Tuesday, 28 June 2011

DJ Heaven - Jimmy Savile

For goodness sake Jim, put your shirt on.

Now then guys and gals. This week I’d like to present to all you good ladies and gentlemen another edition of DJ Heaven featuring Jimmy Savile. How’s about that then!

Famously presenting the first edition of Top of the Pops in January 1964 the medallion-wearing, charity running Mr Fix-It was on the programme for an incredible 18 years.

Throughout most of the 1960s Jim was exclusively on Radio Luxembourg presenting, amongst other shows, his Teen and Twenty Disc Club. He joined Radio 1 in June 1968. He recalls his first meeting with Controller Robin Scott as follows:

He said “I think it’s about time we got together,” so we went out to lunch which is a very unusual thing for me because I do business over desks not tables. He said “Why won’t you work for us?” I said “Because nobody’s spoken to me. You’re the first guy from the BBC to speak to me” So he said “Well, will you  work for us?” and I said of course I would. He said, “We’ll I’ll be blessed,” because he thought that he was in for a tremendous fight because people had been saying, “You call it Radio 1 and the guy that’s been No. 1 for half a decade doesn’t even work for you!”

That first show became Savile’s Travels, which was eventually followed by Speakeasy and then the Old Record Club. He left the network in 1987.

This edition of DJ Heaven was broadcast on BBC2 on 2 October 1993:

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A Jolly Good Show

Somewhat unexpectedly Dave Lee Travis is back in the news this week. It has been reported that the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi found that listening to DLT’s BBC World Service programme A Jolly Good Show whilst under house arrest made her “world much more complete.”

Read more on this on the BBC News website. DLT was also interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme and by his former Radio 1 colleague Nicky Campbell on 5 Live’s Breakfast show.

Dave Lee Travis hosted A Jolly Good Show from 1978 until January 1999 (and not, as reported elsewhere, from 1981 to 2001) as DLT did continue on the World Service long after his Radio 1 on-air resignation.

Back in 1979 DLT told London Calling that when he was “first invited to take over A Jolly Good Show from Noel Edmonds all he could tell me was ‘You’ll learn all the geography you should’ve learnt at school, you’ll have lots of fun – but most important of all you’ll make friends all over the world.’ And he was right, because for the past year or so I have received thousands of letters from places as far apart as Russia, Fiji, Antarctica, China and Sierra Leone, from people who all share the common bond of a love of music. I’ve not only improved my geography. I’ve also improved my linguistic skills because I can now say Hairy Monster in 30 languages – including Icelandic.”

Neither interview this week featured any actual archive recordings from the show itself, relying instead on some old Radio 1 clips, so I thought I’d oblige with two brief excerpts from the early 1980s. First the show introduction from 1 June 1982 and then a World Service/Radio 1 simulcast from 17 September 1983 plus a bit of that A Jolly Good Show theme – does anyone know what the theme was called?

Edit 3.11.16: With thanks to Stewart Griffin I've now identified the theme tune as Peter Skellern's Snakebite, as heard on his 1975 LP Hard Times. Here it is in full:

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

DJ Heaven - Dave Lee Travis

DLT- Radio Pipe Smoker of the Year?
Back in 1993 BBC2 showed a series called DJ Heaven. It featured six Radio 1 DJs and was, in effect, an excuse to show clips from old editions of Top of the Pops with links from the DJ in question. The DJs were DLT, Jimmy Savile, Tony Blackburn, John Peel, Simon Bates and Mike Read. Over the next six weeks I'll be posting the opening short biographies that kicked off each programme.

So from 25 September 1993 here's a potted history of the broadcasting career of Dave Lee Travis.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Barton, Temple, PC49 and The Man in Black

In the 1982 Radio 4 documentary feature Dick Barton and All That Roger Snowden recalls four popular radio drama series of the 1940s and 50s – Dick Barton, Paul Temple, PC49 and Appointment with Fear.

The style, especially that of the opening and closing announcements, of the fast moving Dick Barton-Special Agent was perhaps influenced by US radio shows such as The Adventures of Superman. Barton actor Duncan Carse was something of a real life action man, serving in the Royal Research Ship ‘Discovery II’ and holding the Polar Medal for his Antarctic explorations as part of the British Graham Land expedition. He also worked for the BBC during the war as an Overseas Presentation Assistant and received official commendation for saving lives on the fateful night, 15 October 1940, that Broadcasting House was bombed.

