Dame Vera Lynn: Happy 100th Birthday


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Dame Vera Lynn: Happy 100th Birthday

A birthday tribute celebrating the life and work of Dame Vera Lynn, seeing her humility shine through as she really can't understand what all the fuss is about.


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APPLAUSE

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MUSIC: We'll Meet Again sung by Dame Vera Lynn

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One of Britain's greatest national treasures, Dame Vera Lynn,

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is 100 years old.

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She's the working-class girl from the East End of London

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who became the voice of a nation.

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# ..Some sunny day... #

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As we celebrate Dame Vera's life, we share a century of memories...

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We saw a few Japanese soldiers.

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Woke up one morning and found four of them outside my hut.

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..see the private wife and mother through her personal family films,

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and meet the veterans from the front line

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who talk of the hope she brought them.

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When we were out there, she was the whole world, really.

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We were all singing and crying at the same time,

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all putting our arms round one another.

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# ..I won't be long... #

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We discover how Dame Vera became a British legend

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and gave such joy to so many.

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When you listen to that voice, there's a kind of...tingle.

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She's like family, even though you may never have met her.

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You feel like you've got a contact, there's a bond with her.

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I would put Vera Lynn very high on the list

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of unique contributors to our civilisation.

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She really is one of the

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great British popular music artists of all time.

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This is Dame Vera's story,

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and she's still singing and enjoying life in her 100th year.

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# ..I won't be long...

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# They'll be happy to know

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# That as you saw me so

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# I was singing this song. #

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# There'll be bluebirds over

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# The white cliffs of Dover... #

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What are you thinking when you watch yourself from years ago?

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Oh, God.

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SHE LAUGHS

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How slim I was.

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# ..The shepherd will tend his sheep

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# And the valley will bloom again... #

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It was here in London's East Ham that Vera Lynn was born.

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Now, for most of us,

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when we think of her, we think of the Second World War,

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but in fact she was born during the First World War,

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on March 20th 1917.

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By the time she was seven, she was already singing in public,

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a little working-class girl singing in working men's clubs.

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So how did someone with absolutely no formal musical training

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go on to have a stellar singing career

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that would span nearly a whole century?

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Born Vera Welch to dad Bertram, a plumber,

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and mum Annie, a dressmaker, the Welch family loved music,

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and quickly realised that Vera had a good voice,

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so good that she fast became the family's main breadwinner.

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# ..Just keep on wishing... #

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I didn't want my photograph taken.

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-You can tell.

-No.

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That's why I'm looking so gloomy.

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You took for your stage name Lynn, didn't you?

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Yeah, it was my grandmother's maiden name. It was Irish.

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-Because Lynn sounded better than Welch.

-Yes, yes.

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-It was easier for publicity.

-Mm.

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-I thought it sounded nice.

-Yeah.

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There's Mum,

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and Dad, with a cigarette in his mouth.

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Fancy sitting on the sand in clothes like that today.

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THEY LAUGH

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-There was no bikinis in those days.

-No.

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She put me on the stage.

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Were you sort of doing it more for your mum than for yourself?

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Singing, yes, for Mum, yeah.

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"Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington."

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VIRGINIA LAUGHS

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Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Welch.

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VIRGINIA LAUGHS

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# Yours till the stars lose their glory

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# Yours till the birds fail to sing

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# Yours to the end of... #

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The voice was so genuine.

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It was unfiltered, it wasn't a trained voice,

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and it never has sounded like a trained voice.

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She just opened her throat

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and out it came, this clear,

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vibrant, full of emotion,

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bell-like voice,

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and it stopped you in your tracks.

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Even though she's technically brilliant, she gets the emotion.

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You get some singers who are technically superb,

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but you're not quite sure they really care what the song is,

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they're just showing off.

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With Vera, I always felt the key thing is that she understands

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exactly what the song has to get over,

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and she does it brilliantly.

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It's a very clear voice.

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And it's sincere.

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You know? You get the feeling that she's singing from the heart.

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-VIRGINIA:

-Did you like singing when you were very young?

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Erm, I was all right once I was on.

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In full swing, I was OK.

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Once they found I could sing, they used to take me all round

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all the working men's clubs in London.

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They were great audiences.

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The working men's clubs

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were an excellent training ground for Vera,

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and out of them would develop the singing style

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we know and love today.

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So, even as a tiddler,

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she was all already being billed in the East End

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as the girl with the different voice.

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-What was that?

-I think it was mainly cos the girls of that age,

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you didn't expect them to be belters,

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-and she was an early belter.

-And what is a belter?

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Well, to be heard, she would have to belt to the back of the hall,

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really going with the lyric,

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to get across the noise, people with drinks,

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because they wouldn't all sit politely.

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They were in working men's clubs in the East End.

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There were no microphones in those days.

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Cos my voice was much louder,

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cos I sang in a higher key.

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Mm.

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When you started using the microphone,

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I had to lower my tone of my voice.

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Ooh!

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Very heavily, I bring in the microphone.

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Which, presumably, helped her no end.

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Well, it was a great invention,

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but in some ways it was difficult for Vera, cos she was so used

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to projecting,

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and microphones don't like loud voices.

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In fact, it led us into the more intimate sound

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that we're so used to.

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We think we know her voice so well, but actually that was

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almost like the second chapter of Vera's voice, wasn't it?

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-Yeah?

-Yeah.

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Did you never have singing lessons, apart from when you were older,

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-and that didn't last long, did it?

-No, I didn't have singing lessons.

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I just went once.

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I thought I could extend my range,

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but when she heard me sing she says,

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POSH ACCENT: "No, I can't train that voice.

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"It's not a natural voice."

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So I said, "Well, thank you very much, madam," and left.

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I wonder if she ever heard me when I was on the radio after that?

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# If you love me, really love me...

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# Let it happen

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# I won't care... #

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Radio was to come calling for Vera.

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She was about to make the transition from East End to West End.

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One night, aged 15, singing here at Poplar Baths,

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Vera was spotted by local bandleader Howard Baker,

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who signed her up on the spot.

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She was going to be catapulted into the glamorous world

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of the big band scene.

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They all needed singers to perform a few songs for them,

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and one of the greatest band leaders of the day was Joe Loss,

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with whom Vera had her first radio broadcast,

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and then this cinema short.

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# Love

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# Is like a cigarette

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# Love seemed to fade away

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# And leave behind

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# Ashes of regret

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# And with a flip of your fingertip

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# It was easy for you to forget

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# Love is like a cigarette... #

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There were a lot of female singers, many far more glamorous than Vera,

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but apart from her wonderful vocals, her calling card was,

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and always has been, her authenticity.

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And the public warmed to her, both in the clubs and then on BBC radio,

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where she was making regular appearances.

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Vera would spend hours leafing through sheet music

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in the publishing houses of London's Denmark Street,

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looking for a potential hit.

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And in 1936, aged 19,

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she had her first solo record,

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called Up The Wooden Hill To Bedfordshire.

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# Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire... #

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So, as Vera got bigger and bigger and better known,

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presumably once she was arriving in Denmark Street,

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everybody would get pretty excited.

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Yeah. Oh, there was a real buzz,

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and writers would try and get their song to her.

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What I'm always fascinated though, about her,

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she could never read music, could she?

