Friday, 26 August 2016

Can I Take That Again? - Part 3

Imagine playing the unexpurgated version of a record rather than the radio edit. And on Radio 2 daytime too! Poor old Stewpot got some stick when the explicit version of The Beautiful South's Don't Marry Her slipped through the net.

Not sure of the exact date of this incident though I'm guessing it was the year of release 1996. You'll hear Ed fade down the track and then the following day Ken Bruce and Jimmy Young have some fun at Ed's expense.

Thank you to whoever sent me this audio earlier in the year. Apologies but I've lost your name and email address.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Greene on the Screen

Novelist Graham Greene is celebrated this week on BBC Radio 4 in Our Man in Greeneland in which five correspondents follow in the footsteps of his novels. It's part of the network's tribute to Greene that has been running this year - 25 years after his death in 1991. We've already heard adaptations of The Honorary Consul and The Power and the Glory. Dramatisations of Monsignor Quixote and The Confidential Agent are due later this year.

My accompanying piece of archive material is an edition of the Radio 4 arts magazine Kaleidoscope. Dating from 1984, film critic Nigel Andrews examines the many film adaptations of Greene's work. Virtually everyone of his novels made it to the big screen or, as in the case of Monsignor Quixote and Doctor Fischer of Geneva, were made for TV.

I wrote about this association between Green's literature and the cinema back in April 1983 for my degree dissertation Fiction Into Film: the Works of Graham Greene. I went on to examine The Third Man, Brighton Rock and England Made Me. Here's part of my general introduction:

Greene made most of his novels historically specific so that each can be seen not only to evoke the mood of their particular time but to act as indirect records of world events. As most of the films were made shortly after the appearance of the novels - England Made Me, The Fallen Idol, The Man Within and The Honorary Consul being the only time difference in double figures - both serve as social records, though with differing slants on the world. Indeed it has been said that "if we have an imaginative sense of the violent modern world elsewhere, it is in part because of Greene's writing". That world has extended from Haiti to Vietnam through Mexico and Cuba and across Europe. But it is also a unique world which few of us would recognise: a world filled with little else but criminals, murders, drunkards, adulterers and, perhaps worst of all (according to Greene) innocents. This slice of the world is known as 'Greeneland' and, in many cases, can only be escaped through some kind of spiritual release - though there are more sinners than saints. This decidedly pessimistic outlook on life is an unusual source for film-makers - one might think that the entertainment value would be rather low. But, for a number of reasons (not always clear), Greene's work has proved a popular source. What this dissertation aims to do is look at how Greene's personal 'Waste Land' has been dealt with on film: is it recognisable as Green's original world, how has the mood been created, what has the film highlighted and what has it left out?

And so I continue for about 70 pages (notes and appendices included).

In Greene on the Screen we not only hear from Greene himself, he was celebrating his 80th birthday when this programme was made, but also film directors Peter Duffell and Roy Boulting, playwright Christopher Hampton and author Quentin Falk.  This edition of Kaleidoscope was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 31 August 1984.


Sunday, 31 July 2016

Pidgeon Post

If you've ever enjoyed listening to the music documentary series Classic Albums or The Record Producers, either originally on Radio 1 or their 6 Music repeats, you've John Pidgeon to thank. If you've laughed at Little Britain or Dead Ringers then you've John Pidgeon to thank.

John Pidgeon, whose death was announced earlier this month, was a rock writer turned radio producer and then comedy executive. He started writing for the NME and the new Let It Rock music magazine in 1971. A couple of years later he was helping Keith Skues knock the scripts of The Story of Pop into shape. In 1975 and 1976 he wrote a number of programmes for Radio 1's documentary series Insight.

One of The Story of Pop editions, Ship to Shore, was reworked for Insight as Reign of the Pirates. This programme aired on Radio 1 on 4 January 1976.

John would eventually follow The Story of Pop and Insight producer Tim Blackmore to Capital Radio where he would hook up with Roger Scott on his shows Jukebox Saturday Night and the mix of music and comedy that was Brunch (1986-88); working alongside Jan Ravens (later of Dead Ringers), Angus Deayton, Steve Coogan,  Paul Burnett, Steve Brown, Paul Burnett and Jeremy Pascall. There are 44 editions of Brunch available on the Roger Scott tribute website.   

