Monday, February 11, 2008

"Hello Children, Everywhere" - Uncle Mac's Children's Favourites

Back in 1954 the BBC's idea of pop music was a reflection of mainstream taste with ladies and gentlemen singers who annunciated their words and delivered good wholesome material. They also recognised the fact that children were interested in music, although in those far off days it was of course not pop music. The BBC Light Programme's solution for catering to younger people's musical interests was to start a show called 'Children’s Favourites' presented by Uncle Mac (Real name Derek McCulloch). Every show began with the immortal words “hello children, everywhere” over the theme song of Puffing Billy.

The show was built around the genuine requests from the show's audience, as often as not children and their parents who would sit around the radio at home enjoying the music - there was of course no Breakfast TV - heady days indeed. Thousands of requests were received each week on a postcard (50’s email) for songs like Max Bygraves 'You’re a Pink Toothbrush, I’m A Blue Toothbrush', or 'Sparky’s Magic Piano'. Every now and then there was something unusual requested and one particular week someone wrote in to ask for a song that helped shape the rock era. Listening from his childhood home in Surrey was future guitar legend Eric Clapton. “The first blues I ever heard was on that programme. It was a song by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, with Sonny Terry howling and playing the harmonica. It blew me away. I was ten or eleven.”

With the advent of Radio 1 in 1967 Leslie Crowther replaced Derek McCulloch and the show renamed Junior Choice. Increasingly pop music was taking the place of little white bulls, laughing policemen and tubby tubas….thank goodness that it didn’t change any earlier!


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I remember Uncle Mac!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've been reading El's autobiography, Richard!

Uncle Mac helped shape my childhood. Saturday morning from 9.00 to 10.00am was sacred time for a young child. You couldn't go out and play until you'd heard Uncle Mac say goodbye. And I remember when he said goodbye he would always add "and especially to my young invalid friends" as Derek McCullough was himself disabled.

And in amongst Sparky's magic piano, Shirley Abicair's little boy fishing off a wooden pier and the Billy Goats Gruff you would occasionally get to hear the odd 'Telstar' or The Ramrods 'Ghost Riders In The Sky' - and Sonny terry and Brownie McGhee.

Aaah, children's favourites indeed!

Richard Havers said...

Rich, I think he's been reading my mind. I found that in an interview from years ago! I've been put off reading EC's autobiography by the reviews!

Richard Havers said...

Whoever ghost wrote Mr. C's book couldn't even check his facts (the spelling of Uncle Mac's name!)

Anonymous said...

Richard, I bought it at your favourite book shop, read it on the train home and promptly sold it on Amazon. Very rare for me to sell a hardback but I didn't think it worth keeping. Now I'd better read Pattie's version!