Music While You Work

23 June 1940

Mr Wynford Reynolds, the 'Music While You Work' organiser, during one of his visits to factories in 1942. Music by Troise and His Banjoliers - first broadcast 19 Oct 1942.

The first edition of Music While You Work aired on 23 June 1940. It was announced in the Radio Times as a "half hour’s music meant specially for factory workers to listen to as they work". It was broadcast twice a day. The first two programmes featured Dudley Beavan at the theatre organ in the morning, and organ trio The Organolists in the afternoon. It proved a hit with general listeners too, becoming a light music institution which outlasted its origins in the dark days of Work War II. From October it also boasted a memorable theme tune in Calling All Workers, written by Eric Coates.

In 1941 Wynford Reynolds was appointed Organiser of Music While You Work, to oversee its output and style. The programme’s form was dictated by the need for it to be heard amid the noise of a factory floor. Thus the music was played as a medley that avoided dynamics and favoured bright simple melodies. Less understandable was the rule – later relaxed - banning the inclusion of rumbas!

Troise and his Banjoliers sign off a broadcast of Music While You Work with Eric Coates' theme tune 'Calling All Workers'.

The final edition of the original run of Music While You Work came in 1967, with a performance by Jimmy Leach and his Organolians, a new version of the band that first appeared in 1940. The programme was revived briefly in the 1980s and 1990s. The BBC continues to support an enormous array of live music performances on radio and all its other platforms.

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