The Listeners' Archive appeal: an update

Tuesday 2 October 2012, 15:45

Will Jackson Will Jackson Project manager

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George Orwell at the BBC, 1943 George Orwell at the BBC, 1943

We’ve had a great response to our initial blog about The Listeners’ Archive, with plenty of offers of reels and cassettes via Twitter @BBCListeners. There are some great programme recordings out there, from Billy Cotton’s Band Show and Music While You Work, to Junior Choice and Alan Freeman.

They’re held by people who may just have taped one show they loved, to enthusiasts who have amassed amazing collections that form mini-archives in themselves. We’ll be talking to them as many of them as possible to collect material for our programmes, and to record the stories behind the recordings.

The other side of the project is getting to grips with what might be useful for the BBC to hold. We’ve been working with programme makers and archivists to draw up a list of particular requirements.

We’ve also heard from listeners about programmes they’d just like to hear again. The list is a work in progress, and will constantly evolve, as gaps are filled and new requests arise. It ranges from individual performers, to broad genres. And this is where you come in. We’re hoping someone pressed “record” on any of these, in any format, and that it might be gathering dust in a loft or cupboard somewhere in the UK. Some of the things we're looking for (See below for a more detailed list):

  • We’re keen to find music sessions from high-profile artists and comedy programmes from before 1990.
  • Drama series are also in demand, from Mrs Dale’s Diary and Waggoners Walk, to The Archers from 1948-1959 and 1969-1987, when there aren’t complete runs in the archive.
  • We’ve learned there’s very little held in the archive on “women’s lib” from the 1970s.
  • We also want BBC appearances from George Orwell, Richard Burton and Dylan Thomas, and Reith Lectures from the 1950s.
  • Plus we’re looking for recordings of regular live programming that captures the sound of a generation, but that may not have been considered important at the time – magazine programmes or DJ-presented shows from pre-2000. We’d love to hear, for example, Mike Read on Radio 1 talking about Frankie Goes To Hollywood!

Blow the dust off the recording and bring it along to one of our Open Days on Thursday 11th October – (see below for a list of venues).

And in the meantime, if you have any recordings in any format that you think we might be interested in, let us have the details now - we’re on twitter @BBCListeners or email Please don’t send any audio to us at this stage – we want to check first whether it’s already in the archive.

Places to bring your tapes on Thursday 11 October, between 9am and 5pm:

  • BBC Radio 2, Western House, 99 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 7NY
  • BBC Radio Ulster, Belfast
  • BBC Radio WM, Birmingham
  • BBC Radio Bristol
  • BBC Radio Wales, Cardiff
  • BBC Radio Foyle, Derry/Londonderry
  • BBC Radio Leeds
  • BBC Radio Newcastle
  • BBC Radio Norfolk, Norwich
  • BBC Radio Nottingham
  • BBC Radio Sheffield
  • BBC Radio Solent, Southampton
  • BBC Radio York

Your recordings will be returned to the location where they were deposited; alternatively, please supply a self-addressed envelope with appropriate postage.

And here are those programmes and genres that we're particularly looking for:

  • Pre-1990 music sessions (i.e. BBC recorded music performances) in particular, high-profile artists.
  • Pre-1990 comedy programmes. For example, Hancock and Goon Shows all have missing episodes from the early series.
  • Pre-1990 drama and readings. Examples would include The Archers from 1950-1959 and from 1969-1987, periods where there are not complete runs.
  • Pre-1982 news bulletins.
  • Pre-2000 live presented DJ programmes and magazines – the daily mainstream output of networks.
  • BBC appearances by Dylan Thomas
  • BBC appearances by Richard Burton
  • BBC appearances by George Orwell
  • Interviews with Alma Cogan
  • First BBC appearances by Petula Clark
  • Coverage of “women’s lib” in 1970s
  • Mike Read's “ban” of Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Relax – Radio 1
  • Waggoners Walk – Radio 2 soap 1969-80
  • Mrs Dale's Diary - Light Programme drama serial, 1948-67
  • Family Favourites
  • Midday Spin
  • Music While You Work 1940-67
  • Pick of the Pops 1955-72
  • Saturday Club 1957-69
  • Easy Beat 1960-67
  • Housewives Choice 1946-67
  • Top Gear (radio show - BBC Light Programme/Radio 1)
  • Junior Choice
  • Derek Jameson, Radio 2
  • Kenny Everett
  • Alan Freeman
  • Emperor Rosko
  • Out On Blue Six – Mark Radcliffe, Radio 1
  • Reith Lectures: 1949 Robert Birley; 1950 John Zachary Young; 1953 Robert Oppenheimer; 1956 Edward Appleton; 1957 George Kennan; 1958 Bernard Lovell; 1959 Peter Medawar; 1967 JK Galbraith

(Update - some new wants added 10/10/2012):

  • Desert Island Discs, first edition with Vic Oliver, which was recorded by Roy Plomley - 29 January 1942.
  • The Archers: The wedding of Phil and Jill: 16/11/57 - they were married on a Saturday - two episodes on Friday 15th and Monday 18th
  • The Archers: The Queen’s coronation 03/06/1953 - there wasn’t a programme on the actual day – 2nd June.
  • The Archers: Birth of Shula and Kenton: 08/08/1958
  • The Archers: Jennifer tells her parents she is pregnant: 17/01/1967
  • The Archers: The wedding of Pat and Tony: 12/12/1974
  • Radio Ulster’s first day of broadcast - 1975
  • Radio Ulster: first “Talkback”
  • Radio Ulster: first Stephen Nolan show
  • Radio Ulster or Radio Foyle: first Gerry Anderson show
  • Radio Ulster: first Hugo Duncan show,
  • Radio Ulster: “McCooeys” (
  • Appearances by JC Beckett – in particular, his history series “Ulster Since 1800”
  • Appearances by Tyrone Guthrie or Richard Hayward

