It’s great to see that the Radio Ballads legacy is still very much alive with a new series The Ballad of the Great War – 1914 starting tonight on BBC Radio 2 (at 22:00).
The orginal Radio Ballads were groundbreaking documentaries prouduced by Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker and broadcast in the late 1950’s on the BBC Home Service. In 2006 a second series was recorded and produced by John Leonard and John Tams and broadcast on BBC Radio 2 which featured music from Kate Rusby, Karine Polwart, John Tams, Jez Lowe, Chris While and Julie Matthews, Bob Fox and Barry Coope with the Radio Ballads band (Andy Cutting, John McCusker and Andy Seward). Current social and political issues formed a focus for each series.
In 2010 the a new Radio Ballad, Ballad of the Miners’ Strike, was made to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike. The Olympic Games radio ballads followed in 2012 which looked at the Olympics through the ages including the Berlin Games of 1936 and the Munich Massacre of 1972.
The The Ballad of the Great War – 1914 is a new 5-part series which has been a year in the making. Like the ballads before them they feature eye-witness accounts told by men and women. The series features specially commissioned songs by a number of British folk songwriters, the first of which features songs written by John Tams, Billy Bragg, Julie Matthews, Jez Lowe and Sean Cooney.
In this programme we hear stories about La Belle Epoque, the era of calm before the outbreak of the first world war, the clamour by young men to join the army during August 1914, the London buses which were conscripted into the army to take the troops to the battlefields, the battle of Mons, trench warfare, the bombardment by German battleships of Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool and The Christmas Truce.
More here: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04m4j7g
To commemorate Remembrance Day Folk Radio UK will be featuring a number of specially chosen songs at around 11:00am today from June Tabor, Steve Tilston and Maggie Boyle, The Young’Uns, Harp & a Monkey and Armistice Pals.