Inspired by the jazz and rock standard Route 66, proud Essex boy Billy Bragg used his poetic licence to fashion a version much closer to home - A13, Trunk Road to the Sea, a paean to the tarmacked beauty of A13, which heads east from Whitechapel in the heart of the East End alongside the Thames for forty miles until it hits the wide sands of Shoeburyness.
As presenter Jonathan Maitland and Billy travel along the busy arterial, the songwriter explains how when he wrote the song some thirty years ago the A13 was a potent symbol of escape to the big city one way and nostalgia for the seaside idyll of his childhood the other. Billy recounts the sights along the way, such as where the old Beckton Gasworks once stood, and gives his own personal perspective on how the landscape and people have changed.
In Stanford-Le-Hope, they meet Thurrock historian Jonathan Catton to discuss the place the author Joseph Conrad once made his home; and, overlooking windswept Hadleigh Castle, historian Judith Williams tells of the area's royal lineage back to medieval times.
As the journey concludes in Shoeburyness, Billy performs the song overlooking the atmospheric spot where the Thames Estuary hits the ocean.