Home Places Theatres Amateur Stars at the B.B.C.

Amateur Stars at the B.B.C.

May 1939

South Yorkshire Times, May 12th 1939

The compere, Mr. Martyn C. Webster, with Miss Dorothy Mason(wearing hat), goes over the programme with — (left to right) front row: Miss Margery Rawling (Wombwell), Miss Olive Turner (Sheffield), and Miss Annie Whittaker (Wombwell). Back row: D. Sadler (Sheffield), J. Guest Wombwell), W. R. Davies (Rotherham) and F. Robinson (Marne).

Besides, there are ladies in our party. Only conductor Joseph Lewis, the Pickwickian leader of the London B.B.C. Orchestra, keeps to tradition with immaculate tuxedo. He takes his stand, beams at all and twiddles his baton. Our Wombwell people say he is an exceedingly nice man with a subtle sense of humour and a delightful knack of putting newcomers to the “mike” at ease.


We look down into the bear-pit and up again at the clock Another minute to go. You can almost feel the tension. In tile our Wombwell performers and we feel more at home. Jack Guest takes his seat beside Margery Rawling rather apologetically. Jack crosses his legs and bites his nails, which is not a normal habit: Margery smiles at him reassuringly and shuffles her music. Up to now we have seen nothing of Annie Whittaker whom the deacons of Wombwell Wesleyan Reform Church had honoured by holding their service half an hour earlier than usual in order is that members might get to their radio sets. The suggestion that a loud I speaker be fitted in the church for community listening had been turned down. Miss Whittaker is the church organist and it had been necessary to get a substitute. I do not know how long it is since Annie missed church on Sunday evening, but I should guess years. Her grandfather. Mr. Enoch Whittaker, was Sunday School superintendent for fifty years. Incidentally, Annie has more than one claim to notability. She was “Beauty Queen” at Wombwell two years ago.

Looking down again into the “tea-chest” I find it difficult to believe that this is “Wombwell.’ I take another glance at the hoops on Jack’s socks and realise that it is no illusion It is now a matter of seconds. Margery looks resigned and composed Jack twitches his mouth and twiddles his thumbs. Men cannot stand a long strain like women.


The atmosphere of the studio seems over-powering. They are definitely waiting now to go “over the top.” The orchestra has received preliminary instructions. The announcer is standing impassively before the “mike” with a folio of typescript in his hand.