Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Windrush: Some Kind of Homecoming

Lenny Henry and Josette Simon explore the experience of the Windrush generation through its poetry and prose, set against music from calypso to classical.

Seven decades after the docking of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury, Lenny Henry and Josette Simon explore the experience and emotions of the Windrush generation through its poetry and prose, set against music from calypso to classical: Lord Kitchener to Ligeti, Beethoven to Bob Marley and gospel to Errollyn Wallen.

In Sam Selvon's 1956 novel The Lonely Londoners, the hungry Galahad furtively filches a park pigeon for his lunch; Grace Nichols' and Merle Collins' evocative poems express the heartache of long-delayed, never-achieved returns to Caribbean warmth; John Agard and Benjamin Zephaniah are angry and frustrated in the face of cultural appropriation and racism; Floella Benjamin's shock at the cold of her first British winter turns to delight with her first sight of snow. And woven through the programme are the dual threads of John Berry's Lucy who writes home with bewilderment and affection for her adopted home and, from the BBC Caribbean Service, advice to would-be West Indian migrants on what to expect and how to behave in the UK, from appropriate winter clothing to dealing with a dodgy village squire umpire at the local cricket club.

Archive from The Colony (1964 BBC TV documentary directed by Philip Donnellan)
Going to Britain? Labour Exchange - A BBC Caribbean Service pamphlet
To Sir With Love - ER Braithwaite
Lucy’s Letter - James Berry
Going to Britain? Climate - A BBC Caribbean Service pamphlet
Coming to England - Floella Benjamin
Like a Beacon - Grace Nichols
The Lonely Londoners - Sam Selvon
In Praise of Love and Children - Beryl Gilroy
Going to Britain? Church - BBC Caribbean Service pamphlet
From Lucy - James Berry
To Bo - Marsha Prescod
Checking Out Me History - John Agard
Colonisation in Reverse - Louise Bennett
Going to Britain? Cricket - BBC Caribbean Service pamphlet
Beyond a Boundary - CLR James
From Lucy - James Berry
The Race Industry - Benjamin Zephaniah
Seduction - Merle Collins
Two Old Black Men on a Leicester Square Park Bench - Grace Nichols

Producer: David Papp

1 hour, 14 minutes

Last on

Sun 23 Jun 2019 17:30

Music Played

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

  • Georgia Mann


  • 00:01

    Edward Elgar

    Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 in D major (Op.39)

    Performer: Philharmonia Orchestra, Andrew Davis (conductor).
    • CBS MDK44788.
    • Tr1.
  • Philip Donnellan (director)

    The Colony (1964 BBC TV documentary): excerpt

  • BBC Caribbean Service

    Going to Britain Labour Exchange, read by Lenny Henry

  • 00:03

    Eric Coates

    Calling All Workers

    Performer: Eric Coates and Orchestra.
    • Memory Lane GLYM68.
    • CD1 Tr16.
  • 00:04

    Lord Kitchener

    If You're Not White You're Black

    Performer: Lord Kitchener.
    • Honest Jons HJRCD2.
    • Tr6.
  • ER Braithwaite

    To Sir With Love, read by Lenny Henry

  • 00:07

    György Ligeti

    L'escalier du diable (Etudes, Book 2)

    Performer: Jeremy Denk (piano).
    • Nonesuch 7559-79621-9.
    • Tr15.
  • 00:09

    John Adams

    Son of Chamber Symphony: 3rd movement

    Performer: Alarm Will Sound, Alan Pierson (conductor).
    • Cantaloupe Music CA-21128.
    • Tr8.
  • James Berry

    Lucy’s Letter, read by Josette Simon

  • BBC Caribbean Service

    Going to Britain? Climate, read by Lenny Henry

  • Floella Benjamin

    Coming to England, read by Josette Simon

  • 00:14

    George Frideric Handel

    Eternal source of light divine (Birthday Ode for Queen Anne)

