A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1975.

If you were listening to the lunch time concert on BBC Radio Three on the 7th January 2011 (the programme page is here) and heard a chair squeak during Shai Wosner’s solo rendition of Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor (K475) then you momentarily irritated by me readjusting myself in situ because I was at that concert whilst it was pre-recorded in studio 7 of BBC Manchester on Oxford Road.

Completing construction in 1975, New Broadcasting House became the BBC's North West England headquarters, eventually hosting BBC Manchester, BBC North West, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Religion and Ethics Department.  TV Ark has a long list of the kinds of programmes produced there.  Then, 36 years later it was demolished once Media City opened at Salford Quays and it became surplice to requirements.  

But back in 2011, there I was this free event as part of their Genius of Mozart season, a chance to sit in close proximity with an orchestra and allowing a wall of live musical sound blow me over. Despite visiting BBC Manchester before for other events, I hadn't realised that they could accommodate this kind of recording or, as the photographic portraits on the walls of previous conductors and supporters and a giant banner above the entrance to the venue indicated that this was the "home of the BBC Philharmonic".

Studio 7 was a giant square auditorium with the audience in stadium seating on one side and the orchestra across a small stage opposite and somehow despite the large number of players and even greater number of listeners a very intimate atmosphere was created. The concert was presented by Catherine Bott (pictured), who stood at some microphones just to the side and read her announcements as live from an A4 print out which was an impressive feat in itself.  The audience sat in complete silence throughout.  This was clearly a group of passionate music fans.

There are two things you need to know about my experience. Firstly that I was a bit distracted because the other reason I was in Manchester was for some replacement fillings at my dentist on Oxford Road. He’d just finished work within half an hour of me sitting down so I spent most of the concert regaining the feeling in my mouth, my tongue fringed with pins and needles and prodding around my teeth getting used to the work which had been done. 

Secondly that I wasn't distracted enough from the virtuosity of the playing and the emotional embrace of the music.  Only The Magic Flute overture was familiar to me, with its impactful chords and pauses which seem designed to catch out an early clapper. During his solo, Wosner sat hunched over his piano and once again I was impressed with a musicians ability to remember a whole piece without need to refer to a sheet. The Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat (K482) is unusually because it’s topped and tailed by a slow movement which somehow makes it feel more melancholic something that might have been reflected in the determination of the players.

At the end we applauded as though at a real concert (Was this a real concert? What are the rules?) and then an engineer appeared from the back and asked us to remain seated. There were to be retakes.  Wosner reappeared with conductor Antonello Manacorda and we heard a few bars here and there again. Presumably for technical reasons because their playing sound fine the first time. As I pondered what would have happened during the live broadcast which filled the slot the day before from the same venue, and considered whether an hour was the perfect length for any concert, it was time to leave.


"Watch the mini documentary telling the story behind the iconic Arena title sequence."
Arena began broadcasting this year.
[BBC Clips]

"The documentary sets about the task of bringing to light the craft of the sports journalist by visiting three major events: a world title fight in Las Vegas; an England football international; and the Cheltenham Gold Cup."

The corporation’s indefatigable flagship arts programme celebrates its latest anniversary with a magnificent act of expanded television and self-repurposing.
[Sight & Sound]

A complete episode guide to the whole series.

Interactive website leading to numerous clips.
[The Space]

Fawlty Towers

"ohn Cleese shares the inside story of BBC TV sitcom masterpiece, Fawlty Towers."
[BBC Sounds]

"In 1977 Fawlty Towers was released in book form, which was a good excuse to bring John Cleese onto Read All About it. He discussed all things behind the hit comedy show with Mervyn Bragg, including the inspiration for Basil Fawlty, which goes back to a hotel Cleese stayed in while filming the Monty Python.  Also features poet Elaine Feinstein, philosopher Sir Alfred J Ayer and cricketer Mike Brearley.  Originally broadcast on Read All About It on 13 Nov 1977.
[BBC Archive]

"I admit it. When writing about old television, there is often the desire to pick out something obscure nobody has heard of in decades. It’s not an attempt to be clever. (Well, not always, at least.) It’s just that sometimes, you really want to highlight a programme which you feel deserves more attention than it’s been getting lately."
[Dirty Feed]


"A profile of Mersea Island and interviews with residents, contrasting the rural, and isolated settlement of East Mersea with the maritime activities of the larger settlement of West Mersea."
[East Anglian Film Archive]

"Bob Harris interviews the former Beatles star for The Old Grey Whistle Test.  Recorded on 17 March 1975 and originally broadcast on 18 April 1975."
[BBC Clips]


"Made by members of the Mercury Movie Makers, this film captures the beginning of a typical day in the city of Leeds. It begins at daybreak and the start of the BBC Radio Leeds Breakfast Show with John Henry and continues on capture the hustle and bustle of the city centre just before 9 o'clock."
[Yorkshire Film Archive]

"Short clip including shots of new Broadcasting House development (in Belfast), as well as shots of control room with the continuity announcer."
[BBC Rewind]


"John Noakes explains the techniques used to film his famous bobsleigh ride on the Cresta Run."
[BBC Archive]

"This first edition features Graeme Garden and John Lloyd looking at radio comedy in the late 1970s. Graeme by this stage was an established figure, with his breakthrough show I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again morphing into I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, in addition to his work presenting Week Ending and as a panellist on shows such as A Rhyme In Time."
[BBC Sounds]

"Cast and crew of the iconic Welsh drama serial prepare for another day of filming on location in Cwmafan."
[BBC Archive]

"In the 1960s the BBC’s poetry programming opened itself up to the world."
[The Poetry Archive]

"Felicity Kendal reveals the inside story of her iconic performance as Barbara Good in much-loved BBC sitcom, The Good Life."
[BBC Sounds]


"BBC Radio's historic first live transmission to the Nation of the proceedings of the House of Commons - the start of a four-week experiment in Parliamentary broadcasting authorised by the House on 24 February 1975."
[BBC Sounds]

This is a transcript of the first live session.  Notice how the transcription isn't complete accurate.
[House of Commons][BBC Programme Index]

"The BBC's 1976 Handbook comes out at a time of great national difficulty. Now, more than ever, people look to the BBC for wholly reliable information, for an expression of the innumerable concerns of the nation, and especially perhaps, for laughter and pleasure in every home."
[World Radio History]