Grand Hotel

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Wednesday, 6 April, 2011

And now we take you to the Palm Court of the Grand Hotel…” as the announcer used to say, introducing a programme of fine light classical and dance music from the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, on Britain’s South Coast.

Today on Radio Riel’s main stream, we take you back to the dance‐halls of the early to middle 20th Century, from around the mid‐20s to the 50s, characterised by the BBC radio series, Grand Hotel. We’ll also be hearing some classic big‐band recordings and much more.

Broadcasts of light classical music on the BBC started in 1925 from The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne and featured, to quote the Radio Times of the era, ‘Music of the Palm Court Orchestra’. The Lounge Hall of the Grand was used — the hotel did not actually have a Palm Court.

We’ll be featuring the modern‐day Palm Court Orchestra — in fact several different ones, including the Palm Court Orchestra of the Stockholm Philharmonic! Much of the music you’ll hear today is instrumental, but there are some vocal numbers; similarly, the recordings are a mixture of authentic 1920s‐40s dance‐band recordings from the Charleston era and later, and modern light classical dance tunes and other pieces.

The Grand Hotel programme itself ran on Sundays from 1943 to 1973 and was generally broadcast live, usually from the Concert Hall at Broadcasting House but occasionally on location. It was hosted by violinist Albert Sandler until early in 1948 when he was taken ill and left the programme being replaced by Tom Jenkins. Both had previously been musical directors of the Grand Hotel Eastbourne  (Sandler 1924–28 and Jenkins 1938–40). However other hotels were also used, notably the Royal Bath, Bournemouth and these programmes were not called ‘Grand Hotel’.

The programme lapsed for a couple of years before returning for its final series in 1951 when it was pre‐recorded and introduced by Tom Jenkins with the Palm Court Orchestra and guest baritone Alfred Swain. Max Jaffa took over in 1956, succeeding Jean Pougnet, and stayed to the end. Reginald Leopold directed the Palm Court orchestra for 17 years, until 1973.

The programme’s signature tune was the “big tune” from Strauss’sRoses from the South.

Text based on the entry for Grand Hotel in Whirligig, The picture shows Reginald Leopold and his Orchestra rehearsing for Grand Hotel

Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin and produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with our friends at the Alexandrian Free Library Consortium of Second Life. You can listen to the programme in‐world now at, or simply click here to start your player, if your browser is configured to do so. Listeners in the United States are encouraged to tune in using this link:

For more information on the Alexandrian Free Library, current exhibits and the work of Consortium members in general, please visit the Alexandrian Free Library website, or one of their branches in‐world.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alistair Wills October 3, 2017 at 00:43

I do wish a programme like Grand Hotel would return to the radio. We have a dearth of light music programmes these days, with the deletion of Your Hundred Best Tunes, Marching and Waltzing and Melodies for You.
There must surely be a great demand for this kind of programme on either Radio 2 or Radio 3.


Elrik Merlin October 3, 2017 at 02:17

I do agree. There is certainly a dearth of Light Music programming on the radio. That's why I decided to do an occasional programme in which I tried to recreate the feeling of those broadcasts I remember from my childhood.

Thankfully, albeit not on the radio, there remains quite a lot of Light Music activity in the UK - notably through the Light Music Society.

Thank you for writing!


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