By 1988 both John and Roger were back at the BBC and had co-devised Classic Albums, offering an opportunity to re-evaluate some seminal pop and rock albums combined with interviews from those concerned.  

There are 18 editions of Classic Albums on the Roger Scott tribute site but this is a later 1991 edition presented by Richard Skinner that revisits the Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake by The Small Faces. 

Classic Albums (1988-92) was followed The Record Producers, this time as an independent production (1993-94) as well as a number of other music documentaries for Radio 1 and then Radio 2. Turning to comedy he interviewed a number of comedians "about what makes them laugh for Talking Comedy (1996-99) 

In 1999 John was appointed as editor BBC radio entertainment which essentially meant he was in charge of radio comedy. On his retirement in 2005 Radio 4 commissioning editor Caroline Raphael commented that "The past five years has seen an unprecedented movement of radio comedy to television. John's Radio Entertainment department spearheaded this move with shows like Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh. This has undoubtedly helped Radio 4 to secure the best new and established comedy talent for our listeners and raise the network's profile." Tweeting on the news of John death David Walliams said "Thank you for believing in me. A smart and kind man who loved comedy".

John  produced a couple of short series for Radio 4: Music to Die For and Russ Noble On... and in more recent years he'd been a crossword compiler for the Daily Telegraph under the name Petitjean.

John Pidgeon 1947-2016

Saturday, 30 July 2016

More than just a Postman

In the last 24 hours my news feeds and social media have all been reporting "voice of Postman Pat dies" to mark the passing of singer Ken Barrie. But, as his daughter Lorraine Peterson told the PA "his legacy is not so much Postman Pat – he did a lot more and he loved singing after starting in the late 1950s".

Ken had been one of the singers working for Woolworth's own record label Embassy Records providing cover versions of popular hits under the pseudonym Les Carle. He was also a backing singer, advertising jingle singer and voiceover artist. During the 60s and 70s he could be heard on various Light Programme/Radio 2 shows such as Non Stop Pop and Sing It Again as well as performing as 'Ken Barrie and the Barrietones'. For many years Ken was one of the Cliff Adams Singers - remember Sing Something Simple? - and the Neil Richardson Choir.

This is a rare recording of Ken singing solo under his own name backed by the BBC Radio Orchestra conducted by Neil Richardson. I can't exactly date this recording of String Sound, introduced by Sarah Kennedy, which was kindly given to me by Paul Langford but Ken is singing Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You and Blues in the Night.

Ken Barrie 1933-2016

"But he's not given it"

Today as we recall the sporting events of fifty years ago and BBC radio celebrates the 1966 World Cup here's the view from one of the radio commentary team on duty that day, Brian Moore. Brian was BBC radio's football correspondent from 1963 to 1968 before heading off to ITV. This is part of what he wrote in 1987 for the book Sports Report: 40 Years of the Best:  

That July day, I remember, I shared one of those heavy-duty radio microphones - they used to wrap themselves around your jaws like a cross between a dog muzzle and something you would expect to find in a war-time Lancaster over Berlin - with Alan Clarke of the fruity voice and northern authority and Maurice Edelstein, renowned for his scholarly summaries.

We took it in turns to do 15-minute bursts of commentary that afternoon, and I was addressing the eccentrics who had found their way to a television screen when Hurst scored that crucial and much-debated third goal. 'I thought that hit the bar and went in. Maurice Edelston?' 'I'm not certain', added Maurice cautiously -and then 'Yes, it's given, it's given ... England are in the lead.' Rarely, if ever, has a football moment been so carved open, dissected more clinically or argued about more passionately, notwithstanding that little matter of an Argentine handball in Mexico 20 years later.

I do recall slipping into Broadcasting House on my way to Wembley that day to pick up some bits and pieces and finding a single postcard on my sports room desk. My impact on the listening public was some way from causing headaches for the BBC post room! It was simple addressed: Moore, BBC, London. And the message was simple too: ' You'll never be as good as Raymond Glendenning as long as you live'. A splendid shot in the arm you must admit for any young commentator on his way to his most important assignment.   

