Bill Kenwright is to present three BBC Radio 2 documentary programmes celebrating the life and music of Tony Hatch, the former head chorister who went on to become one of Britain’s leading composers, songwriters, arrangers and producers. Downtown, I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love and the theme tunes to Neighbours and Crossroads are just a few of Hatch’s songs and compositions, and he was hugely instrumental in the careers of both Petula Clark and The Searchers. The BBC documentaries are to mark Hatch’s 70th birthday in June.
In the first programme, Colour My World – The Tony Hatch Story, Bill traces Tony’s early years from the 12-year-old hooked on the light orchestras of Mantovani and Stanley Black to the international success of Downtown. The programme includes an exclusive contribution from Tony himself and hears from some of the people involved in those early years, including Julie Grant, who was one of his earliest signings to PYE records.
John McNally of The Searchers talks about the moment when Brian Epstein didn’t sign the band and they thought they’d missed the boat for the so-called British Invasion, until Tony arrived in Liverpool and signed them immediately. Fellow Searcher Frank Allen talks about the impact that Tony’s involvement had on The Searchers’ career and Petula Clark recalls the moment she first heard the piano intro to Downtown.
The second programme looks at Hatch’s golden years following the success of Downtown, when Tony notched up a string of hits with Petula Clark, including I Know A Place, You’re The One – co-written with Petula, Don’t Sleep In The Subway and I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love.
The documentary looks at his time with fellow songster Jackie Trent, who Tony began working with in 1963 and eventually married. Together, they formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in pop-music history, earning them the tag “Mr and Mrs Music”, writing and recording songs together – as well as for other artists such as Scott Walker.
Petula Clark discusses the songs that made her want to sing and her reluctance to record My Love, which went on to become a No. 1 hit in America. There is also archive material of Jackie Trent recalling the first song she wrote with Tony and talking about recording The Two Of Us, which made them household names in Australia.
Tony, meanwhile, explains his songwriting style and shares his thoughts on being called the “British Burt Bacharach”.
The third and final part of Colour My World – The Tony Hatch Story goes back to 1964 when Tony was commissioned by Reg Watson to write his first television theme, for Crossroads. Reg talks about how, 20 years later, he heard Tony’s composition for Neighbours and knew that the song was perfect for the show. Barry Crocker, who provided the vocals on the original version, talks about the day that he recorded it with Tony.
Tony was soon in huge demand, penning the theme tunes for Sportsnight, Man Alive and Emmerdale, among many others. He also earned himself a fearsome reputation as “The Hatchet Man” on talent show New Faces. He and his wife, Jackie, then moved into musical theatre, providing the music and lyrics for stage musical The Card.
Theatre impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh talks about his work with Tony on The Card and American producer Victoria Laing explains why she included nine of Tony’s songs in her current stage show, Shout – The Mod Musical.
Episode One airs on Friday June 19th at 7.00pm, Episode Two airs Friday 26th June at 7.00pm with Episode Three broadcasting at 7.00pm on Friday July 3rd.
Further BBC programming
- Following the first episode of Colour My World, listeners have another chance to hear BBC Radio 2’s celebration of Tony Hatch’s music in an episode of Friday Night Is Music Night, which saw a galaxy of stars take to the stage at London’s Mermaid Theatre.
- Tony Hatch is also Ken Bruce’s guest across the week starting Monday June 22nd. Tony will be picking The Tracks Of My Years on BBC Radio 2 from 9.30am. His selection includes music by Scott Walker, The Beach Boys, Bonnie Tyler, The Searchers, Queen and Sweet Sensation.