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Tip Top Tunes

Exactly 60 years ago this month - Thursday 14 February 1946 at 9.15 p.m. in the General Overseas Service of the BBC - re- broadcast in the Light Programme Saturday 16 February between 7.45 and 8.15 p.m. the start of what became the still prestigious, Tip Top Tunes.

Featuring the melody and music that was Geraldo and His Concert Orchestra; his swinging dance band aggregation; a massive bank of violins, leader at the time Fred Swerdlove, and at first (later in the series, three) but at the start two "Songs With Strings", featured by vocalists Carole Carr, Sally Douglas (alternating) and Dick James.

First presenter was also its producer, BBC veteran David Miller; later, G.O.S. staff announcers took over: Alexander Moyes, Peter King and Bruce Wyndham. Altogether Tip Top Tunes notched almost 500 programmes between 1946-1959. Sadly from all of the output only four of many a massive arrangement were put on record:
The Kerry Dance and Cherry Ripe included on 12" 78s since transferred to LPs and CDs.

Other wonderful traditional melodies worked on by arrangers of the calibre of Angela Morley (then known as Wally Stott) stayed the course of the years. They include: D'ye Ken John Peel; Widdicombe Fair; The Lincolnshire Poacher and The Minstrel Boy.
Among standard fare of great tunes some of which would either open or close the half- hour programme , were Noel Coward's still popular. Poor Little Rich Girl (1925; Dance Little Lady (1928); Roses of Picardy (1916); The Pipes of Pan (1909) and Lily of Laguna (1912). That World War One favourite If You Were The Only Girl in The World (1916); Victor Herbert's The March of The Toys (1905) and an Ivor Novello double: Keep The Home Fires Burning (1915) and his satiric. And Her Mother Came Too (1921).

Geraldo's wonderfully modulated swing section played tribute, in fact. 'Saluted' Great Bands of the US, Charlie Bamet with Skyliner, Woody Herman, Bijou and Apple Honey, Harry James Trumpet Rhapsody and Stan Kenton who Geraldo himself visited in America and perfectly captured his style with Artistry in Rhythm, Southern Scandal and Eager Beaver. All given their initial U.K. airing on Tip Top Tunes.

Some of the familiar vocal arrangements were beautifully tailored to and for the voices in the first instance popular Carole Carr, Sally Douglas and Dick James. Later as other singers took their places many of the timeless arrangements stayed in place. A list of familiar favourites stare at me from the massive volume I personally researched in the BBC's Caversham treasury.

This volume is unique and as far as I am aware the only one of its kind anywhere in the world. Which reminds me if any of my loyal readers have access to any Tip Top Tunes on private recordings please let me know I would dearly love to make a tribute album or CD.

Getting back to Songs With Strings there were Love Walked In, Embraceable You, Long Ago and Far Away; These Foolish Things; I Know Why and So Do You and Body and Soul. Carole Carr later introduced The Things We Did Last Summer and Time After Time, both made popular elsewhere by Frank Sinatra. The show itself found a regular live Saturday afternoon spot 1.30 to 2 p.m.

In October 1947 moved to Saturday night 7.15 to 8 p.m. but was often superceded by sport. 1948 saw a Thursday lunchtime spot, then it moved to silly times like 4.30 and 5.30 p.m. so often Geraldo music fans would miss it altogether. The close on 500 airings came to an end with an August Bank Holiday special, 1959, 2.25 to 3.p.m. in the BBC Home Service. Then it was gone, except it seems, in my researches, my thoughts and that precious self-made book.
 Copied from Greater London Pensioner - Article by  Neil Stevens -





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