Following on from the Johnny Harris clip I highlighted the other week, I felt the need to introduce both readers of this blog to one of my hobbies: muso-spotting. I know I’m not the only one to do this, because I have spent many a happy evening with my chum Gavin Sutherland, peering through a fog of multi-gen VHS, port and brandy to identify the musicians on old light entertainment shows. Is anyone else with us?
My recent bargain purchase of The Ken Dodd Laughter Show on DVD provided very rich pickings indeed. In one of the shows, there was a running sketch concerning the Nelson Eddy/Jeanette Macdonald call-and-response classic ‘When I’m Calling You’. At one point, we saw Pat Ashton dressed as a squaw trilling back at Doddy while seated at a Marconi mk VII, like so.
As if that weren’t enough to bring me full glee, later in the same show, we saw Rita Webb dressed as a mountie (Rita Webb! A mountie! I use exclamation marks very sparingly, but I feel this is fully deserving of them.), singing the song to a distant figure. The camera cuts to the bandstand, where Doddy is now the squaw, standing among Alan Braden’s assortment of London’s finest sight-readers. I know I’m on safe ground when I say that’s Bill Geldard under Doddy’s raised arm, with a clearly-amused Tony Fisher in front of him. On Doddy’s other side is Stan Roderick (and please do click on that link – the stories are wonderful). I can’t be 100% sure, but I think the partially-obscured trombonist just under Doddy’s left ear is Jackie Armstrong.
This is why TV orchestras rule. You can’t have this much fun with a backing tape.