On last week’s gallery I talked about how proud I was of my mum and mentioned that she had sung an aria from Carmen on the first night of Tyne Tees Television in January 1959. Some of you asked to see the video so I managed to get a recording onto my camera and have uploaded it. If you watch the video you will hear a fabulous, strong voice and see a young, vibrant, beautiful woman aged 24. I get tingles every time I watch it.
My mum, who sang as Eileen Brennan, has written the following for you, describing the events of that memorable day:
“Resurrecting the video of Tyne Tees opening night live show, The Big Show, has brought back many amazing memories for me and I am delighted to share them with you.
Tyne Tees Television, a regional commercial station for the North East of England, began broadcasting in January 1959, from a converted warehouse in Newcastle near to the River Tyne.
A live show for the opening night was planned months before when famous impresarios George and Alfred Black, who produced shows in London and Blackpool, held local auditions. I was chosen to perform the Habanera from Carmen: I think I was the only Geordie to appear. Other famous faces on the show were Bill Travers, Virginia McKenna and Bill Maynard plus countless performers and comedians who were famous names in the 1950s.
The atmosphere backstage was exciting yet rather stressful for the producers at times. I found the rehearsals fascinating, getting the chance to sing with a big orchestra when I was more familiar with a piano accompaniment. I remember there was a big fuss concerning hair and make-up: they had a great deal of trouble trying to get my hair to set, constantly washing and re-setting the curls until someone noticed they had been using hand cream instead of setting lotion.
I thoroughly enjoyed my song, supported by the wonderful Malcolm Goddard Dancers. I wasn’t at all nervous though I remember developing a massive headache after the performance.
We had rehearsed a grand finale with all the performers walking down to take their bows but this was a live show, it over-ran and the curtain came down rather too promptly before the show had finished.
I saw this video for the first time in 1989, 30 years after the show was aired, when someone from Tyne Tees gave me a copy. I shed a few tears looking back at myself as a young woman of 25 but I was immensely proud and felt very fortunate that I had a memento of one very special night.
I hope you enjoy watching it.”