BBC Pirate Radio Documentary Published 57 Years Late

I recently received this recorded BBC radio documentary programme about the 1960s pirate radio stations called “The Pirates Of Pop” from my friend, John Ker, who says the tape was given him many years earlier by Graham Bunce, who in 1966 worked for pirate Radio City and later joined the BBC as Engineer and Studio Manager until his retirement in 2013. It is now published at Mixcloud and after all these years Graham can’t now remember how he originally obtained the recording.

Voices heard in this programme include Simon Dee, Radio London Managing Director, Philip Birch, Donald MacLean of the BBC’s Popular Music Department and Brian Emmett of BBC Audience Research.

There are several unknowns about “The Pirates Of Pop”. Why the peculiar programme length? What was the name of the programme’s producer? When was it produced? And most importantly, was it ever broadcast?

We don’t know for sure who presented the programme but it was most likely John Benson, for many years famous as the voice on Nicolas Parson’s “Sale of the Century” from Anglia TV. As for who produced the programme, I asked now retired BBC Radio 1 producer, Johnny Beerling, and he suspects that John Muir, who did the programme’s interviews, was also the producer.

When was “The Pirates Of Pop” Produced?
We know this documentary was made in January 1967 because its interviews clearly suggest this and additionally some content is mentioned in Robert Chapman’s 1992 book: “Selling The Sixties” where on pages 228/229 he quotes Donald MacLean of the BBC’s Popular Music Department. This is heard about 5-1/2 minutes from programme start.

Why is the Programme Length Peculiar?
BBC radio programmes of the time usually ended by naming the producer and other credits, which is not the case here. Instead, the programme ends somewhat abruptly with a few bars of the 1945 melody “We’ll Gather Lilacs” by Ivor Novello.
Also, the quality of the recording is very good, unlike off-air recordings of the 1960s, which were prone to hiss with possible crackles or tape “drop-outs”. So the excellent quality suggests it is probably a pre-transmission listening copy for later editing down to a final 30 minute version.

Was “The Pirates Of Pop” Ever Broadcast?
I believe that the BBC never broadcast “The Pirates of Pop” programme because its content was not approved by the UK government represented by the then Postmaster General, Edward Short.

Firstly there is no trace whatever of this programme in the extensive and very detailed BBC online Genome programme listings.

We must also remember that in 1967, the then UK Labour Government was not only vehemently against offshore pirate radio, they were also dogmatically opposed to the introduction of any land-based commercial radio stations in competition with the BBC, even though such competition would likely improve job opportunities and conditions of service for radio employees, many of whom would be likely Labour voters.

This very point is raised at about 15 mins. from programme start, when an anonymous union member (Association of Broadcasting Staff) makes the case for greater job opportunities and better conditions of service if more employers existed — a comment which the then Labour government would have obviously not wanted aired.

It’s intriguing that the then Postmaster General, Edward Short, when debating the Bill to outlaw pirate radio in Parliament on 15th February 1967 chose to mention: “We’ll Gather Lilacs” when plenty of other memorable melodies of the 1940s exist. He claimed there was no demand for non-stop pop and continued: “Clearly the housewife who is at home during the day – and some still are – likes to hear something like “We’ll gather lilacs” and that sort of nostalgic music. She likes a rather different kind of light music.”

My hunch is that the BBC had submitted a copy of “The Pirates of Pop” to the Postmaster General for approval before broadcast – approval that wasn’t given. But, as we know, the programme ends with “We’ll Gather Lilacs” which Edward Short remembered since he had listened to this programme tape only a few days earlier.

A Pirate Radio Patchwork Quilt – 125 Pirate Radio Themes, Jingles & Souvenirs of the ’60s & ’70s.

This audio clip

includes many of the theme tunes popularised by the offshore pirate radio stations of the 60s and 70s with the accent on Radios 270, Caroline, London, Scotland and Veronica.
In addition I’ve added some of the jingles of the time as well as a few other audio souvenirs.

