Clarinettist and dance-band leader
who frequently appeared on radio and television
Nat Temple, who died on May 30
aged 94, was one of the best-known bandleaders of the post-war
period, particularly celebrated for his work in radio and
television; he was also an exceptionally gifted clarinettist,
whose talent received far less recognition than it deserved.
He was born Nathan Temple at
Tower Hamlets, London, on July 18 1913, the son of a tailor. He
began playing the saxophone aged 14 and the clarinet shortly
He progressed very quickly and
turned professional at 16, joining the band led by the singer
and comedian Sam Costa.
In 1930 he joined Syd Roy's
RKOlians for the opening of the RKO cinema in Leicester Square,
and the following year moved to the band led by Syd's brother,
Harry Roy, one of the country's most popular bandleaders.
Harry Roy played the clarinet
himself, although not particularly well.
In later life Temple revealed
that he himself had played most of the clarinet solos on Harry
Roy's records in the 1930s, and been well paid to do so and keep
quiet about it.
This was probably the reason why
he remained under-appreciated as an instrumentalist, in
comparison to his main rival, Harry Parry. He was, however,
reputed to be the first British clarinettist to execute
successfully the difficult opening glissando of Gershwin's
Rhapsody In Blue.
In 1940 Temple joined the
Grenadier Guards and played with service bands for the rest of
the war, including periods in North Africa and Italy. While
still in the Army he contrived to play from time to time, and
even record, with numerous other bands.
He can be heard on Southern
Fried by Joe Daniels (1941) and playing his own piece,
Canzonetta, with Geraldo (1942). On demobilisation, Temple
formed his own Club Royal Orchestra, whose most popular
recording was his own composition Nattering Around
A chance meeting with the
Canadian actor and comedian Bernard Braden led to Temple's
becoming musical director of a new, "oddball" radio show,
Breakfast With Braden.
This was followed by the
late-night Bedtime With Braden, which gained a sizeable
cult following. In the absence of a studio audience, the only
laughter to be heard came from the band, imparting a bizarre
intimacy to the proceedings.
Temple was cast as the bumbling
bandleader, a part he played so convincingly that he got taken
on in the same role by other shows – Michael Bentine's Round
The Bend, Dick Emery's Emery At Large and Peter
Ustinov's In All Directions.
From these, Temple graduated to
children's television, acting as genial music-master for Jack
In The Box, Telebox and, most famously,
Crackerjack, with Eamonn Andrews.
Later he provided the music for
Frankie Howerd's Nuts In May, The Time Of Your Life,
with Noel Edmonds, and The Russell Harty Show. Temple
also made a speciality of nostalgic music shows, starring in
programmes such as Tune Times With Temple, A Jolly
Good Time and Dance Music Through The Ages.
At the same time, Temple kept up
his career as a working dance-band leader.
From hunt balls, and even
parties at Windsor Castle, to Butlin's holiday camps, he
maintained a busy schedule of live appearances throughout the
1960s and 1970s.
The list of singing stars for
whom he provided accompaniment stretched from Hoagy Carmichael
in the late 1940s to Eartha Kitt and Matt Munro in the 1960s and
Mel Tormé in the 1970s.
In addition to all this, he also
managed to act as musical adviser to Marks & Spencer for 25
Nat Temple continued to lead a
band, although a smaller one than in his heyday, until retiring
on his 90th birthday.
In 1993 the British Academy of
Songwriters, Composers and Authors awarded him its Gold Badge of
Merit. In 1995 he was nominated for an Emmy Award in New York
for his poignant musical soundtrack to two television features –
Igor, Child of Chernobyl and Igor, the Boy Who Dared
to Dream – both directed by his daughter, Mandy Temple.
Nat Temple's wife, Freda,
predeceased him. He is survived by four daughters.