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Happy Birthday Harry!

By David Porter

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Who was the first recording artist to sell over one million copies in the world?

Sir Harry Lauder
Sir Harry Lauder

More famous than Charlie Chaplin, he was Scotland’s first international superstar; the original A-list celebrity and yet today, Harry Lauder is largely forgotten.

On his 150th birthday anniversary, singer and entertainer Jamie MacDougall, a long-time admirer of Harry Lauder examines this charismatic and controversial figure and asks whether it is time for Scotland to celebrate him again.

Harry Lauder was a Music Hall man through and through with his trademark exaggerated Highland regalia of kilt, nobbly stick and funny hat.

As an entertainer he turned Scottish-ness into a commodity and his popularity spread across the globe.

Catchy tunes and sentimental songs I Love a Lassie, Roamin’ in the Gloamin, Just a Wee Deoch an’ Doris made him a household name on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in Australia and New Zealand while Keep Right on the End of the Road written soon after the death of his only son in the trenches is the definitive anthem of World War I troops.

Jamie retraces his steps from humble origins to discover more about the real Harry Lauder.

The programme ends with a tribute to the man and his memory by Jamie and the BBCSSO in a full orchestral arrangement of his greatest song.

Happy Birthday Harry airs on Christmas Day on BBC Radio Scotland at 1pm.

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