Below is a list of all the items in order from start to finish.
Each item is numbered referring to the number of hours, minutes and seconds (approx.) from the start of the clip.
When a year is mentioned, it is the date the piece of music was first published.:
Don Allen00:00:00
“We Love The Pirates” by The Roaring 60’s (1966).
“You have been found guilty…” promo against the UK government’s 1967 Marine Broadcasting (Offences) law.
Robbie Dale on Radio Caroline South followed by “Caroline” by The Fortunes (1964).
The Radio Caroline bell with Simon Dee and “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (1945).
Radio London’s “Home Town” theme by The Chantelles (1964).
Radio London jingle followed by Kenny Everett’s jingle compilation of “All the Wonderfuls”.
“Nut Rocker” by B Bumble And The Stingers (1962), theme for the Kenny & Cash programme on Radio London.
Radio Veronica jingle “Men vraagt en wij draaien” followed by “People Will Say Were In Love” by Ray Conniff (1958).
Radio Veronica jingle for DJ Klaas Vaak followed by “Scarlet OHara” by Jet Harris & Tony Meehan (1963). Same theme used also by RNI’s Roger Kent & Dave Rogers.
Dave Cash early morning on Radio London with a run-down of the day’s programmes followed by “Reveille Rock” by Johnny & the Hurricanes (1959).
Radio London jingle followed by Tony Blackburn’s theme “Beefeaters” (with Arnold barking) by Johnny Dankworth Orchestra (1964).
Intro to the Roger Day show on Radio Caroline South with “Green Grass” by the Ventures (1966).
Radio Veronica jingle followed by “A Banda” by Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass (1967).
Radio Scotland ID with “Black Bear” by Frank Cordell Orchestra (1960).
Radio 270 short extract with Vince “Rusty” Allen’s theme “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” by Duane Eddy (1962).
Radio Nordsee International (RNI) jingle followed by “Man of Action” by Les Reed Orchestra (1970).
Radio Caroline South intro by Johnnie Walker for the Andy Archer Show with “Flamingo” by Herb Alpert (1966). Same theme tune used by Tony Allan & Alan Black on Radio Scotland and Mark Sloane on Radio 355.
Radio Veronica jingle with “Asia Minor” by Kokomo’s piano & orchestra (1961).
Radio Caroline South intro for the Spangles Muldoon Show (aka Chris Cary) with “Yeh Yeh” by Mark Wirtz Orchestra & Chorus (1967).
Radio Veronica jingle for Tineke’s Coffee Time Show and theme “Georgia Camp Meeting” by the Swe-Danes (1962).
Radio London jingle and extract “Pausing with Windsor” followed by Tony Windsor’s theme “Waltzing Matilda” by Frank Ifield (1963).
Radio Caroline South intro to the Dave Lee Travis show with “A Touch Of Velvet A Sting Of Brass” by Mood Mosaic (1966).
Radio Veronica “juke box” jingle with “Little Black Samba” by Norman Petty (1960).
Radio Caroline intro for DJ Henry Morgan aka Gerry Burke with “Sucu Sucu” by Laurie Johnson Orchestra (1961).
Radio Veronica jingle for DJ Lex Harding with “Holiday” by Andre Brasseur (1967). Also used by Crispian St. John on RNI and Radio Caroline. Note: Music also known as “The Kid” because the record company stuck the wrong labels to the “A” and “B” sides of the single.
“Happy Organ” by Dave Baby Cortez (1959), Stevi Merike’s theme on Radio Scotland.
RNI jingle “What good are friends…” followed by “Peace” by Peter (1970).
Promo for “Keefers Commotion” programme on Radio Caroline South followed by Keith Hampshire’s theme “Sidewinder” by Wes Dakus & The Rebels (1964).
Radio Veronica “Teenager Muziek Expres” jingle followed by “Rocking Goose” by Johnny and the Hurricanes (1960).
Intro by Johnnie Walker for the Ross Brown show on Radio Caroline South with “We Shall Overcome” and Ross Brown’s theme “Raunchy ’65” by Ernie Freeman (1965).
Radio Veronica “gaat door” promo with “Crunchy Granola Suite” by Percy Faith Orchestra (1973).
Radio Caroline North intro by Roger Gale with his theme “A Walk in the Black Forest” by Horst Jankowski Orchestra (1965).
