Charles Parker is well-known as the producer of the Radio Ballads (1957-1964) but he made many other programmes for the BBC including I Chose Where To Stand: The Life of Else Rosenfeld which was broadcast in 1963. Being involved in various political campaigns, he also produced some more subversive programmes like Off Limits, aimed at GI’s in Vietnam in 1970.
The BBC is no longer the sole source of programmes that we might identify as having a connection to Charles Parker. Such connections may be in artistic spirit or social content, and programmes are made by production companies for the BBC, or other media companies, or by the BBC itself or (rarely) by media companies from their own resources.
Falling Tree Productions, Smooth Operations and Cast Iron Radio have made programmes in recent years that are significant in the terms to which we refer in this page and are continuing to make further programmes of potential interest.
It has become Trust practice, where possible, to give advance notice of programmes that might be of interest to Friends of the Charles Parker Archive Trust and to people who might visit this site, by adding a news item.
Charles Parker: Radio Pioneer – Sean Street delves into the archive of one of the most innovative and controversial BBC radio producers, reviewing Parker’s work from the Radio Ballads to his sacking in 1972. Produced by Andy Cartwright, this Soundscape production for BBC Radio 4 was broadcast in the Archive Hour on Saturday 6 April 2019, to mark Parker’s 100th birthday.
The Spirit of Hessle Road – produced by Hana Walker-Brown, a winner of the Charles Parker Prize in 2013. Hessle Road is an infamous working class district in Hull. But to those who live and work there, it’s much more than that – it’s a place of character, community but also hardship. This montage documentarypieces together the ghosts of Hessle Road’s past through some of its most colourful characters. It’s a collection of moving, funny tales over a bed of traditional folk music from the beating heart of Hull, crowned as City of Culture 2017. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 28 and 30 September 2017
Rambling Candyman – documentary from Newstalk 106-108fm celebrating the work of Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie who collected songs and stories from Irish Travellers living in England from 1973. Broadcast on Sat 29 and Sun 30 July 2017 and then as a podcast.
Hamish – documentary film about Hamish Henderson, a colossal figure in Scottish culture and a man of endless passion and curiosity, whose poems continue to elevate and inspire a nation. This highly anticipated documentary pays tribute to the many contrary forces and diverse facets of Henderson’s life as a poet, soldier, intellectual, activist, songwriter and leading force in the revival of Scottish folk music. From an English orphanage and the draughty corridors of Cambridge to overseeing the capitulation of the Italian army in WWII and penning the most celebrated Scottish ballad in contemporary folk music, Freedom Come Aa’ Ye, this is Henderson’s life as told by those who knew him best and loved him most. Broadcast on BBC Alba on 26 December 2016
Tarpaulin – a biography, broadcast on 28 November 2016 on Radio 4, the story of a fabric. This was written by Dina Gusejnova and produced by Sara Parker, who drew some quotes from the Travelling People. Dina says she’d like to think of this tarpaulin programme as a kind of ballad without a singer.
Earshot: Off Limits, broadcast on 6 April 2016 by the Australian Broadcasting Company. Producer Gary Bryson opens a fascinating window onto the politics of protest at one particular moment in British history. It carries with it the echoes of a world at war, but a war that was never simply black and white, country against country, right or wrong; because Charles Parker didn’t make Off Limits for the BBC. He made it for the Vietcong.
Racial Equality Enshrined: On the 50th anniversary of Britain’s first Race Relations Act, Ritula Shah considers the role of legislation in ending racial discrimination. Including material in the Charles Parker Archive, this programme was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 5 December 2015
Freeborn Man: The Story of Ewan MacColl – a documentary celebrating the centenary of Ewan’s birth, presented by John Cooper Clark. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 22 January 2015
Charles Parker Prize 2013 – Sara Parker meets the three student winners of the award dedicated to the memory of her father, and introduces their features. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra on 11 May 2013
The Ballad of the Games – the Olympic series of Radio Ballads broadcast on BBC Radio 2 from 2 July 2012 for six weeks
Charles Parker Prize 2012 – Sara Parker introduces the 3 winning radio features of the prize dedicated to her father’s memory, and meets the student winners. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra on 21 April 2012.
Never Again – a lament for the Titanic: part of the Radio Ballads series on BBC Radio 4 Extra, broadcast in April 2012
How Folk Songs Should be Sung: Martin Carthy listens to some recordings of the “Critics Group” and assesses the legacy of MacColl’s controversial experiment. It includes an example of Charles Parker singing a song he wrote as part of a group meeting. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2012
The Ballad Of Africa: to commemorate the 50th anniversary of almost 20 countries in Africa achieving independence, this brand new Radio Ballad explored the experiences of African people during the first 50 years of their longed-for, hard-fought and hard-won independent status. Broadcast on the BBC World Service in October 2010.
Ballad of the Miners’ Strike: In specially commissioned songs to mark the 25th anniversary of the end of the miners’ strike, this programme explored how lives were changed by the year-long dispute (1984-85). First broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in March 2010
Another programme presented by Sean Street in 2009, The Queen of Connemara, on the music of Delia Murphy was interesting listening for lovers of Irish folksong. This was broadcast on 25 October 2009
Like Blackpool Went Through Rock: Sara Parker and Sean Street’s programme for The Archive Hour on BBC Radio 4 in 2008 was an anniversary programme dealing with The Ballad of John Axon and the Radio Ballad legacy.
The Ballad of the Radio Feature, by Falling Tree Productions, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 28 June 2008
The Singing Englishman: A Portrait of A.L. Lloyd, a film by Barrie Gavin (1983)