Paul Temple, the amateur detective created by Francis Durbridge, was the longest running of the four dramas, starting in 1938 and solving his last case in 1968 before a TV reincarnation starring Francis Matthews. Like the Dick Barton series a number of different actors played the title role but for most of the run it was Marjorie Westbury who played his wife Steve – a crime solving team not dissimilar to William Holden and Myrna Loy in the Thin Man film series -  whose intuition proved infallible in helping Temple.

The world of Paul Temple was decidedly middle class (“hello darling”). I listened again to the Geneva Mystery series this week and it was all film stars, novelists and blackmail, but gripping nonetheless. The series also gave us another iconic theme tune – Vivian Ellis’s Coronation Scot. 

If you thought that PC George Dixon was the first famous bobby on the beat then you’ve not heard of Archibald Berkeley-Willoughby, or PC49 of Q Division. PC49 was the creation of Australian crime reporter Alan Stranks (father of Susan Stranks from tv’s Magpie). The series ran on the radio between 1947 and 1953 but it also spawned a comic strip in the pages of Eagle, several books, jigsaw puzzles, a board game and two films.

Like Dick Barton, PC49 became popular with youngsters and so got an earlier repeat time. But unlike Barton, PC49 – played by Brian Reece – was allowed a girlfriend – played by Joy Shelton – whom he married and then, in the last series, had a son.   

Very little of The Adventures of PC49 survives and it sounds a little quaint to modern ears. The criminal argot was of the “half a minute copper” and “you got me bang to rights” variety. PC49 would occasionally exclaim “my Sunday helmet”, the nearest he came to uttering an oath.

Valentine Dyall
It was the producer of Paul Temple, Martyn C. Webster, that also produced Appointment with Fear, broadcast between 1943 and 1955. This was a series of weekly plays of the mysterious and macabre often written by John Dickson Carr and narrated by The Man in Black. Valentine Dyall’s playing of the “sepulchral-voiced narrator” became so popular that in 1949 he introduced a spin-off series titled The Man in Black and featuring stories by R.L Stevenson and M.R. James. 

In this programme, broadcast on 31 October 1982, you’ll hear the voices of Francis Durbridge, Valentine Dyall, Vernon Harris, Pat Hetherington, Thora Hird, Michael Holloway, Noel Johnson, Bob Lewis, Alex McCrindle, Raymond Raikes, Joy Shelton and Marjorie Westbury.
Dick Barton and All That (click to download)

You can hear the theme tunes for Dick Barton – Special Agent and Paul Temple this Tuesday on Radio 3’s Composer of the Week as part of the BBC’s celebration of light music.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Radio Humberside at 40

I posted about Radio Humberside's 40th anniversary back in February but thought I'd share with you the coverage from BBC1's Look North on the evening of 25th February. The presenter is Caroline Davies.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Still A Special Agent

Before Bond there was Barton. But not for Barton the playboy image and licence to kill; his was a Boy’s Own Adventure world with only “clean socks to the jaw” for some fiendish foreign-accented enemy.

For a few brief years Dick Barton Special Agent offered listeners an exciting daily adventure in that drab post-war era, presented at breakneck speed each weekday evening on the Light Programme.

The original Dick Barton series ran from 1946 to 1951 until he met his final match, that of Doris and Dan Archer! Inevitably most of those programmes no longer exist on tape and the best remembered feature is surely the theme Devil’s Gallop, still used to this day by tv and radio producers to evoke that immediate post-war period or accompany a chase sequence.

The series soon became a favourite with schoolboys seeking the kind of thrills they would’ve found in the comic books of the time – you may recall the Ealing film Hue and Cry. Acknowledging this younger audience Barton’s image was cleaned up – no smoking or drinking (only his enemies touched alcohol) and his girlfriend, Jean Hunter, was written out.

