Wednesday, 31 August 2016

It's a Hot Shot

"If you're slaving all at home or relaxing or you're working in a noisy factory, just set yourself free when the clock strikes three cos everything stops for tea".

Know the lyrics? And the tune? Chances are you too were enjoying a cuppa on a weekday afternoon sometime in the mid-1970s tuned into the David Hamilton show.

David Hamilton's career stretches back over 50 years from his time on British Forces radio and the Light Programme and as an announcer and presenter on ABC Television and elsewhere on the ITV network. Since then he's made hundreds of TV appearances and thousands of radio broadcasts on dozens of stations. Retirement? Not a hint of it.

I've been able to share some of my own off-air recordings of David and some press cuttings on the recently formed Facebook group David Hamilton's Hot Shots. Set up and administered by David 's friend, and supporter of this blog, Noel Tyrrel there are audio contributions, photos and rare TV footage from Diddy's own collection. The man himself is keeping a eye on proceedings. Launching the group David said: 

"I am very excited and flattered in equal measure at the prospect of a group in appreciation of my work past, present and future. I would like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome all members and hope that you will derive pleasure and stimulation from our interaction.

Each week I shall suggest a David Hamilton Hot shot. A record of the week featured on my past radio shows; I shall also give a little bit of background on the reasons for choosing it. Please feel free to add memories of your own too".

David continues to broadcast on The Wireless and pops up now and again on BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey. He's also fronting the live stage show Rock 'n'Roll Back the Years that has nationwide tour dates booked for the next twelve months. Members of the Hot Shots Facebook group will be offered a chance to win free tickets for one of the shows. So why not join?

Ploughing a similar furrow is the Facebook group Retro Radio. Stacks of unscoped airchecks, mostly from the 70s and 80s are available and up for discussion. I'm sure Stuart Busby will welcome more members. 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Can I Take That Again? - Part 3

Imagine playing the unexpurgated version of a record rather than the radio edit. And on Radio 2 daytime too! Poor old Stewpot got some stick when the explicit version of The Beautiful South's Don't Marry Her slipped through the net.

Not sure of the exact date of this incident though I'm guessing it was the year of release 1996. You'll hear Ed fade down the track and then the following day Ken Bruce and Jimmy Young have some fun at Ed's expense.

Thank you to whoever sent me this audio earlier in the year. Apologies but I've lost your name and email address.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Greene on the Screen

Novelist Graham Greene is celebrated this week on BBC Radio 4 in Our Man in Greeneland in which five correspondents follow in the footsteps of his novels. It's part of the network's tribute to Greene that has been running this year - 25 years after his death in 1991. We've already heard adaptations of The Honorary Consul and The Power and the Glory. Dramatisations of Monsignor Quixote and The Confidential Agent are due later this year.

My accompanying piece of archive material is an edition of the Radio 4 arts magazine Kaleidoscope. Dating from 1984, film critic Nigel Andrews examines the many film adaptations of Greene's work. Virtually everyone of his novels made it to the big screen or, as in the case of Monsignor Quixote and Doctor Fischer of Geneva, were made for TV.

I wrote about this association between Green's literature and the cinema back in April 1983 for my degree dissertation Fiction Into Film: the Works of Graham Greene. I went on to examine The Third Man, Brighton Rock and England Made Me. Here's part of my general introduction:

Greene made most of his novels historically specific so that each can be seen not only to evoke the mood of their particular time but to act as indirect records of world events. As most of the films were made shortly after the appearance of the novels - England Made Me, The Fallen Idol, The Man Within and The Honorary Consul being the only time difference in double figures - both serve as social records, though with differing slants on the world. Indeed it has been said that "if we have an imaginative sense of the violent modern world elsewhere, it is in part because of Greene's writing". That world has extended from Haiti to Vietnam through Mexico and Cuba and across Europe. But it is also a unique world which few of us would recognise: a world filled with little else but criminals, murders, drunkards, adulterers and, perhaps worst of all (according to Greene) innocents. This slice of the world is known as 'Greeneland' and, in many cases, can only be escaped through some kind of spiritual release - though there are more sinners than saints. This decidedly pessimistic outlook on life is an unusual source for film-makers - one might think that the entertainment value would be rather low. But, for a number of reasons (not always clear), Greene's work has proved a popular source. What this dissertation aims to do is look at how Greene's personal 'Waste Land' has been dealt with on film: is it recognisable as Green's original world, how has the mood been created, what has the film highlighted and what has it left out?

And so I continue for about 70 pages (notes and appendices included).

In Greene on the Screen we not only hear from Greene himself, he was celebrating his 80th birthday when this programme was made, but also film directors Peter Duffell and Roy Boulting, playwright Christopher Hampton and author Quentin Falk.  This edition of Kaleidoscope was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 31 August 1984.


Sunday, 31 July 2016

Pidgeon Post

If you've ever enjoyed listening to the music documentary series Classic Albums or The Record Producers, either originally on Radio 1 or their 6 Music repeats, you've John Pidgeon to thank. If you've laughed at Little Britain or Dead Ringers then you've John Pidgeon to thank.

John Pidgeon, whose death was announced earlier this month, was a rock writer turned radio producer and then comedy executive. He started writing for the NME and the new Let It Rock music magazine in 1971. A couple of years later he was helping Keith Skues knock the scripts of The Story of Pop into shape. In 1975 and 1976 he wrote a number of programmes for Radio 1's documentary series Insight.

One of The Story of Pop editions, Ship to Shore, was reworked for Insight as Reign of the Pirates. This programme aired on Radio 1 on 4 January 1976.

John would eventually follow The Story of Pop and Insight producer Tim Blackmore to Capital Radio where he would hook up with Roger Scott on his shows Jukebox Saturday Night and the mix of music and comedy that was Brunch (1986-88); working alongside Jan Ravens (later of Dead Ringers), Angus Deayton, Steve Coogan,  Paul Burnett, Steve Brown, Paul Burnett and Jeremy Pascall. There are 44 editions of Brunch available on the Roger Scott tribute website.   

By 1988 both John and Roger were back at the BBC and had co-devised Classic Albums, offering an opportunity to re-evaluate some seminal pop and rock albums combined with interviews from those concerned.  

There are 18 editions of Classic Albums on the Roger Scott tribute site but this is a later 1991 edition presented by Richard Skinner that revisits the Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake by The Small Faces. 

Classic Albums (1988-92) was followed The Record Producers, this time as an independent production (1993-94) as well as a number of other music documentaries for Radio 1 and then Radio 2. Turning to comedy he interviewed a number of comedians "about what makes them laugh for Talking Comedy (1996-99) 

In 1999 John was appointed as editor BBC radio entertainment which essentially meant he was in charge of radio comedy. On his retirement in 2005 Radio 4 commissioning editor Caroline Raphael commented that "The past five years has seen an unprecedented movement of radio comedy to television. John's Radio Entertainment department spearheaded this move with shows like Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh. This has undoubtedly helped Radio 4 to secure the best new and established comedy talent for our listeners and raise the network's profile." Tweeting on the news of John death David Walliams said "Thank you for believing in me. A smart and kind man who loved comedy".

John  produced a couple of short series for Radio 4: Music to Die For and Russ Noble On... and in more recent years he'd been a crossword compiler for the Daily Telegraph under the name Petitjean.

John Pidgeon 1947-2016

Saturday, 30 July 2016

More than just a Postman

In the last 24 hours my news feeds and social media have all been reporting "voice of Postman Pat dies" to mark the passing of singer Ken Barrie. But, as his daughter Lorraine Peterson told the PA "his legacy is not so much Postman Pat – he did a lot more and he loved singing after starting in the late 1950s".