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No. I mean, a lot of singers who don't read music

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will follow the vocal line and think, oh, that looks nice,

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it's got a nice look to it.

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First of all, I would look at the lyrics and if I liked the lyrics,

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then I would listen to the tune,

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cos I thought the lyrics were more important than the music.

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Mm. Mm.

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And, erm...

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I liked it, we set the keys and...

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..the arranger would come and hear me sing it,

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so that he would know where to put the emphasis on any backing.

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# One evening long ago A big ship was leaving... #

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Vera had a real talent for picking her own songs,

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trusting her instinct, knowing what she was good at,

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and that would prove to be the key to her enduring success.

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By the age of just 22, she'd sold over a million records,

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she bought her parents a house,

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she bought herself a little car, life was sweet.

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But then war broke out,

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and Vera worried that that could signal the end of her career.

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Little did she know it would in fact become her

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and her country's finest hour.

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No such undertaking has been received,

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and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.

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AIR-RAID SIREN WAILS

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She was more than just a recording singer,

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she was the voice of an era

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when civilisation was actually under siege.

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When she first became famous,

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the lyrics really mattered,

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because England was...

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..a fortress.

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# Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye... #

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The Government quickly realised that entertainment on the home front

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was vital to boost morale

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and give the great British public some respite from

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the horrors of the bombings.

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Sheet music, or programmes, or something here.

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Erm... This is the London Palladium, August 1941,

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which was in aid of the Widows & Orphans Fund.

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Even though all the bombs were dropping during the war,

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my mother still did all the shows.

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One night, she had to stay over

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and they sat with their backs against one of the heavy walls,

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the big walls, because that was the safest place to be,

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and then eventually she got fed up and decided to drive home!

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But she and other performers continued throughout the war.

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-Oh, look, your Austin.

-Oh, look, my little Austin Ten.

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-I love the hat, don't you?

-Yeah.

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Snazzy hat. I went everywhere in that little car,

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all through the streets, with the raid on.

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You used not to like going down to the Underground, did you?

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You preferred to just drive home.

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No, it was so hot,

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so I used to get fed up after a while and go up the top

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and I thought, well, I'll take a chance.

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If there's anything up there for me, I'll get it,

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no matter where I am.

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# Close your eyes... #

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One night, whilst performing, Vera met the man she would marry,

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clarinet player Harry Lewis.

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You first met Daddy

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when he was playing in the orchestra, didn't you?

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Yes, in the Squadronaires.

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It was a great band, that, Squadronaires.

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There was all the leading musicians

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-that were in the business.

-Yeah.

-All joined up together.

-Yeah.

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And Harry and Vera married before he was sent away to fight.

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# Let's pretend that we're both... #

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Already huge on the variety circuit,

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Vera became an even bigger star when she was given her very own

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BBC radio show, called Sincerely Yours.

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Sincerely yours, Vera Lynn.

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# My curtain of night will...#

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We lived in a council house.

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And in the living room,

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you'd have your couch and a couple of armchairs

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and a fireplace,

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and there would be the radio.

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It was your world.

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So you would hear Vera's songs on the radio all the time.

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We had really no idea how Vera Lynn looked.

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I imagine that she must have looked rather like my mother...

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on a good day.

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I imagined that she wore gloves and perhaps even a hat.

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Perhaps she had a little fascinator, a little veil.

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She was probably very nice, I thought.

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When I was little, Mummy and Daddy would park me by the radio

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to listen, and on would come this wonderful voice.

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# By the fireside... #

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And my mother was herself a singer, only amateur, of course,

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but she was in the finals of the

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1936 Golden Voice competition of England.

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Erm, it was a bit like... the X Factor, only classier.

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And she would say,

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"Now, listen to this, Miriam,

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"because this is special."

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# A little kiss... #

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It seemed to me that the voice,

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that wonderful diction,

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that warm, intimate mezzo-soprano, Vera Lynn,

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was as much a part of the Second World War

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as the voice of Winston Churchill.

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'Dear boys,

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'this letter of mine is getting to be a sort of rendezvous,

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'where husbands and wives...'

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It was a good way of trying to communicate

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with the boys that were away.

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# I'm yours sincerely...

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# I'm sincerely yours. #

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'I've been getting all kinds of letters

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'from people with worries,

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'asking me what I'd do in their situation.'

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The show was an instant success, a mixture of chat, song and letters.

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New-born baby announcements from the wives Vera visited,

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and requests from soldiers abroad.

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'This time, I have a tune that sings of the peace and calm

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'of married life, of cosy evenings by the fireside.'

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Music had always been vital in raising an army's morale,

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but crucially, this was the first conflict in which rather than

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singing the songs themselves,

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the troops could now hear someone else singing them on the radio,

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and not just in Europe, but all over the world.

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I used to go round, visiting the soldiers' wives.

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She's got rather a sparkly garment on for being in bed.

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Did you enjoy visiting, you know, the mothers in the hospitals?

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Oh, yes. It was nice... taking messages.

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Vera chose one of her favourite songs, We'll Meet Again,

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as her radio signing-off tune each week.

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'And that's all my news and music.

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'You'll hear from me again next week.

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'Goodnight, boys.

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'Sincerely yours, Vera Lynn.'

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# We'll meet again...

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# Don't know where... #

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We'll Meet Again, how did you find that?

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-I sang it before the war.

-Yeah.

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It was just a song that was sent to me, and I rather liked the lyric.

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I thought, that's a good song,

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you know, cos it goes with anyone, anywhere,

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-saying goodbye to someone, or parting, you know.

-Hmm.

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We'll meet again.

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# ..Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds

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# Far away... #

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-Let's talk about the great We'll Meet Again.

-Mm.

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What is it about this song that gets us all, even now, every time?

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I think the structure of this song is really wonderful

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in that it's very simple. It goes...

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HE PLAYS THE TUNE ON PIANO

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So we've had that. And then exactly the same thing happens,

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but in a slightly higher place.

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TUNE PLAYED IN HIGHER KEY

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Is it just that it's easy for us to remember

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and therefore it becomes familiar more easily?

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I think so. Yes, exactly, because we can...

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That first idea goes into our head

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and then when we get it again,

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we sort of know where it's going to go.

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So we feel comfortable with it?

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We feel comfortable with it and the lyric,

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"I know we'll meet again some sunny day,

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"keep smiling through, just like you always do,

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"till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away."

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It's stirring stuff, you know?

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Perhaps her two biggest hits,

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um, in the war,

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the ones that we remember best now,

0:19:250:19:28

were White Cliffs Of Dover and We'll Meet Again.

0:19:280:19:32

And the lyric in both those songs

0:19:320:19:36

has the same message, told in different ways.

0:19:360:19:40

And it's just a message of optimism.

0:19:400:19:42

Times are pretty grim,

0:19:420:19:44

but we know they will change.

0:19:440:19:46

Vera Lynn told us something.

0:19:460:19:49

And of course, it was a message the allied world needed.

0:19:490:19:53

She sang songs of optimism,

0:19:530:19:57

hope,

0:19:570:19:59

redemption, reunion.

0:19:590:20:01

It was at a time when it was very unlikely that we would win the war.

