Bright and Early
For the first seventy years of its existence, the BBC regularly featured keyboard soloists in their own programmes - pianists, organists and accordionists all contributed to the rich fabric of programmes that constituted the old 'Light Programme' which became 'Radio Two' in 1967.

This was really a turning point in broadcasting as personality fronted programmes of pop music interspersed with celebrity interviews began to replace studio broadcasts by light orchestras, dance bands and, in fact, much of the 'live' output.

Pianists had been used to fill the odd fifteen minute periods of airtime since the earliest days of broadcasting and from the fifties onwards, these broadcasts often went under the title 'Piano Playtime' (sometimes several in a week) and they consisted of light or popular music performed by one of the countless pianists who were household names in their day - some of them bandleaders such as Felix King, Jack Nathan, George Scott-Wood, Ian Stewart and Cecil Norman.

A full list of performers would be exhaustive but names such as Steve Race, Ronnie Aldrich, Sidney Bright, Alan Clare, Johnny Pearson would often appear.

The programmes would usually be introduced by a continuity announcer - although one or two of the more articulate pianists such as Ian Stewart and Felix King would sometimes be allowed to do their own presentation.

In later years most of these keyboard interludes would be entitled 'At the Piano'.

Sadly such programmes ceased to be broadcast in the mid-nineties and pianists on radio seem to be a thing of the past.

Click here!
Listen to 'At the Piano - William Davies'
as broadcast in 1985

Click here!
Listen to Piano Playtime played by Cecil Norman
as broadcast on the BBC Light Programme at 11.15am on 31st July 1953.

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Text by Brian Reynolds : e-mail