Incidentally, when that lunatic decision to take the Horse of the Year Show to Wembley Stadium in 1968 led to the whole pitch being dug up (it took another 20 years for it to recover) I plundered that square yard of turf where Bobby placed the ball, and transplanted it on my lawn in Bromley, Kent. I have since moved on, but one unsuspecting suburban gardener still tends to this day a small stretch of grass on which football history was made. 

The full off-air commentary - it appears that the BBC didn't keep the whole broadcast - has recently turned up. The match was covered by the Sports Service on Network Three, hosted that afternoon by John Dunn. The commentary can be heard here.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Prince Encore

Prince was on the last day of his Act II tour of Europe when he appeared on BBC Radio 1 for a 'secret' show in the Broadcasting House Concert Hall. His 20 minute performance was part of that morning's Simon Bates show. The concert itself has been repeated on 6 Music and copies can be found online.

When Prince unexpectedly died in April I didn't realise I had my own recording of the one-off concert. However, I chanced upon the tape the other day when I was rummaging for some other archive material. As well as Prince's performance the tape contains the rest of Simon's show between 11.30 and 12.30; the concert started around noon.

So here for the first time in 23 years, since it aired on 7 September 1993, is Prince's energetic live set in context complete with a pleased-as-punch Simon Bates.   

A quick confession: my C90 did its tape turn bang in the middle of the set so I've spliced in that particular song from another source.

Footnote: the tape I was looking for, somewhat incongruously, was for a Victor Silvester programme, which I didn't, as it turned out, possess anyway. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

You're with Outlook

Today one of the BBC World Service's longest-running programmes celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. Outlook specialises in seeking out the human interest stories behind the news headlines. 

In today's live edition regular presenters Matthew Bannister and Jo Fidgen (pictured above) will celebrate "extraordinary people whose stories have inspired others around the world".

The original Outlook team (l-r) Colin Hamilton, John Tidmarsh,
Bob Reid and Sam Pollock

Launching on 4 July 1966 Outlook was different from other news programmes on the World Service at that time. The brainchild of the then Head of Talks and Features, Douglas Muggeridge, it was "a news, current affairs and magazine programme, with reports and features from around the world and star guest to chat live in the studio".

That first programme was presented by former BBC war correspondent Bob Reid who looked after the Monday and Tuesday editions until his death in 1971. On Wednesday Colin Hamilton was in charge, whilst John Tidmarsh took care of Thursdays and Fridays.    

In the early years Outlook was more news agenda-driven than it is now. The scheduling followed the pattern of two live 45-minute editions a day, one in the afternoon and one in the evening with a recorded 30-minute overnight edition added later. (Nowadays the single daily edition is usually recorded). The programme would typically start with two or three current news items and then a review of the press - initially with Sam Pollock then later with Conn Ryan, John Thompson and Nancy Wise. The remainder of the programme would be three or four features looking behind the news, often including an interview.  

London Calling June 1992

Outlook took on special significance to those captured and held hostage in Beirut. "Terry Waite, chained to a radiator for the best part of five years, between 1986 and 1991, one day heard his cousin John Waite presenting an edition: when this was revealed (by John McCarthy on his release), it was the first evidence that Terry had access to the radio. Outlook responded by putting out a special edition with Terry's favourite music, Bach's Tocata and Fugue in D minor".

John McCarthy would go on to join the Outlook team and present the midweek editions. Other regular presenters over the years have included Barbara Myers, Hugh Sykes, Mike Bullen, Heather Payton, Caroline Wyatt, Janet Trewin, Frank Partridge, Frederick Dove, Nicky Barranger, George Arney, Lucy Ash, Rajan Datar and the present team of Matthew Bannister, Jo Fidgen and recent recruit from LBC Petrie Hosken. (Barbara, Heather and Frederick were each with Outlook for just over 10 years, Matthew has presented for about eight years).

Outlook has evolved over the years and is unrecognisable from its original format. It was threatened with the chop in 2005 as the World Service adopted "a clearer role as a news and information provider". But it survived and flourishes with its promise of going  "around the globe through incredible personal stories".