0:20:010:20:08

If I was one of these guys who was away, fighting a war,

0:20:080:20:11

how amazing would it be to hear Vera's beautiful voice

0:20:110:20:16

singing about home?

0:20:160:20:18

People could identify with her. They felt this is, in one sense,

0:20:180:20:22

an ordinary person singing what we feel.

0:20:220:20:25

It was the fact that she was

0:20:250:20:27

like somebody you might know in your street.

0:20:270:20:30

She's part of your household.

0:20:300:20:32

She's one of those people that...

0:20:320:20:34

She's like family, even though you may never have met her.

0:20:340:20:39

You feel like you've got a contact, there's a bond with her.

0:20:390:20:43

Vera's popularity, both home and abroad,

0:20:450:20:47

was such that she won the British Expeditionary Force's

0:20:470:20:51

favourite singer poll,

0:20:510:20:52

beating the likes of Bing Crosby and Judy Garland.

0:20:520:20:56

The Forces' sweetheart was officially born.

0:20:560:20:59

# ..Stars twinkle... #

0:20:590:21:03

What happened next was quite extraordinary,

0:21:030:21:06

because, of course, the troops all adored Vera.

0:21:060:21:09

But there were some military advisers and some MPs

0:21:090:21:11

who feared that her sentimental songs

0:21:110:21:14

were turning the soldiers a bit soft.

0:21:140:21:17

And I've got a couple of internal memos here

0:21:170:21:19

that would've been written and circulated here at the BBC in 1942.

0:21:190:21:22

And one of them refers to them

0:21:220:21:24

trying to find more virile and less slushy material.

0:21:240:21:26

There's also a line, though,

0:21:260:21:28

which jumps out at me, which says that it's rather difficult to find

0:21:280:21:32

cheerful songs that Vera Lynn is willing to sing.

0:21:320:21:36

And this does remind us that she knew her fan base really well,

0:21:360:21:39

she knew what they wanted,

0:21:390:21:41

and also, she was not prepared to be pushed around.

0:21:410:21:44

However, for a while, despite Sincerely Yours

0:21:440:21:47

being one of the BBC's most popular programmes ever,

0:21:470:21:49

it was taken off the air.

0:21:490:21:51

The songs Vera sung were always...

0:21:510:21:54

They were always strong, they were good, they made sense.

0:21:540:21:57

They didn't talk down, but at the same time,

0:21:570:21:59

they were simple and straightforward.

0:21:590:22:02

And people got them.

0:22:020:22:04

I find it hard to believe that anybody at the BBC at the time

0:22:040:22:07

thought that they were over-sentimental.

0:22:070:22:10

I mean, what did they want? Did they want rap?

0:22:100:22:13

They said it was too sentimental.

0:22:130:22:15

Make the boys homesick. VIRGINIA LAUGHS

0:22:150:22:18

But it didn't.

0:22:180:22:21

# Faraway places... #

0:22:210:22:23

I did hear it said that the BBC has banned you from radio,

0:22:230:22:27

and your sentimental way of singing

0:22:270:22:28

was bad for the morale of the troops.

0:22:280:22:31

My morale was boosted 200% last night.

0:22:310:22:34

I can hardly tell you how grateful all the mothers, sisters,

0:22:340:22:37

sweethearts and wives of these men are to you for bringing

0:22:370:22:40

so much pleasure into the lives of their menfolk,

0:22:400:22:43

which must be pretty grim in...

0:22:430:22:45

Something about your voice, Vera, that I can't explain.

0:22:450:22:48

It holds us all spellbound when you sing,

0:22:480:22:50

as though you're putting every bit of your heart and soul into it.

0:22:500:22:53

We, who have been out here for so long,

0:22:530:22:56

know what it is to hear the loving tenderness of a woman's voice.

0:22:560:22:59

I wonder if you would sing a song for me some time.

0:22:590:23:03

Vera continued to work tirelessly on the home front,

0:23:050:23:09

but no longer able to sing to the troops on her radio show,

0:23:090:23:12

she decided it was time to go and sing to them in person.

0:23:120:23:15

And so she joined up -

0:23:150:23:17

to the Entertainments National Service Association,

0:23:170:23:20

ENSA for short.

0:23:200:23:22

Vera could easily have decided to entertain the troops in Europe.

0:23:270:23:31

But instead, she opted to visit the soldiers

0:23:310:23:33

in the forgotten war in Burma,

0:23:330:23:35

as they were trying to repel the brutal Japanese army

0:23:350:23:38

from marching west into British-controlled India.

0:23:380:23:42

Vera arrived there in April 1944,

0:23:420:23:45

at the start of a major enemy offensive.

0:23:450:23:48

-Yes, Burma, the hats.

-Yeah.

0:23:520:23:55

What really decided you to go to Burma?

0:23:550:23:59

Well, I just wanted to go somewhere that nobody had been before.

0:24:000:24:05

-Yeah.

-Any artists.

0:24:050:24:08

So they said, "Well, nobody's gone to Burma yet."

0:24:080:24:12

So I said, "Right, that's where I'll go."

0:24:120:24:16

Cos it was very hot and humid out there, wasn't it?

0:24:170:24:20

-Very hot.

-Mm.

0:24:200:24:21

-Couldn't wear make-up, only a lipstick.

-Mm.

0:24:210:24:25

That was the first mistake I made, putting make-up on.

0:24:250:24:30

And the other one was...

0:24:300:24:32

Having a perm, wasn't it?

0:24:320:24:34

Oh, yes, I shouldn't have had a perm.

0:24:340:24:37

I had terrible trouble.

0:24:370:24:39

It would've been easier to control with my hair straight.

0:24:400:24:44

THEY LAUGH

0:24:440:24:45

It went all fizzy.

0:24:450:24:47

I think four of us went down to see her.

0:24:500:24:52

How we found it, I don't know, really!

0:24:520:24:56

I know we travelled for two hours through the jungle to get there.

0:24:560:25:00

It was packed out with servicemen.

0:25:000:25:02

We were all pushing to get as close as we could, really,

0:25:020:25:05

to where she was.

0:25:050:25:07

# It's a lovely day... #

0:25:070:25:10

I can't remember whether she had musicians with her,

0:25:100:25:13

or anybody else at all. No, it was just Vera for us.

0:25:130:25:17

HE LAUGHS

0:25:170:25:19

We were all singing and crying at the same time,

0:25:190:25:23

all putting our arms around one another.

0:25:230:25:26

It was just great to see her, really.

0:25:280:25:30

To think what we were going through there,

0:25:300:25:34

it was a good bottle of medicine, it really was.

0:25:340:25:37

# We'll meet again...

0:25:380:25:41

# Don't know where... #

0:25:410:25:43

Mm. Not easy.

0:25:470:25:49

She felt, I think,

0:25:490:25:51

a real commitment to those lads out there fighting.

0:25:510:25:57

She felt that it was somehow a duty,

0:25:570:26:01

not an onerous duty, but one that she wanted to fulfil.

0:26:010:26:06

To entertain them,

0:26:060:26:08

to give them something to take their mind off the horrors

0:26:080:26:11

of what they were going through.

0:26:110:26:14

-VIRGINIA:

-There's Len on the left.

0:26:140:26:17

-Mm.

