The People's Songs

Episodes

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01We'll Meet Again - Britain In World War Ii20130102

Beginning an epic new series charting the history of modern Britain in 50 records, Stuart Maconie considers The Force's Sweetheart, Vera Lynn, and her own musical part in the fight against fascism. We hear from those who lived through WW2 - both those serving in the Armed Forces and those on the Home Front - and discover the significance of music during the war years and how it kept the force's spirits up whilst comforting those waiting anxiously at home. Some families were further strained and stretched because not only were the men fighting overseas, but the children had been evacuated to the safer confines of the countryside. And yet in London and industrial towns like Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, life went on defiantly despite the attentions of the Luftwaffe.

And whilst the Nazis over-ran Europe and crept ever closer to the UK, the Americans entered the fight against fascism. Not only did the Americans bring their sheer weight of numbers and their superior weaponry, they also brought with them their music and a colourful, glamorous presence. Some resented them, but many were enthralled; particularly children, who were more than happy to receive some of the abundant sweets the Yanks seem to carry with them everywhere.

Throughout the hardship, the poverty, the rationing, the nights in air-shelters, the loss of home and lives, music kept the British people going.

What are your memories of Britain in this remarkable era? What role did music have to play for you and your family at the time? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

01We'll Meet Again - Britain in World War II20130102

01We'll Meet Again - Britain In World War Ii2013010220160105 (R2)

Beginning an epic new series charting the history of modern Britain in 50 records, Stuart Maconie considers The Force's Sweetheart, Vera Lynn, and her own musical part in the fight against fascism. We hear from those who lived through WW2 - both those serving in the Armed Forces and those on the Home Front - and discover the significance of music during the war years and how it kept the force's spirits up whilst comforting those waiting anxiously at home. Some families were further strained and stretched because not only were the men fighting overseas, but the children had been evacuated to the safer confines of the countryside. And yet in London and industrial towns like Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, life went on defiantly despite the attentions of the Luftwaffe.

And whilst the Nazis over-ran Europe and crept ever closer to the UK, the Americans entered the fight against fascism. Not only did the Americans bring their sheer weight of numbers and their superior weaponry, they also brought with them their music and a colourful, glamorous presence. Some resented them, but many were enthralled; particularly children, who were more than happy to receive some of the abundant sweets the Yanks seem to carry with them everywhere.

Throughout the hardship, the poverty, the rationing, the nights in air-shelters, the loss of home and lives, music kept the British people going.

What are your memories of Britain in this remarkable era? What role did music have to play for you and your family at the time? The People's Songs wants to hear from you...

02Two Tribes - The Threat Of Nuclear War20130109

Following the end of WW2 there came a longer and a colder kind of war. The two global superpowers had gone from allies to sworn enemies, each armed to the teeth with weapons that could destroy the world many times over.

Although the two nations had already come close to war over the botched invasion at the Bay Of Pigs in 1961, it was during the 1980s that the Cold War reached its chilly apex. Under the respective reigns of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, nuclear paranoia was omnipresent.

Capturing the mood of the times, films like Mad Max, Threads and The Day After all portrayed the threat of global apocalypse with varying degrees of horror. And musically, acts as diverse as from Kate Bush, Sting, Iron Maiden, Prince and Ultravox all recorded anti-nuclear tracks. Almost literally, the threat of nuclear war was in the air.

This mood of rampant paranoia was even apparent in this episode's epic dancefloor filler, a colossal number one single about global destruction and political insanity. And like the nuclear threat itself, Frankie Goes To Hollywood seemed to be everywhere one looked in 1984. Their music, their controversial videos and their "Frankie Say" t-shirts were ubiquitous.

We want to hear from people who served in the nuclear-armed forces and those who protested against their weaponry. We'd also like to hear from those people who remember receiving the terrifying Protect and Survive leaflet through their letterbox or who sat nervously before Threads or The Day After.

02Two Tribes - The Threat Of Nuclear War20130109

02Two Tribes - The Threat Of Nuclear War2013010920160112 (R2)

Following the end of WW2 there came a longer and a colder kind of war. The two global superpowers had gone from allies to sworn enemies, each armed to the teeth with weapons that could destroy the world many times over.

Although the two nations had already come close to war over the botched invasion at the Bay Of Pigs in 1961, it was during the 1980s that the Cold War reached its chilly apex. Under the respective reigns of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, nuclear paranoia was omnipresent.

Capturing the mood of the times, films like Mad Max, Threads and The Day After all portrayed the threat of global apocalypse with varying degrees of horror. And musically, acts as diverse as from Kate Bush, Sting, Iron Maiden, Prince and Ultravox all recorded anti-nuclear tracks. Almost literally, the threat of nuclear war was in the air.

This mood of rampant paranoia was even apparent in this episode's epic dancefloor filler, a colossal number one single about global destruction and political insanity. And like the nuclear threat itself, Frankie Goes To Hollywood seemed to be everywhere one looked in 1984. Their music, their controversial videos and their "Frankie Say" t-shirts were ubiquitous.

03She Loves You - You Never Had It So Good20130116

1963 was a monumental year in Britain. The Profumo Affair was uncovered. The Great Train Robbery took place. The Dartford Tunnel and the National Theatre opened. And a manufactured Northern pop band started doing rather well.

A new economic and social optimism coincided with the birth of Beatlemania in a country that had, according to Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, "never had it so good". However, it was an optimism that had been almost two decades in the making, following the horror of WW2, then the lean years of rationing, poverty and re-building. The Beatles' humour, drive and infectious music chimed perfectly with the country's new-found confidence.

We want to hear your memories of the post-austerity mood and the burgeoning sense of optimism in a time of plentiful employment and shiny new appliances for the home. We'd also love to talk to those who saw the Beatles in the early days at The Cavern and were swept up in this wave of homegrown excitement; and of course, those who were utterly befuddled by the Fab Four's appeal.

03She Loves You - 'you Never Had It So Good'2013011620160119 (R2)

1963 was a monumental year in Britain. The Profumo Affair was uncovered. The Great Train Robbery took place. The Dartford Tunnel and the National Theatre opened. And a manufactured Northern pop band started doing rather well.

A new economic and social optimism coincided with the birth of Beatlemania in a country that had, according to Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, "never had it so good". However, it was an optimism that had been almost two decades in the making, following the horror of WW2, then the lean years of rationing, poverty and re-building. The Beatles' humour, drive and infectious music chimed perfectly with the country's new-found confidence.

04Rock Island Line - Britain's First Diy Pop Music20130123

Born of austerity and a love of American folk, skiffle was basic, direct and thrillingly raw. A kind of "make do and mend" pop.

But then this was a make do and mend time. Post-war Britain was a drab, bankrupt and almost broken country. Cities were still littered with bomb sites and rationing was still in place until 1954.

But teenagers were discovering new music in the nation's coffee houses via the wondrous technology of jukeboxes and freshly imported records. And one record in particular resonated with the UK's youth: Leadbelly's Rock Island Line.

Not everyone was so impressed though. Trad jazz was also enjoying a boom, and that scene's movers sneered at this rough 'n ready music. This was somewhat ironic given that Lonnie Donegan had first found fame in Chris Barber's jazz band. And Chris Barber himself would also be a pivotal figure in the British blues boom, bringing people like Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters to tour the UK.

The musicians who emerged from the skiffle scene read like a virtual who's who of British pop music: Cliff Richard, Martin Carthy, Mark Knopfler, Mickie Most, Jimmy Page and Lennon and McCartney all found inspiration and nominal success in this new scene.

We want to hear from skiffle fans, regular visitors to venues such as The 2i's Coffee Bar and those with memories of the highs and lows of life in the post-war decade.

04Rock Island Line: Skiffle - Britain's first DIY pop music20130123

04Rock Island Line: Skiffle - Britain's first DIY pop music2013012320160126 (R2)

Born of austerity and a love of American folk, skiffle was basic, direct and thrillingly raw. A kind of "make do and mend" pop.

But then this was a make do and mend time. Post-war Britain was a drab, bankrupt and almost broken country. Cities were still littered with bomb sites and rationing was still in place until 1954.

But teenagers were discovering new music in the nation's coffee houses via the wondrous technology of jukeboxes and freshly imported records. And one record in particular resonated with the UK's youth: Leadbelly's Rock Island Line.

Not everyone was so impressed though. Trad jazz was also enjoying a boom, and that scene's movers sneered at this rough 'n ready music. This was somewhat ironic given that Lonnie Donegan had first found fame in Chris Barber's jazz band. And Chris Barber himself would also be a pivotal figure in the British blues boom, bringing people like Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters to tour the UK.

The musicians who emerged from the skiffle scene read like a virtual who's who of British pop music: Cliff Richard, Martin Carthy, Mark Knopfler, Mickie Most, Jimmy Page and Lennon and McCartney all found inspiration and nominal success in this new scene.

04Rock Island Line: Skiffle - Britain's first DIY pop music2013012320160126 (R2)

Born of austerity and a love of American folk, skiffle was basic, direct and thrillingly raw. A kind of "make do and mend" pop.

But then this was a make do and mend time. Post-war Britain was a drab, bankrupt and almost broken country. Cities were still littered with bomb sites and rationing was still in place until 1954.

But teenagers were discovering new music in the nation's coffee houses via the wondrous technology of jukeboxes and freshly imported records. And one record in particular resonated with the UK's youth: Leadbelly's Rock Island Line.

Not everyone was so impressed though. Trad jazz was also enjoying a boom, and that scene's movers sneered at this rough 'n ready music. This was somewhat ironic given that Lonnie Donegan had first found fame in Chris Barber's jazz band. And Chris Barber himself would also be a pivotal figure in the British blues boom, bringing people like Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters to tour the UK.

The musicians who emerged from the skiffle scene read like a virtual who's who of British pop music: Cliff Richard, Martin Carthy, Mark Knopfler, Mickie Most, Jimmy Page and Lennon and McCartney all found inspiration and nominal success in this new scene.

05God Save The Queen - When Punk Rocked Jubilee Britain2013013020160202 (R2)

"The high-water mark of punk was at the height of a summer of royal love. One million people, bedecked with Union Jacks, lined London's streets to watch the Royal Family's procession. Many millions more attended street parties to celebrate the Queen's 25th anniversary on the throne.