Read BBC Radio at 90: The Listeners' Archive on the Radio Blog and Radio Reunited: Marking 90 years of radio on the BBC Mediacentre website for more information on BBC Radio at 90


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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    My Kenny Everett tapes are all from his Capital Radio days when I had the 'pleasure' of helping him with some sessions recording sound effects as a student.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    It's a shame that the likes of FACT have come down hard on the old Radio and TV torrent sites that were performing this task and run them into oblivion, an awful lot of gems emerged from the likes of UKN especially as some programs seem to be repeated continuously and others rarely if ever at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    It would be worth finding the BBC Radio 1 'Round Table' episode from 1982 where Michael Jackson's album 'Thriller' was reviewed - my memory was that it was slated and the panel were confident that it would never be as popular as his previous album 'Off The Wall' - how wrong could they be!

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    @RobMoss - Your comments read to me as if made on behalf of the BBC. Are you a BBC employee? If so, should you not disclose that fact when posting? You may consider my comment unhelpful, but it is nevertheless my reaction (as distinct from an attitude) to the BBC explicitly branding me as someone who requires their pardon, while telling me that I won't receive their pardon unless I hand over my tapes (tapes that I bought with my own money and which don't belong to the BBC). And if by "we can all profit" you mean "the BBC can profit", then no, I don't agree.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I have a 1976 recording on reel to reel , of Johnnie Walker's last show on Radio 1 before he returned in the late '80 's .

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    I have all 26 episodes of Lord of the Rings with Brian Sibley, Ian Holm and John LeMesurier on cassette. I believe these were broadcast in the late seventies.

    Let me know if you are interested in them

    I have just tried e-mailing and the address isn't recognised

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    While i believe it'd be great for the bbc to get copies of the shows they destroyed what is the chance of us ever getting to hear them ? Where's the stones at the beeb on cd,johnny kidd at the beeb,cliff and the shads etc. and the other 9 or so cds worth of beatles sessions. If the tapes are just going from one cupboard to another what's the point ?

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I also recorded lots of programmes in the 60's and 70's, but no drop of point near me either. Maybe it's because I live in a small hamlet called LONDON.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    @ not-a-criminal - No, I don't work for the BBC and never have done. I simply have an interest in seeing missing television programmes returned to their rightful owners so that they are available to companies who wish to release them or use clips in other programmes, and yes, that includes the BBC. I use the word "profit" to mean "benefit". I suspect the original use of "amnesty" was shorthand for "opportunity to be public spirited". BTW, are you certain you won't get your tapes back..? Usually the BBC are happy just to take copies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Can anyone recall a programme (probably "Tomorrows World") when a code left by Mozart was discussed. This could be used to generate - on a suitably advanced computer - compositions in the style of the composer. This was probably in the 60's and therefore before adequate computing sophistication.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    I have several hundred home produced cassettes of radio shows from the UK and US. Amongst them are several dozen UK cassettes, mostly C-120s from the 1980s. I have a few of the ubiquitous Radio 1 Top 40 shows plus many Radio 1 Rockumentaries, In Concerts, Lenny Henry Show, Steve Wright's Rock Lists Show, and My Top Ten shows. Most of the tapes carry some documentation, one such C-120 that came to hand contains Blancmange In Concert broadcast on Saturday 8th February 1986 b/w Madness In Concert broadcast on 15th February 1986. Both shows recorded at London's Hammersmith Odeon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    My speciality is chart shows. I have over 400+ part / full two hour Radio 1 Top 40 shows (78-90) plus some from the 1990s and beyond plus earlier Tom Browne ones from the 70s plus other shows such as Pick Of The Pops (1989-92, 1997-2000), Paul Gambaccini's Radio 1 US chart show and others. Apart from POTP, I didn't record them at the time but have managed to amass these recordings over the last 10 years or so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Umm, not too sure about this. Respected BBC producer Bernie Andrews had the wisdom to keep copies of certain Saturday Club performances but was frowned upon when EMI and the BBC tried to work on a Shadows at the BBC release several years ago . . . and we're still waiting because everyone wants a cut of the profits including the Beeb (who always wiped the tapes) and now poor old Bernie has passed on.
    I have in my collection a lot of radio recordings by many 60s artists and I'm always interested in more, particularly 1960s instrumental radio recordings if anybody on here can oblige.
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Tony H (hi Tony) is right. The BBC had a great opportunity to get Bernie Andrew's tapes and blew it. Still waiting for classic Shadows BBC sessions. I'll be dead soon and there wont be much of an audience left for this kind of thing. These recordings are 50 years old. Put 'em up on iplayer in flac form like Wolfgangs Vault.
    John Lennon suspected Bernie leaked Beatles bbc radio sessions but didnt mind in fact i'm sure i remember reading that he sent a bootleg to Paul McCartney (at a time when they weren't getting on well) with a note of excitement. He also said music belongs to everyone. it's only publishers who think they own it but then he didn't half talk a lot of cobblers sometimes. Happy birthday John.
    Would you like an hour of Johnny Kidd radio sessions from Saturday Club ? If you promise to play it all on air i will oblige.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Although it has been spread around the web as an mp3 file for a good few years now, I know the person who has a master stereo FM cassette recording of the full 10th December 1976 Radio 1 John Peel show "this is punk rock" - the night he first truly thrust punk upon the nation. This is the master that all the versions circulating on the web were derived from.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I do hope some old stuff can be retrieved. I admire those who recorded off air.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    I have 156 episodes of the Goon Show 1952-1972 on MP3, which one's are you after?

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    ...aaaaand cue the tsunami of copyright infringement writs from the beeb!

    Unless music piracy is of course no longer a crime....?


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