The BBC Northern Dance Orchestra (NDO) was formed in 1955 as the successor to the BBC’s Northern Variety Orchestra (NVO) formed in 1951, but without the NVO’s string section. Under the leadership of its first musical director, Alyn Ainsworth, the NDO broadcast on the radio daily from the Playhouse Theatre in Hulme, Manchester, before moving to the BBC studios in Oxford Road.
Flautist Bernard Herrmann took over from Ainsworth during the early 1960s, tasked with embracing the burgeoning pop music industry, resulting in shows such as Pop North and Here We Go With The NDO. The NDO’s most popular show was Make Way For Music, which was developed into a television series. The orchestra went on to feature in many other television productions, including Morecambe and Wise.
Many well-known musicians played with the NDO over the years, including Syd Lawrence, who formed his own very successful orchestra in 1967. In 1974 the NDO was reorganised as the BBC Northern Radio Orchestra, which was disbanded in 1981. The NDO recorded one album, which is no longer available, but a set of three double CDs has been put together by the Northern Dance and Northern Radio Orchestra Project.