Nat Temple Page
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. Nat Temple celebrated his 94th birthday on
July 18th, 2007.
Born in 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
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 many 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. He was also the first 'white' musician to record
Rhapsody in Blue.
Rhapsody in Blue.
Concerto For Clarinet.
On the Sunny Side of the Street.
All the above are about 3Mb downloads
Early post-war residencies at Butlin's and other seaside locations were quickly
succeeded by a chance relationship which
turned him into 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 chose Nat Temple's band to provide the necessary balance for
his sarcastic but friendly humour. It was a successful partnership.
photo - Nat, Freda and his daughters.
Breakfast with Braden began on Saturday morning, 21st January 1950, initially
Bernard I 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
Nat's clever portrayal of a bumbling musician was quickly picked
up by other radio producers who used him in 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.
On television 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 (continued) for younger
viewers included Jack-in-the-Box and Telebox.
Other 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 Starstruck. Tempting though 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 balls and top London
hotels. He even found time to do more summer seasons at Butlin's. Christmas
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 official music
adviser to the latter for more than 25 years.
photo - Nat and Freda celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
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 Melody Maker. Secondly, Nat's 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 Momo, Kenneth Home, Mel Torme 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 upon to brighten it for everybody else which they much
appreciated. His career 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.
Nat Temple, a great entertainer and musician, was married to Freda for over 62 years; sadly Freda died in June 2005. He stopped playing live around 2003 and lived at home, near Woking, Surrey. He had 4 daughters and 6 grandchildren.
Nat Temple died peacefully at home on 30th May 2008.
The Stage Announcement
and comments from the Times
The Stage Obituary
Radio Tribute by Malcolm Laycock, Radio 2, 22nd June 2008 (.mp3 file, about 6Mb).
Tribute by Bryn Williams
Tribute by Mandy Dyer (ne. Temple)