Listening to the evening edition of my favourite radio programme, BBC’s String of Pearls, on an early Saturday morning and thinking of you, dear Irving! Nice songs make me think of how much I do want to share them with you.
But did you know the history of Dewi Griffiths, the little Wales DJ? Such a romantic little story of growing up in the 30s and 40s!
“Dewi was born in Ton Pentre in the Rhondda Valley in 1931. His father became the librarian at the Workmen’s Hall and Institute, and part of the building was the family home. The Institute also provided the village with a cinema, which was why Dewi grew up seeing almost every film that came out of Hollywood and the British Film Studios throughout the 30s and 40s – and was very much influenced by the musicals of those years.
The family wireless was hardly ever switched off and a day at home was never without the sound of the Dance Bands on the BBC. With a piano in the living room on which his mother played the popular songs of the time he grew up with a wide knowledge of the songs and singers of what he refers to as ‘The Golden Age of Entertainment’. During Dewi’s three years with the Royal Air Force he became a member of a small jazz group and with his imitations of famous Hollywood musical stars he became the opening act of The RAF Revue Show. He also formed and skippered the Rugby XV at RAF Luneburg.
Dewi joined the BBC in May 1954 as a Probationary Technical Assistant with The Welsh Home Service in the control room and studio centre at Park Place, Cardiff, making full use of his work as a Radar Technician during his RAF days. He transfered to television in 1956 at the BBC TV building at Baynton House, Llandaff, the site of today’s Broadcasting House. Along the way he was a Vision Engineer, a Cameraman, a Sound Supervisor, balancing the microphones for outside broadcasts and the choirs and BBC Orchestra in the studio.
In 1961 Dewi became an OB Stage Manager with Peter Dimmock’s Outside Broadcast production team in London, returning at the end of 1962 to join the legendary Welsh Outside Half, Cliff Morgan, the newly appointed Sports Organiser and Tom Davies, the radio producer, as BBC Wales formed its very own Sports Department. Over the next 30 years Dewi directed the cameras at every rugby match played at Cardiff Arms Park, his first being Wales v England in 1963, live into Grandstand, with three cameras, no action replay and no zoom lenses. Dewi has particularly fond memories of The ‘Golden Years’ of the 70s and the famous 1973 Baabaas defeat of The All Blacks.
Dewi continued to work on BBC Network Sports coverage during these years, covering Horse Racing, Boxing, Rugby League, Golf, Cricket, Wimbledon Tennis Championships, the Olympic Games, and Lions Rugby Tours. Among his Wimbledon Final matches were the win by Australian John Newcombe and Australia’s Yvonne Goolagong beating Billy Jean Moffat. In July 1967, Dewi’s coverage of the quarter-final match between Britain’s Roger Taylor, and South Africa’s Cliff Drysdale launched the Colour Television Service of the BBC.
But Dewi never forgot his early days in the Rhondda with those stars of radio and Hollywood providing constant entertainment for his family, community and of course, the whole of the UK. It was all before television arrived and those wonderful memories were to be the key to Dewi’s twilight career as a BBC Radio Wales Disc Jockey, introducing original recordings of the songs and stars of yesteryear every Sunday morning since October 1988 in his popular programme, A String of Pearls. He’s particularly pleased that because of the internet he has fan mail from, literally, all over the world. It’s even more pleasing when a couple who have been married for 50 or 60 years, or more, hear a song that was part of their early romantic life together. It’s all about musical memories!”
For blog readers – String of Pearls plays on the BBC radio player, so do check it out if you do tune in to international radio! Another one of my favourites on BBC is Late Junction, eccentric quirky international pieces with the strangest of instruments. For jazz – 1.1 Club fm, the American channels generally are better for jazz as the UK ones are a little tame and quizzically modern when we know old jazz is best. Ahem.
The week flew past, but was a little more exciting from the development of some cases, the chance to meet J again and play rounds of Ravin Rabbids (it was hilarious!), and the annual Enforcement play. We’re doing an insider trading film noir 40s mystery this year, as the theme is the 40s, and we are going to do it part live/part scripted. Gorgeously exciting, with all the silhouetting and funky light effects!
I’m also in love with Sophie Madeleine and her little ukelele! So absolutely charming.
Someone even wrote a little love song to her…
I think the both of them are adorable.
And on girls being like bunnies, hee….: