The history of a traditional song that influenced Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes.
Roy Palmer explores the history of the traditional song The Captain's Apprentice. George Crabbe drew on it for his poem The Borough, which in turn influenced Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes. It's basic plot, of an apprentice being taken from the workhouse and fatally mistreated, is unchanged.
This brilliant, if bleak song was collected in Kings Lynn from the fisherman James Carter by Ralph Vaughan Williams and is still sung by folk singers. But the song dates back to at least the 18th Century and has travelled widely. Roy Palmer, an eminent authority on traditional song, explores this song, its history and influence, with the help of archive and some very recent recordings.
Producer: Julian May.