Pete Murray interview 10th May 2016. Notes.
British Entertainment History Project. Interview 684.
Interviewer Mike Dick
Camera David Smith
Start c 11.40*
Date and place of birth: Hackney, but grew up in Chiswick. Encouraged by his mother. Father a publican. Gunnersbury school. Evacuation.
Experience at RADA. Kenneth Barnes. Vanbrugh sisters. Colin Chandler and getting a second chance. Scholarship and Bronze medal presented by Queen Mother. Richard Attenborough, Brian Forbes. Robert Atkins. [PM may have said “Askew”] Open Air Theatre. RAF 1943. Contract with Rank.
Agent: Herbert de Leon.
Time Flies first film, as an extra. First of the Few also as extra. PM confirmed that he did NOT play Reverend Wood in Jane Eyre. Played a US army major on BBC World service, in The Robinson Family.
Dialects his strength, but possibly not for USA.
Radio Luxembourg, continuity and playing records. £15 a week.
Commercials on AM/Medium waveband £3 a time.Effectively a pay cut.
Auditioning in Brussels for Peter Brooke, for Winter’s Tale – which he hadn’t read. 5 years at Luxembourg.
12.08 Play in USA, Redgrave auditions. Power Without Glory.
Luxembourg. Working with Geoffrey Everitt. Playing Middle of the Road stuff, like Mitch Miller, Guy Mitchell, Joan Regan, Mario Lanza. Hearing about Bill Haley/ Rock n’Roll from record plugger,and use of Rock Around the Clock as Blackboard Jungle theme
Sam Costa, Jack Jackson presented on BBC but hidebound by needletime agreements. Northern Dance Orchestra.
Asst continuity at ITV in 1955 to Bob Danvers-Walker. £10 a week. Lesley Conn and Decca programmes at Radio Luxembourg. People Are Funny, taking over from Derek Roy. The Last Enemy 1956. Live from Wembley. Strike. Peter Brittenden came next day to tell PM it got great reviews.
Audition at Shepherd’s Bush for new pop programme, competing with David Jacobs and Sean Connery.
Talks about Jack Good and the differing themes of 6.5 Special (eg Peter Sellars and Spike Milligan as US soldiers). £30 payment for 6.5. Tendency to go for broad appeal, so might include Lonnie Donegan, Tommy Steele and Denis Lotis. And Don Lang. Bit about football in Regents Park and Hackney Marshes. 6.5 touring version. Lookalike programme.
Pete’s Party radio programme with top guests like Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich, first to run after midnight, use of scripts with people like Douglas Lawrence wanting to edit.
Eurovision in 1959 (Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson), in the days when the song was judged, not the “performance”.
12.50 Danzigers; Escort for Hire. Having laryngitis and post-synching appalling! June Thorburn, shooting in Chelsea. A Taste of Money. PM does not recall it.
Juke Box Jury. Trading banter with other panellists and David Jacobs. Eric Maschwitz;Russell Turner, producer.
Happily Ever After NBC/ITV pilot. Prime time jealousy so it got late screenings. Smash Hits programme on Radio Luxembourg; Mick Jagger used to listen as PM literally smashed discs on air.
Stage work: musical – Scapa. Seagulls over Sorrento, Edward Woodward, David Hughes. Jack Hylton against an all male review. Even got extract played on Sunday Night at the London Palladium, but it closed. BREAK 1 – 1.10pm
John Whitney ombudsman side of TV.
Changes when pirate radio stations come along, youth taking over, PM working a show for Radio Caroline and Radio London, and touring with groups like Small Faces in Bradford. Threat of sack by Luxembourg and BBC (styled British Blackmail Corporation by Daily Mirror)
Influence of the Beatles on songwriting; good songwriters with talent will last. Talks about Dick James and Sidney Bron and rights to Beatles songs. Thank Your Lucky Stars. Brian Matthew. TV with Heather Sears, so he was Pete on one show and Peter on the other. Top of The Pops – Johnny Stewart. Recorded in former church at Rusholme in Manchester[Studio A] and clamour for tickets. Musically he loved Tom Jones (he wrote sleeve notes for him) Dusty Springfield. Music was more creative then. His personal favourite was Wagner. His mates were David Jacobs and Alan Freeman. Tried to keep his feet on the ground, despite fame.
1.30 Influence of book about birth signs on his way of living. Enjoyment at making hits. Danny Williams, Malcolm Roberts. TOTP and switch to playing to pre-recorded backing tracks and live incident of Jimi Hendrix performing whilst Alan Price backing track played in error. Cites Kenny Everett as best DJ he ever came across, and how on Radio London, Dave Cash was perfect feed for him. Working on Radio 1 and Radio 2 when stations were re-branded. Open House show.
Mary Wilson (Prime Minister’s wife) and Ted Heath (the politician), people like Rita Tushingham, Cliff Richard as guests. Actors always insecure; tour of Open House, including fabulous welcome in Scotland where he was given a kilt to wear. [Becomes quite emotional at memory].
TV sitcom: Mum’s Boys Irene Handl and its London ratings.
BBC Radio performer of the year (Variety Club); Jimmy Saville story.
2pm Midweek [Radio 4]required research. Leaving the BBC and the lesson of not mixing politics and showbusiness. Worked at London Broadcasting Company: (truncated Vice-President of Nicaragua phone interview). Phil Hodson.
2.12 This is Your Life appearance. Marjory Wallace (Miss World). Sad that Colin Chandler was absent. It was an honour but…. Some people he didn’t really know. Influences: hard to say – Derek Chinnery. Barbara Woodhouse was one of his favourite guests. He enjoyed every aspect of his career, but maybe would have liked to do more straight acting.
End: c 2.20pm
Notes by David Sharp. These represent key names and themes but not the detail or nuance of what is said.
*Timings are actual, in absence of stop-watch.