Mind you Captain Barton lived something of a lie, he wasn’t really a ‘special agent’ at all. A Military Cross winner during WWII he was demobbed and decided to set up as an enquiry agent or private detective.  Before he was “Dick” he was a “Bill” and the writers had a long list of names for our hero that they rejected – Peter Drake, Rex Drake, Michael Drake, Peter Fenton, Peter Grant, Rex Barton, Roger Barton and Peter Barton 

Just like Bond, Dick Barton had a revival, in this case in 1972 as part of the BBC’s 50th anniversary (see Radio Times article below). And despite the fact that so little of Barton exists in the archives the BBC continues to produce documentaries about the programme. Last year for instance Alexander Armstrong examined the popularity of the series in Dick Barton: A Very Special Agent. That programme used interviews from two previous Radio 4 documentaries first broadcast in 1982 and 1990 that I’ll feature this week and next.
Dick Barton made the news earlier this year when a cache of Australian re-recordings of the original series was discovered; these are now being issued on the AudioGo label. Here’s how the news was broken on the PM programme with Eddie Mair back in February.
In this post I’m recalling the 1990 programme Still A Special Agent in which John Hosken talks to the three actors that played the title role – Noel Johnson, Duncan Carse and Gordon Davies – as well as Alex McCrindle who played henchman Jock Anderson and fan and Barton archivist Pat Hetherington.  This programme was broadcast on 14 February 1990.
Still A Special Agent

Next week Dick Barton, Paul Temple, PC Archibald Berkeley-Willoughby and The Man in Black. In the meantime you can read more here.

Thanks to Andy Howells for the Radio Times scan and information from the Dick Barton Annual.

Saturday, 11 June 2011


It’s often the simplest ideas that work best. Take a bunch of actors, broadcasters and various literary types, throw a few quotes from books, plays and popular culture at them to identify and discuss. That’s Quote…Unquote,  running on BBC Radio 4 since 1976.

The show was devised and continues to be hosted by Nigel Rees and has spawned several books. Nigel’s broadcasting career has combined both journalism and comedy. He’s presented Today, Kaleidoscope and 24 Hours but also Week Ending and, perhaps best known of all and a personal favourite of mine, The Burkiss Way.

Here’s Nigel on The Burkiss Way back in 1977:

And two years later sitting in for Jimmy Young:

I’m sharing three editions of Quote…Unquote in this post. I’ve selected them because they feature Messers Wogan and Peel.

First an edition first broadcast on 15 June 1977 and repeated on 31 August 1979 over on Radio 2. On the panel are Terry Wogan, Ian McKellen, Arthur Marshall and Anna Ford.

From the 11th series in 1986 an edition broadcast on 18 June with John Peel, David Steel, Gemma O’Conner and Sheridan Morley.

And from later in the same series the same panel as broadcast on 20 December 1986.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Radio 2 - A Day in 12 Minutes

Inspired by Radio 2's 2DAY event on the 22nd of this month - which promises a taste of the full schedule over a 12 hour period - here's 24 hours of Radio 2 from Thursday 3 April 1980 compressed into just 12 minutes.

In this montage you'll hear: Bill Rennells, Ray Moore, Terry Wogan, Jimmy Young, David Hamilton, Ed Stewart, David Symonds (who gets the date wrong), John Dunn, Wally Whyton, Colin Berry, Alan Dell, David Bellan, Brian Matthew and Sheila Tracy.

Edit 15 Jan 2020: I've added a clip from You and the Night and the Music with Sheila Tracy to this sequence so that it now runs at nearly 15 minutes, admittedly making a nonsense of the blog post title. Also uploaded is the schedule from that day's Radio Times.   

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Radio Six International - 48 Years on Air

On Monday 6 June Radio Six International will have been broadcasting, in one guise or another, for 48 years and they will be celebrating this with a special day of programmes. I’m not sure why 48 years is significant, but any excuse for dipping into the archives I suppose.

Worth picking out the schedules are the following:
00:00 Station Theme Tunes – a medley of about 20 tunes used over the years.
11:30 This is Abba – featuring an interview with Benny & Bjorn.
12:30 Classical Sequence – a 1981 programme hosted by former Radio 2&3 and BBC Scotland announcer Alma Cadzow.
13:20 Meet Carol Hersee – an interview with the famous Test Card girl
20:00 John Lennon-The Final Interview – an interview made originally for RKO Radio  just a couple of days after the BBC one by Andy Peebles. This has already played out on stations worldwide last December and is available on iTunes.
22:40 Glasgow Tonight – a 1979 news magazine presented by Bill Turnbull.

All times are in GMT so if you’re in the UK add an hour, I’ll need to remember to add two hours.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Anne Nightingale

This Friday BBC Four celebrates the career of Radio 1 DJ Anne Nightingale in Annie Nightingale-Bird on the Wireless. She’s still broadcasting every week, though you have to look hard to find her, tucked away at 2 a.m. on a Friday morning.

