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A Sound British Adventure

Comedian Stewart Lee goes on an audio journey through the pioneering world of early British electronic music. From 2012.

Passionate about electronic music - comedian Stewart Lee takes a remarkable musical journey.

After the Second World War, a small group of electronic pioneers began tinkering with their army surplus kit to create new sounds and music.

Tristram Cary started the first electronic music studio in Britain but, while France, Germany, Italy and the USA had lavishly funded research centres, British electronic music remained the preserve of boffins on a budget.

This make do and mend approach prevailed long after austerity Britain gave way to the swinging 60s.

Stewart talks to Peter Zinovieff who developed EMS synthesizers from a shed at the bottom of his garden in Putney. Paul McCartney of the Beatles put on his wellies to take a look.

Unsurprisingly, the electronic community in Britain was a small, intimate group. Daphne Oram devoted decades to developing a 'drawn sound' electronic composition system that never really quite worked.

Brian Hodgson reveals how experimental and electronic festivals were held in the 1960s, including The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave at which the Beatles' electronic piece Carnival Of Light had its only public airing.

Stewart also discovers how the BBC radiophonic workshop broke new musical ground with BBC TV’s Doctor Who.

Experts in the history of electronic music, including author and musician Mark Ayers and Goldsmiths College lecturer in computer studies Dr Michael Grierson give the boffins' view and Portishead's Adrian Utley explains why the early forays in electronics are still relevant today.

Producer: John Sugar

A Sugar production for BBC Radio 4, first broadcast in August 2012.

30 minutes

Last on

Mon 21 Mar 2022 03:30


  • Tue 14 Aug 2012 11:30
  • Tue 29 May 2018 06:30
  • Tue 29 May 2018 13:30
  • Tue 29 May 2018 20:30
  • Wed 30 May 2018 01:30
  • Wed 16 Mar 2022 14:30
  • Thu 17 Mar 2022 02:30
  • Sun 20 Mar 2022 15:30
  • Mon 21 Mar 2022 03:30