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 41.

    I have about 20 odd full cds full of 'best bits' from the late night Mark Radcliffe show.
    A bit like podcasts before they were invented.
    It's all the comedy bits of chat and larking about between Mark and Lard, + poetry and comedy songs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Is it possible to donate tapes - sending them to you? Some of us live a long way away from any BBC centre.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I too have lots of Saturday Club, some Easy Beat and lots of Top Of The Pops (radio Programmes)
    I will get in touch with the BBC to see of they want copies. Tom Keen from the south west, have a look at my Saturday Club website and get in touch .

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    I have a tape of Roger Scotts Farewell programme on R1??
    Any use to anyone or yourselves

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    i have lots of tapes from 70's/80's/90's just a minute/news quiz/i'm sorry i haven't a clue also blazing saddles about the national 24 hr bycycle time trial in 1988. there maybe a few archers episodes as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Can someone from the BBC tell us all what will happen to any donated recordings. Will they make them available for everyone to hear or will they just go in an archive, never to be heard again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    In 1980 I worked with someone who had previously worked for the Beeb as a teenage dogsbody. One of the tasks that he was asked to perform was to smash old 78s and throw them in the skip. Nice one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    I have quite a few 1970's Noel Edmunds Sunday morning shows recorded including guests Cliff Richard, Jake Thackery, Mike Harding amongst others and the gravel path, Dingly dell and clever phone call set ups. I am happy for you to have the tapes... let me know BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    PS Just to add - unable to get to venues so if you need them I could drop them off at Salford studios.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I have several tapes from Nightride, used to finish at 2am with theme 2 music. May have Ray Moore and Keith Skues on them. Also have a Stones and Beatles tape I recorded in the late 60s? Asked BBC before if they wanted to see them but again had no reply.
    Also have a couple of John Peel Sunday? afternoon programmes where he mentions watching Liverpool the day before.
    Wonder if any of these are of use, if so you have my email address.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    46. Roger Morse
    10TH OCTOBER 2012 - 22:22
    Can someone from the BBC tell us all what will happen to any donated recordings. Will they make them available for everyone to hear or will they just go in an archive, never to be heard again.

    take a copy before sending them in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    If you could a more conclusive list that would be more helpful as some folk have a lot of tapes

    To help you with Peel shows in particular perhaps you could use Ken Garners the peel sessions book photocopy it onto a bbc site and indicate whats missing its only 33 pages to indicate every show since 1967-2004

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I guess it'll take some years but couldn't the BBC (with volunteers?) get all available programmes listed online and either...

    - streamable online with subscription / advertising,


    - listed as 'unavailable' because content is blocked by copyright / denied. Details about why content is blocked would give listeners something to work on to free up some of these programmes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    There is no mention of BBC Radio 3 and BBC Third Programme. archives. Is there any interest here? I have a number of R 3 Choral Evensongs dating from the fifties forward, as well as numerous other items.

    Is local radio included? I have numerous local radio recordings, including TX copies of a number of OBs, including the installation of the Bishop of Norwich, the Tsunami Service in Norwich Cathedral and several hour-long features, from the days when local radio was producing these.

    I also have The Archers from 1st April, 1974 to November 8th 1976. I have been in touch with the Archers Archive, but no interest was shown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Peter Powell - radio one evening show from 1981 /1982
    are what I would like to hear if any body out there has any recordings

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I have a recording of the last Noel Edmonds show. You may have this in the archives-if not please let me know if it is of interest to you.Thanks

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Thanks for all the comments and offers of recordings - as we're not able to directly contact people who have commented here, it'd be great if you were able to email or on Twitter @BBCListeners with your contact details and as much detail about your recording(s) as possible - for example names of programmes, presenters, dates, and any particularly interesting content. It would also be good to get the story of how/why you were recording the show, so we can feature this in the programmes.

    Please don't send us recordings straight away - we'd like to check whether they're already held by the BBC Archive before requesting them.

    We're interested in hearing about recordings from any broadcaster - BBC or commercial, national or local. If it is local content, you may also wish to contact your BBC local radio station directly, although we'll do our best to pass on any local leads.

    Recordings, and the stories behind them, will initially be considered for inclusion in Listeners' Archive programmes we're making as part of the BBC's 90th anniversary in November. Depending on what material we receive, we're hoping more programmes will follow. Discussions are already starting on how we can continue the project, and build on the great response so far. There's also a short update on the project here:


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