Radio London jingle and Big-L’s “School Spot” promo with Ed Stewart & Kenny Everett.
Intro by Brian Mckenzie on RNI followed by “Move Over Darling” by Doris Day (1963).
RNI jingle followed by Brian Mckenzie’s theme “Carpet Man” by 5th Dimension (1968).
Radio Veronica jingle for DJ Tom Collins with “Comin Home” by Casey and the Pressure Group (1971).
Background for Radio Veronica promos “The Legend of Johnny Pot” by Dick Hyman (1969).
Radio Caroline 199 “OOOH!” promo with Radio Caroline North jingle, “time signal” & intro by “Daffy” Don Allen and one of his themes “Romance On The North Sea” by Alan Haven (1965).
Radio Caroline North jingle and Bulova ad with Tom Lodge and his theme “Rinky Dink” by Johnnie Howard Band (1964). Also used by Bart van Leeuwen on Radio Veronica.
Radio Scotland jingle followed by DJ Richard Park’s theme “Wild Weekend” by the Rockin’ Rebels (1963).
Radio London jingle with intro to the “Roman Empire” and Mark Roman’s theme “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris (1963).
Radio Caroline South jingle and extract with Emperor Rosko and mynah bird “Alfie” and theme “Memphis” by Lonnie Mack (1963).
Radio Caroline intro for “Weird Beard” Carl Mitchell and “Slim Jenkins Place” by Booker T & the MG’s (1967).
Radio Veronica “Live this weekend…” jingle with “The Horse” by Cliff Nobles (1968). Theme also used by Ferry Maat on RNI.
Radio Veronica promo “Wij houden stand Veronica moet aan land” with “Heather” by the Carpenters (1973).
Radio London jingle and Big-L promo “Tiptoe Through The Teeshirts”.
Radio London jingle and extract with Kenny Everett and Garner Ted Armstrong announcing “The World Tomorrow” followed by Kenny Everett theme “The Stripper” by David Rose Orchestra (1962).
Radio London jingle followed by Big-L promo with Ed Stewart & Kenny Everett and Radio London Sonowaltz theme.
Radio Caroline South “Sound of the Nation” jingle with intro to the Robbie Dale show and theme “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” and “The British Grin & Bear” by Whistling Jack Smith (1967).
Radio Caroline extract with Keith Skues Bulova ad, jingle and theme “Mr Tambourine Man” by the Golden Gate Strings (1965).
Radio Scotland intro by Tony Allan followed by Stuart Henry and theme “Soul Finger” by the Bar-Kays (1967).
RNI jingle and extract of Graham Gill accompanying to his theme “Way Back Home” by Junior Walker & The All Stars, instrumental version, (1971).
Radio Veronica promo “Veronica moet blijven” followed by “What Love” by the Collectors (1968).
Radio Veronica “538” jingle followed by “Scotch On The Rocks” by Force Ten (1972). Also used by Hans Van Dervell/Radio Veronica, Dick Verheul/Radio Mi Amigo and Ronald Bakker/Radio Delmare.
Radio Caroline International jingle w intro to Stevi Merike show and theme “Billy’s Bag” by Billy Preston (1964).
Radio Caroline intro for Johnnie Walker show with “Because They’re Young” by Duane Eddy (1960).
“Rescue Me” by Fontella Bass (1965). Used by some of the offshore pirate stations as a coded distress call, as usually there was no other means of communication with their onshore head office.
“Warm and Tender Love” by Percy Sledge (1966). If you don’t know why this item is included, Radio Caroline DJ Johnnie Walker explains here.
“Cry Baby” by Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters (1963).
“In The Midnight Hour” by Little Mac & Boss Sounds (1966). Theme for Rick Dane and Carl Mitchell on Radio Caroline South and RNI.
“Stay With Me” by Lorraine Ellison (1966). Remembered from the 2009 film “The Boat That Rocked”, retitled “Pirate Radio” in North America.
Radio Caroline jingle and station closing theme “‘Round Midnight” by Jimmy McGriff (1962).
Soul Coaxing /Ame Câline by Raymond Lefèvre Orchestra (1968). Andy Archer’s theme on Radio Caroline.

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