Meanwhile, a more irreverent (but subsequently more infamous) party had been planned. A boat laden with The Sex Pistols, their Svengali manager Malcolm McLaren, journalists and various friends and hangers-on sailed by The Houses Of Parliament while The Pistols blasted out Anarchy In The UK.

Shortly thereafter, the boat was boarded by police and "persuaded" to return to shore. Tensions ran high, people were arrested. Some were beaten by police. And it wasn't just the establishment that was offended. Lydon was later stabbed by an irate Londoner. TVs were kicked in by fuming fathers. Tabloids raged and protests were staged.

Punk rocked Britain and exposed the fissures and divisions in late 70s Britain. Despite the celebration of our monarchy, the country was on an economic downturn. Jobs were hard to come by, particularly for young people. Life was hard and dull.

It could be argued that punk simply held up a mirror to an ugly society. It certainly allied itself with the outsiders and disenfranchised youth of all kinds. But many of those who were galvanized by punk went onto great things: Adam Ant, Siouxsie Sioux, Morrissey, Billy Idol, Vivienne Westwood and Tony Parsons among many others.

Even the hippie Richard Branson (the third person to sign the Pistols) went on to launch a corporate empire that now has fingers in everything including the burgeoning space travel tourism.

05God Save The Queen - When Punk Rocked Jubilee Britain20130130

The high-water mark of punk was at the height of a summer of royal love. One million people, bedecked with Union Jacks, lined London's streets to watch the Royal Family's procession. Many millions more attended street parties to celebrate the Queen's 25th anniversary on the throne.

Meanwhile, a more irreverent (but subsequently more infamous) party had been planned. A boat laden with The Sex Pistols, their Svengali manager Malcolm McLaren, journalists and various friends and hangers-on sailed by The Houses Of Parliament while The Pistols blasted out Anarchy In The UK.

Shortly thereafter, the boat was boarded by police and "persuaded" to return to shore. Tensions ran high, people were arrested. Some were beaten by police. And it wasn't just the establishment that was offended. Lydon was later stabbed by an irate Londoner. TVs were kicked in by fuming fathers. Tabloids raged and protests were staged.

Punk rocked Britain and exposed the fissures and divisions in late 70s Britain. Despite the celebration of our monarchy, the country was on an economic downturn. Jobs were hard to come by, particularly for young people. Life was hard and dull.

It could be argued that punk simply held up a mirror to an ugly society. It certainly allied itself with the outsiders and disenfranchised youth of all kinds. But many of those who were galvanized by punk went onto great things: Adam Ant, Siouxsie Sioux, Morrissey, Billy Idol, Vivienne Westwood and Tony Parsons among many others.

Even the hippie Richard Branson (the third person to sign the Pistols) went on to launch a corporate empire that now has fingers in everything including the burgeoning space travel tourism.

We want to hear from those of you who embraced punk and those who were threatened by it. Was your life affirmed and forever changed by punk... or did you detest it?

05God Save the Queen - When Punk Rocked Jubilee Britain20130130

06My Boy Lollipop - The Caribbean Comes to Britain20130206

06My Boy Lollipop - The Caribbean Comes To Britain20130206

On June 22nd 1948, an ex-Troop ship called The Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury carrying nearly 500 passengers who had left behind their home in the West Indies for a new life in Britain. For them it must have been a massive culture shock. It must also have been something of a shock to the people of the UK. With the new immigrants came their slang, their customs, their food and fashion. But it was probably the music that had the first impact.

Afro-Caribbean calypsos had taken root in the folk scene of the early Sixties, but for many Britons their first experience of this new music came courtesy of an effervescent, feisty young woman from the Jamaican slums called Millie. My Boy Lollipop was recorded in Forest Hill, London, and became the first hit single for Island records. Millie even appeared on a Beatles TV special in 1964. This was the start of a cross cultural pollination.

Were you part of the first wave of immigrants? What do you recall of your first experience of Britain? And for those Britons who witnessed this arrival of a new culture, what influence did it have on you?

06My Boy Lollipop - The Caribbean Comes To Britain2013020620160209 (R2)

On June 22nd 1948, an ex-Troop ship called The Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury carrying nearly 500 passengers who had left behind their home in the West Indies for a new life in Britain. For them it must have been a massive culture shock. It must also have been something of a shock to the people of the UK. With the new immigrants came their slang, their customs, their food and fashion. But it was probably the music that had the first impact.

Afro-Caribbean calypsos had taken root in the folk scene of the early Sixties, but for many Britons their first experience of this new music came courtesy of an effervescent, feisty young woman from the Jamaican slums called Millie. My Boy Lollipop was recorded in Forest Hill, London, and became the first hit single for Island records. Millie even appeared on a Beatles TV special in 1964. This was the start of a cross cultural pollination.

Were you part of the first wave of immigrants? What do you recall of your first experience of Britain? And for those Britons who witnessed this arrival of a new culture, what influence did it have on you?

07Rehab - The Price Of Modern Fame20130213

Amy Winehouse is a tragic and extreme example of the price of fame in the UK in the Noughties. She was someone who'd been pursuing fame since childhood. Pre-teen she'd attended theatre schools, learned guitar, appeared on the Fast Show in her early teens and sang with the National Jazz Youth Orchestra. She seemed hungry for fame.

Amy's father Mitch had sung Sinatra songs to the very young Amy, and she later took much or her style from the 60s girl groups (the beehive) and from Ronnie Spector (the Cleopatra eye-liner). Throwing all of her musical and visual influences into the melting pot, Amy hit upon a style that was somehow already familiar but very fresh to a young audience.

From an early stage in Amy's career, she quickly became a tabloid favourite. To start with, she looked great, sang great and had plenty of attitude. She also took to the rock 'n roll lifestyle like a duck to water. With frightening regularity she was on the tabloid's front-pages; Amy with a new tattoo... Amy stumbling from a club... Amy with cuts and bruises... Amy hanging out with Pete Doherty... Amy looking skeletal. The end, sadly, looked inevitable. And so it proved to be, splashed across the front pages of the nation's tabloids, akin to a slow-motion car crash.

But Amy Winehouse broke the mold and changed the face (literally) of British pop, and ushered in a generation of new female stars. Duffy, Adele, Florence and The Machine, and even Lady Gaga have all cited Amy's influence and thanked her for blazing a trail.

But her demise was a kind of modern parable on the perils of fame, narcotics and a national obsession with celebrity that seemed to come to the fore in the 'Noughties'. Stuart himself compares and contrasts his two, very different, meetings with Amy.

As we look over the growth of celeb and tabloid culture in the past decade, we want to hear from those troubled by the current 'cult of celebrity' and those still willing to make a Faustian pact for fame. What does 'celebrity' mean to you?

07Rehab - The Price Of Modern Fame2013021320160216 (R2)

Stuart Maconie presents a series which charts the history of modern Britain in 50 records. This week, Stuart looks at the celebrity culture that surrounds the rise and all-too-often downfall of singing stars, as he features Rehab by Amy Winehouse.

07Rehab - The Price of Modern Fame20130213

08Whiter Shade of Pale - Britain Skips the Light Fandango20130220

08Whiter Shade of Pale - Britain Skips the Light Fandango20130220

08Whiter Shade Of Pale - Britain Skips The Light Fandango20130220

This was Britain's first gentle whiff of drug culture in pop music. Those heady sights, smells and sounds of what later became known as the Summer Of Love, were first and best encapsulated on this side of the Atlantic by Procol Harum's hit. It would prove to be a summer which burned long and bright and which heralded a significant change in the look, sound and mood of pop culture.

The Summer Of Love had its roots in the American Beat Culture of the 1950s and in writers like Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. The concepts of free love, liberal politics, casual drug use, communal living and opposition to the Vietnam War were at its core. Slowly the culture had infiltrated first the West Coast music scene and then more popular culture.

Ironically, by the time the hippie ideals had crossed the Atlantic, much of America was burning; race riots and heavy handed police reaction to marches and demonstrations had scarred many cities. But in London, everything was just groovy. Hair was worn a little longer, beads were sported and flowers waved about. Legend has it The Beatles were introduced to marijuana by Bob Dylan in 1964. There was even whispered talk of "revolution".

A Whiter Shade Of Pale was the debut single from Procol Harum, which went to number one in the UK, number five in the USA, is one of 30 singles that has sold more than 10 million copies, and which has been covered more than 1000 times. Not bad for a new band. It's widely thought that the song is about a drunken sexual seduction, so whilst it's not overtly about altered states, its sense of intoxication and trippiness captured the mood of the era.

In this episode, Stuart examines the realities of 'Summer of Love' and what this infamous period really meant for most Britons. We want to talk to those who remember it well...and those who don't!

08Whiter Shade Of Pale - Britain Skips The Light Fandango2013022020160223 (R2)

This was Britain's first gentle whiff of drug culture in pop music. Those heady sights, smells and sounds of what later became known as the Summer Of Love, were first and best encapsulated on this side of the Atlantic by Procol Harum's hit. It would prove to be a summer which burned long and bright and which heralded a significant change in the look, sound and mood of pop culture.

The Summer Of Love had its roots in the American Beat Culture of the 1950s and in writers like Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. The concepts of free love, liberal politics, casual drug use, communal living and opposition to the Vietnam War were at its core. Slowly the culture had infiltrated first the West Coast music scene and then more popular culture.

Ironically, by the time the hippie ideals had crossed the Atlantic, much of America was burning; race riots and heavy handed police reaction to marches and demonstrations had scarred many cities. But in London, everything was just groovy. Hair was worn a little longer, beads were sported and flowers waved about. Legend has it The Beatles were introduced to marijuana by Bob Dylan in 1964. There was even whispered talk of "revolution".

A Whiter Shade Of Pale was the debut single from Procol Harum, which went to number one in the UK, number five in the USA, is one of 30 singles that has sold more than 10 million copies, and which has been covered more than 1000 times. Not bad for a new band. It's widely thought that the song is about a drunken sexual seduction, so whilst it's not overtly about altered states, its sense of intoxication and trippiness captured the mood of the era.

In this episode, Stuart examines the realities of 'Summer of Love' and what this infamous period really meant for most Britons. We want to talk to those who remember it well...and those who don't!

09Ebeneezer Goode - The Second Summer of Love20130227

09Ebeneezer Goode - The Second Summer of Love2013022720160301 (R2)

Stuart Maconie investigates British life in the 90s. In this episode, Stuart assesses the origins and impact of 90's rave and club culture and hears from clubbers, club owners and those who were outraged by the whole thing.

09Ebeneezer Goode - The Second Summer Of Love20130227

The moral panic over ecstasy, club culture and dance music in the early 90s came to a head with this rave anthem, a track which despite being banned by the BBC went to number one. And whilst the tabloids were frothing at the mouth with outrage regarding the dangers of Ecstasy, football and gang violence actually decreased significantly. A generation of people were more in the mood to hug and dance than to drink and fight.

And as always happens with new music and new fashion, within no time at all the underground culture had been co-opted into the mainstream as rave anthem compilations started to fly off the shelves and chain stores sold all sorts of tat sporting the ubiquitous smiley-face. And the soon-to-be Super Clubs like Ministry Of Sound and Cream took dance culture out of the underground and made it the weekend destination of choice for the average guy or girl about town.

As for The Shamen, the Scottish group had actually started as a more traditional psychedelic rock band heavily inspired by Love and Syd Barrett and who'd received airplay from John Peel. But galvanized by the burgeoning rave culture, the band moved into a more electronic/dance vein and fully embraced aspects of the lifestyle. The thinly-veiled lyrics to Ebeenezer Goode were less a zealous, wide-eyed proselytising but seemed a more cynical attempt to create an uproar... which they did in no uncertain terms. The BBC banned the song, and the resulting hullabaloo propelled the song to number one. However the band were so hounded by tabloid press they finally withdrew the single. But by then it was too late, and that particular genie was out of the bottle.

In this episode, Stuart will assess the origins and impact of 90s rave and club culture. Radio 2 wants to hear from clubbers (past and present!), along with club owners and those who were outraged by the whole thing. What does club culture mean to you?

10Je T'Aime - Sex Please, We're British20130306

10Je T'Aime - Sex Please, We're British2013030620160308 (R2)

We've always had an uneasy relationship with our European cousins and their continental mores and morals, especially when they come over here and rub our face in it. Here was a bug-eyed Frenchman performing a racy duet with his young lover. And she was blatantly mimicking sexual pleasure. And what was worse was she was British! The cheek of it!

It was the Sixties and sex seemed to be everywhere in the arts. Lady Chatterley's Lover had been banned for thirty years and triumphed in an obscenity trial that same decade. The musical Hair was delayed from opening in London because of censorship. The Rolling Stones' "Redlands" court-case, ostensibly about possession of drugs, had been further mired in suggestive sexual misbehavior. And a little later the counter-culture magazine Oz went through the longest obscenity trial in the UK.

But in the case of Je T'Aime, despite it being foreign, and despite it seeming to be quite rude, we loved it. And unlike many other countries, the UK didn't ban the track. In fact we bought it by the truck-load; it flew into the number one slot.

But perhaps in hindsight this shouldn't have been so surprising. The music hall had been founded on innuendo. George Formby had become a massive star, singing songs that were pretty much predicated on a single innuendo. So we willingly absorbed Je T'aime into our 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink' Benny Hill, Carry On pop culture.

In this episode Stuart will attempt to trace the evolution of British attitudes to sex, scandal and pop music. Do you recall the release of Je T'aime? Were you offended... or aroused? The People's Songs wants to hear from you...

10Je T'Aime - Sex Please, We're British2013030620160308 (R2)

We've always had an uneasy relationship with our European cousins and their continental mores and morals, especially when they come over here and rub our face in it. Here was a bug-eyed Frenchman performing a racy duet with his young lover. And she was blatantly mimicking sexual pleasure. And what was worse was she was British! The cheek of it!

It was the Sixties and sex seemed to be everywhere in the arts. Lady Chatterley's Lover had been banned for thirty years and triumphed in an obscenity trial that same decade. The musical Hair was delayed from opening in London because of censorship. The Rolling Stones' "Redlands" court-case, ostensibly about possession of drugs, had been further mired in suggestive sexual misbehavior. And a little later the counter-culture magazine Oz went through the longest obscenity trial in the UK.

But in the case of Je T'Aime, despite it being foreign, and despite it seeming to be quite rude, we loved it. And unlike many other countries, the UK didn't ban the track. In fact we bought it by the truck-load; it flew into the number one slot.

But perhaps in hindsight this shouldn't have been so surprising. The music hall had been founded on innuendo. George Formby had become a massive star, singing songs that were pretty much predicated on a single innuendo. So we willingly absorbed Je T'aime into our 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink' Benny Hill, Carry On pop culture.

In this episode Stuart will attempt to trace the evolution of British attitudes to sex, scandal and pop music. Do you recall the release of Je T'aime? Were you offended... or aroused? The People's Songs wants to hear from you...

10Je T'aime - Sex Please, We're British20130306

We've always had an uneasy relationship with our European cousins and their continental mores and morals, especially when they come over here and rub our face in it. Here was a bug-eyed Frenchman performing a racy duet with his young lover. And she was blatantly mimicking sexual pleasure. And what was worse was she was British! The cheek of it!

It was the Sixties and sex seemed to be everywhere in the arts. Lady Chatterley's Lover had been banned for thirty years and triumphed in an obscenity trial that same decade. The musical Hair was delayed from opening in London because of censorship. The Rolling Stones' "Redlands" court-case, ostensibly about possession of drugs, had been further mired in suggestive sexual misbehavior. And a little later the counter-culture magazine Oz went through the longest obscenity trial in the UK.

But in the case of Je T'Aime, despite it being foreign, and despite it seeming to be quite rude, we loved it. And unlike many other countries, the UK didn't ban the track. In fact we bought it by the truck-load; it flew into the number one slot.

But perhaps in hindsight this shouldn't have been so surprising. The music hall had been founded on innuendo. George Formby had become a massive star, singing songs that were pretty much predicated on a single innuendo. So we willingly absorbed Je T'aime into our 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink' Benny Hill, Carry On pop culture.

In this episode Stuart will attempt to trace the evolution of British attitudes to sex, scandal and pop music. Do you recall the release of Je T'aime? Were you offended... or aroused? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

11Starman - Androgyny Arrives In The Living Room2013031320160315 (R2)

In this episode we look at the repercussions from a singular moment on a Thursday evening in 1972 when dads were horrified and kids astonished. During David Bowie's performance of his new single Starman on Top of The Pops, an outrageously dressed Bowie cuddled and caressed guitarist Mick Ronson. 15 million viewers were utterly shocked. It was a watershed moment in pop, marking the beginning of an era of British glamour and androgyny.

Whilst Bowie's song Starman wasn't that revolutionary or even original (Bowie later admitted he took a lot of inspiration from that old chestnut Somewhere Over The Rainbow) it was one of the first moments when sexual ambiguity made an explicit appearance in the defiantly heterosexual world of UK pop. To some degree this was something new, but it did have a discernible lineage. Britain has a long history of transgender role-playing; in Shakespeare's time, male actors would perform as women, and there was the small matter of our tradition of pantomime dames. And it's long been a staple of British comedy from Hinge and Brackett to Dick Emery and The Pythons and onto David Walliams and Matt Lucas.

But Bowie's alter ego Ziggy Stardust was much more radical and fascinating. For excited, enthralled teenagers, it wasn't just that it was hard to tell if this was a man or a woman, but they couldn't even be sure if it was human. This smiling, benevolent, alluring and mysterious stranger (or alien?) changed the way Britain dressed and what we listened to. It was the start of the process of moving the monochrome Britain of Coronation Street, muddy football pitches, bovver boots, woodchip and drab certainties into a kaleidoscopic world of possibilities.

12Smalltown Boy20130320

12Smalltown Boy20130320

Whilst British pop has had a long and colourful history of powerful and visionary movers and shakers who just happened to be gay, for a long time it was a story that was kept under wraps. Partly because it would have been distasteful to a huge chunk of the mainstream record buying public, but mostly because it was also illegal until 1967. But consider these gay trailblazers: Brian Epstein and Simon Napier Bell were incredibly successful managers, the former with, of course, The Beatles, the latter with Marc Bolan and later Wham. Joe Meek was a maverick music-making trail-blazer and Kenny Everett the most influential DJ of his era.

12Smalltown Boy2013032020160322 (R2)

Whilst British pop has had a long and colourful history of powerful and visionary movers and shakers who just happened to be gay, for a long time it was a story that was kept under wraps. Partly because it would have been distasteful to a huge chunk of the mainstream record buying public, but mostly because it was also illegal until 1967. But consider these gay trailblazers: Brian Epstein and Simon Napier Bell were incredibly successful managers, the former with, of course, The Beatles, the latter with Marc Bolan and later Wham. Joe Meek was a maverick music-making trail-blazer and Kenny Everett the most influential DJ of his era.

13Brimful of Asha - The British-Asian Experience in Pop20130327

13Brimful Of Asha - The British-asian Experience In Pop2013032720160329 (R2)

Until the mid-eighties, the Asian influence on pop music appeared to be almost non-existent. If it did exist, it was tucked away in a cultural cul-de-sac. Of course, there was Cliff Richard (who was Indian-born), and the somewhat embarrassing stereotypes of Loren and Sellers' Goodness Gracious Me. Ravi Shankar enjoyed a moment in the spotlight on the back of The Beatles's dabbling with sitars and spirituality, but there was very little else of note. And whilst our national dish became the Tikka Massala (itself an Anglo-Indian hybrid) and was present in most British homes on a weekly basis, Asian pop was pretty much absent.

In the late eighties/early nineties Bhangra (essentially a mix of Punjabi folk music and western pop) received some attention as part of the general rise in interest in World Music, something that the WOMAD festival had arguably kick-started. But a more strident sound was emerging from the Midlands, and from Wolverhampton in particular. Early on in their career, Cornershop were pictured in the NME burning a photo of Morrissey who was then being vilified by the music press for alleged racism. And in much the same way that the comedy troupe Goodness Gracious Me had reclaimed their name from a negative racial stereotype, so too had Cornershop.

And whilst the earlier Cornershop material was particularly polemical and strong on social commentary, the song Cornershop became most famous for was a heartfelt tribute to Asha Bhosle, a female singer who'd sung thousands of songs for Indian films. The song also name-checks Marc Bolan and Trojan records, which further underlined the cross-cultural pollination that makes-up modern British culture. Also indicative of the nature of modern pop is the fact that the song only became a hit after it got the magic treatment from a superstar DJ. The first time around the single had peaked at number 60, but after Fatboy Slim re-mixed the track it shot to number one and repeated the trick world-wide. This tribute to a mostly unknown Indian singer appealed to a universal audience.

The 'Asian underground' reached a commercial and critical peak in 1999 when renowned tabla player Talvin Singh would win the Mercury Music Prize for his album OK. Later acts like MIA, Asian Dub Foundation and Black Star Liner combined rock, dance and Asian music with strong politics to storm the world's charts and stages.

So Wolverhampton's Cornershop embodied a non-metropolitan, Midlands, post-industrial perspective, one that was seen starkly in the next episode, Ghost Town.

13Brimful Of Asha - The British-asian Experience In Pop20130327

Until the mid-eighties, the Asian influence on pop music appeared to be almost non-existent. If it did exist, it was tucked away in a cultural cul-de-sac. Of course, there was Cliff Richard (who was Indian-born), and the somewhat embarrassing stereotypes of Loren and Sellers' Goodness Gracious Me. Ravi Shankar enjoyed a moment in the spotlight on the back of The Beatles's dabbling with sitars and spirituality, but there was very little else of note. And whilst our national dish became the Tikka Massala (itself an Anglo-Indian hybrid) and was present in most British homes on a weekly basis, Asian pop was pretty much absent.

In the late eighties/early nineties Bhangra (essentially a mix of Punjabi folk music and western pop) received some attention as part of the general rise in interest in World Music, something that the WOMAD festival had arguably kick-started. But a more strident sound was emerging from the Midlands, and from Wolverhampton in particular. Early on in their career, Cornershop were pictured in the NME burning a photo of Morrissey who was then being vilified by the music press for alleged racism. And in much the same way that the comedy troupe Goodness Gracious Me had reclaimed their name from a negative racial stereotype, so too had Cornershop.

And whilst the earlier Cornershop material was particularly polemical and strong on social commentary, the song Cornershop became most famous for was a heartfelt tribute to Asha Bhosle, a female singer who'd sung thousands of songs for Indian films. The song also name-checks Marc Bolan and Trojan records, which further underlined the cross-cultural pollination that makes-up modern British culture. Also indicative of the nature of modern pop is the fact that the song only became a hit after it got the magic treatment from a superstar DJ. The first time around the single had peaked at number 60, but after Fatboy Slim re-mixed the track it shot to number one and repeated the trick world-wide. This tribute to a mostly unknown Indian singer appealed to a universal audience.

The 'Asian underground' reached a commercial and critical peak in 1999 when renowned tabla player Talvin Singh would win the Mercury Music Prize for his album OK. Later acts like MIA, Asian Dub Foundation and Black Star Liner combined rock, dance and Asian music with strong politics to storm the world's charts and stages.

So Wolverhampton's Cornershop embodied a non-metropolitan, Midlands, post-industrial perspective, one that was seen starkly in the next episode, Ghost Town.

14Ghost Town - Post-Industrial Decline20130403

14Ghost Town - Post-Industrial Decline2013040320160405 (R2)

Ghost Town was certainly one of the strangest and bleakest number one singles ever. And yet its success was no doubt due to the fact that it chimed perfectly with the times: providing a perfect soundtrack to the riots of 1981 and to Britain's general urban decay. In fact, Jerry Dammers' song seemed almost to be reportage; Dammers himself said he wanted to convey the sense of impending doom that was felt nation-wide. Rock writer Jo Ann Greene said of Ghost Town that the lyrics "only brush on the causes for this apocalyptic vision - the closed down clubs, the numerous fights on the dance floor, the spiralling unemployment, the anger building to explosive levels. But so embedded were these in the British psyche, that Dammers needed only a minimum of words to paint his picture."

Although the single was released on the ground-breaking 2-Tone label, the idealism of racial unity and equality the label (and indeed the band) embodied seemed to be purely a pipe-dream at that point in time. That utopian ideal didn't seem to be widely prevalent in the UK in the early '80s, particularly in places like Brixton, Toxteth or Bristol. The nation did feel doomed. Unemployment was rife. Britain burned and riots were happening all across the country. But the people of Coventry (the Specials' home town) were less than impressed that their home was the inspiration for this huge, but bleak, hit single.

The Specials released probably the strangest, most haunting evocation of a very particular time in British history. Were you one of the millions of unemployed at that time? Did you feel that Coventry had been misrepresented? The People's Songs wants to hear from you...

14Ghost Town - Post-industrial Decline20130403

Ghost Town was certainly one of the strangest and bleakest number one singles ever. And yet its success was no doubt due to the fact that it chimed perfectly with the times: providing a perfect soundtrack to the riots of 1981 and to Britain's general urban decay. In fact, Jerry Dammers' song seemed almost to be reportage; Dammers himself said he wanted to convey the sense of impending doom that was felt nation-wide. Rock writer Jo Ann Greene said of Ghost Town that the lyrics "only brush on the causes for this apocalyptic vision - the closed down clubs, the numerous fights on the dance floor, the spiralling unemployment, the anger building to explosive levels. But so embedded were these in the British psyche, that Dammers needed only a minimum of words to paint his picture."

Although the single was released on the ground-breaking 2-Tone label, the idealism of racial unity and equality the label (and indeed the band) embodied seemed to be purely a pipe-dream at that point in time. That utopian ideal didn't seem to be widely prevalent in the UK in the early '80s, particularly in places like Brixton, Toxteth or Bristol. The nation did feel doomed. Unemployment was rife. Britain burned and riots were happening all across the country. But the people of Coventry (the Specials' home town) were less than impressed that their home was the inspiration for this huge, but bleak, hit single.

The Specials released probably the strangest, most haunting evocation of a very particular time in British history. Were you one of the millions of unemployed at that time? Did you feel that Coventry had been misrepresented? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

15Part Of The Union - We All Stand Together20130410
15Part of the Union - We All Stand Together20130410

15Part Of The Union - We All Stand Together20130410

Whilst The Specials Ghost Town can rightly be considered to be an angry or despairing snap-shot of the state of Britain, The Strawbs instead chose to poke fun at some of those in positions of power. Here was a jaunty take on the political conflict, a wry and humorous anthem for the strike-bound 70s.

Although the lyrics could be read as satirical of the trade union movement, the band has frequently stated that that's not the case at all. In fact the song was picked up by the trade unions and became something of an unofficial anthem for them.

In the early Seventies the British economy was suffering heavily from high rates of inflation and to curb this, the government capped pay-rises. At this time, the unions in Britain were at their most powerful and militant. Ambulance drivers, grave-diggers, civil servants and rail workers all went on strike. The National Union Of Mineworkers chose to work to rule, which created a shortage of coal and this coupled with the oil crisis meant the price of coal soared, leading to the notorious Three Day Week; so called because the commercial use of electricity was limited to just three consecutive days. On top of this, VAT came into being. The IRA was detonating bombs in London and Manchester. These were hard, turbulent times and the British people were keen for something to distract them. So while bands like The Strawbs chose to comment on the times, others we more than happy to be pure, unadulterated entertainment. It's probably no coincidence that glam rock exploded at this time. The razzle 'n dazzle, glitter and glam was the perfect anti-dote to Britain's misery. And it's little wonder that Slade's wistful, nostalgic Merry Christmas Everybody was such a huge hit come the end of 1973.

15Part Of The Union - We All Stand Together2013041020160706 (R2)

Whilst The Specials Ghost Town can rightly be considered to be an angry or despairing snap-shot of the state of Britain, The Strawbs instead chose to poke fun at some of those in positions of power. Here was a jaunty take on the political conflict, a wry and humorous anthem for the strike-bound 70s.

Although the lyrics could be read as satirical of the trade union movement, the band has frequently stated that that's not the case at all. In fact the song was picked up by the trade unions and became something of an unofficial anthem for them.

In the early Seventies the British economy was suffering heavily from high rates of inflation and to curb this, the government capped pay-rises. At this time, the unions in Britain were at their most powerful and militant. Ambulance drivers, grave-diggers, civil servants and rail workers all went on strike. The National Union Of Mineworkers chose to work to rule, which created a shortage of coal and this coupled with the oil crisis meant the price of coal soared, leading to the notorious Three Day Week; so called because the commercial use of electricity was limited to just three consecutive days. On top of this, VAT came into being. The IRA was detonating bombs in London and Manchester. These were hard, turbulent times and the British people were keen for something to distract them. So while bands like The Strawbs chose to comment on the times, others we more than happy to be pure, unadulterated entertainment. It's probably no coincidence that glam rock exploded at this time. The razzle 'n dazzle, glitter and glam was the perfect anti-dote to Britain's misery. And it's little wonder that Slade's wistful, nostalgic Merry Christmas Everybody was such a huge hit come the end of 1973.

16Things Can Only Get Better - Cool Britannia20130417

16Things Can Only Get Better - Cool Britannia2013041720160713 (R2)

Much like Brimful Of Asha, Things Can Only Get Better was a minor hit (in 1994) before it was remixed and began its climb up the charts and finally to the number one spot where it sat for four weeks. But that wasn't the end of the song's story. In 1997 The Labour Party looking for a song to sum up their campaign decided to adopt it for the upcoming election scrap. Labour won the election and the single hit the top twenty once more.

Labour had been in of opposition for 18 years and Neil Kinnock had twice snatched defeat from the jaws of victory (firstly with a stumble on the beach in Brighton and then with a hubristic appearance at Sheffield Arena). It was time for a change of leader, followed by a re-branding. It was now New Labour helmed by Team Blair. This re-branding was an almost instant success as New Labour not only won, but did so by a landslide. The Tory party, tired and mired in sleaze, slunk off to lick its wounds. This seemed to be the beginning of a new dawn and a time for celebration; not only did Britain seem to be on the verge of possibly being 'Great' again, but it also became a hip 'n' happening place to live. It was Cool Britannia.

There was a vibrant mood to the economy, the culture and the arts were thriving and it seemed like the UK was at the centre of the universe. This, we were told, was a revolution, albeit a polite and spin-doctored one.

