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Chapter Thirteen: The 1930s

The 1930s are still within the memory of many people. Gracie Fields – an authentic Lancashire mill-girl – provided one of the enduring celluloid images of the 1930s, marching out at the head of her fellow workers, encouraging us to Sing as We Go. The reputations of light artists of the late 1920s and early 1930s were nevertheless made on radio. Singers such as Arthur Tracy and Cavan O'Connor could reach far beyond the variety theatres; moreover, they attracted new audiences when they topped the bill in them. J. Payne may have founded the BBC Dance Orchestra, but it was to be indelibly associated with his successor Henry Hall, who took it over in 1932. Over the 1930s and into the 1940s, his music was probably given more broadcasting time than that of anybody else, taking the pre-eminence previously held by the Savoy Orpheans.