Nat Temple Page
The Daily Telegraph
Thursday June 5, 2008
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 afterwards.
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 (1946).
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 years.
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.