Some anecdotes and comments from the excellent Radio 4 programme of the same name, produced by Stephen Garner, and an off beat thought !
“They were one of the finest orchestras in the north of England, and probably in the country.
Their reputation was sky high with such an air of enjoyment in the band. They were true professionals from their fingertips right down.”
Johnny Roadhouse: (The first person to be seen wearing braces on BBC Television )
“‘We had to go round local music shops buying arrangements to put a programme together.”
Stan Hibbert - breeds homing custards !??
Baz Barker - of Norman George, ( violinist ) :-
‘”I well remember him walking on stage when his fiddle got smashed. Either he or somebody else sat on it, and he looked absolutely perplexed afterwards .
His style was something different. There was magic there. For me he was one of the finest players ever.”
Of Roger Fleetwood :-
‘Roger used to sit right opposite me and I could see him just staring into space with this little fag in his mouth. The red light went on and Bernard goes one, two three and as he’s counting,
Roger lifted up his saxophone, threw it into his mouth, knocked the cigarette down his throat, - there’s sparks all over the place and his mouth’s all black with ash and he’s slowly hitting himself on the chest with sparks everywhere. He never moved quickly, Roger, you know, and he’s banging his chest and putting these sparks out.
We could hardly play for laughing and we just carried on recording. At the end, Roger said, “ did you see me then? I knocked my cigarette right down my throat !”
Peter Pilbeam :-
‘The Beatles’ biographers always say they made their radio debut in 1962 at Manchester in a programme called ‘Here we go’ but it wasn’t called ‘ Here we go’ at all. It was called, ‘Here we go with the NDO’
(In all fairness it did get billed in the Radio Times on occasions as “Here we go”)
“Our lovely big BBC orchestra (NRO) was playing pop music which began to bore me, so I thought if I can’t play the big band music professionally any more, perhaps I can do it for fun”
“A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules”
So much of broadcasting is ephemeral; it goes out literally on the air. But the memories remain.
My memories of the NDO are of working with talented and dedicated musicians who were also eccentric,very funny and warm people. They had no side at all, but they and the millions who tuned in to that programme were in no doubt that at that time, and for that time, they were the best.”I got to know them very well indeed. They were all talented musicians, all personalities, all different like a diamond, but like the different facets of a diamond, together they sparkled.