Song By Song By London

Ep 1/2

Saturday 23 June



In this two-part documentary Robert Elms uses songs about London as a route map to the way Londoners feel about the capital. He will examine how the capital’s streets, alleys, neighbourhoods and even the housing conditions are depicted in the songs of the city, past and present.

The songs deal with topics such as the difficulties of finding a decent place to live in London. Music hall legend Gus Elen grumbles comically about the 19th century suburban housing boom in If It Wasn’t For The ‘Ouses in Between, and One Better Day by Madness is a hymn to the homeless of Camden Town. On the streets, and in his own neighbourhood, Robert discusses how, especially for newcomers, London isn’t always a welcoming home.

Elms talks to singer and Madness frontman Suggs, rapper and MC, Professor Green; Hackney home owners The Nicholls-Brotin Family and house historian Melanie Backe-Hansen; jazz pianist and Lord Kitchener accompanist, Russ Henderson; Notting Hill Carnival revellers and Paul du Noyer, author of In The City: A Celebration of London Music.

BBC World Service Publicity