In this Outlook montage you'll hear John Tidmarsh, including an interview from 1999 with Frederick Dove, Colin Hamilton, Barbara Myers, Frederick Dove, Heather Payton, John Waite, Caroline Wyatt, Lucy Ash and Matthew Bannister.  There are two theme tunes: the dramatic Hellraisers composed by Syd Dale that was used until the early 80s and then in the late 2000s an electronic tune I can't identify.   

John Tidmarsh

John Tidmarsh was Outlook's longest-serving presenter with a 32-year tenure. He brought a wealth of journalistic and presenting skills, as well as a sense of humour, to the programme.

He was born and raised in Surrey but his Army captain father moved around a bit so the Tidmarsh family moved first to North Wales before settling near Bristol. That's how come John found himself as a cub reporter, aged just 16, at the Western Daily Press towards the end of the war.

A year after hostilities ceased he joined the RAF for his National Service, getting his first opportunity to speak into a microphone as a radio operator on a Singapore posting.  On demob he was back at the Press and following the fortunes of Bristol Rovers. When the local hospital radio organised commentaries for the home games, John put his name forward and bagged his first broadcasting role.  
Word got back to the BBC West Region HQ about John's commentaries and they offered him the chance to do match reports into Sport in the West, though he was billed at the time as John Baldwin for fear that his WDP bosses cottoned on to his moonlighting. The adopted surname came from the newspaper's office in Baldwin Street, Bristol.

John was offered freelance work at the BBC West Region as a news reporter and presenter of The Week in the West.  He joined the staff in the early 50s organising coverage across the region for BBC Television News as well as contributing news items for the Light Programme's Radio Newsreel.

By 1956 John had made the move to London as a staff reporter based initially at Egton House. For the next decade he would shift between radio and TV work and between domestic and foreign reporting. His first overseas posting was as a UN correspondent in New York, later he reported from the Middle East, France, Algeria, Washington, India, Brussels and Vietnam, and even briefly worked out of Westminster; at one point being the BBC's Scottish Lobby correspondent.

For a while he was back in the UK on the telly as one of the presenters of the south east region news round-up Town and Around working alongside Nan Winton and John Ellison. Occasionally he would read the main TV news bulletins including the midday ones "when Corbett Woodall had overslept and failed to make it in on time". Meanwhile when BBC2 started in 1964 he and Gerald Priestland would work a two-handed presentation on the nightly Newsroom. But TV didn't really suit him at the time: "radio seemed to offer many more opportunities to someone like me with ambitions to work abroad."  

John Tidmarsh in the studio with Paul Eddington.
They had originally met in 1955 when Paul was in the BBC TV
production of Yellow Sands with John's wife Pat Pleasance
In 1966 John was offered the chance to launch Outlook, on the proviso he did so as a freelance. Initially working the back end of the week he spent the rest of the week over in Brussels as a BBC news stringer, and continued to commute for the next two years.

The initial format of Outlook was innovative for the time and John observed that "there were those who thought the programme format could not possibly work. Traditional thinking deplored the idea of having serious current affairs mixed up with magazine material and star guests".

On the subject of star guests John recalled the time when one didn't go to plan when Colin Hamilton was presenting:
"Our guest that day was the film actor David Niven. He'd hardly been introduced when Colin was handed a news flash saying that Egypt's President Sadat had been assassinated. For the rest of the programme David Niven hardly said a word. But afterwards he was very understanding and charming about it. I think he was fascinated seeing the world's number one radio station responding instantly to a huge and dramatic international event: the Newsroom, the Arabic Service, correspondents all round the world, all feeding us reports. David Niven, in fact, came back to the studio to be a guest some months later".

John didn't totally disappear from the domestic audience; he deputised for Jack de Manio on Today during 1968 and 1969, presented Newstime and World Quiz 69 both on Radio 2 and then Radio 4's evening News Desk (1974-6) as well as narrating a number of schools and further education programmes on both BBC radio and TV. In 1979 an old colleague from his days at Television News at Ally Pally, Colin Riach, asked him to present a BBC1 show he was now producing: Young Scientist of the Year. John presented the 1979, 1980 and 1981 series - look out for an edition on YouTube.

