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Coates talks about his early years in Nottinghamshire, his career as a viola player in the Queen’s Hall Orchestra in London, and his first meeting with his beloved wife Phyl. His efforts as a composer were just beginning to be recognised when a clash with the formidable Sir Henry Wood, conductor at the Queen’s Hall, led to his being sacked from the Orchestra. No more Prom concerts – from now on Coates had to rely on the money he earned from his compositions. He was in despair - but he stuck at it, and by the end of his life his work had become hugely successful. The label 'light music’ was a burden to him, but he’d always known that he didn’t want to write anything else. He carried on scribbling down tunes for the rest of his life - one of his last was ‘The Dam Busters March’, the overture to the film The Dam Busters, released in 1955.

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Shipshape’s first production, this hour-long play is a celebration of the life and music of Eric Coates. Though he was one of the most popular British composers of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, his name will be unfamiliar to many. His music is a different matter, however. Some of his pieces were adopted as signature tunes by the BBC, and one of them is still heard on Radio 4 nearly every week. ‘Desert Island?! Poppycock!’ No, it was a view of distant Bognor which inspired Coates to write his most enduring tune, ‘By the Sleepy Lagoon.’

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click the thumbnails will take you to Youtube video of the man from the sleepy lagoon

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