2007 BBC Productions

BBC Radio 2Neil Tennant

"The Music of Noel Coward" - July - 3x30mins

Presented by Neil Tennant / Produced by Richard Bannerman

Songs poured out of Noel Coward, over 400 of them. From the 1920’s to the 1960’s they filled his revues and musicals – love songs like Some Day I’ll Find You or the wit of Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Now they’re overshadowed by his plays. Pet Shop Boys’ lead singer, songwriter and composer Neil Tennant talks to fellow performers and enthusiasts about the enormous range of Coward’s work – tender love songs, yearning melodies, sharp lyrics and skilful wordplay. Coward’s own performances make the songs particularly his own, but Neil Tennant presents versions by today’s singers and bands, and talks to those who recognise his influence as one of the greats of British musical theatre.


BBC Radio 3Blatny plaque

"The Poetic World of Newt" - April - 1x45mins

Presented by David Vaughan / Produced by David Vaughan

'Newt' was the name on the secret police file in Communist Prague which masked the identity of the poet Ivan Blatny. In his twenties Blatny was one of the central figures in the cultural avant-garde, but when the Communists came to power in 1948 he defected to Britain, much to the fury of the Czechoslovak authorities, who opened a secret file on him and attempted to lure 'Newt' back. In the years that followed his mental health gradually deteriorated, and he spent most of the rest of his life - all but forgotten - in various psychiatric hospitals. David Vaughan explores the life and the poetry of Blatny, travelling to Brno to meet his family, to Prague to the see the police files, and, poignantly, to the psychiatric hospitals in Suffolk where Blatny died in 1990. He continued to write poetry to his dying day, scraps of paper salvaged by his nurse, Frances Meacham, and his reputation is confirmed by the testimonies of the former playwright President Havel, and by the leading Czech writer Josef Skvorecky.


BBC Radio 4New York 911 Tribute in Light

"A Garden In New York" - April - 1x30mins

Presented by Stephen Evans / Produced by Judith Kampfner

Less than a mile from Ground Zero, a small square in the Wall Street area of New York has been transformed into a garden of remembrance for the 67 British citizens who lost their lives on 9/11. The BBC's Stephen Evans , who was at the World Trade Center when the attack happened, considers how a garden can help the process of grieving, and visits the garden with Camilla Hellman, the driving force behind the project. The garden has been made with stone, plants and trees traditional to Britain, but the true test is in how the relatives and friends, who lost loved ones, respond to this square in New York, dedicated to the memory of those who died, and who have no other grave.


The Stone of Scone

"The Stone of Destiny" - May - 1x60mins

Presented by Jim Naughtie / Produced by Richard Bannerman

The Stone of Destiny had lain under King Edward I’s Chair in Westminster Abbey for over 600 years, since its removal from Scone in Scotland in 1296. On Christmas Day 1950 it vanished.  James Naughtie tells the story of how three young men and one woman planned and carried out the audacious raid, bringing the cause of Scottish independence to the front pages. Through their own account, and a rich audio and visual archive, the journey of the sacred stone is followed to its hiding places in Scotland, its return to the Abbey, and finally, in 1996, its celebratory installation in Edinburgh Castle. In the week of the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union and the Scottish elections, the Stone remains a symbol of the pride of Scotland in its nationhood.


Hardeep Singh Kohli in Pakistan

"Crossing The Border" - July & August - 3x30mins

Presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli / Produced by Richard Bannerman

In August 1947 a line was drawn which partitioned India. The result was a new independent India, and the creation of West and East Pakistan. In the three-programme series ‘Crossing The Border’ (part of the R4 India/Pakistan Partition season), the writer and broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli makes a personal journey across the borders of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and hears the stories of those who were affected by Partition 60 years ago and how the consequences are still being felt by the new generation.


Barry Cryer

"The Joke Book" - June - 1x30mins

Presented by Barry Cryer / Produced by Neil Rosser & Michael Pointon

Barry Cryer explores the history of the joke book from the earliest surviving compilation, the fourth century A.D. Philogelos, to the present day on-line system of sharing jokes on the internet, via the eighteenth century Joe Miller book and the classic works of Larry Wilde and Robert Orben. Oh and also via a load of great jokes - more than you can shake a non-PC stick at!  With contributions from Michael McIntyre, the B3ta ‘Ginger Fuhrer’ Rob Manuel, Brad Ashton, Larry Wilde, Robert Orben, Laurie Bellew, Jack Seaton, Mark Brisenden and Hattie Hayridge.


Male Muse by Heidi Taillefer

"My Male Muse" - July - 1x30mins

Presented by CLare Pollard / Produced by Tamsyn Challenger


When we think of a muse we immediately go to the image in our minds of a captivating, curvaceous and sensual woman - or do we? The poet Clare Pollard sets out to prove that there is hirsute beauty and inspiration to be had from the male muse, proving the likes of the writer and poet Robert Graves very wrong, when he said that the male muse cannot exist.


Patience Strong

"Thinking In Rhymes" - September - 1x30mins

Presented by Peggy Reynolds / Produced by Nicky Barranger

Writer & academic Peggy Reynolds examines the life and work of the popular poet Patience Strong in this the centenary year of her birth. She hears from those who knew Strong to find out why her poetry remained so popular for so long. Contemporary poets also discuss the role of her poetry in the modern world.


Prague in 1938

"A Quarrel In A Faraway Place" - 1x60mins

Presented & Produced by David Vaughan

For nearly seventy years, hundreds of archive recordings have lain hidden away in the cellars of the Czech Radio building in Prague.  Many are in English, dating from the early days of Czechoslovakia’s international broadcasts, and few have been heard since.  Yet they offer extraordinary and vivid insights into one of the most tragic episodes in the months leading up to World War II.  David Vaughan uses these unique Czech archives to tell the story of the events leading up to the Munich Crisis of September 1938 from the point of view of the ‘far-away country’ that Neville Chamberlain sacrificed to Nazi Germany for the illusion of ‘peace for our time’. 


Laurie Taylor

"Laurie's Loose Change" - 1x30mins

Presented by Laurie Taylor / Produced by Richard Bannerman

Forty years after the first hole-in-the-wall cash machine led to the revolution in how to get your hands on your cash at any time of the day or night, Laurie Taylor wonders whether his loose change is safe. There are those who see plastic as the future, and cash as dirty, old-fashioned, troublesome stuff. Oyster cards have virtually removed cash from London’s trains and buses, and ‘contactless payment’ cards are hitting the streets and shops. Laurie meets those on both sides of the cash divide, and queues up outside the 40 year old hole-in-the-wall.


Josephine Baker

"The Rainbow Tribe" - 1x30mins

Presented & Produced by Kate Meynell

The cabaret star Josephine Baker adopted twelve children of different nationalities in the 1950s and 60s. They were brought up in a chateau in the Dordogne, taught their native languages and paraded for tourists to take their photograph. Called the Rainbow Tribe they were part of her mission to show that different nationalities and religions could live together. Members of the Tribe recall this strange upbringing, the traumatic eviction from the chateau, and life with an increasingly eccentric mother