Ken had been one of the singers working for Woolworth's own record label Embassy Records providing cover versions of popular hits under the pseudonym Les Carle. He was also a backing singer, advertising jingle singer and voiceover artist. During the 60s and 70s he could be heard on various Light Programme/Radio 2 shows such as Non Stop Pop and Sing It Again as well as performing as 'Ken Barrie and the Barrietones'. For many years Ken was one of the Cliff Adams Singers - remember Sing Something Simple? - and the Neil Richardson Choir.

This is a rare recording of Ken singing solo under his own name backed by the BBC Radio Orchestra conducted by Neil Richardson. I can't exactly date this recording of String Sound, introduced by Sarah Kennedy, which was kindly given to me by Paul Langford but Ken is singing Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You and Blues in the Night.

Ken Barrie 1933-2016

"But he's not given it"

Today as we recall the sporting events of fifty years ago and BBC radio celebrates the 1966 World Cup here's the view from one of the radio commentary team on duty that day, Brian Moore. Brian was BBC radio's football correspondent from 1963 to 1968 before heading off to ITV. This is part of what he wrote in 1987 for the book Sports Report: 40 Years of the Best:  

That July day, I remember, I shared one of those heavy-duty radio microphones - they used to wrap themselves around your jaws like a cross between a dog muzzle and something you would expect to find in a war-time Lancaster over Berlin - with Alan Clarke of the fruity voice and northern authority and Maurice Edelstein, renowned for his scholarly summaries.

We took it in turns to do 15-minute bursts of commentary that afternoon, and I was addressing the eccentrics who had found their way to a television screen when Hurst scored that crucial and much-debated third goal. 'I thought that hit the bar and went in. Maurice Edelston?' 'I'm not certain', added Maurice cautiously -and then 'Yes, it's given, it's given ... England are in the lead.' Rarely, if ever, has a football moment been so carved open, dissected more clinically or argued about more passionately, notwithstanding that little matter of an Argentine handball in Mexico 20 years later.

I do recall slipping into Broadcasting House on my way to Wembley that day to pick up some bits and pieces and finding a single postcard on my sports room desk. My impact on the listening public was some way from causing headaches for the BBC post room! It was simple addressed: Moore, BBC, London. And the message was simple too: ' You'll never be as good as Raymond Glendenning as long as you live'. A splendid shot in the arm you must admit for any young commentator on his way to his most important assignment.   

Incidentally, when that lunatic decision to take the Horse of the Year Show to Wembley Stadium in 1968 led to the whole pitch being dug up (it took another 20 years for it to recover) I plundered that square yard of turf where Bobby placed the ball, and transplanted it on my lawn in Bromley, Kent. I have since moved on, but one unsuspecting suburban gardener still tends to this day a small stretch of grass on which football history was made. 

The full off-air commentary - it appears that the BBC didn't keep the whole broadcast - has recently turned up. The match was covered by the Sports Service on Network Three, hosted that afternoon by John Dunn. The commentary can be heard here.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Prince Encore

Prince was on the last day of his Act II tour of Europe when he appeared on BBC Radio 1 for a 'secret' show in the Broadcasting House Concert Hall. His 20 minute performance was part of that morning's Simon Bates show. The concert itself has been repeated on 6 Music and copies can be found online.

When Prince unexpectedly died in April I didn't realise I had my own recording of the one-off concert. However, I chanced upon the tape the other day when I was rummaging for some other archive material. As well as Prince's performance the tape contains the rest of Simon's show between 11.30 and 12.30; the concert started around noon.

So here for the first time in 23 years, since it aired on 7 September 1993, is Prince's energetic live set in context complete with a pleased-as-punch Simon Bates.   

A quick confession: my C90 did its tape turn bang in the middle of the set so I've spliced in that particular song from another source.

Footnote: the tape I was looking for, somewhat incongruously, was for a Victor Silvester programme, which I didn't, as it turned out, possess anyway. 
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