John continued to preside over Outlook for nearly thirty-two years until the programme was, in BBC parlance, "refreshed" and he was moved aside, though he continued with a series of major interviews for the next year or so. He left the BBC in 1998, ironically just a year after having received the OBE for service for broadcasting. 

Reflecting on his time with the World Service John remembered the words of a listener he'd met in the Prague, a Mrs Dachnikova, who'd experienced at first hand the 'Velvet Revolution' of 1989: "I just wanted to thank the BBC for all you did for us over the past forty years. We could not believe anything we heard on our own radio or the television or read in our newspapers. You told us what was really going on in the world. You gave us hope that one day things would change."

This is an extract from the edition of Outlook as heard on 1088kHz/276m on Friday 27 July 1974. John Tidmarsh interviews journalist Colin Legum about South African sport and apartheid and then introduces Steve Race with his Musical Atlas A to Z.

Colin Hamilton

Colin was a regular presenter on Outlook for 21 years. He'd spent his formative years in Africa, having moved there at an early age when his father, a BBC engineer, emigrated to Rhodesia. As a schoolboy in Salisbury he appeared in various productions, wrote weekly columns for The Livingstone Mail and Central African Post and, on leaving school, joined the Northern News in Lusaka.

His first radio appearance had been back in London during the war when he'd been in a Criterion Theatre stage show along with a number of older children, including Petula Clark, who sent messages to British troops. However, his first proper radio job was as an announcer with the South African Broadcasting Corporation before moving on to the Tanganyika Broadcasting Service as Swahili Programme Organiser - he'd learnt the language after six weeks day and night study on a mission station.

Colin in the studio with an unidentified guest
Moving to Kenya Colin became Senior Producer, African Services, Voice of Kenya and Acting Programme Organiser, English Service before returning to Britain to take up a television production course with the BBC. It was at that point, 1963, he was given the opportunity to join the roster of presenters on the Light Programme's daily magazine show Roundabout; he remained with the programme until 1968.

At the same time as Roundabout he was also putting in regular stints on Radio Luxembourg. The Evening News and Star of 28 September 1964 (left) records Colin as making a "whole series of weekend dashes between London and Luxembourg". A typical weekend's work was: "Finishing his job on Music and the Night programme at Luxembourg at three a.m., catching a plane at 7.30 a.m. and arriving in London at lunch time; then a rehearsal with the BBC's Roundabout programme at 5 p.m. Return to Luxembourg the following morning and on the air again the same evening."   

In 1966 Colin joined the launch team at Bush House for Outlook, initially looking after the Wednesday editions. He stayed with the programme for 21 years, a run only broken by a six-month spell in the early 80s with WKAT in Miami. For the World Service he also presented Exploring London, Pop Goes the Music, Records Round the World and Rhyme and Reason. Over on the Home Service, and then Radio 4, he presented the regional news bulletins for the South-East (1967-69). He also worked for the BFBS, and continued to do so when he left the BBC, on the music shows Top Twenty and Weekend for Two and later as a newsreader.   

It was in 2007 that he left London to emigrate to Mexico. Long having an interest in writing and travel he would join, and then chair, the Puerto Vallarta Writers Group. Last August friends and family became concerned about Colin's whereabouts. It transpired that he'd been brutally murdered by two assailants during a river trip. His body was dumped and then his apartment ransacked but, alerted by security, the police caught them red-handed. It was a tragic and shocking end.

Colin Hamilton 1935-2015

I'll leave the final words on Outlook to songwriter Sammy Cahn. Always one for adapting the lyrics of his songs to suit the occasion he was at the World Service grand piano when he came up with this version of It's Magic for John Tidmarsh and the team:

The hours and hours it took,
But now, at last, I'm on Outlook,
It's magic.
And though he can be harsh
I love it here with John Tidmarsh,
It's magic.

I can't believe that I'm
Getting so much Outlook time,
It's magic.
But I don't have to say
The payment that I'll take away
It's tragic.

You can hear the 40th anniversary edition of Outlook online here.

With thanks to Ian Hamilton and Richard Tucker.
Quotes come from:
Horrid Go-Ahead Boy by John Tidmarsh (The Book Guild 2010)
London Calling Volume 12 No.4 April 1983 edition
Shrinking World by Paul Donovan (Sunday Times 16 October 2005)
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