The Single Life

Thursday 15 January

11.30am-12.00pm

BBC RADIO 4

Second-hand shops are littered with tatty old seven-inch records that were self-made by bands. Author Mark Hodkinson, who was in one of those bands, buys a handful of the singles and tracks down the people involved. What happened to the dreams and ideals of people who created a lasting plastic monument to their youth? And how is the experience of making and packaging a seven-inch single different from the modern practice of uploading a file to a website?

The DIY single took commitment and ingenuity. Hopeful bands would scrape together money to record, package, and distribute their music in the hope of fame and fortune – or at least an appearance on the radio. Now, the bargain bins of second-hand shops are full of these records, and each one marks a significant milestone in someone's career. But a stepping stone to where?

Mark, now a journalist, learns how people coped with the disappointment of failure and how they continue to try and satisfy their creative desires. He meets a saxophonist who once supported Adam Ant, and now is a designer for a computer gaming company; a bassist who went on to marry a Bond villain; a guitarist who still hopes to make it big; and a singer who did make it big, and is still selling records 30 years later.

Presenter/ Mark Hodkinson, Producers/ Ian Bent and Mark Hodkinson for the BBC

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