Archive for the ‘Radio 4’ Tag

The Memory Of Smells And Sounds

The Radio 4 programme ‘Music to drive to’ about driving moments people associate with a particular song or musical composition made me recall my own musical memory. In 1967, while travelling with my parents to our holiday destination in the South West of England our Reliant Regal van hit a large puddle, aquaplaned across the road and rolled over onto its roof before finally coming to a halt on the grass verge. Fortunately we all survived and the only thing damaged was the three wheeler which had lost its windscreen as the roof at the front collapsed. Being a van the remainder of the structure had withstood being inverted although there were deep gouges along one side.

At the time of the accident I was sitting among the suitcases in the back of the van surrounded by the musty smell of a canvas tent and listening to the radio which was playing the song ’Excerpt from a Teenage Opera’ by Mark Wirtz. Ever since that day whenever I come across the smell of musty canvas or hear that song the memory of the accident comes back as vivid as ever. The van turning over; the sound of the roof scrapping along the road; the heavy rain; the helping hands who pulled us from the vehicle and the shock at seeing all the damaged are as real as they were in 1967.

Sounds and smells are incredible memory joggers and do not seem to fade with time. They can influence people’s moods and even affect their work performance. They are used to help stimulate the minds of the elderly and those with brain injuries or disease. Somehow it seems these sounds and smells can cut through all the confusion and trigger moments of lucidity. Most of these memories are pleasant, unfortunately this one is still a little disturbing.


Radio Days And TV Nights

As an avid listener to BBC Radio 4 and 7 I feel rather smug that another comedy show that started on radio has been transferred to TV. It follows a long list of shows that begun life on radio and proved so successful the migration to TV become inevitable. Radio is a wonderful medium that still attracts big audiences. BBC Radio 1 and 4 both get around seven million listeners at peak times that’s about 25% of the viewing figures for TV.

A particular strength of BBC Radio is its drama productions. Where TV has reduced its drama output BBC radio continues to produce new, innovative drama, in fact its probably the biggest promoter of new writers and new works in the country. There is also considerable interest in old radio productions. A recent campaign on the internet by radio enthusiasts resulted in almost one thousand BBC shows in the Saturday Play series being gathered together the oldest play dating from 1943.

The internet has proven to be a great boon to old time radio enthusiasts, there are hundreds of sites offering radio shows of every genres for down load. The Internet Archive ( has thousands of old radio shows, mostly American, dating back to the earliest days of radio broadcasting. Its a valuable resource for anyone with an MP3 player and a love of drama and fiction.