Who is Sam Costa?

Calista Self, Staff Writer

Sam Costa was a popular singer, voice actor, and later disc jockey for the Radio Luxembourg and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). He gained popularity during the British dance band era. He voice-acted in the comedy show Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh.

            Samuel Costa was born on June 17th, 1910. He is of Sephardic Jewish-Portuguese ancestry. His father, Gabriel Costa, was a journalist and his mother was Annie Sawer. Sam started his career as a pianist with Bert Firman’s band where they played bits of jazz and classical. Bert Firman left Britain to travel to France to start a new band, leaving Costa and the other bandmates.

Sam Costa decided to take control of his own career and throughout the 1930s he made many records. He recorded with bands like Maurice Winnick, Jay Wilbur, Harry Leader, and Lew Stone. As playing in a dance band of the 1930s, Costa would play piano and sing. In 1939, Cost appeared on a live show called “Crooners Corner” where he performed a very sentimental love song “Moon at Sea”. The program included many shots of Costa with bits of shots showing a sunset over a coastline. Not only did Costa perform, but Hughie Diamond and Alice Mann performed their latest hits. Hughie sang “Gypsy Lullaby” and Alice “Sing me a swing song and let me dance”.

After the 1930s, Costa began looking for other ways to express his creativity. He turned to radio and film to start a new career. The BBC, a popular public service broadcaster for the United Kingdom, hired Costa to voice-act in a radio comedy called It’s That Time Again. The program ran from 1939-1949 and starred Tommy Handley. Costa was cast as a recurring role of “Lemuel”, but wasn’t a regular character. The radio show’s stories centered around actual news-stories about Hitler, however, the stories were turned into comedy skips. The show was a big success with over 300 episodes. During production for It’s That Time Again, Sam Costa was hired to work on another comedy radio show called Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh. This was another BBC radio production which aired from 1944-1954. Costa starred along side Kenneth Horne and Richard Murdoch. Although the show was cancelled, it was transferred to Radio Luxembourg between 1950-1951, but was brought back to BBC for years 1952-1954.

Throughout the 50s and 60s, Costa would host small radio broadcasted shows during the weekdays and weekends. He hosted Breakfast Time, Glamourous Nights, Housewives’ Choice, and Midday Spin. In 1967, Costa transition to BBC Radio 2 to work fulltime on the air. He was known for his ending catchphrase of “Thank you for the pleasure of your company”. While working with BBC Radio 2, he had many shows which included morning, lunch, afternoon, early evening, and even late shows. He worked in radio for the BBC until his death in 1981.

Sam Costa has never been fond of TV work; however, he did appear on several shows including the Juke Box Juryshow. During the 1970s, Costa was a regular on David Frost’s Frost on Sunday. Costa was also in a number of films including: A Piece of Cake (1948), Trouble in the Air (1948), One Wild Oat (1951), and The Pickwick Papers (1952).

Costa and his wife, Esther Comer, were married in 1938. They stayed married for over 40 years until Costa’s death in 1981. He was 71 when he passed and still had his radio shows.