The Winifred Atwell Radio Show

The Winifred Atwell Radio Show
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The Winifred Atwell Show was a British radio series. It starred pianist Winifred Atwell with guest performers. The show was sponsored by Currys, a UK chain of stores retailing electrical goods.

By the 1950s Britain was still emerging from the experiences of the Second World War. Television was taking off but radio was still a popular medium. Upbeat programs like The Winifred Atwell Show represented the mood for a more hopeful future and Britain was going through a brief honky-tonk craze.

In the mid 1950s, the pre-rock’n’roll days, Trinidadian-born Winifred was undoubtedly one of Britain’s most popular entertainers with her cheerful personality and honky-tonk ragtime music. In 1954 she had a number one hit with 'Let’s Have Another Party' and became the first black musician in the UK to sell a million records.

This episode of The Winifred Atwell Show captures Winifred's virtuoso playing - she plays in a beat and Latin style, as well as her usual ragtime numbers - but not her personality. It seems far too formal a presentation for her larger-than-life personality. Similarly, without being able to see Winifred playing, it fails to capture her charisma and the way she could connect with her audience. Honky-tonk music was meant to be played in smoky drinking houses frequented by the working class; its rough energy doesn't readily transfer to conservative British radio.

This is program no. 7128, broadcast on 13 December 1953.