1953: Pianist Miss Joan Baker, who was born in Swindon, announced that she was to make her performance debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall the following Sunday. The musician had been an early-blooming talent, giving her first Bach recital, which ran for three hours, in her home town at the age of just 13. Miss Baker, who lived in a Kensington flat, revealed that her Royal Albert Hall date would be attended by everybody else in her building - apart from her cats, Crotchet and Quaver.

1963: Territorial Army members from Swindon were shortly to be tested on their first aid knowledge for accident victims. A specialised weekend training exercise was to be held at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol. Fellow TA volunteers and Army Cadet Force members were recruited to act as casualties, complete with fake blood and plastic wounds.

1973: An Adver theatre review began: “A disappointingly small but superbly responsive audience at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre watched a man flog himself to death on Saturday night...and bring the house down in the process.” The performer was Ron Moody, described as a character actor, singer, banjo player and comic. He was best known for playing Fagin in 1968 musical Oliver!

1728: John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera was first performed, with a score derived from popular ballads of the time.


1820: George III, longest-lived and longest-reigning King of England, died at Windsor aged 81.

1856: Queen Victoria instituted Britain’s highest military decoration, the Victoria Cross.

1886: Karl Benz patented the first practical car with petrol-driven internal combustion engine.

1942: Desert Island Discs started on BBC Radio, presented by Roy Plomley. His first castaway was comedian Vic Oliver.

1951: Actress Elizabeth Taylor, 19, divorced her first husband, hotel chain heir Nicky Hilton.

1980: Jimmy Durante, “Schnozzola”, American comedian, died aged 87.


Germaine Greer, author, 80; Tony Blackburn, DJ, 76; Tom Selleck, actor, 74; Tim Healy, actor, 67; Oprah Winfrey, chat show host, 65; Sean Kerly, former hockey player, 59; Nicholas Turturro, actor, 57; Roddy Frame, singer, 55.