donald Macleod luxuriates in the theatrical and charismatic world of Ivor Novello, with many works specially recorded for the series. He's joined by one of Novello's biographers, David Slattery-Christy, and also explores what was once Novello's flat with Billy Differ. Donald also goes behind the scenes in Novello's London theatre-world accompanied by Rosy Runciman, with a trip to the Prince of Wales and Novello Theatres.

During World War One Ivor Novello became a Flight Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Air Service but, having crashed two planes, soon found himself transferred to a safer desk job in London where he could enjoy the thriving world of wartime West End Theatre. In between his war work, Novello was now composing for the stage including shows such as Arlette, Our Nell and The Golden Moth. It was during this time that he met Edward Marsh, a senior figure in the Civil Service who introduced Novello to Winston Churchill and also the actor Robert Andrews. Bobbie became Novello's partner for the rest of his life, and supported and encouraged him in his emerging career as an actor and writer for stage and screen. Soon Novello found himself working with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, and with his highly appealing good looks, he became something of a matinee-idol.

Keep the Home Fires Burning
Marilyn Hill Smith, soprano
Gordon Langford, piano
The Chandos Concert Orchestra
Stuart Barry, conductor

Guy le Feuvre & Ivor Novello
Arlette - orchestral medley
BBC Concert Orchestra
Keith Lockhart, principle conductor

The Dancing Years - My Dearest Dear
Mary Ellis, soprano
Ivor Novello, piano
The Drury Lane Theatre Orchestra
Charles Prentice, conductor

Arlette - It's Just A Memory
Kitty Whately, soprano
Simon Lepper, piano

First Up
Kitty Whately, soprano
Simon Lepper, piano

The Golden Moth - Nuts in May
Lorna Dallas, soprano
Studio Ensemble

Bless You - And Her Mother Came To
Jeremy Northam, voice
Christopher Northam, piano

Our Nell - The Land of Might Have Been
Jeremy Northam, voice
Christopher Northam, piano
Studio Orchestra

Careless Rapture - Love Made the Song I Sing to You
John Stoddart, tenor (Captain Mellish)
Patricia Bartlett, soprano (Mrs Winton)
Linden Singers
New World Show Orchestra
Kenneth Alwyn, conductor

Careless Rapture - Music in May
Patricia Bartlett, soprano (Penelope Lee)
New World Show Orchestra
Kenneth Alwyn, conductor

Careless Rapture - The Bridge of Lovers
Patricia Bartlett, soprano (Penelope Lee)
Patricia Johnson, mezzo-soprano (Madame Simonetti)
John Stoddart, tenor (Captain Mellish)
Linden Singers
New World Show Orchestra
Kenneth Alwyn, conductor

Producer Luke Whitlock.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Ivor Novello

    Keep the Home Fires Burning

    Performer: Gordon Langford. Singer: Marilyn Hill Smith. Orchestra: Chandos Concert Orchestra. Conductor: Stuart Barry.
    • Chandos: CHAN9142.
    • Chandos.
    • 9.
  • Ivor Novello

    Arlette

    Orchestra: BBC Concert Orchestra. Conductor: Keith Lockhart.
  • Ivor Novello

    The Dancing Years - My dearest dear

    • ASV: CDAJA5396.
    • ASV.
    • 16.
  • Ivor Novello

    Arlette

    Performer: Simon Lepper. Singer: Kitty Whately.
  • Studio-Ensemble

    The Golden Moth - Nuts in May

    • Harbinger Records: HCD1502.
    • Harbinger Records.
    • 10.
  • Christopher North & Jeremy Northam

    Bless You - And Her Mother Came Too

    • Decca:4703872.
    • Decca.
    • 6.
  • Jeremy Northam, Christopher North & Studio Orchestra

    Our Nell - The Land of Might Have Been

    • Decca:4703872.
    • Decca.
    • 24.
  • Ivor Novello

    Careless Rapture - Love made the song I sing to you

    Singer: Patricia Bartlett. Singer: John Stoddart. Orchestra: The New World Show Orchestra. Conductor: Kenneth Alwyn.
    • EMI:CC225.
    • EMI.
    • 11.
  • Ivor Novello

    Careless Rapture - Music in May

    Singer: Patricia Bartlett. Choir: Linden Singers. Orchestra: The New World Show Orchestra. Conductor: Kenneth Alwyn.
    • EMI:CC225.
    • EMI.
    • 9.
  • Ivor Novello

    Careless Rapture - The Bridge of Lovers

    Singer: Patricia Bartlett. Choir: Linden Singers. Conductor: Kenneth Alwyn.
    • EMI:CC225.
    • EMI.
    • 12.

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