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The making of BBC Four's Punk Britannia

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Rebecca Mounsey | 15:59 UK time, Thursday, 24 May 2012

In February Rebecca Mounsey completed her contract with the BBC's Production Training Scheme - eighteen months of training and working in placements across both TV and Radio productions. BBC Four's Punk Britannia is her first production working in her new role as an Assistant Producer.

Brian James of The Damned

Brian James of The Damned (photo: Andy Dunn)

Punk Britannia is a new three-part series on BBC Four that spans from 1971-1981 and maps some of the uncharted as well as the more familiar territory of this thoroughly British movement.

In the first in the series, we look at those who started it all with a fresh take on 50s rhythm and blues and electrifying stagecraft from bands like Dr Feelgood. The second episode looks at the teenage upstarts that broke the mould and were at the heart of the punk explosion of 1976-78. The final part of the series explores what happened next: the era of maverick indie record labels, post-punk and new wave.


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During the course of the BBC's Production Training Scheme, I had worked on projects varying from royal weddings to the Hackney riots, from a history of Pixar Studios to a history of homosexuality. I've also had more training than I could shake a proverbial stick at! I had hoped that when it came to an end I would be able to find a position that would feel like a new challenge and be a project that I could feel at home with and passionate about.

In my first role as a bona-fide Assistant Producer, Punk Britannia has been a dream project to work on. I mean this quite literally, and not in the clichéd sense. I've had the opportunity to meet some long-time musical heroes and been able to ask and hear, first-hand, the ins and outs of one of the most exciting times in rock music.


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Working on the series has taught me that no amount of training could compare to the immeasurable amounts that I have learned from watching, listening to and getting stuck in with an incredibly talented and generous production team. Each of whom has inspired me and brought something unique and brilliant to the table and I'm very proud to be cast alongside them all.

The fact that we have spent so much time together since February and are still pretty chipper, is testament to how much fun we've had. Whether it was travelling with, filming, researching, or even being locked in caravan site with each other - we have had a crazy time and inevitably become firm friends over shared anecdotes and a pint or three.

At the age of 27, I'm not as old as punk itself and maybe it's because there was no such movement for my generation, that we still look back enviously. The one thing that is truly fantastic about working on this series has been that despite punk being 35 years old, it still feels fresh and exciting. What's really heartening is that the artists who were right in the thick of it still feel as passionate and enthusiastic today for what the movement was and what it has achieved. Those teenagers of 1976 might have felt like they had "No Future" - but through their music, political expression, shock and outrage they created a legacy that we are still fascinated by to this day.

No Future? Not so.

Punk Britannia starts at 9pm, Friday 1st June on BBC Four.


  • Comment number 1.

    Well well well,what a surprise I watched the 1st and second episode of Punk Britannia.And there was a certain group missing from the procedings.Who could It be?Two hit albums in 1977,influential on the pub rock circuit.A certain Karate black belt bass player.Any ideas?I will put you out of your misery,Its the Stranglers,surprise surprise the BBC have totally ignored the bands importance to the punk movement.Did I see a lesser spotted ex strangler on the second episode (for all of 2 seconds).This programme is a total sham ignoring the Stranglers (although)they weren't really a punk band they were certainly part of the movement,and went on to define the change with punk dying out with their seminal album "Black In White" in 1978.This album was a template for all the goth bands that followed.I guess the reason they were not on Is maybe they upset the BBC a to few times.But to leave them out would be like ignoring the Beatles in a history of British beat music.

  • Comment number 2.

    I enjoyed both programes, and they brought back alot memories for me. But i think the programe has totally ignored the best band from the pub rock and punk rock era- the Stranglers. How can this be when they played more gigs during 1974-1976 than anyone building up a following on the pub curcuit that resulted in their 1977 debut album going to no. 4 and spending 8 months in the charts. They deseve to be acknowleged as one of the main bands of the punk movement. Can the compiler of this programe explain why they were ignored


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