-You just had Len Edwards on piano, didn't you?

0:26:170:26:20

Yes, we used to carry that around with us.

0:26:200:26:23

Not literally.

0:26:230:26:25

-No!

-In a little...

0:26:250:26:27

In a little truck.

0:26:270:26:28

It didn't suffer

0:26:280:26:31

an awful lot, when you're considering the state of the roads.

0:26:310:26:35

But we did have a trouble at one time,

0:26:350:26:39

when we just started the concert

0:26:390:26:42

and the sides fell off of the piano.

0:26:420:26:45

And the boys had to rush up and hold the sides on

0:26:450:26:49

before we could continue the programme.

0:26:490:26:53

VERA LAUGHS

0:26:530:26:55

A lot of flies around out there, weren't there?

0:26:550:26:58

Oh, yes, they use to settle on my bowl of soup,

0:26:580:27:01

and I used to have to skim them off with my spoon.

0:27:010:27:04

And try and duck underneath the flies so I could get some soup.

0:27:040:27:10

I am a real fan of Vera because she

0:27:130:27:17

did so much to cheer us up when things looked grim.

0:27:170:27:22

She was the Forces' sweetheart very quickly.

0:27:220:27:25

She was one of us, singing to us.

0:27:250:27:27

And she came all the way out there

0:27:270:27:30

at a certain risk to entertain us and cheer us up.

0:27:300:27:35

I went to Burma in January 1944.

0:27:370:27:42

It was a bad year for monsoon.

0:27:420:27:45

-We suffered.

-It rained practically every day.

0:27:450:27:48

And very, very heavy.

0:27:480:27:50

One evening, somebody came into the area and shouted,

0:27:510:27:56

Vera Lynn's going to be singing at so-and-so.

0:27:560:27:59

# Show me the way... #

0:27:590:28:01

It was on the end of some paddy fields.

0:28:010:28:05

She was singing underneath a light in the darkness.

0:28:050:28:09

And she was singing away, reached a high note,

0:28:090:28:12

and one of our many flying bugs hit her in the face.

0:28:120:28:16

And she went, "Oh,"

0:28:160:28:17

put her hand up to whack it away,

0:28:170:28:20

and looked and she said, "I think I'd better start again."

0:28:200:28:23

Which she did with no problem,

0:28:230:28:26

and just carried on and did the rest of the programme.

0:28:260:28:28

As soon as she finished,

0:28:280:28:31

I'm sure the Japanese are just cheering and clapping.

0:28:310:28:34

It was absolutely marvellous

0:28:340:28:37

that she should come there

0:28:370:28:39

when so many of our entertainers didn't.

0:28:390:28:44

I had a wife and daughter waiting for me at home.

0:28:440:28:47

She brought them closer.

0:28:470:28:49

# Faraway places... #

0:28:490:28:51

There is no object to this letter,

0:28:510:28:53

it's just that I felt I must show my appreciation of you

0:28:530:28:57

travelling over 6,000 miles to sing for the boys...

0:28:570:29:00

I've just received a letter from my eldest son in hospital in Burma,

0:29:000:29:03

who tells me how you paid him a visit and how you entertained them.

0:29:030:29:07

In the jungle, where radios aren't up to standard,

0:29:070:29:10

and there's not so many anyhow, we've been inspired and comforted,

0:29:100:29:14

so we wish to proclaim you our 1st Battalion sweetheart.

0:29:140:29:17

Somebody ought to get cracking now with, I suggest,

0:29:170:29:20

Sweetheart of the Jungle.

0:29:200:29:21

You're the first English girl I have seen and heard

0:29:210:29:24

in this part of the world.

0:29:240:29:25

There's a bag here we've found, with all Mummy's Burma stuff.

0:29:370:29:41

Erm... Oh, those are the terribly fetching trousers

0:29:410:29:45

which she wore.

0:29:450:29:47

And here are the terribly fetching shorts.

0:29:470:29:51

Mummy was terribly tiny.

0:29:510:29:54

Lots of photographs of her, you know, with a tiny, tiny waist.

0:29:540:29:57

And the hat.

0:29:570:30:00

I can pop the hat on if you want.

0:30:010:30:03

There are probably quite a few hats knocking around

0:30:070:30:09

with her signature on them,

0:30:090:30:10

because that's what they used to get her to sign,

0:30:100:30:12

as they didn't have anything else.

0:30:120:30:14

And the boys obviously signed Mummy's hat

0:30:140:30:16

as a sort of remembrance thing.

0:30:160:30:18

Mansell, Vernon and Prowse.

0:30:180:30:22

Yeah, I wonder what happened to all those hats.

0:30:270:30:31

I bet the troops were glad to see you, were they, when you went out?

0:30:310:30:34

Oh, yes. Always went around with me to make sure I was OK.

0:30:340:30:40

We saw a few Japanese soldiers.

0:30:400:30:42

Woke up one morning and found four of them outside my hut.

0:30:420:30:48

Just sitting there on the ground.

0:30:480:30:50

They came in the camp during the night and were captured.

0:30:510:30:56

I was in the Royal Berkshire Regiment. I was in Burma in '43.

0:30:590:31:03

It came along the grapevine that Vera Lynn was in the area.

0:31:030:31:06

And she put on a concert,

0:31:060:31:08

believe it or not, right in the front line,

0:31:080:31:11

at the bottom of Garrison Hill in Kohima itself,

0:31:110:31:14

where the major battle took place eventually.

0:31:140:31:18

We thought that she's come too far,

0:31:180:31:20

but I understand she insisted on coming up to the front line.

0:31:200:31:23

To me, that was bravery.

0:31:230:31:26

I was on patrol at the time

0:31:270:31:29

and I could hear cheering and singing in the distance.

0:31:290:31:32

One of my mates said, "Do you know what?

0:31:320:31:34

"I hear Vera Lynn's in the area somewhere."

0:31:340:31:37

I said, "Yeah, she's not too far away,

0:31:370:31:39

"probably a couple of hundred yards away."

0:31:390:31:41

I said, "We'll have to try and make our way down there

0:31:410:31:43

"and see if we can see her."

0:31:430:31:45

And a Japanese chap suddenly come from out of the bushes...

0:31:450:31:49

I shot at him, his helmet came off.

0:31:500:31:53

Fell to the floor.

0:31:530:31:55

And I noticed there was something inside and folded up neatly,

0:31:550:31:59

as neatly as you like.

0:31:590:32:00

It was the Japanese flag. So I took that out,

0:32:000:32:04

put it in my pocket, and went down to see if we could find Vera.

0:32:040:32:08

# When they sound the last all clear... #

0:32:080:32:15

When I got there, she was right bang in front of me.

0:32:150:32:19

I said, "Hello, Vera," I said, "Would you like this?"

0:32:190:32:21

"Oh, yes," she said. And she picked it up and she said,

0:32:210:32:26

"They've got better silk in these flags than I've got in my knickers."

0:32:260:32:30

HE LAUGHS

0:32:300:32:32

Vera coming down in a situation like that, she was a very brave lady.

0:32:320:32:36

Very brave lady.

0:32:360:32:37

Were you ever frightened?

0:32:390:32:41

No, I knew I was being taken good care of.

0:32:410:32:44

The boys never left my side.