    Performer: Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), David Blackadder (trumpet), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Harry Christophers (conductor).
    • Heliodor 4765970.
    • Tr2.
  • Grace Nichols

    Like a Beacon, read by Josette Simon

  • Sam Selvon

    The Lonely Londoners, read by Lenny Henry

  • 00:22

    Maurice Ravel

    String Quartet in F major: 2nd movement, Assez vif – très rythmé

    Performer: Quatuor Morphing.
    • Klarthe KLA045D.
    • Tr2.
  • Beryl Gilroy

    In Praise of Love and Children, read by Josette Simon

  • 00:28

    The London Gospel Community Choir

    Oh Happy Day

    • Music for Pleasure CDMFP5731.
    • Tr11.
  • BBC Caribbean Service

    Going to Britain? Church, read by Lenny Henry

  • 00:30

    Gustav Holst

    I Vow To Thee My Country

    Performer: Westminster Abbey Choir, Martin Baker (organ), Martin Neary (conductor).
    • Sony Classical SONYTV49CD.
    • CD1 Tr13.
  • James Berry

    From Lucy: new generation, read by Josette Simon

  • 00:34

    Bob Marley


    Performer: Bob Marley & The Wailers.
    • Mango 848 6732.
    • Tr1.
  • Marsha Prescod

    To Bo…, read by Josette Simon

  • John Agard

    Checking Out Me History, read by Lenny Henry

  • 00:38

    Duke Ellington

    Black and Tan Fantasy

    Performer: Duke Ellington & His Orchestra.
    • RCA 611442.
    • CD2 Tr1.
  • Louise Bennett

    Colonisation in Reverse, read by Josette Simon

  • 00:42

    Steve Cropper, Donald Dunn, Al Jackson, Jr., Booker T. Jones

    Soul Limbo

    Performer: Booker T. & The MG’s.
    • Stax CDSXE 009.
    • Tr6.
  • BBC Caribbean Service

    Going to Britain Cricket, read by Lenny Henry

  • 00:44

    Cy Grant

    King Cricket

    Performer: Cy Grant.
    • Sequel Records NEECD 399.
    • CD1 Tr4.
  • CLR James

    Beyond a Boundary, read by Lenny Henry

  • 00:47

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Egmont Overture Op.84

    Performer: Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor).
    • Teldec 0630131402.
    • Tr8.
  • James Berry

    From Lucy: Carnival, read by Josette Simon

  • 00:54

    Mighty Sparrow

    Carnival Woman

    Performer: Mighty Sparrow.
    • See For Miles Records Ltd SEECD 446.
    • Tr12.
  • 00:56

    Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

    Clarinet Quintet in F sharp minor Op.10: 2nd movement, Larghetto affetuoso

    Performer: Stephan Siegenthaler (clarinet), Leipzig String Quartet.
    • CPO 777 905-2.
    • Tr6.
  • Benjamin Zephaniah

    The Race Industry, read by Lenny Henry

  • 01:00

    Linton Kwesi Johnson

    Di Great Insohreckshan

    Performer: Linton Kwesi Johnson.
    • Island Masters 824 693-2.
    • Tr5.
  • 01:02

    Errollyn Wallen

    In Earth

    Performer: Errollyn Wallen (voice), Tim Harries (bass guitar), Quartet X.
  • Merle Collins

    Seduction, ready Josette Simon

  • Grace Nichols

    Two Old Black Men on a Leicester Square Park Bench, read by Lenny Henry

  • 01:09


    Deep River

    Performer: Verna-Jean Gervais (alto), London Adventist Chorale, Ken Burton (conductor).
    • Paradisum Records PDSCD1.
    • Tr2.


Featured in...

The hidden history of plant-based diets

The hidden history of plant-based diets

Forget social media influencers - the meat-free movement started with the Victorians.

Books website

Books website

Get closer to books with in-depth articles, quizzes and our picks from radio & TV.