Main content
This programme is not currently available on BBC iPlayer

Tom Jones's 1950s: The Decade That Made Me

In a personal journey through his formative years in south Wales in the 1950s, Tom Jones takes us on a trip through the decade of his childhood and adolescence.

In this personal journey through his formative years in south Wales in the 1950s, Tom Jones takes us on a trip through the decade of his childhood and adolescence, the years that shaped his ambition, his talent and his tastes and that witnessed an explosion of popular culture and the sweeping aside of the old order.

Television, the movies, the radio and - most importantly - the music of the first rock 'n' roll years give us a unique insight into both the country and the decade that would shape Tom's talent and, in the 60s, make him a star. Tom Jones's 1950s in Pontypridd are told first hand by the man himself as he travels back to his birthplace.

Tom's take on the decade is amplified and explored by a Greek chorus of contributors who share their account of their 50s. Joan Bakewell, Katherine Whitehorn and Michele Hanson share their experiences both as women and from differing class backgrounds, historians Alwyn Turner, Martin Johnes, Francis Beckett and Tony Russell draw the social and political landscape of a rapidly changing decade, while musicians Bruce Welch, Clem Cattini, Marty Wilde and Tom McGuinness talk of how that decade began their musical journeys and changed their lives forever, all illustrated by a rich seam of archive that captures a decade we mostly saw in black and white.

The result is a rich mix of humour, confession and reflection - all brought to life by Tom Jones himself, our guide through the lives and times of a young generation struggling to find its own voice.

59 minutes

Last on

Sat 6 Jun 2020 02:35

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Tom Jones

    What's New Pussycat?

  • John Cage

    In a Landscape

  • Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington & His Orchestra

    Take The 'A' Train

  • Benny Goodman and His Orchestra

    Taking A Chance On Love

  • Larry Parks

    Rock A Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody

  • Paul Robeson

    Ol' Man River

  • Glenn Miller

    Oh What A Beautiful Morning

    Orchestra: The Army Airforces Command Orchestra.
  • Cowbridge Male Choir

    Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

  • Eve Young

    Silver Dollar

  • Eydie Gormé & Steve Lawrence

    Besame Mucho

  • Frankie Laine

    Mule Train

  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe

    Didn't It Rain

  • Olivier Messiaen

    Eclairs sur L'au-Dela

    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • André Kostelanetz & His Orchestra

    With a Song in My Heart

  • Max Jaffa

    Waltzing in the Clouds

    Orchestra: The Palm Court Orchestra.
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford

    Shotgun Boogie

  • Jimmy Forrest

    Night Train

  • Frankie Laine

    That Lucky Old Sun

  • Vaughn Monroe

    Riders in the Sky

  • Mahalia Jackson

    Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho

  • Frankie Vaughan

    Just in Time

  • Ken Mackintosh

    The Creep

  • Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra

    Lisbon Antigua

  • Charles Mingus

    Work Song

  • Bill Haley and His Comets

    Rock Around The Clock

  • 00:37

    Percy Faith

    Theme from A Summer Place

  • 00:38



  • Chuck Berry


  • Glenn Miller Orchestra

    The White Cliffs of Dover

  • Bo Diddley

    Who Do You Love?

  • Elvis Presley

    Heartbreak Hotel

  • Little Richard

    Ready Teddy

  • Elvis Presley

    Mean Woman Blues

  • Nat King Cole

    Goodnight Irene Goodnight

  • Don Lang

    The Six Five Special

  • Marty Wilde

    Bad Boy

  • Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde & Dickie Pride

    Three Cool Cats

  • Russ Conway

    A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square

  • Russ Conway

    Ain't Misbehavin'

  • Tom Jones

    What I'd Say

  • Tom Jones


    Supporting Artist: The Squires.
  • 00:38



  • 00:38

    Glenn Miller and His Orchestra

    The White Cliffs of Dover

  • 00:55

    Miles Davis Quintet

    'Round Midnight (Album Version)

  • Gene Vincent

    Be Bop A Lula

  • Tom Jones

    It's Not Unusual

  • 00:59

    Tom Jones

    It's Not Unusual


Role Contributor
Presenter Tom Jones
Producer Chris Rodley
Director Chris Rodley
Executive Producer Mark Cooper


Featured in...

BBC Music: My Generation

BBC Music: My Generation

Programmes, playlists and features charting the history of pop music across the decades.

Tom Jones: A boy from nowhere?

Tom Jones: A boy from nowhere?

Timeline of the life and times of a rock and roll superstar