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 1.

    I have hundreds of Radio 4 documentary programmes for 15 years.There are retreads: about In Business- ' The Learning Organization' 10 years ago then repeated 5 years ago.
    Stephen Byers on Educational Action Zones and business ethics brought into schools and Education Secretary John Patten as arguing for a graduate loan scheme

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    What about searching fo Desert Island Disc episodes. There are stacks of these missing from the archives. I think these should be given a high priority for recovery

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    i have an interview with MarcBolan in a programe called Rock speak broadcast on 11th Feruary 1974 with michael whale mite not be top quality but ive never heard it cince also
    marcs bit in Insight radio one 23 11 75
    marcs views in an anti smokeing campaign Nationwide 12 1 1976
    My top 12 with Brian mathew & MarcBolan 17th February 1974 terible quality
    any help?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    i have also roskos round table 2nd july 1976 with david hamilton and marc bolan

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Kenny Everett's Saturday morning shows on Radio One from around 1968 to 1970 were absolute MAGIC!

    I had a few from that time on cassette when I was a teenager and listened to them hundreds of times. They are of course lost long ago!

    Please, please, please, anyone who has tapes of Kenny's shows from that time, send them in for posterity! (I hope one day to hear something of them again!)

    The BBC sometimes broadcast documentaries about Kenny in which you can hear some of his jingles and stuff but the real magic is when you hear the whole shows with the actual songs that he played - the whole package, that is!

    So, folks, please delve into your attics and cellars and find those tapes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Rich! There is one OLD Desert Island Disc programme that was released on a double-CD many years ago with the norwegian operadiva Kirsten Flagstad. Of course the music was edited out, but that can easily be put back again. I don´t think it ´s still possible to buy that Double-CD. But I do have it and are willing to help the BBC archives. They just have to ask me if they are interested. I also have the complete 2 hour Alan Dell-memorial broadcasted live from Barbican Hall hosted by David Jacobs and Malcolm Laycock. Greetings from George in Falköping, Sweden.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I have several of Martin Kelner's Saturday afternoon mid-1990's shows on cassette.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I am interested in any shows featuring/presented by Ray Moore. Does anyone - even the BBC, have any of these?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    We had a Grundig reel to reel - Still got it, but it chews the tapes up now.
    I recorded some goons and hancocks in the late 60s and 70s which I have subsequently heard on radio 4 extra & radio 7.
    I also have a couple of complete Sounds of the 70s from around 1970
    Kenny Everett previewing abbey road on his Saturday morning show.
    A complete Gardeners Question time from around 1968-69
    Lots of fragments of radio and tv programmes from the same era.
    All on about 4 10 inch reels and about 3 small reels.
    I live in West Wales and cant get to Cardiff on 11/10/12.
    Is this stuff of any interest? If so what do I do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I have one complete Alexis Korner show from Oct 1981 and a Radio 3 play by Peter Barnes called After the Funeral with Sean Connery, John Hurt and Donald Pleasance from 16 Aug 1986. Also Dave Brubeck's 75th Birthday Bash but this was not until Dec 1995.
    I also have various folk music recordings from Folk on 2 going back to the '70s and some songs recorded live from TV's Hootenanny Show in the late 1960's.
    If they are of interest, I now live in the Netherlands so what do I do next?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    If you have anything which you think the BBC will be interested in then email them with the detailsat the address below

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I have two copies of a series called "You don't say" (3 3/4 and 7 1/2 i.p.s.) which was broadcast on Radio 4 in the late 1960s (I was in it which is why I kept it of course). I also have some editions of I'm sorry I'll read that again where I attended the recordings. I have emailed the BBC about these in the past and nobody has ever got back to me. It would be nice to have a definitive answer if they are of interest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I resent the use of the word "amnesty" in the BBC Media Centre announcement. I don't
    consider that I need an officious "pardon" for having recorded dramas in the 60s
    and 70s which the BBC have subsequently lost. And implying that I do is not the
    way to encourage me to give anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    are the BBC looking to profit from these contributions, afetr all they were blinkered enough to wipe thousands of items over the years both TV and radio...... yet they have got away with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Probably worth adding to the mix that if anyone finds any old films or videotapes or audio recordings of television material from before 1980, it's worth mentioning that too.

    People were recording television programmes from the 1960s onwards, both with early video tape recorders and onto open-reel audio tape, and there are massive gaps in the archive holdings of popular programmes such as Top of the Pops, Z Cars, Dixon of Dock Green and Doctor Who, for which off-air recordings, either video or audio could potentially be of use.

    Even home movies made by pointing a super-8 camera at a TV screen may be the only existing record of a lost programme, so if you have anything like this, or have an elderly relative who may have some old film cans or reels of tape in their attic, please get in touch!

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Regional project teams are offering all sorts of social media for us to enjoy online. Teams such as the East Anglian film archive. I believe they have sound as well as vision. And of course the BBC archive! and more!
    P.S when are the BBC going to Add/Rotate the archive material??


  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    @ NavaronUK and not-a-criminal - this isn't a helpful attitude. Surely we all agree that getting stuff back so we can all profit by enjoying it in the future is the most important thing here.

    @ Robert Philpot - it's worth remembering that the BBC has limited resources available to deal with this sort of thing, and you may well have e-mailed during a difficult time. I'd urge you to please try again using the address above.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I have boxes of tapes of music shows like Saturday Club & Easy Beat throughout the '60's. However, as the beeb can't be bothered to use Plymouth or Exeter or anywhere else in the south-west as local drop-off points, i've decided not to bother either... Doesn't the BBC realise there's a lot of the UK beyond Bristol?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Good job a lot of people broke copyright and recorded these shows and saved them for future listeners.

    One more reason why draconian copyright laws stink.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    I have a video tape of Rolf on Saturday from 1st April 1979 and some of Robbie Vincents Sunday night Radio 1 Soul , Jazz , funk & Fusion shows from 1983-1984.

    Are they wanted or should they be tipped?


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