Mooching around Grangetown, one of last week’s blogs – it might even have been the week before – recalled when the long-running radio programme Down Your Way was broadcast from that once-smoggy settlement between Middlesbrough and Redcar.
Former Tow Law Town chairman John Flynn remembers Radio Tees doing something similar in 1998, the wonderful year that the Lawyers reached Wembley, each interviewee invited to choose a record. Jenny, John’s wife, picked Thank You for the Days, which seemed wholly appropriate.
Down Your Way attracted more than 20 million listeners each week, as did Have a Go – remembered by John Maughan in Wolsingham – and Workers’ Playtime. All three programmes toured the land, creating considerable excitement wherever they plugged in.
Have a Go was hosted by Wilfred Pickles, a good Yorkshireman appointed OBE for services to broadcasting, and his wife Mabel – pictured atop the blog. Catchphrases like “What’s on the table Mabel?” and “Give him the money, Barney” became part of the national currency, though the money would never have made anyone rich.
For sharing what the BBC termed “intimate secrets”, listeners earned £1 19s 11d.
John Maughan remembers Have a Go coming to Bishop Auckland town hall. “We all huddled around the radio hoping we might hear someone we knew. I’m afraid we never knew a soul.”
Have a Go aired from 1946-67, Workers’ Playtime – conceived as a wartime morale booster – from1941-64, broadcast three lunchtimes a week from a works canteen “somewhere in Britain.” The venues were originally chosen by the Ministry of Labour.
Accompanied by two pianos, lugged laboriously around the land, Workers’ Playtime gave a stage to everyone from Julie Andrews to Morecambe and Wise, from Ken Dodd to Shirley Bassey. It once came to Shildon though, like John Maughan, I didn’t know anyone. Come to think, I’d not heard of any of the turns, either.
*Memories of Jack Charlton inevitably included the day in March 1974 that the big lad’s Middlesbrough side clinched the old second division title at Lutno Town with six games remaining.
Homeward on the train, players happily mixing with press and fans, Boro player Willie Maddren lifted Evening Gazette stalwart Cliff Michell’s hat, threw it down the train and – inadvertently – out of the window.
The incident was recalled in Willie’s book Extra time and now by blog reader Martin Birtle. Cliff, he reckons, was “inconsolable.” Willie bought him a new one.
Books sold (and paid for) Books not headed anywhere