Memory Lane: At Home with Nina and Frederik

memory lane december 20'Little Donkey, a Christmas hit for Nina and Frederik in December 1960
memory lane december 20'Little Donkey, a Christmas hit for Nina and Frederik in December 1960
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Whether there was a donkey derby at this summer fair in 1962 is unrecorded, but hitmakers Nina and Frederik had definitely found favour with all age groups two years earlier, thanks to their version of the Christmas carol Little Donkey.

Written by English hymnwriter Eric Boswell, who died two years ago last month, Little Donkey had first travelled along that dusty road when recorded by Gracie Fields, whose single reached Number 21 in the UK music chart in 1959.

Nina and Frederik Van Pallandt were surrounded by autograph hunters after they had opened the King Edward VII School garden party at Lytham in 1962.

Nina and Frederik Van Pallandt were surrounded by autograph hunters after they had opened the King Edward VII School garden party at Lytham in 1962.

Frederik, Baron van Pallandt and his wife Nina were a popular singing duo who brought an international touch to Blackpool audiences with their blend of folk music, calypsos and standards when bill topping in You’ll See Stars, the 1962 Queens Theatre summer show which also featured comedy magician Tommy Cooper and rubber necked comic Nat Jackley.

The show was broadcast nationwide on TV in August and throughout that season Nina and Frederik made a number of public appearances, including opening the King Edward VII School garden party at Lytham, where they were quickly surrounded by autograph hunters.

They began singing together at the age of four, but since Frederik’s father was the Dutch ambassador to Denmark, his family moved away and the children lost contact with each other. However in 1957 he re-established contact with Nina at her parents’ home and one evening played his guitar for her.

To his surprise Nina began singing to it, and it was at that moment that they decided to sing together. Originally only for their friends, and occasionally at house parties.

This led to them being asked to perform at charity shows and soon they were in demand professionally.

On July 1, 1957, the duo made their professional showbusiness debut in Copenhagen’s top night club, Mon Coeur. Within months they had become great favourites throughout Europe.

They married in September 1960 (later divorcing in 1975) and, in 1961, had their own series on British TV Nina and Frederik at Home.