0:32:440:32:47

I don't think that the troops wanted to go to bed with her, particularly.

0:32:470:32:52

They wanted to sit down and have a cup of tea

0:32:520:32:55

and share what they had been through with her.

0:32:550:33:00

She was more of a sister figure.

0:33:000:33:03

She wasn't un-sexy, but it just was irrelevant.

0:33:030:33:07

It didn't matter.

0:33:070:33:09

Vera Lynn didn't sing sexy songs.

0:33:090:33:12

But she made patriotism sexy.

0:33:140:33:17

# There'll always be an England... #

0:33:170:33:22

With the tide turning in favour of the Allies,

0:33:220:33:25

Vera returned to England and, despite earlier doubts,

0:33:250:33:28

was invited back to host another series of her radio show,

0:33:280:33:31

which once again broadcast both at home and abroad.

0:33:310:33:36

# ..On our way... #

0:33:360:33:40

We spent three-and-three-quarter years

0:33:430:33:46

as slave workers of the Japanese. We had no contact

0:33:460:33:50

with the world at all.

0:33:500:33:52

We could have been on the back of the moon.

0:33:520:33:55

And we had been freed, and I think the RAF had dropped us a radio.

0:33:550:34:01

We were sitting in the jungle in the middle of the night.

0:34:010:34:05

Suddenly, there's this voice,

0:34:050:34:07

suddenly that's England I'm listening to.

0:34:070:34:10

Here is our song together tonight.

0:34:100:34:12

# Night and day... #

0:34:120:34:16

That is actually Vera Lynn's voice.

0:34:160:34:19

# ..Only you beneath the moonlight... #

0:34:200:34:23

It was such a shock to be sitting in a POW camp

0:34:230:34:29

and hearing this voice coming from England.

0:34:290:34:33

# It don't matter, darling Where you are... #

0:34:330:34:35

The impact was tremendous.

0:34:350:34:36

And we just sat there and no-one said a word, we just listened.

0:34:360:34:41

We knew her before the war as an ordinary entertainer.

0:34:420:34:46

But when we were out there, she was more than that.

0:34:460:34:49

She was the whole world, really.

0:34:490:34:51

# There'll be bluebirds over

0:34:510:34:58

# The white cliffs of Dover... #

0:34:580:35:02

To hear her say there will be

0:35:020:35:04

bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover,

0:35:040:35:08

I could see those cliffs,

0:35:080:35:11

and I thought, "We are going home."

0:35:110:35:13

# ..There'll be love and laughter

0:35:130:35:17

# And peace ever after

0:35:170:35:23

# Tomorrow, when the world is free... #

0:35:230:35:29

What made you choose the White Cliffs Of Dover?

0:35:290:35:33

Because it was the last thing the boys saw when they went away,

0:35:330:35:39

and the first thing they saw on the way back.

0:35:390:35:43

Optimistic song - there will be bluebirds -

0:35:430:35:46

although we didn't have any bluebirds.

0:35:460:35:48

No, that was American, wasn't it?

0:35:480:35:50

But it was just a symbol of happiness, a bluebird.

0:35:500:35:54

# There'll be bluebirds over... #

0:35:540:35:57

As a kid under the age of ten, I could sing that song,

0:35:570:36:03

as I was frequently asked to do to entertain the aunties.

0:36:030:36:08

And without knowing what the white cliffs of Dover were,

0:36:090:36:13

or what kind of birds were bluebirds.

0:36:130:36:16

This was a song that was recorded by Glenn Miller, who was a huge star,

0:36:160:36:20

and yet we never, ever listen to his version.

0:36:200:36:22

-We listen to Vera Lynn's version.

-We do.

-Why was that?

0:36:220:36:25

It's because of her sense of communication.

0:36:250:36:27

It is crucial, isn't it, with her success, that people could join in.

0:36:270:36:30

It was something that wasn't out of their reach. I mean, none of us

0:36:300:36:33

-would have sounded as good as Vera, but we could sing along.

-Exactly.

0:36:330:36:36

It was all very much, you know,

0:36:360:36:38

if you hear people sing, as we all do, Happy Birthday,

0:36:380:36:42

people use a very limited range.

0:36:420:36:44

Hymns, very often, are set in a very high key.

0:36:440:36:48

You often find, in church,

0:36:480:36:50

that people have a job getting to the high notes,

0:36:500:36:52

um, but these songs were all set very much so...you know, in the pub,

0:36:520:36:58

wherever there was a crowd, they could join in and feel comfortable.

0:36:580:37:02

# There'll be bluebirds over

0:37:020:37:10

# The white cliffs of Dover

0:37:120:37:16

# Tomorrow

0:37:180:37:21

# Just you wait and see

0:37:210:37:28

HE SIGNS ALONG # There'll be love and laughter

0:37:300:37:37

# And peace ever after

0:37:370:37:40

# ..ever after

0:37:400:37:44

# Tomorrow, just you wait and see. #

0:37:440:37:47

Oh, dear! Oh, dear!

0:37:490:37:51

I didn't think I was going to sing this morning!

0:37:510:37:55

It must have been so reassuring to the servicemen and women, um,

0:37:550:38:00

to have somebody like her sing so strongly about home

0:38:000:38:07

and about how things were going to be all right.

0:38:070:38:10

You felt we might win the war when we heard songs like that.

0:38:100:38:15

You just got the message of optimism.

0:38:150:38:18

# ..There'll be bluebirds over

0:38:180:38:26

# The white cliffs of Dover... #

0:38:260:38:29

You're on your way home and you see them white cliffs in the distance,

0:38:290:38:33

uh... You can't help it.

0:38:330:38:36

You just can't help it.

0:38:360:38:38

As far as it's possible for me to feel emotional,

0:38:380:38:41

I feel emotional listening to that.

0:38:410:38:44

No words.

0:38:470:38:49

It's in the song.

0:38:490:38:52

CHEERING

0:38:520:38:55

We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing...

0:38:550:38:59

# When you hear Big Ben

0:38:590:39:03

# You're home again

0:39:030:39:08

# Come, dear, where you belong

0:39:080:39:15

# Though you're far away

0:39:160:39:21

# Each night and day... #

0:39:210:39:25

As loved ones were reunited all over the country, the war was over.

0:39:250:39:29

But Vera's career was most definitely not.

0:39:290:39:32

Over the next few decades,

0:39:320:39:34

she would have hits on both sides of the Atlantic,

0:39:340:39:36

she would tour the world, she would have prime-time TV shows,

0:39:360:39:40

and even in her '90s have a number one album.

0:39:400:39:43

She wasn't just the Forces' sweetheart.

0:39:430:39:47

But before any of that happened, she became a mother to baby Virginia.

0:39:470:39:51

I'm Miss Lewis, and mummy, of course, is Mrs Lewis,

0:39:510:39:54

but you'll know her better as Sincerely Yours, Vera Lynn.

0:39:540:39:57

Oh, look.

0:40:010:40:03

That's you. I love the quiff.

0:40:030:40:05

Yes. I've still got it, unfortunately,

0:40:050:40:07

unless I brush it out.

0:40:070:40:09

After a break from performing to look after Virginia,

0:40:090:40:13

Vera returned to the BBC,

0:40:130:40:15

but they were once again questioning her choice of songs.