Anne started as a journalist in the early 1960s working for the Brighton & Hove Gazette and the Brighton Evening Argus. In 1964 she wrote a book, in collaboration with the Hollies, called How to Run A Pop Group. “It didn’t sell” she told David Rider in 1977, “but it taught me about economics in music and publishing”. Her research for the book including rehearsing and singing with a group and she ended up on tour with the Kinks, the Hollies, the Dave Clark Five and Mark Wynter.

In 1964/5 Anne was on TV co-hosting Rediffusion’s That’s For Me, a “lost” episode of which turned up in the treasure trove of recordings made by Bob Monkhouse. She was also appeared on Juke Box Jury and A Whole Scene Going.

Eventually radio work came along, doing short news pieces and interviews for Today, Woman’s Hour, Scene and Heard and a magazine programme called Pop Inside. Her only work as a radio DJ was a short stint on Luxembourg before she joined Radio 1 in 1969, and not 1970 as is often claimed. Radio 1 was trying out a number of new voices in a Sunday night slot and Anne got her chance on air that October.

In 1970 Anne joined the rota of DJs presenting What’s New reviewing “the week’s new pop record releases” – new releases not counting against the needletime allocation. Anne was also a regular on Sounds of the 70s working on the review programme alongside Alan Black. At the same time she continued her journalism work writing for Cosmopolitan, 19 and the Daily Express. My wife Val remembers reading her regular column in Honey magazine.

From September 1975 Anne started her first stint on a request show, taking over the 3-5 p.m. Sunday afternoon slot from The Dave Lee Travis Request Show to host The W1A 4WW Show – the title taken from Radio 1’s then postcode, no texts or emails in those days. This is when I first heard Anne. Like many at school or college at that time on a Sunday afternoon I’d be perhaps doing my homework, or more likely thinking about doing my homework, with the Request Show on in the background.

Within a year the programme became known as The Anne Nightingale Request Show and it continued until 1979. By then Anne had also joined Bob Harris and co. on BBC2’s The Old Grey Whistle Test and was presenting a new weekly Wednesday evening show called Radio 1 Mailbag – this ran until 1983 and in later series she was joined by co-host Adrian Love. As well as Mailbag there was also, between 1979 and 1981, a Friday night show that kicked off just after Roundtable.

By the late 70s Anne was still the only woman DJ at Radio 1. “People are always asking me what it’s like being a woman DJ, which is pretty silly. I think the main thing I have going for me is my voice, which is probably as near to a classless accent as you can get. I’m sure it was a lot plumier when I left school”. In 1977 she spoke about this with Radio Humberside’s Tim Jibson.

And so to 1982. Sunday night after the charts The Anne Nightingale Request Show starts its 12 year run. A programme remembered for championing new bands, delighting in the obscure and, perhaps most famously, for its succinct opening word from Anne – “Hi!” – just before the vocals of the first track. But it was not always thus. Here’s a clip from 1984 with Anne in a jokey handover with Top 40 host Richard Skinner and a decidedly pop playlist.

From 14 April 1985 here's the "effervescent" Anne playing Queen, Howard Jones and The Vapors.

Fast forward ten years. By now Anne was occupying the wee small hours of a Saturday night/Sunday morning with The Chill Out Zone, a mix of hip hop, drum ‘n’ bass and ambient sounds – perfect for returning clubbers. This clip is from January 1995.

Though the day and time have changed over the intervening years Anne, now billed as Annie, Nightingale continues to broadcast overnight on Radio1 each week featuring breakbeat, grime, dubstep and other musical genres and fashions that mean little to me. But there she is, after more than 40 years still at the cutting edge, still with a dedicated young following – the queen of Radio 1.

Hear more audio on the Radio 1 website here.
Read an in-depth interview with Annie here.

The Sunday evening request show was first broadcast 20:00-22:00 on 5 December 1982 after Alexis Korner and before Sounds of Jazz. The last show was 22:00-0100 Sunday 1 May 1994 sandwiched between the Steve Edwards Soul Show and Claire Sturgess. The following week Annie started The Chill Out Zone 0300-0500 Sunday 8 May 1994.
The quotes come from Happy Birthday Radio 1:Ten Years 1967-77 written by David Rider (Everest Books, 1977).

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