Popular performers

Favourite variety acts of yesteryear

By Nicola Benge

Photo:Songs on a sunny day

Songs on a sunny day

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Photo:Ivy in costume with the Spice of Life

Ivy in costume with the Spice of Life

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Acts we loved back in the day

In a reminiscence session, we talked about favourite stars in the 1940s and 1950s and who were the best acts

Ken: Wilson, Kepple and Betty dancing the sand dance. We saw Max Wall on ice towards the end of his career. You had basic amateur groups 'The Tilgate Players'. We followed them.. They were smashing. Mainly in London we went to see acts at the New Cross Empire. When I was in the Boys Brigade, we did a performance where we did a drill routine on stage at the Empire. I first got interested in shows in Wales when there were gang shows for servicemen on leave. It was brilliant.

Twisting the night away

Joyce: I used to like the pictures myself. We used to watch the Bowery Boys, Ginger Rogers. I liked Arthur Askey, he was on the radio, a comedian. I liked dancing myself, jiving, ballroom, dancing. There was a big ballroom place on the outskirts of Derby with three bands.

It's that man again!

Rosina: I liked the funny ones really, like Arthur Askey and ITMA and all those programmes. I was working at 16 in London, there were all musical shows, during the wars, soldiers got free tickets to shows, sow e got to see shows if you had a fella! I used to go the cinema more than the theatre as it was only a shilling so it was much cheaper than variety. In the intermission they put shows on between the B movie and the main film. My mum used to meet me from the train with a packet of sandwiches and we used to go to the cinema and eat dinner cos the films used to last three hours.

Ken: There used to be a music hall show on the radio called the 'Palace of Varieties'. During World War II, we used to sing the same songs as WWI as they were so well remembered. 'Hang out your washing on the Siegfried Line'.

Songs I remember

Joyce: I remember songs like: 'Ma he's making eyes at me; When father papered the parlour, Let's all go down the strand, Paddington Green, You are my sunshine, Where did you get that hat, Champagne Charlie, Lily of Laguna, Man that broke the bank at Monte Carlo, Meet me in St Louis, Magnificent men in their flying machines, Nobody loves a fairy when she's forty!'

This page was added by Nicola Benge on 09/04/2008.

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