0:40:150:40:19

She had clear ideas about what she wanted to sing

0:40:190:40:23

and how she wanted to sing it,

0:40:230:40:25

and when the BBC representatives would try to tell her

0:40:250:40:28

that they thought she should change her repertory, she would refuse.

0:40:280:40:31

So Vera Lynn instead turns to Radio Luxembourg,

0:40:310:40:34

which is quite happy to have her.

0:40:340:40:36

She also has her recording career, which continues.

0:40:360:40:39

Decca regards her as one of its most bankable artists,

0:40:390:40:43

not only in the United Kingdom, but also the United States.

0:40:430:40:46

# Auf Wiederseh'n... #

0:40:460:40:50

Vera yet again had an ear for a potential hit,

0:40:500:40:54

and whilst holidaying in Switzerland,

0:40:540:40:55

she heard a song called Auf Wiederseh'n,

0:40:550:40:58

which would prove to be one of her most successful records ever.

0:40:580:41:02

-Auf Wiederseh'n, my dear.

-That's the one that you heard in Switzerland

0:41:030:41:08

when you were on holiday?

0:41:080:41:09

Yes, everyone was in the beer garden singing.

0:41:090:41:13

And I thought, "Well, that's a good song.

0:41:130:41:15

"I wonder who publishes it."

0:41:150:41:17

And I thought, "Right..."

0:41:170:41:20

Vera translated the lyrics from German,

0:41:220:41:25

but kept the words "auf Wiederseh'n",

0:41:250:41:27

and her record company released it in America.

0:41:270:41:29

# ..Don't let the tears... #

0:41:290:41:34

I've got a commercial cable here

0:41:340:41:36

congratulating my mother on her single, Auf Wiederseh'n...

0:41:360:41:40

in America.

0:41:400:41:42

She was the first British person ever

0:41:420:41:44

to have a number one in America,

0:41:440:41:46

and it was number one for 13 weeks.

0:41:460:41:49

"Congratulations to you and Vera Lynn. Stop.

0:41:490:41:52

"Our reports show Auf Wiederseh'n, Sweetheart,

0:41:520:41:56

"number one in retail sales

0:41:560:41:58

"and number two in jukeboxes in the United States. Stop."

0:41:580:42:02

Getting a number one hit in the United States is very challenging.

0:42:020:42:05

This is happening well before the British invasion,

0:42:050:42:08

and so, in many ways,

0:42:080:42:10

we like to talk about the British invasion happening in the 1960s,

0:42:100:42:14

but there's this sort of initial sortie

0:42:140:42:16

that happens from Vera Lynn in 1952.

0:42:160:42:18

Vera Lynn is singing with a group of Forces singers,

0:42:210:42:24

and we actually hear those soldiers singing first,

0:42:240:42:29

and then her voice comes soaring in over the top.

0:42:290:42:31

# ..This lovely day... #

0:42:310:42:35

Vera Lynn really represents that sense of Britishness that is so

0:42:350:42:39

intriguing to Americans.

0:42:390:42:41

What did you feel like when you were number one in America?

0:42:410:42:45

Surprised.

0:42:450:42:47

I think that's the best expression,

0:42:470:42:49

because I didn't know they really knew me, you see.

0:42:490:42:53

Funny how Auf Wiederseh'n was so popular.

0:42:530:42:58

-Yes.

-I wonder why.

0:42:580:43:00

On the first British chart ever in England, in November 1952,

0:43:030:43:07

she had three records on it.

0:43:070:43:10

Vera was ahead of the game.

0:43:100:43:12

For Vera, the 1950s were her favourite decade,

0:43:140:43:17

on both a professional and personal level,

0:43:170:43:20

with chart successes and an idyllic family life.

0:43:200:43:24

This is the camera that my father used to use.

0:43:300:43:34

Look at that.

0:43:340:43:36

Amazing. And it weighs a tonne.

0:43:360:43:40

Daddy used to take all the family photographs and things on that.

0:43:490:43:53

Anything that he thought was fun he would do.

0:43:530:43:56

You used to do a lot of gardening, didn't you?

0:44:040:44:06

I did, yes. I used to love digging,

0:44:060:44:10

and planting pots up with tulips and things like that.

0:44:100:44:16

-Aww, my lupins. Lovely lupins.

-Beautiful, weren't they?

0:44:210:44:27

-Lovely colouring.

-Hmm.

0:44:270:44:29

The orange and yellow, they were beautiful.

0:44:290:44:32

There's Daddy, doing a silly thing again.

0:44:320:44:34

THEY LAUGH

0:44:340:44:36

# So many thoughts of you

0:44:360:44:40

# That simply will not die... #

0:44:400:44:43

My mother was not the same off stage as she was on.

0:44:430:44:46

She felt that she had to be somewhat...

0:44:460:44:49

not straight-laced by any means,

0:44:490:44:51

but a little bit more reticent.

0:44:510:44:54

But obviously, at home, if we were larking about or doing anything,

0:44:540:44:57

then obviously it was a slightly different ball game.

0:44:570:45:01

# ..You seem to come and go

0:45:040:45:07

# The happiness you bring... #

0:45:070:45:10

Daddy took some photographs of her with her lawnmower.

0:45:100:45:13

I have no idea what started that.

0:45:130:45:15

It was just terribly silly, the whole thing,

0:45:150:45:17

as she was whizzing down the garden.

0:45:170:45:20

Mummy was absolutely super.

0:45:230:45:26

She always made sure that she was home for holidays

0:45:260:45:28

and birthdays and Christmas, etc,

0:45:280:45:31

and tried to put her work around my schedule, which is not always easy,

0:45:310:45:36

but she tried her best to do that.

0:45:360:45:40

It's unbelievable that Vera is 100.

0:45:440:45:47

I mean, we can't believe it, can we?

0:45:470:45:49

But, you see, she lived on after the war.

0:45:490:45:52

The war was the most thrilling and important episode, perhaps,

0:45:520:45:58

in her life and the life of the country,

0:45:580:46:00

and those of us who were living at

0:46:000:46:01

that time. But she went on performing,

0:46:010:46:04

she went on singing and giving joy and pleasure,

0:46:040:46:07

and using not just radio, the original medium,

0:46:070:46:10

but then she went on television,

0:46:100:46:13

so we could all see her.

0:46:130:46:15

Vera appeared on television throughout the 1950s, '60s and '70s,

0:46:160:46:21

as households across the country

0:46:210:46:23

switched in their millions from radio to TV.

0:46:230:46:27

Welcome once again to our show,

0:46:270:46:29

our show of 45 minutes of songs and music.

0:46:290:46:33

Vera's prime-time television shows in the heyday of light entertainment

0:46:330:46:38

proved that there was always an audience for her.

0:46:380:46:42

She didn't try and change her image to fit with the times,

0:46:420:46:45

but stuck to what she knew her public loved,

0:46:450:46:47

and became more of a star than ever.

0:46:470:46:50

Vera was on television a lot in the '60s, '70s.

0:46:500:46:54

It was good that television wasn't always just chasing the newest fad.

0:46:540:46:59

She had a warmth that came over.

0:46:590:47:01

She was somebody who people welcomed into their front rooms.

