Tyne Tees TV Favourite Chris Langford Dies
One of the biggest stars of Tyne Tees Television of the 1950s and 60s has died aged 69.
Chris Langford was the first female lead singer with the ITV North East station when it went on air back in January 1959. She was the face of many of its programmes, including The One O’clock Show, Memories Are Made Of Hits and Tyne Tees New Year Live. She was also married to former Coronation Street director Richard Guinea.
Back in the 1950s and 60s ITV was home to many live entertainment and variety shows, each station would have a list of resident vocalists to entertain viewers in each region. Chris Langford was the main female lead vocalist with Tyne Tees Television from its inception and throughout the 1960s.
She had been studying as a barrister in Manchester when she entered – having been pushed by her friends into it – a talent contest at a local club. Much to her surprise, she won with her vocal talents. In the audience, a talent scout for Tyne Tees, Len Marten, was noting the performances. He offered her an audition at the new ITV network in the North. Out of sixty girls all hoping to land the role, Langford was offered the job, with a ten-year contract. Not as sweet and innocent as she looked she declined and instead said she’d sign up for an initial six months.
Living in a flat in the West end of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne the early years of Tyne Tees was one big family. She shared her abode with two of the stations make-up artists and a producer – all female at the request of her mother.
The main lead male singer was George Romaine, who she was teamed up with on many of the live programming. The big hit in the early years of the station was The One O’clock Show, based on ATV Network’s Lunchbox programme. 19-year-old Chris had to memorise thousands of popular songs of the era, no idiot boards with the lyrics on were provided for her performances.
“I remember being very nervous as there was a live audience every day on The One O’Clock Show. It didn’t come home to me at first that we were being seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers.” she told Memories of Tyne Tees Television in 1999.
One of her favourite recollections of her years at Tyne Tees was the fact she was lavished with expensive dresses from the Fenwick Department Store, again speaking to Memories of Tyne Tees Television for the 40th anniversary of the station she noted:
“I was 19 going on 20 and I was taken to Fenwick’s store in Newcastle with TTT’s wardrobe mistress Ima May to select some dresses. I used to feel like The Queen. We would be ushered into a private fitting room and shown dozens of wonderful gowns.”
The One O’clock Show became one of the stations most popular programmes ever – and even when after over 1000 editions it finally closed in 1964 – fans wrote in, in their thousands begging for it to be re-instated. By the 1970s daily live regional variety of the kind, Langford had made popular was on the wain and many shows bid farewell to the airwaves. Unfortunately due to the nature of broadcasting in the 1950s and 60s most of her performances were never recorded, in fact, none of the 1000s of editions made of The One O’clock Show survive in the ITV Global archive.
Chris moved back to the North West in the 1980s appearing on Granada Television’s People and Places. She lived with her Coronation Street director husband – Richard Guinea – in a little village near Oldham, who she married after divorcing her first husband – Tyne Tees director Jim Goldby. In the 1990s she was still performing with the Northern Dance Orchestra and in the 2000s had put together a Jazz ensemble to entertain in local hotels.
Chris died on January 6th 2010 aged 69. Her funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church, Park Lane, Greenfield at 1.00pm on January 18th, she leaves two children to her first marriage.