As successor to the popular wartime wireless show ‘Forces Favourites’, ‘Family Favourites’ ( ‘Two-way Family Favourites’ in later years) was broadcast on Sunday lunchtimes on the BBC Light Programme, BBC Radio 2 and British Forces Broadcasting Service until 1980.
It was a request programme designed to link families at home in the UK with British Forces serving in West Germany or elsewhere overseas. It was a huge success.
With its memorable signature tune ‘With a song in my Heart’ written by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart, the programme was presented by a variety of well-known radio personalities including, Cliff Michelmore, Jean Metcalfe (later, his wife), Bill Crozier in Cologne, Michael Aspel, Judith Chalmers and Sarah Kennedy. The final presenter was Jean Challis.
When it expanded it encompassed far-flung corners of the Commonwealth with, among others, Bill Paull being the memorable linkman in Toronto, June Armstrong-Wright from Hong Kong, Ross Symonds from Australia and Marama Martin from New Zealand.
At its peak, 16 million listened in the UK alone. Mention of fiancees and girl friends was taboo; there was no banter and jazz was forbidden on Sundays! After Cliff Michelmore and Jean Metcalfe married in 1950, the presentation was more relaxed.
The PCO presentation is a programme of popular 1950’s and 60’s music selected by the conductor and the music is mostly on hire from the Light Music Society and sponsored by the Friends of the PCO. The dance band songs are from the conductors ever-increasing library!