0:47:010:47:04

-That's your programme.

-Oh, yes.

0:47:080:47:11

-They were fun, those, weren't they? Those shows?

-Oh, yes.

0:47:110:47:15

Good dancers, all of them.

0:47:150:47:16

Oh, yeah, they were always kidding about.

0:47:170:47:21

What makes an artist authentic

0:47:210:47:25

is that they recognise and accept

0:47:250:47:28

who they are, and simply offer that to the public.

0:47:280:47:33

I don't think Vera Lynn would know what a face-lift was.

0:47:330:47:37

To try and become something that she wasn't

0:47:370:47:41

would not be acceptable to her, and she never did it.

0:47:410:47:44

# Yours

0:47:440:47:46

# Till the stars

0:47:460:47:50

# Lose their glory... #

0:47:500:47:53

In the early days of the Beatles, it wasn't just rock and roll shows,

0:47:530:47:57

there would be, like, variety bills.

0:47:570:48:00

So we would be on with a lot of various different acts,

0:48:000:48:04

and Vera was on one of them.

0:48:040:48:06

So we were like, "Wow."

0:48:060:48:08

We were totally amazed. It was like, "Vera Lynn!"

0:48:080:48:11

You know, really, we were so sort of...

0:48:110:48:14

"Pleased to meet you, Vera."

0:48:140:48:16

And she was so great.

0:48:160:48:18

She was really so sort of...chummy.

0:48:180:48:20

She didn't pull the big sort of, "Hello."

0:48:200:48:25

It was, like, "All right, mate?"

0:48:250:48:26

She was very sort of, you know, down to earth.

0:48:260:48:29

So we really liked her.

0:48:290:48:31

We immediately went home and told everyone, "We've met Vera Lynn."

0:48:310:48:35

# In the grey of December... #

0:48:350:48:40

I got the idea when we met her that she was a very strong woman.

0:48:400:48:44

But it was like, you can tell, she is doing this.

0:48:440:48:48

She is organising what songs she likes.

0:48:480:48:51

She is going where she wants to, she is doing what she wants to do.

0:48:510:48:54

So, yeah, when you think about it,

0:48:540:48:57

that was quite early days for

0:48:570:48:59

a woman to be that confident and that secure

0:48:590:49:02

in her own self.

0:49:020:49:03

How are you?

0:49:030:49:05

ELECTRICAL BUZZING

0:49:050:49:06

-It's the ring, I can't get it off, I'm sorry.

-Excuse me.

0:49:060:49:09

Are you going to come over?

0:49:090:49:11

-Because I'm going to say our line.

-Oh, are you?

0:49:110:49:13

I was going to say... Eh?

0:49:130:49:15

It's all in it!

0:49:150:49:17

I was going to say, "I bet that shook the chalk

0:49:170:49:19

"off the white cliffs of Dover."

0:49:190:49:21

-Oh!

-I was going to say that, but I won't now.

0:49:210:49:24

# If you don't happen to like it

0:49:240:49:27

# Pass me by... #

0:49:270:49:31

APPLAUSE

0:49:310:49:34

Fast-forward to 1995 and Vera was in her 70s,

0:49:390:49:43

and you'd think it was time for her to happily retire.

0:49:430:49:46

But it was the 50th anniversary of VE Day,

0:49:460:49:48

and Vera was an essential ingredient.

0:49:480:49:51

The commemoration took place here in grand style, and it was watched by

0:49:510:49:54

millions at home on television.

0:49:540:49:57

Very Lynn the entertainer had become Vera Lynn the icon.

0:49:570:50:01

# You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean

0:50:010:50:05

# So cheer up, my lads Bless 'em all... #

0:50:050:50:08

Come on, again!

0:50:080:50:10

CROWD SINGS

0:50:100:50:12

Although this was Vera's last-ever public performance,

0:50:160:50:19

there was a renewed appetite for her timeless classics, which were played

0:50:190:50:23

regularly on the radio again.

0:50:230:50:25

Vera had a new fan base to add to her existing one.

0:50:250:50:29

APPLAUSE

0:50:290:50:32

So I would love to see some of the fan mail,

0:50:320:50:35

because I can only imagine the thousands that your mother must have

0:50:350:50:38

-received over the years.

-Absolutely, yes, absolutely.

0:50:380:50:41

Thousands and thousands and thousands.

0:50:410:50:43

It's not possible to keep them all, obviously, but we have a few here.

0:50:430:50:47

-The greatest hits?

-Yes, the greatest hits

0:50:470:50:50

are pulled together, so to speak. And they're from all over the world.

0:50:500:50:53

I mean, for example, look, isn't that wonderful, that?

0:50:530:50:56

That's from Indonesia.

0:50:560:50:57

This one's from Canada.

0:50:570:50:59

There one is from Australia.

0:50:590:51:00

This is from Finland.

0:51:000:51:02

Where are we?

0:51:020:51:03

-Norway.

-Norway. "I'm a boy, 18 years old,

0:51:030:51:06

"living in a small town in northern Norway called Finnsnes."

0:51:060:51:10

"My name is Magnus and I live in Sweden.

0:51:100:51:12

"I'm interested in older movies,

0:51:120:51:14

"older music and British history and culture."

0:51:140:51:16

Well, he's hit jackpot here, then, hasn't he?

0:51:160:51:18

Well, he has, exactly!

0:51:180:51:19

Sometimes we have that just say, "Vera Lynn, UK,"

0:51:190:51:24

and they manage to get to the house.

0:51:240:51:26

-Which is amazing.

-Everyone knows Dame Vera.

0:51:260:51:28

Absolutely. "I'm writing to you as I have been learning

0:51:280:51:31

"about the war in my school and have found it very interesting.

0:51:310:51:35

"I've also been reading your autobiography that my nanny lent me.

0:51:350:51:38

"Aged eight years old."

0:51:380:51:40

-Aww.

-Um...

0:51:400:51:42

"I love your wonderful voice for a long time."

0:51:420:51:44

This is from Germany.

0:51:440:51:46

"In two weeks, I can celebrate my 90th birthday."

0:51:460:51:49

"The only joy in my life is my passion, your music."

0:51:490:51:52

Do you think you get a letter every day?

0:51:520:51:54

Oh, yes, there's always loads.

0:51:540:51:56

Absolutely always loads.

0:51:560:51:57

And does your mother respond to them now?

0:51:570:51:59

Yes, yes, absolutely.

0:51:590:52:00

That's amazing, at her grand old age, that she's still doing it.

0:52:000:52:03

Oh, yes, she thinks it's very important

0:52:030:52:06

to retain a connection with people. You know?

0:52:060:52:08

And this one is quite amazing.

0:52:080:52:11

-Well, yes, rather a special one.

-Yes!

0:52:110:52:15

I'm going to read this one out to you.

0:52:150:52:17

"I send you my warmest congratulations and good wishes

0:52:170:52:20

"on the occasion of your birthday. You cheered and uplifted us all

0:52:200:52:24

"in the war and after the war, and I'm sure that this evening

0:52:240:52:27

"the bluebirds of Dover will be

0:52:270:52:29

"flying over you to wish you a happy anniversary.

0:52:290:52:31

-"Elizabeth R."

-Yes. That's wonderful.

