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Singing Together

Jarvis Cocker traces the history of the BBC Schools radio programme that taught generations of children to sing. From 2014.

Jarvis Cocker sets out on a musical journey to trace the history of Singing Together, the long-running BBC Schools radio programme which got generations of children singing. He uncovers the stories of those who made the programme, listened as children, and used it in their classrooms. Together they remember Monday mornings at 11am, when pupils up and down the country opened their song books and gathered round as teachers wheeled out their classroom radios.

He delves into the archive to uncover the origins of the programme, hearing the first presenter, Herbert Wiseman, describe how he started the series at the outbreak of the Second World War as a way of reaching out to children at a time when many had been evacuated. Wartime teacher Brenda Jenkins, who used Singing Together with her class of evacuees, remembers how 'singing always helped'

Jarvis explores the power of singing to bringing people together. He also uncovers the origins of the folk songs used in the programme and traces how it changed though the 1960s and 70's, opening up to musical traditions from around the world. He reflects on the impact of the long running series - which gave many their first introduction to folk heritage- with award winning musician Eliza Carthy.

And he asks why recordings of this hugely popular series were not preserved for posterity. Only a handful of episodes survive in the BBC archive but, with the help of a small community of collectors, he sets out to find some of the missing episodes.

Producer: Ruth Evans
Editor: David Ross.

Available now

58 minutes

Clip

Music Played

  • Jarvis Cocker

    Molly Malone

    • Singing Together, Autumn 1974.
  • singers and schools unknown

    Skye Boat Song

    • Singing Together, 1950.
  • Green Grow the Rushes O!

    • British Council Film ‘Lessons from the Air’. Script by Harold Purcell, produced at Merton Park Studios..
  • Maurice Bevan, Wilfred Parry & choir unknown

    Brennan on the Moor

    • Singing Together, January 1961.
  • Méav Ní Mhaolchatha

    Shenandoah

    • The Calling.
    • Warner Classics International.
  • Maurice Bevan, Wilfred Parry & choir unknown

    Michael Finnegan

    • Singing Together, January 1961.
  • Elvis Presley

    All Shook Up

    • 1957 British Hit Parade: Britain's Greatest Hits Volume 6 CD4.
    • Music Factory Mastermix.
  • Sophie Aldred, Grant Baynham & choir unknown

    Smuggler's Lullaby

    • Singing Together, Spring 1995.
  • Melinda Davies, Stephen Varcoe, Wilfred Parry & Norman Taylor

    Jesu is Crying

    • Singing Together Request Programme, Autumn 1974.
  • John Strachan

    Wark O'The Weavers (field recording, 1952)

    • School of Scottish Studies Archive.
    • Tobar and Dualchais.
  • Melinda Davies, Stephen Varcoe, Wilfred Parry & Norman Taylor

    Wark O' The Weavers

    • Singing Together Request Programme, Autumn 1974.
  • Christopher Keyte, Kingsmead Singers, June Seaward & Wilfred Parry

    Here Come The Navvies

    • Singing Together, Summer 1973.
  • Sophie Aldred, Grant Baynham & St Albans High School choir

    Island In The Sun

    • Singing Together, Spring 1995.
    • Words and music by Harry Belafonte and Lord Burgess.
  • Blain Fairman & singer and choir unknown

    Linstead Market

    • Singing Together, Summer 1978.
    • From "Folk Songs of Jamaica" edited and arranged by Tom Murray – Reprinted O.U.P..
  • Blain Fairman & singer and choir unknown

    Farewell my own true love

    • Singing Together, Summer 1978.

Jarvis leads a singalong

Jarvis leads a singalong

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