And pop was along for the ride. Noel Gallagher was the highest profile rock star to be photographed attending a media party at Number 10 Downing Street and many of his peers were also on board and on-message. But the trouble with being 'cool' is that it doesn't last long. The veneer quickly faded as - to paraphrase one of Noel's heroes, Pete Townsend - it became apparent that the new boss was the same as the old boss. With Blair becoming increasingly chummy with George W Bush, and a war with Iraq looking more and more inevitable, a nation vehemently protested against New Labour. The British Stop the War Coalition held a protest in London, which it claimed was the largest political demonstration in the city's history with around a million people protesting against the government's increasingly unpopular policies. The saviour of the nation had quickly become its bogeyman.

But for a brief moment, when New Labour came to power, it felt like a national rebirth What do you remember about 'Cool Britannia'? Were you swept up by the optimism of the era? The People's Songs wants to hear from you...

16Things Can Only Get Better - Cool Britannia2013041720160713 (R2)

Much like Brimful Of Asha, Things Can Only Get Better was a minor hit (in 1994) before it was remixed and began its climb up the charts and finally to the number one spot where it sat for four weeks. But that wasn't the end of the song's story. In 1997 The Labour Party looking for a song to sum up their campaign decided to adopt it for the upcoming election scrap. Labour won the election and the single hit the top twenty once more.

Labour had been in of opposition for 18 years and Neil Kinnock had twice snatched defeat from the jaws of victory (firstly with a stumble on the beach in Brighton and then with a hubristic appearance at Sheffield Arena). It was time for a change of leader, followed by a re-branding. It was now New Labour helmed by Team Blair. This re-branding was an almost instant success as New Labour not only won, but did so by a landslide. The Tory party, tired and mired in sleaze, slunk off to lick its wounds. This seemed to be the beginning of a new dawn and a time for celebration; not only did Britain seem to be on the verge of possibly being 'Great' again, but it also became a hip 'n' happening place to live. It was Cool Britannia.

There was a vibrant mood to the economy, the culture and the arts were thriving and it seemed like the UK was at the centre of the universe. This, we were told, was a revolution, albeit a polite and spin-doctored one.

And pop was along for the ride. Noel Gallagher was the highest profile rock star to be photographed attending a media party at Number 10 Downing Street and many of his peers were also on board and on-message. But the trouble with being 'cool' is that it doesn't last long. The veneer quickly faded as - to paraphrase one of Noel's heroes, Pete Townsend - it became apparent that the new boss was the same as the old boss. With Blair becoming increasingly chummy with George W Bush, and a war with Iraq looking more and more inevitable, a nation vehemently protested against New Labour. The British Stop the War Coalition held a protest in London, which it claimed was the largest political demonstration in the city's history with around a million people protesting against the government's increasingly unpopular policies. The saviour of the nation had quickly become its bogeyman.

But for a brief moment, when New Labour came to power, it felt like a national rebirth What do you remember about 'Cool Britannia'? Were you swept up by the optimism of the era? The People's Songs wants to hear from you...

16Things Can Only Get Better - Cool Britannia20130417

Much like Brimful Of Asha, Things Can Only Get Better was a minor hit (in 1994) before it was remixed and began its climb up the charts and finally to the number one spot where it sat for four weeks. But that wasn't the end of the song's story. In 1997 The Labour Party looking for a song to sum up their campaign decided to adopt it for the upcoming election scrap. Labour won the election and the single hit the top twenty once more.

Labour had been in of opposition for 18 years and Neil Kinnock had twice snatched defeat from the jaws of victory (firstly with a stumble on the beach in Brighton and then with a hubristic appearance at Sheffield Arena). It was time for a change of leader, followed by a re-branding. It was now New Labour helmed by Team Blair. This re-branding was an almost instant success as New Labour not only won, but did so by a landslide. The Tory party, tired and mired in sleaze, slunk off to lick its wounds. This seemed to be the beginning of a new dawn and a time for celebration; not only did Britain seem to be on the verge of possibly being 'Great' again, but it also became a hip 'n' happening place to live. It was Cool Britannia.

There was a vibrant mood to the economy, the culture and the arts were thriving and it seemed like the UK was at the centre of the universe. This, we were told, was a revolution, albeit a polite and spin-doctored one.

And pop was along for the ride. Noel Gallagher was the highest profile rock star to be photographed attending a media party at Number 10 Downing Street and many of his peers were also on board and on-message. But the trouble with being 'cool' is that it doesn't last long. The veneer quickly faded as - to paraphrase one of Noel's heroes, Pete Townsend - it became apparent that the new boss was the same as the old boss. With Blair becoming increasingly chummy with George W Bush, and a war with Iraq looking more and more inevitable, a nation vehemently protested against New Labour. The British Stop the War Coalition held a protest in London, which it claimed was the largest political demonstration in the city's history with around a million people protesting against the government's increasingly unpopular policies. The saviour of the nation had quickly become its bogeyman.

But for a brief moment, when New Labour came to power, it felt like a national rebirth What do you remember about 'Cool Britannia'? Were you swept up by the optimism of the era? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

17Coronation Rag - God Save the Queen20130424

17Coronation Rag - God Save the Queen2013042420160720 (R2)

Following the death of King George VI, on the 6th February 1952, it was over a year before his daughter Elizabeth was finally crowned Queen of United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, and Pakistan, as well as taking on the role of Head of the Commonwealth. On June 2nd, 1953, the world's eyes were on London as the ceremony was beamed around the globe by a new medium, television. At home an estimated three million people lined the streets of London to celebrate the new monarch, whilst eight thousand guests would witness the ceremony in Westminster Abbey.

59 years later, one million people would turn up in a rain soaked London to witness the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Whether this tapering off in interest reflects the mood of the nation, or merely the impact of horrible weather it's impossible to tell. And of course, in 1953, television wasn't as ubiquitous as it is now - no doubt millions more had tuned in to watch the Jubilee proceedings on TV, or on the internet rather than in the flesh on London's rain-soaked streets. And yet many believe that it was the Queen's Coronation in the early Fifties which had ushered in the Television Age here in Britain. TV sets went through a huge surge in sales prior to the Coronation and it's thought that 20 million people watched the BBC's coverage, with many people crowding into neighbour's front rooms to share this national experience courtesy of this new and wondrous technology.

We now live in a very different Britain, perhaps a much more divided nation.In 1953, a unified Britain had just emerged from a harrowing war. Rationing was still in place. Churchill was still Prime Minister. And like the newly born technology of television, Britain seemed to be in stark black and white.

17Coronation Rag - God Save the Queen2013042420160720 (R2)

Following the death of King George VI, on the 6th February 1952, it was over a year before his daughter Elizabeth was finally crowned Queen of United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, and Pakistan, as well as taking on the role of Head of the Commonwealth. On June 2nd, 1953, the world's eyes were on London as the ceremony was beamed around the globe by a new medium, television. At home an estimated three million people lined the streets of London to celebrate the new monarch, whilst eight thousand guests would witness the ceremony in Westminster Abbey.

59 years later, one million people would turn up in a rain soaked London to witness the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Whether this tapering off in interest reflects the mood of the nation, or merely the impact of horrible weather it's impossible to tell. And of course, in 1953, television wasn't as ubiquitous as it is now - no doubt millions more had tuned in to watch the Jubilee proceedings on TV, or on the internet rather than in the flesh on London's rain-soaked streets. And yet many believe that it was the Queen's Coronation in the early Fifties which had ushered in the Television Age here in Britain. TV sets went through a huge surge in sales prior to the Coronation and it's thought that 20 million people watched the BBC's coverage, with many people crowding into neighbour's front rooms to share this national experience courtesy of this new and wondrous technology.

We now live in a very different Britain, perhaps a much more divided nation.In 1953, a unified Britain had just emerged from a harrowing war. Rationing was still in place. Churchill was still Prime Minister. And like the newly born technology of television, Britain seemed to be in stark black and white.

17Coronation Rag - God Save The Queen20130424

Following the death of King George VI, on the 6th February 1952, it was over a year before his daughter Elizabeth was finally crowned Queen of United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, and Pakistan, as well as taking on the role of Head of the Commonwealth. On June 2nd, 1953, the world's eyes were on London as the ceremony was beamed around the globe by a new medium, television. At home an estimated three million people lined the streets of London to celebrate the new monarch, whilst eight thousand guests would witness the ceremony in Westminster Abbey.

59 years later, one million people would turn up in a rain soaked London to witness the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Whether this tapering off in interest reflects the mood of the nation, or merely the impact of horrible weather it's impossible to tell. And of course, in 1953, television wasn't as ubiquitous as it is now - no doubt millions more had tuned in to watch the Jubilee proceedings on TV, or on the internet rather than in the flesh on London's rain-soaked streets. And yet many believe that it was the Queen's Coronation in the early Fifties which had ushered in the Television Age here in Britain. TV sets went through a huge surge in sales prior to the Coronation and it's thought that 20 million people watched the BBC's coverage, with many people crowding into neighbour's front rooms to share this national experience courtesy of this new and wondrous technology.

We now live in a very different Britain, perhaps a much more divided nation.In 1953, a unified Britain had just emerged from a harrowing war. Rationing was still in place. Churchill was still Prime Minister. And like the newly born technology of television, Britain seemed to be in stark black and white.

18Bonkers - The Sound Of 21st Century Britain20130501

Dizzee Rascal is one of the sounds and personalities of 21st century Britain. Bonkers was his second number one single, his third top ten single and eleventh top forty hit. Not bad for a lad who'd been kicked out of a number of schools for disruptive behaviour. In his fifth school he was kicked out of all his lessons bar music where a sympathetic teacher recognised a raw talent and encouraged Dizzee to try and utilise his gifts and a computer to make music. By the time he was 16, Dizzee had recorded his first single, and there was no stopping him. He was to enjoy that slew of hit singles, awards (including a Mercury award in 2003), tabloid headlines and collaborations with acts as diverse as The Arctic Monkeys, Basement Jaxx, Florence And The Machine and DJ Armand Van Helden.

And just as this son of African immigrants (a mix of Ghanaian and Nigerian) internalised and assimilated the many sounds of modern Britain, his own music and lyrics are very much a product of his environment and its mix of cultures. It's an eclectic and hyperactive sound; a mash-up of phone ring-tones, video game sound effects, heavy metal guitars and hip hop beats, all smothered with a layer of paranoia and urban grime. Dizzie's work reflects the diverse state of our pop nation and the healthy mix and match, cut and paste, anything goes cultural stew we live in.

