An Evolving Triad of Reels

BBC tv Trade Tests - September 1955 to August 1959

The period between September 1955 and August 1959 formed a distinct phase in the early history of BBC tv Trade Test Transmissions, marking a time when a significant amount of the musical content, especially classical, remained constant, but the framework within which this appeared was restructured on three occasions. This article attempts to trace the course of musical items over this time, with the aid of the two tables at the end, which are a kind of multi-purpose PasB !

Before looking at the musical detail, however, there are a number of other aspects of Trade Test Transmissions throughout this period which did not change significantly. They always lasted for three hours from 10.00am until 1.00pm, after which there was a closedown. Test Card C was the predominant screen image used, although there were periods when this would alternate every fifteen minutes with a still photograph labelled "BBC Trade Test Transmission". Tone would be broadcast between each tape (or reel, to use its correct term), but there were no stringent rules at this time regarding its precise timing and duration - music would never be faded out for tone, and indeed the only fade occurred at closedown.

Back to the music, then, and we start in September 1955. Out went the live playing of 78s in random order which had characterised the previous few years, and in came a group of nine reels (four pairs [A&B] plus one, although the reason for the pairing is a mystery), identified as:

1A The Secret Marriage (Cimarosa)

1B German Dances 1 & 2 (Beethoven)

2A Ballet Music from "Hamlet" (Thomas)

2B Du und Du Waltz from "Die Fledermaus" (J. Strauss)

3A Play, Fiddle Play

3B Senzala

4A Le Lievre et la Tortue

4B La Plus Belle des Sambas

5A Perdido

The first four, as their opening track titles suggest, were classical in nature, but the remaining five had a lighter musical content. All were approximately 20 minutes in length, non-vocal, and contained no BBC ident signals. They would be played in ascending sequence, each one being separated by roughly two minutes of tone in order to cover the time it took the engineer to swap reels over ! With a total playing time for the whole set of well over three hours, including the tone bursts, poor old Perdido never managed to get much of an airing due to the 1.00pm watershed, particularly when the engineer was sluggish at reel changing !

Things didn't improve for Perdido in January 1957 either, when the nine reels were restructured into four new ones, each of approximately 45 minutes duration, confusingly also called 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B. In broad terms the remit had been simply to combine the original reels into pairs, thus resulting in 5A having no partner and disappearing into oblivion. Furthermore, the combined tapes were greater than the sum of their parts due to the introduction of the BBC Ident signal at key points throughout. Closer examination of the table at the end, however, will reveal that it wasn't quite as simple as that, and the first track of Perdido did manage to survive! Tone arrangements were identical to that used previously, although now occurring approximately every three quarters of an hour. In summary, we ended up with the following four reels:

1A The Secret Marriage (Cimarosa)

1B Ballet Music from "Hamlet" (Thomas)

2A Play, Fiddle Play

2B Le Lievre et la Tortue

This new set only lasted for four months before the next change was introduced in May 1957. This marked the first introduction of the "half-hour" format which was to continue from then right through to 1972, and consisted of six tapes - three classical and three popular. The classical ones largely used the previous material, regrouped to fit a thirty minute time span, but the lighter ones incorporated a mixture of new and old, with the emphasis on the new:

1 The Secret Marriage (Cimarosa)

2 Hungarian Rhapsody No 1 (Liszt)

3 Ballet Music from "Lakme" (Delibes)

4 Don Quichotte

5 Why do I Love You ?

6 The Continental

Although, these were all nominally "half-hour" tapes, Number 3 (Lakme) was significantly shorter than the rest at under twenty-three minutes, thus ensuring its completion at around the midpoint of the TTT at 11.30am. Number 6 (The Continental) would fade before completion. Tone continued to take a second place to the music, but that was soon to change. These six reels remained in service in many regions until August 1959, when the first six of the new set of reels, starting with La Foule first appeared, but that's another story.........

