Tuesday, 28 June 2011

"I Am Mixing Colours Mixing Colours Mixing Colours, I Am Mixing Colours..."? Well Bloody Well Mix Them And Get On With It, Then!!

Instead of stopping to ponder on the presumably British Psychedelic Trip-related reasons why the last post but one got an inexplicable two thousand plus views yet the most recent one has struggled to achieve even two dozen (should have called it Juste qui est le Sifflet de Six Heures? and waited until the weekend, then), it's time for a welcome, and possibly reader-unanticipated, change of direction. Don't worry, there'll be plenty more on Gordon Murray (Puppets), presumably so named to distinguish themselves from Gordon Murray (Agricultural Fungicides), later. But for now... you may well have noticed that Music From BBC Children's Programmes is a curiously non-commital title, in that it fails to include that presumably all-important selling point 'TV'. And the reason for this is about to become abundantly clear; for the next bit of music from a BBC Children's Programme comes from, believe it or not, radio.

And why's this seemingly innocuous fact apparently so surprising? Well, let's be absolutely merciless about this. Or, if you will, absolutely wireless. Sorry. By the mid-seventies, and indeed by the time that Music From BBC Children's Programmes was released, Children's Radio - even within the Reithian confines of the BBC - was more or less on its last legs. Yes, alright, so they are last legs that have seemingly extended infinitely outwards like Vic Reeves' in that Peter Paul & Mary parody, and chances are that if you flip around the dial for long enough at the right time of day you'll still find somebody with Sophie Aldred speech patterns singing something about "shake those feet/come on and wake those feet" somewhere or other, but it really isn't what it was. And the 'was' in this instance was a very long time ago indeed.

Whenever people start reminiscing about radio programmes for children - and that's actual people doing actual reminiscing, not just Peter Kay being paid to count off an imaginary list on his fingers - they tend t... well, no, they don't really reminisce about radio programmes for children, do they? Very, very occasionally somebody might get all misty-eyed about Listen With Mother, the BBC's midday song and story showcase of yore, and further back in the creakier broadcasting history books there's some impenetrable stuff about 'Uncle Mac', but radio entertainment for the very young was all but done and dusted long before the official Chris Hughes-patrolled parameters of what it's actually considered worthwhile nostalgising about. Even when you do get somebody pining for the long-lost good old days of Listen With Mother, it tends to all be bundled in to one huge memory-splurge of genre-straddling radio recollecting that takes in everything from Dick Barton - Special Agent and Journey Into Space to Calling All Workers (yes, I know, this isn't Friday Night Is Robin Carmody Night, you know) and that one where Jon Pertwee was a postman or something.

Although Listen With Mother would bravely stagger on right up until the early eighties, even those who were of target audience age in the era that Music From BBC Children's Programmes inadvertently defines barely ever listened to it, with at best little more than hazy memories of not really 'getting' it and wondering how long it was until TV 'started' again. For most, defining early memories of radio would doubtless be directly linked to the statutory quasi-religious devotion to 'the charts', and associated willing Sing Something Simple to hurry up and finish. And that's the entire problem nailed in two almost casual pan-cultural reference points; since those supposed glory days, both TV and pop music had happened, and with both increasingly keen to hook in younger and younger audiences, there wasn't really much scope for interesting youngsters in the audio-only exploits of My Naughty Little Sister and Mitten The Kitten. It was all a very long way from Johnny Ball adopting a 'karma' pose at the Interdimensional Barnaby Temple Of The Mind, certainly. The Yompity Yo, a Listen With Mother mainstay who once found himself the target of political ire following a story in which he broke into a house to retrieve his confiscated voice, might have pulled in a few post-Grange Hill listeners though.

So, in short, that's why it's a bit of a surprise to find the theme from a radio show as the fifth track on Music From BBC Children's Programmes. But this was no oridinary radio show. Nor indeed was it any ordinary theme.

1 comment:

  1. I am reading all of this, Tim, although you've got this "Mrs Pinkerton" thing all wrong (or should it be "all right")? It's a bloody dreadful single and I don't know what gave you the idea that I'd ever think otherwise!

    And... 2,000 plus views for a vague Great Psychedelic Trip connection? I don't even get half that for actual content on the subject.