Music hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment that was popular from the early Victorian era circa 1850 and lasting until 1960. It involved a mixture of popular songs, comedy, speciality acts, and variety entertainment.
Anytime I see a photo of the “Changing of the Guards” in London, I’m reminded of the children’s song “Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace,” inspired by Winnnie the Pooh author A. A. Milne and made into a hit song by young Ann Stephens in 1941.
London-born Ann Stephens (21 May 1931 – 15 July 1966) was the first to record “Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace.” Stephens was a British child actress and singer, popular throughout the 1940s.
Like most many American baby boomers, I first heard this song on the Captain Kangaroo Show. That version was made in 1959 by late British variety performer Max Bygraves.
Bygraves’ onstage catchphrase “I wanna tell you a story,” is only slightly better than Marty Allen’s “Hello Dere!” – but Bygraves is a much better singer. Another well-known phrase of Bygraves was “That’s a good idea, son!”
Give a listen to each version and comment which version you like better, young Ann’s or Max’s?
Max Bygraves’ 1959 version “They’re Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace”
IN 1925, a musichall comedian who went by the stage-name of Robert Winthrop was touring the cinemas and variety theatres of the Durham coalfield.While entertaining the mining communities, his eye was on another act that was also hopping from booking to booking in the halls: Mrs Stacey’s Young Ladies, a dance troupe, in which Annie “Curly” Quinn starred.
She was the daughter of an Irish comedian, Jimmy Quinn, whereas Robert – born Chaim Reuben Weintrop – was from a Polish Jewish background and had fought in Flanders during the First World War. Continue reading →
I’M sure that for quite a few readers, nothing will bring back memories of Sunday lunchtimes with the smell of the roast in the oven more than these words: ‘The time in Britain is twelve noon, in Germany it’s one o’clock, but home and away it’s time for Two-Way Family Favourites’, and this tune.
The programme started in 1941 as Forces Favourites, in which requests from families at home could be heard by servicemen overseas. It went out several times a week with the theme tune When You Wish Upon a Star. I can’t discover if it was the Disney version from Pinocchio sung by Cliff Edwards, or by Vera Lynn, who released it in 1940, so I have given both.