 

 

The following two tables list, down the left-hand side, all the musical items which featured on the BBC tv Trade Test Transmissions over the period September 1955 to August 1959, each item being listed only once. The three columns to the right: Sept 55, Jan 57 and May 57 show the usage (if any) of each musical item within that sub-period, and adopt the format:

(Tape Reference Number) # (Track Number)

 

SEPTEMBER 1955 TO AUGUST 1959

BBC tv TRADE TEST MUSIC REEL ALLOCATION

Title and Composer

Performer

Time

Sept 55

Jan 57

May 57

Note Ref

Overture: The Secret Marriage (Cimarosa)

Munich Radio Orchestra / Gorlick

6:57

1A#1

1A#1

1#1

4

Rondo in A Major, K386 (Mozart)

G. Munch / Munich Radio Orchestra / Dressel

7:02

1A#2

1A#2

1#2

4

German Dances Nos 2,9,10 (Schubert)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra / Ludwig

6:14

1A#3

1A#3

1#3

4

German Dances Nos 1 & 2 (Beethoven)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra / Lehmann

2:05

1B#1

1A#4

1#4

4

Overture: The Force of Destiny (Verdi)

Munich Radio Orchestra / Koetsier

7:02

1B#2

1A#5

1#5

4

Hungarian Rhapsody No 1 (Liszt)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra / Weisbach

10:55

1B#3

1A#6

2#1

4

Ballet Music from "Hamlet" (Thomas)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra / Heger

22:18

2A#1

1B#1

2#2

1 / 4

Du und Du Waltz from "Die Fledermaus" (J. Strauss)

Munich Philharmonic Orchestra / Rieger

8:25

2B#1

1B#2

-

4

Polovtsian Dances from "Prince Igor" (Borodin)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra / Lessing

11:41

2B#2

1B#3

3#3

4

Play, Fiddle Play (Deutsch)

Lou Snider and his Orchestra

4:20

3A#1

2A#1

-

 

Au Bord de L'Eau (Grassi)

Jo Boyer and his Orchestra

3:14

3A#2

2A#2

4#4

 

Mouvement Perpetuel (Ries)

Raymond Chevreux and his Orchestra

2:33

3A#3

2A#3

-

 

Where or When (Rodfers)

Jack Bristowe and his Orchestra

3:06

3A#4

2A#4

-

 

Cocktails for Two (Johnson / Coslow)

Ricky Hyslop Orchestra

3:13

3A#5

2A#5

-

 

Les Jambes Roses (Verau)

Jean-Jacques Tilche and his Dance Orchestra

1:53

3A#6

2A#6

-

 

On M'a vole tout ca (Verau)

Jean-Jacques Tilche and his Dance Orchestra

2:19

3A#7

2A#7

-

 

Senzala (Snider)

Lou Snider and his Orchestra

2:45

3B#1

2A#8

-

 

Exil (Solance)

Jo Boyer and his Orchestra

3:25

3B#2

2A#9

5#3

 

Scrub, Brothers, Scrub (Warner)

Raymond Chevreux and his Orchestra

2:29

3B#3

2A#10

-

 

Yesterday, from "Roberta" (Kern)

Ricky Hyslop Orchestra

3:17

3B#4

2A#11

-

 

Laissez-vous Faire (Misraki)

Roger-Roger and his Orchestra

2:21

3B#5

2A#12

-

5

Bolero (Roger-Roger)

Roger-Roger and his Orchestra

2:36

3B#6

2A#13

-

5

Un Jour tu Verras (Parys)

Jean-Jacques Tilche and his Dance Orchestra

2:58

3B#7

2A#14

6#6

 

Le Lievre et la Tortue (Ledru)

Jo Boyer and his Orchestra

2:20

4A#1

2B#1

-

 

Cumana (Allen)

Ricky Hyslop Orchestra

2:36

4A#2

2B#2

-

 

Plus je te voie, Plus je t'aime (Arnaud / Saka)

Jo Boyer and his Orchestra

4:01

4A#3

2B#3

5#8

 

Darn that Dream (van Heusen)

Jack Bristowe and his Orchestra

3:55

4A#4

2B#4

-

 

What's the Rush (Snider)

Lou Snider and his Orchestra

2:55

4A#5

2B#5

-

 

Early Autumn (Burns)

Orchestre de Danse, Paris / Masselier

2:28

4A#6

2B#6

-

 

La Ciribiricoccola (Majoli)

Jean-Jacques Tilche and his Dance Orchestra

2:00

4A#7

2B#7

-

 

La Plus belle des Sambas (Lerot)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:18

4B#1

2B#8

-

 

Il en faudrait si peu (Roussel)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:48

4B#2

2B#9

-

 

Roller Catch (Moutet)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:08

4B#3

2B#10

-

 

Aconcagua (Loca)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:32

4B#4

2B#11

-

 