And without probably even realising it, Dizzee Rascal's futuristic, kitchen-sink style pop productions follow in the foot-steps of another British maverick, Joe Meek, whose Telstar we'll look at next week.

18Bonkers - The Sound of 21st-Century Britain20130501

18Bonkers - The Sound of 21st-Century Britain2013050120160727 (R2)

Dizzee is the sound of 21st-century Britain, mirroring the culture clash of modern life.

18Bonkers - The Sound of 21st-Century Britain2013050120160727 (R2)

Dizzee Rascal is one of the sounds and personalities of 21st century Britain. Bonkers was his second number one single, his third top ten single and eleventh top forty hit. Not bad for a lad who'd been kicked out of a number of schools for disruptive behaviour. In his fifth school he was kicked out of all his lessons bar music where a sympathetic teacher recognised a raw talent and encouraged Dizzee to try and utilise his gifts and a computer to make music. By the time he was 16, Dizzee had recorded his first single, and there was no stopping him. He was to enjoy that slew of hit singles, awards (including a Mercury award in 2003), tabloid headlines and collaborations with acts as diverse as The Arctic Monkeys, Basement Jaxx, Florence And The Machine and DJ Armand Van Helden.

And just as this son of African immigrants (a mix of Ghanaian and Nigerian) internalised and assimilated the many sounds of modern Britain, his own music and lyrics are very much a product of his environment and its mix of cultures. It's an eclectic and hyperactive sound; a mash-up of phone ring-tones, video game sound effects, heavy metal guitars and hip hop beats, all smothered with a layer of paranoia and urban grime. Dizzie's work reflects the diverse state of our pop nation and the healthy mix and match, cut and paste, anything goes cultural stew we live in.

And without probably even realising it, Dizzee Rascal's futuristic, kitchen-sink style pop productions follow in the foot-steps of another British maverick, Joe Meek, whose Telstar we'll look at next week.

19Telstar - The Sound of the Future20130508

19Telstar - The Sound Of The Future2013050820160803 (R2)

Like its subject matter, the Telstar satellites, Joe Meek's track was pioneering and otherworldly. We now take global communication and entertainment for granted, but in the early 1960s it was cutting-edge of technology. The Telstars were a series of satellites launched to provide telecommunications and faxes as well as live and recorded television feeds. The first was tiny, measuring under three feet in width and powered by a tiny 14 watts of power. Telstar 18 was launched as recently as 2004, and, given that its life expectancy was 13 years, must still be circling the globe. It was, as Harold Wilson put it, part of the "white heat of the technological revolution". And famously another Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, declared on Desert Island Discs that it was her favourite pop song.

Like the satellite, Joe Meek was at the cutting edge of technology though, admittedly, in a much more DIY fashion. Meek liked to spin a yarn that he'd beamed his recording up to the orbiting satellite and then recorded the returning signal for the spacey sound effects at the beginning of the track. But another ( more likely) story has it that he simply utilised a reversed tape recording of a toilet being flushed. Whatever the truth, it sounds suitably spectral and spooky.

As a child, Joe Meek had commandeered his father's shed to tinker with all sorts of electrical gizmos. He then spent his national service in the RAF as a radar technician, further fuelling his childhood obsession with electronics. Prior to making Telstar, Meek had melded his twin obsessions - electronics and the space race - to create his "Outer Space Music Fantasy" concept album, I Hear A New World with a band called Rod Freeman and the Blue Men. Sadly, and ignominiously, the album was shelved - unknown and unloved for years - until pop music had caught up with Meek and listeners were ready to hear his curious, challenging music. He was a pioneering producer whose homemade records stood toe-to-toe with those produced in the laboratory-like studios of Decca or EMI. Meek pioneered techniques that were frowned on or even ridiculed by the 'experts', but to him (and legions of pop fans) it sounded great.

It's believed that at least 5 million copies of Telstar were sold, and the track was the first British single to go to number one in the USA. But there wasn't to be a happy ending to this story. Meek didn't get much chance to bask in the glory of all this trailblazing success; he was sued by a French composer, Jean Ledrut, for plagiarism. The court case blocked Meek's royalties and the case was finally settled in his favour... but three weeks after Meek had committed suicide in 1967.

Joe Meek's pop music brought romance and heart to the '60s space race. Did you buy Telstar when it was released in 1962? Did the Space Race fire your imagination? The People's Songs wants to hear from you...

Joe Meek's music brought romance to the space race, albeit in a DIY, home-made fashion.

19Telstar - The Sound Of The Future20130508

Like its subject matter, the Telstar satellites, Joe Meek's track was pioneering and otherworldly. We now take global communication and entertainment for granted, but in the early 1960s it was cutting-edge of technology. The Telstars were a series of satellites launched to provide telecommunications and faxes as well as live and recorded television feeds. The first was tiny, measuring under three feet in width and powered by a tiny 14 watts of power. Telstar 18 was launched as recently as 2004, and, given that its life expectancy was 13 years, must still be circling the globe. It was, as Harold Wilson put it, part of the "white heat of the technological revolution". And famously another Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, declared on Desert Island Discs that it was her favourite pop song.

Like the satellite, Joe Meek was at the cutting edge of technology though, admittedly, in a much more DIY fashion. Meek liked to spin a yarn that he'd beamed his recording up to the orbiting satellite and then recorded the returning signal for the spacey sound effects at the beginning of the track. But another ( more likely) story has it that he simply utilised a reversed tape recording of a toilet being flushed. Whatever the truth, it sounds suitably spectral and spooky.

As a child, Joe Meek had commandeered his father's shed to tinker with all sorts of electrical gizmos. He then spent his national service in the RAF as a radar technician, further fuelling his childhood obsession with electronics. Prior to making Telstar, Meek had melded his twin obsessions - electronics and the space race - to create his "Outer Space Music Fantasy" concept album, I Hear A New World with a band called Rod Freeman and the Blue Men. Sadly, and ignominiously, the album was shelved - unknown and unloved for years - until pop music had caught up with Meek and listeners were ready to hear his curious, challenging music. He was a pioneering producer whose homemade records stood toe-to-toe with those produced in the laboratory-like studios of Decca or EMI. Meek pioneered techniques that were frowned on or even ridiculed by the 'experts', but to him (and legions of pop fans) it sounded great.

It's believed that at least 5 million copies of Telstar were sold, and the track was the first British single to go to number one in the USA. But there wasn't to be a happy ending to this story. Meek didn't get much chance to bask in the glory of all this trailblazing success; he was sued by a French composer, Jean Ledrut, for plagiarism. The court case blocked Meek's royalties and the case was finally settled in his favour... but three weeks after Meek had committed suicide in 1967.

Joe Meek's pop music brought romance and heart to the '60s space race. Did you buy Telstar when it was released in 1962? Did the Space Race fire your imagination? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

20Are 'Friends' Electric? - A Dystopian Vision20130515

20Are 'friends' Electric? - A Dystopian Vision2013051520160810 (R2)

A chart-topping hit single, but one which took seven weeks to reach the top, and a song whose composer claimed had "no recognisable hook-line whatsoever". And if that didn't exactly smack of mass appeal, the cold, sci-fi influenced lyric and Gary Numan's aim to get "really hung up with this whole thing of not feeling, being cold about everything, not letting emotions get to you," made it an odd single to chime with the populace. But with his first stiff, robotic appearance on Top Of The Pops (self-effacingly put down to a glut of nerves and a dearth of showmanship), Numan resonated with many kids who also felt alienated.

In the late '70s, unemployment was sky-high, a new government had just come to power with a radical agenda and technology was increasingly becoming a part of everyday life. The question: "are friends electric?" meant different things to different people. For some, technology led to a utopian future where machines would labour for us. But for others it meant robots taking their livelihood; an increasingly mechanized UK car industry had seen many people lose their jobs.

And talking of motor vehicles, Numan's next hit was Cars, a song partly influenced by JG Ballard's infamous novel Crash; "in which cars symbolise the mechanisation of the world and man's capacity to destroy himself with the technology he creates". Numan wasn't alone in scrutinising Ballard. Other acts from the era who openly acknowledged his bleak futurism included Joy Division, The Creatures, Hawkwind, Buggles and The Normal.

Meanwhile, films depicting futuristic nightmares like Alien, Mad Max and Logan's Run played to packed British cinemas in the late '70s. And Blade Runner would follow in 1982, adapting a Philip K Dick sci-fi story which questioned how man and machine might co-exist in the near future. These weren't the first cinematic visions of a bleak future. Fritz Lang's Metropolis - influenced by the industrialisation of modern life and the shadow of the WW1 - posited such a possible future as far back as 1927. But, along with the emerging electronica of Tubeway Army and many others, these visions reflected contemporary fears and hopes for our future.

Did you welcome the advent of synthesizer music? Did you identify with the alienation depicted in Numan's dystopian vision? The People's Songs wants to hear from you...

20Are 'friends' Electric? - A Dystopian Vision20130515

A chart-topping hit single, but one which took seven weeks to reach the top, and a song whose composer claimed had "no recognisable hook-line whatsoever". And if that didn't exactly smack of mass appeal, the cold, sci-fi influenced lyric and Gary Numan's aim to get "really hung up with this whole thing of not feeling, being cold about everything, not letting emotions get to you," made it an odd single to chime with the populace. But with his first stiff, robotic appearance on Top Of The Pops (self-effacingly put down to a glut of nerves and a dearth of showmanship), Numan resonated with many kids who also felt alienated.

In the late '70s, unemployment was sky-high, a new government had just come to power with a radical agenda and technology was increasingly becoming a part of everyday life. The question: "are friends electric?" meant different things to different people. For some, technology led to a utopian future where machines would labour for us. But for others it meant robots taking their livelihood; an increasingly mechanized UK car industry had seen many people lose their jobs.

And talking of motor vehicles, Numan's next hit was Cars, a song partly influenced by JG Ballard's infamous novel Crash; "in which cars symbolise the mechanisation of the world and man's capacity to destroy himself with the technology he creates". Numan wasn't alone in scrutinising Ballard. Other acts from the era who openly acknowledged his bleak futurism included Joy Division, The Creatures, Hawkwind, Buggles and The Normal.

