Listeners' Archive: the team at work in a windowless room

A week on from the successful Listeners’ Archive open days, and the boxes of cassettes and reels of tape (and one minidisc!) are starting to arrive at our digitisation centre at the BBC’s historic Maida Vale studios. We’re enormously grateful to listeners and colleagues across the BBC for their help with the project to date.

Now, in a windowless room packed with equipment including some vintage reel-to-reel machines, our team are setting to work reviewing audio and starting the process of transferring it to digital.

We already know we’ve ticked a few things off our “wants” list. We’ve found everything from “Have A Go” from the Light Programme in the late 50s, to “Out On Blue Six”, Mark Radcliffe’s first shows on national radio. As I type, one workstation is playing out Steve Wright on the Radio 1 roadshow in Bournemouth from 1993; another is running Alan Freeman and Kenny Everett recordings.

We also have an astonishing discovery of one man’s extensive collection of recordings of BBC radio in the late 50s and early 60s, now held by the British Library. It includes editions of “Skiffle Club” from 1958 and “Sing Something Simple” from 1960. We’ll feature this in our programme to be broadcast on the 90th anniversary of BBC radio on November 14th. Trevor Dann is on the case, speaking to the collector’s relatives and neighbours.

And we’re following up leads on significant collections of Goons shows, Peel sessions, “Music While You Work”, Charlie Chester, and an entire archive of Benny Green jazz shows. But we’re still happy to hear from you if you’ve just dusted off a recording we might be interested in.

Email us at or we’re on Twitter @BBCListeners.

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by martinwguy

    on 23 Nov 2012 14:09

    Erm... so are the BBC going to make this material freely available to the license payers who financed its productions? Or is "we want" the key phrase here?

    i mean, the BBC Sound Archive has a huge amount of Delia Derbyshire's work from the 60s - hundreds of unpublished and unknown pieces - on tape, all definitely copyright BBC, but has published nothing in ten years since her death.

    At least it could give the stuff the public has charitably preserved back to the public. Or am I missing some link to a page full of mp3s or torrents?

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by KernowQ

    on 9 Nov 2012 17:02

    I know it's not radio, but I wondered if anyone has come up with a recording of a children's TV programme that my late Mother wrote in the early 1950's, I think 1951. It was called Vegetable Village and there were two six week series. It was the everyday story of a village of vegetable characters: Bertie Bean, Barbara Beet, Granfer Marrow, Miss Mushroom, the village postmistress, Annie Apple, the school teacher, PC Swede, Dr Parsnip, Squire Strawberry and, the village baddie Tramp Toadstool. It was broadcast live from Lime Grove Studios and of course wasn't recorded. I still have the puppets and one of the early scripts, but would love to be able to see a recording again. I remember going to Lime Grove as a very small child and seeing the puppet theatre in one corner of a large room, with a floor covered in snaking cables. The series was commissioned by Cecil Madden and one of the voices was Pamela May.
    In the early 1960s several episodes were broadcast on Border Television, which is no longer. We didn't have a television at home so couldn't have recorded it, but I'd love to see at least one episode again.
    I've still got all the puppets, which were originally glove puppets but later changed to marrionettes.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by WASIF

    on 6 Nov 2012 02:22

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

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