The 1930’s are considered to be the golden age of radio. Listeners in Great Britain did not listen to BBC programmes, but continental stations, the most popular being Radio Luxembourg and Radio Normandy which beamed programmes of popular appeal to Britain. The success of these overseas commercial stations was much due to the fact that the BBC failed on any occasions to give the British people what they wanted to listen to.
Al Bowlly appeared on the BBC as vocalist with a variety of dance bands, some such as Henry Hall and Ambrose with whom he never recorded. He appeared in the late night dance music programmes from 10.30 to midnight with Roy Fox and Lew Stone. Popular gramophone records were seldom played on the BBC, but Christopher Stone, the first D.J , usually played one dance record in his programmes, and often it was Al with Ray Noble.
Apart from appearing as a guest on Henry Hall’s Guest Night, he also sung as vocalist with Henry’s band on one occasion in place of the band’s regular singer, Les Allen. Al Bowlly appeared in a variety of programmes over the BBC, including “Hear, Hear” with Archie de Bear, “One Good Turn” with Ray Noble and “America Calling” with Eddie Pola in addition to light
programmes such as “Crooner’s Corner” and “Friends to Tea”. In America, where all radio was commercial, he appeared in several programmes, the most well-known being the Coty programme with Ray Noble’s American Orchestra. He also broadcast regularly with Al Goodman and his Orchestra, as well as “guesting” with other American Bands.
On the continental stations, Al could frequently be heard. On Radio Lyons he was heard on Sunday and Tuesday nights_on the programmes sponsored by Hinds Honey and Almond Cream, which he opened with the number, “I kiss your hand, madame”. On Hilversum, AI could be heard vocalising with the Ramblers Dance Orchestra. One of the most successful,programmes for Al was on Radio Luxembourg and broadcast Sunday afternoon at 3.45, sponsored by Black Magic Chocolates. The programme presented “Music in the new sweet manner” with Monia Liter directing the Ace of Hearts Orchestra. Al was introduced as “your singer of romantic songs”. Also on Luxembourg, on Sundays, Al Bowlly was featured regularly in the programme “Symingtons Sunday Night Excursion” with Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch and Marjorie Stedeford, together with an excellent band directed by Harry Carr. Al often starred on Radio Eirann’s popular evening programme “Ten minutes with a star” as well as various variety shows on Post Parisien.
Television was on the air for three years during Al’s lifetime, and although documentary evidence has yet to be traced, it is believed Al “guested” on T.V. in 1938 and 1939.
Radio played a very important part in the career of Al Bowlly. He broadcast much material which he never recorded — it is a pity that the vast majority of these are now lost in space for ever.