Meanwhile, films depicting futuristic nightmares like Alien, Mad Max and Logan's Run played to packed British cinemas in the late '70s. And Blade Runner would follow in 1982, adapting a Philip K Dick sci-fi story which questioned how man and machine might co-exist in the near future. These weren't the first cinematic visions of a bleak future. Fritz Lang's Metropolis - influenced by the industrialisation of modern life and the shadow of the WW1 - posited such a possible future as far back as 1927. But, along with the emerging electronica of Tubeway Army and many others, these visions reflected contemporary fears and hopes for our future.

Did you welcome the advent of synthesizer music? Did you identify with the alienation depicted in Numan's dystopian vision? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

21I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor - Social Networking and iPod Culture20130522

21I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor - Social Networking And Ipod Culture20130522

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor going straight to the top of the singles chart in 2005 was significant for three reasons. Firstly, it was a classic underdog story - unknown band from Sheffield gets to number one (and everyone loves an underdog). Secondly, it marked the arrival of an interesting and talented young band. And thirdly, it had serious ramifications for the music business as a whole. It marked a point at which the grip of the multi-national conglomerates had been weakened. A more democratic form of power had arrived.

It was the band's fan-base, not the machinations of a major label that had propelled them into the limelight. Bands like The Darkness and Enter Shikari had managed to sell-out London's Astoria while unsigned. Fan power and technology had levelled the playing field. The internet allowed bands direct communication with fans and a worldwide window to showcase their music. The Arctic Monkeys were the right band at the right time to spearhead a new business model.

Technology not only empowered artists, it empowered the consumer. Since Napster and the iPod reared their heads, a decades-old business model was dead in the water, although the industry took a long time to recognize and react to this. More people were downloading music (whether legally or illegally), and fewer people were buying physical product, preferring to carry a virtual record collection in their back pocket. Today music fans seem happy to just consume music online without ever possessing it in any form; Lady Gaga recently racked up over two billion hits on YouTube, yet her actual sales are a tiny fraction of this.

For all the talk of downloads and new business models, it's nothing without great music. It helped that the Arctic Monkeys were bloody good and, in Alex Turner, had a handsome and literate frontman with a Morrissey-esque way with words. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor perfectly captures the rush of being 17, high on lust and cheap booze. The single debuted at number one in the chart in October 2005 and it's since been covered by The Vines, The Sugababes and even by rock royalty like Aerosmith's Joe Perry and Tom Jones, at the 2007 Concert For Diana. The band's first album became the fastest-selling debut album in British music history, surpassing Oasis' Definitely Maybe and remains the fastest-selling debut album for any UK band. Within seven years, and four albums, The Arctic Monkeys have become one of Britain's brightest hopes on the international stage.

Did you download music? Do you use the internet to discover new music? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

21I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor - Social Networking And Ipod Culture2013052220160817 (R2)

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor going straight to the top of the singles chart in 2005 was significant for three reasons. Firstly, it was a classic underdog story - unknown band from Sheffield gets to number one (and everyone loves an underdog). Secondly, it marked the arrival of an interesting and talented young band. And thirdly, it had serious ramifications for the music business as a whole. It marked a point at which the grip of the multi-national conglomerates had been weakened. A more democratic form of power had arrived.

It was the band's fan-base, not the machinations of a major label that had propelled them into the limelight. Bands like The Darkness and Enter Shikari had managed to sell-out London's Astoria while unsigned. Fan power and technology had levelled the playing field. The internet allowed bands direct communication with fans and a worldwide window to showcase their music. The Arctic Monkeys were the right band at the right time to spearhead a new business model.

Technology not only empowered artists, it empowered the consumer. Since Napster and the iPod reared their heads, a decades-old business model was dead in the water, although the industry took a long time to recognize and react to this. More people were downloading music (whether legally or illegally), and fewer people were buying physical product, preferring to carry a virtual record collection in their back pocket. Today music fans seem happy to just consume music online without ever possessing it in any form; Lady Gaga recently racked up over two billion hits on YouTube, yet her actual sales are a tiny fraction of this.

22Can't Get You Out Of My Head - Manufactured Pop And Svengalis20130529

Until the beginning of the 1960s, pop stars sang songs written by people crammed into little offices and cubicles in places like the Brill Building or Tin Pan Alley, daily churning out pop nuggets. But The Beatles changed things almost overnight. Bands now wanted to write their own songs, especially when the basics of publishing and royalties had been explained to them. So bands like the Stones, The Troggs, Them, The Beach Boys or The Kinks were self-contained hit-making machines and were 'credible' by simple virtue of the fact that they wrote their own stuff.

Yet songwriters like Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Hal David, Burt Bacharach and Lamont-Dozier-Holland continued to toil away, honing their craft and pitching songs to well-known acts. Despite the Fab Four there were still bands like The Monkees: contrived, made-for-TV boy bands, singing other's songs and not even playing on their own records. But by 1967 even they decided to rebel; wanting to be taken seriously as artists - writing, singing and playing their own songs. The man behind them, Don Kirschner, instead dreamt up a manufactured group over which he could have total control - the cartoon band The Archies (30 years ahead of the ground-breaking Gorillaz).

By the end of the '60s while Hendrix, The Doors, Led Zeppelin and The Who challenged the notion of what rock was, bubblegum pop still dominated the charts, with hits like The Lemon Pipers' Green Tambourine, 1910 Fruitgum Company's Simon Says and The Ohio Express' Yummy Yummy Yummy. Even the proggy, pomp-rock '70s had teen-friendly producers like Mickie Most or Chinn/Chapman. But following punk, new wave, indie and electro, teen pop music was in a lull: until an Australian child actress changed all that.

Before being a pop diva, Kylie Minogue was a soap star in Neighbours. Her first hit - a cover of The Loco-Motion - spent seven weeks at number one on the Australian chart, becoming the highest-selling single of the decade. This led to a contract with songwriters and producers Stock, Aitken & Waterman. Legend has it that they completely forgot a meeting they'd arranged with Kylie and quickly wrote I Should Be So Lucky while she sat waiting outside the studio. But it was a dream team: debut album, Kylie (1988), and the single I Should Be So Lucky both reached number one in the UK, and over the next two years they were a hit-making machine. 13 of her singles reached the British top ten.

Since Kylie there's been no let-up. Throughout the '80s and '90s there's been a slew of boy bands, girl groups and TV spin-offs, like Robson and Jerome in the UK or the Disney-reared holy trinity of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. All were the creation of pop svengalis and all have released brilliantly-realized, bubblegum pop. Britneys' 1998 single...Baby One More Time sold more than nine million copies (in no small part due to that video): a fact which no doubt helped Kylie's resurgence as a recording artist in the late '90s.

Were you a huge Kylie fan back in the late '80s? Do you love or hate manufactured pop music... and why? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

22Can't Get You Out Of My Head - Manufactured Pop And Svengalis20160824

Stuart Maconie continues charting the history of modern Britain in over 50 records. Tonight's episode continues with Can't Get You Out Of My Head, Kylie Minogue's global 2001 hit.

23Paranoid - The Birth of Heavy Metal20130605

23Paranoid - The Birth of Heavy Metal2013060520160831 (R2)

An argument has long raged as to what was the very first Heavy Metal track: Led Zep's Communication Breakdown? The Kinks' pair of singles All Day And All Of The Night and You Really Got Me? What about Link Wray's Rumble? All paved the way, but one track managed to coalesce all of the facets of what was to become Heavy Metal. The track was Black Sabbath's Black Sabbath. And - from the ominous tolling bell, through the guitar's use of the flattened fifth (a dissonant interval that was banned by the medieval church), the horror show lyrics evoking Satan, to the accelerated riff at the end -The track managed to feature all of the elements that would become clichéd, but at the time were new and terrifying.

The track was groundbreaking but it was Paranoid that was to become Sabbath's most iconic - literally thrown together during the final half an hour of a recording session. With its classic Iommi pull-off/hammer-on riff, Ozzy's anguished lyric and its propulsive brevity, it was catchy, despite having no obvious chorus. It's a textbook example of Metal.

This music was very much the product of the UK, but was even more localized than that: it was born in the West Midlands. Judas Priest's Rob Halford and Diamond Head's Brian Tatler have both said the sound of the area's heavy industry - the foundries and metal-works - informed their sound. They literally grew up surrounded by the sound of heavy metal, it was in the air, an inescapable part of the surroundings. Another facet of that industry had a more direct, visceral effect on the music of Sabbath. On his last day of work before turning pro as a musician, guitarist Tony Iommi lost the fingertips on his fretting hand to a steel cutting machine. As a result, Iommi tuned his guitar down three semi-tones (so the strings would be slacker and less painful on his mangled fingers). This low tuning made Sabbath's music all the more gut-churning and gloomy.

Metal is, of course now a worldwide phenomenon. It became hugely popular in California but there's no way Heavy Metal could have originated in LA. The blueprint for Californian metal -arguably created by Van Halen - (originally called Rat Salade in tribute to a Sabs song), was worlds away from the British version. It sounded like sun, sand, surf and sex. Black Sabbath most certainly did not. It was too grim, too industrial: gothic music for a gothic environment. Other British Metal came from equally tough places - Def Leppard from Sheffield, Saxon from Barnsley, Iron Maiden from the East End Of London and Raven and Venom from Newcastle. Of course The Tygers Of Pan Tang bucked the trend coming from picturesque Whitley Bay... but then the cognoscenti would tell you that they were never a proper metal band!

Heavy Metal became one of Great Britain's greatest cultural and financial exports to the world. Def Leppard sold over 20 million copies of Hysteria. Iron Maiden bestrode the globe like a rock colossus (and still do). And not for nothing did Judas Priest title their 1980 album British Steel. The little band from Aston, Birmingham has inspired millions of kids from Alice Springs to Zagreb.

23Paranoid - The Birth Of Heavy Metal20130605

An argument has long raged as to what was the very first Heavy Metal track: Led Zep's Communication Breakdown? The Kinks' pair of singles All Day And All Of The Night and You Really Got Me? What about Link Wray's Rumble? All paved the way, but one track managed to coalesce all of the facets of what was to become Heavy Metal. The track was Black Sabbath's Black Sabbath. And - from the ominous tolling bell, through the guitar's use of the flattened fifth (a dissonant interval that was banned by the medieval church), the horror show lyrics evoking Satan, to the accelerated riff at the end -The track managed to feature all of the elements that would become clichéd, but at the time were new and terrifying.

