January 26, 1951 RADIO TIMES

A band to watch--Peggy Evans, Ted Ray, Kitty Bluett and Michael Howard take a back seat to see and hear the orchestra rehearse.

A note to watch--Petula Clark runs through a song with her accompanist Joe Henderson.

Leslie Welch
All Forces

A man to watch--the George Mitchell Choir checks a point with its conductor.
For the past eight Sundays the Light Programme and General Overseas Services of the BBC have been "Calling All Forces." Here in text and pictures we offer a glimpse of the show in its final stages--just before and just after the red light has flickered in the studio and recording is underway.

Everything to watch--Leslie Bridgmont and Frank Hooper (standing) with the programme engineer.

A beat to watch--the Stargazers cluster around the microphone for another close-harmony number.
To the artist a rehearsal is either a necessary evil or a protracted bore. To the layman there are few things more fascinating. First there is the simple pleasure of actually seeing people whose names, in less austere times, are spelt in lights. Yes, Petula Clark is as pretty as her pictures, and Ted Ray considerably more suavely sleek than most of his. . .
     And when that artless star-gazing is over there is the controlled chaos to watch. This is what always astounds the layman. George Crow waves his baton (he deputises for Geraldo on occasions) and the double bass has one eye on him and one on the score--taking no notice at all as Bob Sharples, who arranges the music, elbows past to correct a note for the cellos. The girls of the George Mitchell choir lay down their knitting and take their places on the rostrum at some invisible signal, catch their note and their entry from the band and pay no attention whatsoever to the different tune the Stargazers are rehearsing loudly in the corridor. These in turn are careless of people pushing past them with cups of tea, impervious to the inevitable comings and goings. And yet, on time, they are on the rostrum, ready for the beat.
      It is this alert concentration which marks the professional. One moment Ted Ray is in the aisle telling a story; the next he is before the microphone telling one of those in the script. One moment Petula Clark is sipping coffeee in the back row of the stalls; the next she too is before the microphone with one eye on her accompanist Joe Henderson who has materialised seemingly from nowhere.
     And behind it all--in the control room, on the platform, round the piano or in the aisle--are Leslie Bridgmont and Frank Hooper the producers. For them this final rehearsal is merely an episode; most of the work has been done earlier. They have checked the script with Denis Goodwin and Bob Monkhouse several days before hand. They have arranged with the BBC Regions to provide the vast variety of sounds which make up 'You've Asked for It' (these range from the sound of a cow being milked to that of the Town Hall bells at Bradford). They have waded through the long lists of sporting questions submitted to test the phenomenal memory of Leslie Welch (his act, incidentally, is never rehearsed: after greeting him, Ted Ray has only a list of questions and answers before him while the script reads firmly, 'Ad lib from here.') They have gone over the requests for songs (240 titles have so far ben submitted, most of them several times.)
     After a day of cuttting and tailoring, Bridgmont and Hooper have the audience to greet (Bridmont does this in grand style with 'There may be a joke or two so you are welcome to laugh') and the show to record. By the time they have checked with the recording engineers they have almost forgotten it. They know that in seven days time--and their thoughts are already there--they will once more be Calling All Forces.