Mambo Gitan (Piot)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:35

4B#5

2B#12

6#7

 

Fog Oso Mambo (Rivero)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:34

4B#6

2B#13

5#7

 

Mambo del Rio (Goya)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:52

4B#7

2B#14

-

 

El Telegraph (Manzana)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:10

4B#8

2B#15

-

 

Perdido (Tizal)

Neil Chotem Jazz Trio

2:47

5A#1

2B#16

-

 

Disorder at the Border (Hawkins)

Orchestre de Danse, Paris

3:48

5A#2

-

-

 

Get Happy (Koehler / Arlen)

Oscar Peterson / Austen Roberts

1:34

5A#3

-

-

 

The Man I Love (Gershwin)

Oscar Peterson / Austen Roberts

2:28

5A#4

-

-

 

I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles (Kellette / Kenbrovin)

Oscar Peterson / Austen Roberts

2:13

5A#5

-

-

 

Whispering (Schonberger / Rose / Coburn)

Oscar Peterson / Austen Roberts

1:45

5A#6

-

-

 

Flying Home (Robin / Goodman / Hampton)

Oscar Peterson / Austen Roberts

1:46

5A#7

-

-

 

Rose Room (Williams & Hickman)

Oscar Peterson / Austen Roberts

2:06

5A#8

-

-

 

Ballet Music from "Lakme" (Delibes)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra / Genik

6:15

-

-

3#1

4

Red River Jig (Benjamin)

Toronto Symphony Orchestra / MacMillan

2:20

-

-

3#2

3

Don Quichotte (Vetsy)

Brussels New Concert Orchestra

2:47

-

-

4#1

 

Reve Bleu, Waltz (Courroyer)

Brussels New Concert Orchestra

2:50

-

-

4#2

2

How High the Moon (Hamilton / Lewis)

Trio Francois Charpin

1:35

-

-

4#3

 

Signature Tune: There's No You (Adair / Hopper)

Trio Francois Charpin

1:00

-

-

4#5

 

Tandem Promenade (Reynaers)

Brussels New Concert Orchestra

2:05

-

-

4#6

2

Exotico, Sambo (Donet)

Brussels New Concert Orchestra

2:20

-

-

4#7

 

El Negro Zambon (Mongano)

Trio Francois Charpin

2:30

-

-

4#8

3

All of Me (Simons)

Trio Francois Charpin

2:40

-

-

4#9

 

Une Melodie (Haylbrock)

Brussels New Concert Orchestra

2:20

-

-

4#10

 

'S' Wonderful (Gershwin)

Trio Francois Charpin

2:03

-

-

4#11

 

Why do I Love You ? (Kern)

Trio Francois Charpin

2:23

-

-

5#1

 

Funny Guitar (Van Wetter)

Brussels New Concert Orchestra

2:35

-

-

5#2

 

Valse en Noir et Rose (Dupriey)

Brussels New Concert Orchestra

2:45

-

-

5#4

 

I've Got You Under My Skin (Porter)

Trio Francois Charpin

2:40

-

-

5#5

 

L'Ame des Poetes (Trenet)

Trio Francois Charpin

2:55

-

-

5#6

 

The Continental (Conrad)

Trio Francois Charpin

2:52

-

-

6#1

 

Rio (Doidet)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:42

-

-

6#2

 

Ay Jose (Gomas) / El Telegraph (Manzana)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:10

-

-

6#3

 

Serenade Portuguese / Printemps a Rio (Trenet)

Trio Francois Charpin

2:30

-

-

6#4

 

Mademoiselle de Paris (Durand)/Ma Siene (Lafarge)

Trio Francois Charpin

1:40

-

-

6#5

 

Carnival in Brazil (Nassara) / Dinah (Akst)

Jean-Jacques Tilche and his Dance Orchestra

4:10

-

-

6#8

 

Ta Robe Bleu qui Dance (Meslier)

Deno Destero Orchestra

2:39

-

-

6#9

 

 

Notes

1 Shortened to 20:00 in May 1957 Reel 2 version

2 Subsequently reappeared on 1962 Reel 16: Marche: Bayrische Baum

3 Had previously appeared on a 1955 78 rpm disc

4 Note the frequent usage of the Bamberg and Munich Orchestras for the classical items.

5 Roger-Roger makes his first appearance!

 

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Latest update: 04/01/08


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