NAT TEMPLE - STILL "NATTERING
Nat Temple (born 1913)
Many radio and
television programmes relied heavily on musical accompaniment
where the man with the baton discreetly but importantly
complemented the stars of the show. Sometimes he would be drawn
into the script and one of the most successful of those was Nat
Temple who celebrates his 90th birthday on July 18th.
Stepney, East London, his father was a tailor but music was in
the family blood and at the age of only 18 he joined the new
RKOlians formed by Harry Roy's older brother Syd, for the
opening of the RKO cinema at Leicester Square. His
apprenticeship as a clarinet and saxophone player continued with
Harry Roy, Geraldo, Ambrose, Joe Daniels and Lew Stone with
wartime spent partly with the Grenadier Guards and their
regimental band in North Africa and Italy, but also as a session
man on many top band recordings.
In 1944 Nat
formed his own broadcasting band and never looked back. Among
his early singers was Benny Lee, while Frankie Vaughan later
acknowledged the debt he owed to Nat for his great
encouragement. Among the other famous singers he accompanied
were Joy Nichols, Lita Roza, David Whitfield, Anne Shelton,
Beryl Davis, Julie Andrews and the Keynotes. Perhaps his most
famous orchestral recording was Nattering Around.
residencies at Butlin's and other seaside locations were quickly
succeeded by a chance relationship which turned him onto a
household name. Canadian, Bernard Braden, later to be
accompanied by his wife Barbara Kelly, brought a new slant to
radio during the late Forties and he chose Nat Temple's band to
provide the necessary balance for his sarcastic but friendly
humour. It was a successful partnership.
was one of the finest clarinettists of the 20th century and
performed at all the major London venues. His fellow musicians
rated him very highly and he regularly topped their polls.
with Braden began on Saturday morning, 21st January 1950
initially putting Braden alongside his dumb girl friend Pearl
Carr ("Sing Pearl"), second singer stooge Benny Lee, and naive
third stooge, bandleader Nat Temple ("Play, Nat!"). On 19th
September the same year came the advent of the late evening
Bedtime With Braden followed by various sequels including
Between Time; Bathtime; and Bedlam with Braden.
The usually straight BBC announcer was Ronald Fletcher who,
together with Nat (just like Wallace Greenslade in the
contemporary Goon Show), was drawn into the script which
added to the ingenuity and enjoyment.
portrayal of a bumbling musician was quickly picked up by other
radio producers who used him in a similar vein. Good Evening
Each starred comedians Beryl Reid and Ken Platt with Nat as
the manager of a dance hall, while Michael Bentine's Round
the Bend was self-explanatory. Nat also appeared in Third
Division, an unusual experimentary early comedy show on the
Third Programme, in Emery at Large with Dick Emery, and
In All Directions starring Peter Ustinov and Peter Jones.
he was ideal for children and the perfect foil for Eamonn
Andrews in Crackerjack where boys and girls
enthusiastically competed in various quiz games, culminating in
a final round called "Double or Drop" when the contestants were
piled high with prizes until they let something fall on the
floor. Other programmes for younger viewers included
Jack-in-the-Box and Telebox.
television programmes included Nuts in May with Frankie
Howerd, The Time of Your Life with Noel Edmonds, The
Russell Harty Show, Tune Times With Temple, A
Jolly Good Time, Dance Music Through the Ages and
full-time radio and television might have been, however, Nat was
also keen to get out and about. In addition to his duties as the
resident house band for Decca records he was often to be found
on the road playing at University halls and top London hotels.
He even found time to do more summer seasons at Butlin's.
parties at Windsor Castle were given in front of the Queen,
Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother, while other private
functions ranged from Lord Grade and Viscount Norwich to Tesco
and Marks and Spencer! He was also official music adviser to the
latter for more than 25 years.
What was it
that made Nat so professionally well respected by so many
people? Firstly, his outstanding and undeniable natural ability
as clarinettist, being the first Englishman to publicly perform
the difficult introductory glissando to Gershwin's Rhapsody
in Blue. Polished solo performances at both the Royal Albert
and Royal Festival Halls also gave clear indication as to why
his fellow musicians voted him top of a poll conducted by the
even temperament meant he was easy to work with and a natural
foil for comedians and other famous stars, including Eartha Kitt,
George Shearing, Larry Grayson, Fred Perry, Joyce Grenfell, Matt
Munro, Kenneth Horne, Mel Tormé and Paul Daniels. There was
never a danger of Nat stealing the limelight because he was not
that kind of person, but he could be relied on to brighten it
for everybody else which they much appreciated.
spanned more than 70 years and was recognised many times with
international honours. In 1993, aged 80, he was awarded the Gold
Badge of Merit for services to music by the British Academy of
Song-Writers, Composers and Authors (BASCA). Two years later he
was nominated for an Emmy in New York for the music he composed
for two poignant television programmes called Igor, Child of
Chernobyl and Igor, the Boy Who Dared to Dream. He
was also awarded the Freedom of the City of London.
to Nat Temple, a great entertainer and musician and best wishes
to Freda, his wife of 61 years.