The Long, Long Trail
Roy Hudd explores Charles Chilton's forgotten 1961 radio masterpiece which inspired the musical Oh What a Lovely War.
Broadcast on the BBC Home Service, The Long, Long Trail told the story of the First World War in a unique way - through the songs sung by soldiers. It was the result of Charles Chilton's personal quest to learn about his father who was killed at Arras in March 1918, aged 19, and whom he had never met.
In 1962, Chilton, already a renowned pioneering BBC radio producer, adapted the programme with director Joan Littlewood and the cast of Theatre Workshop into the landmark stage musical Oh What a Lovely War.
But then the programme disappeared and was never broadcast again. However, shortly before he died in January 2013, Chilton gave a copy to the British Library, so we can now rediscover The Long, Long Trail.
For this programme, Roy Hudd, a close friend and collaborator of 'Charlie', is joined by satirist Ian Hislop, radio historian and Chair of the UK Radio Archives Advisory Committee Professor Hugh Chignell, archivist Helen O'Neill at the London Library, singer Pat Whitmore, Charles's widow Penny Chilton, and their children Mary and David Chilton. Together, they tell the story behind Charles Chilton's remarkable musical documentary, reveal why it was revolutionary and reflect on its significance today.
Producer: Amber Barnfather
Sound design: David Chilton
A Goldhawk Essential production for BBC Radio 4.