Imagine my delight at being contacted by Harry King of BBC Radio Cumbria, a devotee of the NDO from a very early age.
His idea was to produce a definitive programme about the band, explaining why it came into being, and was so highly regarded.
I had found out that the Playhouse Theatre, where most of the NDO recordings were made, had been re -opened as a church, been refurbished,and was now looking superb inside - many of the original features had been retained, and restored.
We arranged to meet up at the Playhouse late in 2013 and gather together as many people as we could who had worked with the Band in any capacity, and chat to them about their memories. The event was a great success, and it was these recordings which formed the basis of the tribute programme.
Last year was a very important one in the NDO calendar - it is the Ruby anniversary of the last time the NDO played on the stage at the Playhouse, before the NRO took over.
It is now over 6 years since I set up the NDO Project, with the aim of preserving anything related to the NDO - the success has somewhat overwhelmed the 4 of us in the Project, with a wealth of excellent recordings thought lost forever coming to light, as well as many pictures of the band - not just in the Playhouse, but in its concerts countrywide.
Here is what the Producer of the Programme, Harry King has to say:-
“I still find it hard to believe that it is nearly 60 years since I first came across The BBC Northern Dance Orchestra - this unique and talented group of musicians who were to play such a big part in my love of music. I remember listening to them on the radio – not only in their own programmes , but as part of the many shows produced by the BBC In the North of England. Little did I dream when I travelled from my West Cumbrian home to the Playhouse theatre In Hulme to gate crash them in their great and glorious make way for music shows that many – and I mean many- years later as a producer with ITV and then the BBC, I would come to realise what a huge influence they had become in my love of big bands. It is still a joy to realise that they have not been forgotten – and that they are still as much missed and loved now as they were so long ago.
Much of the credit for keeping their memory alive must go to Ian Reed and the team who works so hard on the NDO project.
To Ian and everyone who shared their memories and so helped me make this musical history of the NDO , I say Thank you - from my point of view it was a labour of love, and a pleasure to be involved. I must thank my colleague, technical genius, and friend John Lipscombe, BBC Radio Cumbria’s head of station sound for his enthusiasm and help - not to mention the bottles of “medicine” we managed to consume during the making of the programme.
I ask all you lovers of the NDO to raise a glass, and drink to the health of a unique orchestra that gave so much pleasure to so many -
The toast is the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra - long may they continue to Make way for Music !”
Harry King: Presenter/Producer: BBC Radio Cumbria