0:52:310:52:34

# When the lights go on again

0:52:340:52:39

# All over the world

0:52:390:52:43

# And the boys are home again

0:52:450:52:49

# All over the world. #

0:52:490:52:52

Dame Vera's appeal has of course continued way beyond her initial

0:52:520:52:58

fame and fortune and huge success

0:52:580:53:00

as a popular singer on record in the '40s and '50s,

0:53:000:53:04

because as recently as 2009, she had a number one album

0:53:040:53:08

of many of her greatest recordings.

0:53:080:53:11

And it can't have been selling primarily to her generation,

0:53:110:53:14

because, sad to say, not too many of them were around.

0:53:140:53:16

It sold to all generations,

0:53:160:53:18

and her songs and her voice are timeless

0:53:180:53:22

and obviously very good.

0:53:220:53:26

APPLAUSE

0:53:260:53:28

Vera became the oldest living artist to ever have a number one album.

0:53:280:53:32

That album was called We'll Meet Again,

0:53:320:53:36

and the title track is probably Vera's best-known hit.

0:53:360:53:40

# We'll meet again

0:53:400:53:45

# Don't know where

0:53:450:53:47

# Don't know when

0:53:470:53:50

# But I know we'll meet again

0:53:500:53:54

# Some sunny day

0:53:540:53:59

# Keep smiling through

0:54:010:54:05

# Just like you... #

0:54:050:54:06

That's her great song, I think,

0:54:060:54:09

We'll Meet Again,

0:54:090:54:10

which had a special resonance during the war years,

0:54:100:54:14

but it's still effective for us now, I think.

0:54:140:54:18

If I hear it on the radio, I just think what a great record,

0:54:180:54:22

what a wonderful recording, and how much good it did.

0:54:220:54:26

You know? It was much more than just another pop song.

0:54:260:54:30

# ..They'll be happy to know... #

0:54:320:54:34

She had that little sob in her voice, too, she'd put that in.

0:54:340:54:38

A few little tricks she used so effectively.

0:54:380:54:42

And when she says when - we'll meet again, don't know where,

0:54:420:54:47

don't know when -

0:54:470:54:49

she puts the H in.

0:54:490:54:51

Where.

0:54:510:54:52

When.

0:54:520:54:54

She is fastidious.

0:54:550:54:57

Wonderful.

0:54:580:55:00

The way she used the vibrato with vowels...

0:55:000:55:05

Because I always say that consonants carry the sense

0:55:070:55:10

and vowels carry the emotion.

0:55:100:55:13

# ..When

0:55:130:55:15

# But I know we'll meet again some sunny day. #

0:55:150:55:22

That was Vera all right, no messing.

0:55:220:55:24

And she could sing it as well as I can!

0:55:240:55:27

-BOTH:

-# Keep smiling through

0:55:270:55:30

# Just like you always do... #

0:55:300:55:36

I know every word of that song.

0:55:360:55:38

Yes. Oh, my word.

0:55:380:55:41

A wide range of artists have covered We'll Meet Again.

0:55:410:55:44

Johnny Cash, the Muppets, Rod Stewart and the Faces,

0:55:440:55:47

but I think nobody does it like Vera Lynn.

0:55:470:55:50

# ..Some sunny day... #

0:55:500:55:56

I would put Vera Lynn very high

0:55:560:56:00

on the list of unique contributors to our civilisation.

0:56:000:56:06

She is one of the greatest

0:56:060:56:08

British popular music interpreters of all time.

0:56:080:56:11

The humble beginnings are what

0:56:110:56:15

I think Vera has retained

0:56:150:56:18

in herself. She has never felt important.

0:56:180:56:22

She has never felt a celebrity.

0:56:220:56:24

And she doesn't behave like one.

0:56:240:56:27

She's just a real person

0:56:270:56:30

communicating in a genuine way with other people,

0:56:300:56:34

and enjoying the connection.

0:56:340:56:37

Oh, what is this? Oh, Oh, look.

0:56:370:56:40

Oh, good heavens, Oh, look.

0:56:400:56:43

Happy birthday balloons.

0:56:430:56:45

Happy birthday, Mummy!

0:56:450:56:48

Dear Vera.

0:56:480:56:49

# Happy birthday to you Happy birthday to you! #

0:56:490:56:52

Happy birthday, dear Vera.

0:56:520:56:54

Wow. We love you.

0:56:540:56:57

I love you. We all love you.

0:56:570:56:59

Happy birthday.

0:56:590:57:00

Dame Vera, how lovely this is, happy birthday and, for your 100th,

0:57:000:57:06

I've got lovely memories.

0:57:060:57:08

And... Keep well.

0:57:080:57:11

Happy birthday, Vera.

0:57:110:57:13

You're still a wonderful singer.

0:57:130:57:14

I hope you have many more years of happiness ahead.

0:57:140:57:18

I think, probably, something I suspected long ago,

0:57:180:57:23

that you are immortal.

0:57:230:57:26

Happy birthday, Vera.

0:57:260:57:28

You really don't know what you meant to us.

0:57:280:57:33

Vera, I wish you the happiest 100th birthday possible,

0:57:330:57:36

and may there be many, many more.

0:57:360:57:39

Happy birthday to you, Vera.

0:57:390:57:41

I'm very pleased you're reaching your 100th birthday now.

0:57:410:57:45

And I hope to do the same very shortly.

0:57:450:57:50

Thank you for coming to Burma and entertaining us

0:57:500:57:54

on that evening so long ago.

0:57:540:57:56

Carry on, dear.

0:57:580:57:59

Mazel tov, darling, and a very happy 100th birthday.

0:57:590:58:05

I've never said that to anybody else.

0:58:050:58:08

Big kiss.

0:58:080:58:09

# We'll meet again... # Everybody!

0:58:090:58:12

# ..Don't know where Don't know when

0:58:120:58:16

# But I know we'll meet again

0:58:160:58:20

# Some sunny day! #

0:58:200:58:22

Very good!

0:58:220:58:24

THEY LAUGH

0:58:240:58:26

Oh, dear.

0:58:280:58:30

# You must remember this

0:58:300:58:33

# A kiss is still a kiss

0:58:330:58:36

# A sigh is just a sigh

0:58:360:58:41

# The fundamental things apply

0:58:440:58:49

# As time goes by... #

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This one-hour programme is a happy birthday tribute celebrating the life and work of Dame Vera Lynn, including exclusive access to Dame Vera Lynn as she watches home movies and videos from the past with her daughter Virginia. It tells the story of a working-class girl from Essex who changed the lives of so many - whose career spanned a whole century - singing at seven to help pay the family bills, falling accidentally into the limelight and still singing right up to today.

Dame Vera can't read music. She has never had singing lessons and even refused to change her singing style to fit in with the fashions of the day. Yet she sang at the Queen's 16th birthday and calls the royal family her friends. We meet the war heroes whose hearts she touched as she brought memories from Britain to the front line and find out how celebrities like Miriam Margolyes, Barry Humphries, Tim Rice and Sir Paul McCartney are still touched by Dame Vera's voice.

We discover why she is a national treasure, and see her humility shine through - she really can't understand what all the fuss is about, despite being one of the greatest female singers this country has ever produced.