On Air: Christmas at the Beeb
|No Christmas is complete without some Beatles programmes on the BBC radio.|
Radio alerts: Coming up this week are a couple of reprises on Radio 6 from last year, “The Casbah”, hosted by Pete Best (two half hour episodes) and “A Year In The Life: Beatles ’62”, hosted by Roger McGough (another two half hour episodes).
Then on December 23, a brand new two hour programme from Ken Bruce on Radio 2.
The Casbah: Birthplace Of Merseybeat celebrates the somewhat neglected and hugely significant venue where The Beatles enjoyed a residency prior to their later and more often recognised success at the Cavern Club. The documentary is presented by original Beatles’ drummer Pete Best whose mother Mona both owned and ran the club.
The Casbah, a private members club in the basement of the Best family home, was distinctive in a number of ways having opened as a strictly Rock’n’Roll venue. The majority of Liverpool clubs in the late 50’s having had roots in Jazz, Folk & Country music. It was also notable in that it was run by a woman, Mona Best, in an era when music/club promoters were invariably male. The documentary will explore the history of the club (decorated by The Beatles and now awarded Blue Plaque status) while examining the broader context of the boom that came to be known as Merseybeat.
Including contributions from Merseybeat newspaper founder Bill Harry alongside merseybeat veterans Mike Pender of The Searchers, Georgie Spruce (AKA Earl Preston of Earl Preston & The TT’s), Howie Casey (of Derry & the Seniors-the first Liverpool combo to play in Hamburg and secure a recording contract), and Geoff Nugent (of The Undertakers). The programme also features the recollections of Casbah Club members and a fleeting, though noteworthy, contribution from Paul McCartney.
A Year In The Life: Beatles ’62
A Year In The Life: Beatles ’62 narrates the pivotal breakthrough year for the newly mop-topped Liverpool beat combo via the recollections of those who knew and worked alongside them in 1962.
An oral history narrated by Liverpool contemporary Roger McGough, A Year In The Life recounts a familiar tale via the less-familiar recollections of those who were vital to The Beatles development in 1962.
The programme will range from their unsuccessful January 1st audition for Decca records through to the recording and release of their breakthrough hit ‘Love Me Do’.
A Year In the Life will also reflect upon their crowning in the Merseybeat newspaper as the leading Liverpool group, their first radio broadcasts at the BBC’s Manchester studios, the death of original bassist Stu Sutcliffe, their return to Hamburg’s Star Club, & the ousting of drummer Pete Best.
Contributors include Bill Harry(the editor of Merseybeat), Klaus Voorman (their close friend from Hamburg & the artist responsible for Revolver’s striking sleeve) Pete Best (their original drummer) Joe Brown & Mike Berry (who shared bills with the group shortly before their national fame) Andy White (the studio session drummer who played on ‘Love Me Do’) & publicist Tony Calder (who promoted their first single).
The Beatles:Alone – at the BBC
Ken Bruce and a collection of BBC Beatle moments, with 60s archive sessions and interviews.
Among rarely heard delights are a 1963 edition of the programme “Public Ear” about the early days of the Beatles featuring an interview with Stuart Sutcliffe’s mother, a fascinating profile of Beatle manager Brian Epstein from 1964, another of their producer George Martin from the same year and, of course, lots of the band themselves!
And as it’s that time of year, the programme also offers a chance to hear extracts from the Beatles’ Fan Club Christmas discs, sent to members every year from 1963 to 1969, some produced by the BBC’s Kenny Everett.