The track was groundbreaking but it was Paranoid that was to become Sabbath's most iconic - literally thrown together during the final half an hour of a recording session. With its classic Iommi pull-off/hammer-on riff, Ozzy's anguished lyric and its propulsive brevity, it was catchy, despite having no obvious chorus. It's a textbook example of Metal.

This music was very much the product of the UK, but was even more localized than that: it was born in the West Midlands. Judas Priest's Rob Halford and Diamond Head's Brian Tatler have both said the sound of the area's heavy industry - the foundries and metal-works - informed their sound. They literally grew up surrounded by the sound of heavy metal, it was in the air, an inescapable part of the surroundings. Another facet of that industry had a more direct, visceral effect on the music of Sabbath. On his last day of work before turning pro as a musician, guitarist Tony Iommi lost the fingertips on his fretting hand to a steel cutting machine. As a result, Iommi tuned his guitar down three semi-tones (so the strings would be slacker and less painful on his mangled fingers). This low tuning made Sabbath's music all the more gut-churning and gloomy.

Metal is, of course now a worldwide phenomenon. It became hugely popular in California but there's no way Heavy Metal could have originated in LA. The blueprint for Californian metal -arguably created by Van Halen - (originally called Rat Salade in tribute to a Sabs song), was worlds away from the British version. It sounded like sun, sand, surf and sex. Black Sabbath most certainly did not. It was too grim, too industrial: gothic music for a gothic environment. Other British Metal came from equally tough places - Def Leppard from Sheffield, Saxon from Barnsley, Iron Maiden from the East End Of London and Raven and Venom from Newcastle. Of course The Tygers Of Pan Tang bucked the trend coming from picturesque Whitley Bay... but then the cognoscenti would tell you that they were never a proper metal band!

Heavy Metal became one of Great Britain's greatest cultural and financial exports to the world. Def Leppard sold over 20 million copies of Hysteria. Iron Maiden bestrode the globe like a rock colossus (and still do). And not for nothing did Judas Priest title their 1980 album British Steel. The little band from Aston, Birmingham has inspired millions of kids from Alice Springs to Zagreb.

Who do you think invented Metal? Did you go and see Sabbath, Purple and Led Zep back in the day? The People's Songs want to hear from you.

24Y Viva Espana - The Advent of Package Holidays20130612

24Y Viva Espana - The Advent Of Package Holidays2013061220160907 (R2)

Stuart Maconie continues the series charting the history of modern Britain in over 50 records. Using the song Y Viva Espana, tonight's episode continues with the tradition of kitschy chart hits rooted in British holidaymakers returning home wanting to hear the music that reminds them of happy times.

24Y Viva Espana - The Advent Of Package Holidays20130612

With the boom in Britain's economy following the austere post-War years, coupled with the twin facets of falling flight prices and a rising number of flights heading to Europe, Britain enjoyed the start of a burgeoning holiday business. The Horizon Holiday Group, pioneered the first mass package holidays abroad with charter flights between Gatwick airport and Corsica in 1950 and organized the first package holidays to Palma in 1952, Lourdes in 1953, and the Costa Brava and Sardinia in 1954. Within a decade of the end of World War Two mass tourism was now very much part of our nation's social fabric.

These cheap package holidays (so called as they packaged together the flight, accommodation and meals) gave Brits their first chance to travel abroad, and the choices available were further expanded when airports like Manchester and Luton opened up routes to Europe in the early 1960s. It was the proverbial no-brainer - Blackpool or Benidorm, Scarborough or Sardinia?

Television was a key factor in the expansion of British holidaymaking. Thanks to its boom in the mid-'50s, the world was now becoming a smaller place and we could see, and be tempted by, exotic destinations from our own living rooms. The BBC launched the Cliff Michelmore-fronted series Holiday 69 at the tail end of the '60s, with ITV following suit with Wish You Were Here some five years later.

Foreign travel was now every bit as much a part of our culture as the football, the horse-racing or the Top Forty countdown. As well as broadening our nation's culinary tastes, bringing previously exotic dishes like moussaka and paella into kitchens from Andover to Aberdeen, holidaymakers also brought home pop music alongside the straw donkey and dubious liquor. From Viva Y Espana and Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep to Whigfield's Saturday Night and a host of sun-kissed Ibiza tunes, these tracks then took residence in our pop charts becoming as popular and as British as Spag Bol and Mateus Rose.

Have you ever gone on a package holiday? Do you remember your first overseas holiday? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

25Cigarettes And Alcohol - Lad Culture20130619

The term: 'new lad' was first coined by journalist Sean O'Hagen in an article for Arena magazine, in 1993. But there was nothing essentially 'new' about this lad. In fact he seemed a throwback to the late '60s/early '70s - a simpler time when men were interested in beer, football, fast cars and dolly birds. This was explained away as a reaction to the sensitive 'new man'; a confused reaction to feminism or, more patronisingly, as a middle-class aspiration towards some sort of mythical working-class values. But, of course, all of this could be also argued to be absolute nonsense, and it was just a lucrative marketing ploy driven by cynical magazine editors at the likes of GQ and Loaded. They recognised that many young men will always be interested in the same things, even if it wasn't politically correct to admit this, hence Loaded's motto, 'For men who should know better'.

James Brown, one of the driving forces behind Loaded, had said ultimately he'd wanted to capture his old employer the NME's readership, and in the process kill the old music press. At the height of its success, Loaded would sell nearly half a million copies a month, celebrating male rogues (say Liam Gallagher, Ollie Reed or George Best) and scantily clad women. But music also played a big part, exemplified by the likes of sharp-dressed geezer Paul Weller or boozing, brawling Manc loudmouths, Oasis. And what better anthem could lads have than Cigarettes And Alcohol?

25Lad And Ladette Culture2013061920160914 (R2)

The term: 'new lad' was first coined by journalist Sean O'Hagen in an article for Arena magazine, in 1993. But there was nothing essentially 'new' about this lad. In fact he seemed a throwback to the late '60s/early '70s - a simpler time when men were interested in beer, football, fast cars and dolly birds. This was explained away as a reaction to the sensitive 'new man'; a confused reaction to feminism or, more patronisingly, as a middle-class aspiration towards some sort of mythical working-class values. But, of course, all of this could be also argued to be absolute nonsense, and it was just a lucrative marketing ploy driven by cynical magazine editors at the likes of GQ and Loaded. They recognised that many young men will always be interested in the same things, even if it wasn't politically correct to admit this, hence Loaded's motto, 'For men who should know better'.

James Brown, one of the driving forces behind Loaded, had said ultimately he'd wanted to capture his old employer the NME's readership, and in the process kill the old music press. At the height of its success, Loaded would sell nearly half a million copies a month, celebrating male rogues (say Liam Gallagher, Ollie Reed or George Best) and scantily clad women. But music also played a big part, exemplified by the likes of sharp-dressed geezer Paul Weller or boozing, brawling Manc loudmouths, Oasis. And what better anthem could lads have than Cigarettes And Alcohol?

26Dedicated Follower of Fashion - Swinging London20130626

26Dedicated Follower Of Fashion - Swinging London2013062620160921 (R2)

Come the mid-1960s, The Kinks' Ray Davies was becoming increasingly jaded with the pop roundabout he found himself on. Always a keen social observer Dedicated Follower Of Fashion neatly skewers Swinging London's pretensions and foibles. Some might argue that Davies was something of a misanthrope, a grouch complaining about the beautiful young things having a whale of time in the nation's capital. But here was a fortunate new generation born post WWII, who hadn't experienced the horror of war, who probably couldn't remember austerity and were hitting their late teens as the British economy boomed. National Service had been abolished and The Beatles and the English football team ruled the world. In 1965 the American singer Roger Miller had released the unintentionally hilarious tribute England Swings. If a middle of the road country singer from Texas knew what was happening on the other side of the world, it must have been a big deal. And it was.

Journalist Christopher Booker, a founder of the satirical magazine Private Eye, observed Swinging London with a similar cynicism to Ray Davies. But this was a bubble that was not about to get burst, and it must have been wonderful to live inside it. Not only was the economy booming, so too were our arts and culture. Alongside The Beatles, The Stones, The Small Faces, The Dave Clark Five et al signed up for the British Invasion. Jimi Hendrix left New York to get noticed in London. And whilst The Kinks poked fun at Swinging London, The Who celebrated the rush of youthful revolution in My Generation quite clearly telling the old guard they could just go and ''F-F-F-Fade away''...

26Dedicated Follower Of Fashion - Swinging London20130626

Come the mid-1960s, The Kinks' Ray Davies was becoming increasingly jaded with the pop roundabout he found himself on. Always a keen social observer Dedicated Follower Of Fashion neatly skewers Swinging London's pretensions and foibles. Some might argue that Davies was something of a misanthrope, a grouch complaining about the beautiful young things having a whale of time in the nation's capital. But here was a fortunate new generation born post WWII, who hadn't experienced the horror of war, who probably couldn't remember austerity and were hitting their late teens as the British economy boomed. National Service had been abolished and The Beatles and the English football team ruled the world. In 1965 the American singer Roger Miller had released the unintentionally hilarious tribute England Swings. If a middle of the road country singer from Texas knew what was happening on the other side of the world, it must have been a big deal. And it was.

Journalist Christopher Booker, a founder of the satirical magazine Private Eye, observed Swinging London with a similar cynicism to Ray Davies. But this was a bubble that was not about to get burst, and it must have been wonderful to live inside it. Not only was the economy booming, so too were our arts and culture. Alongside The Beatles, The Stones, The Small Faces, The Dave Clark Five et al signed up for the British Invasion. Jimi Hendrix left New York to get noticed in London. And whilst The Kinks poked fun at Swinging London, The Who celebrated the rush of youthful revolution in My Generation quite clearly telling the old guard they could just go and ''F-F-F-Fade away''.

Journalist Christopher Booker, a founder of the satirical magazine Private Eye, observed Swinging London with a similar cynicism to Ray Davies: "There seemed to be no one standing outside the bubble, and observing just how odd and shallow and egocentric and even rather horrible it was". But this was a bubble that was not about to get burst, and it must have been wonderful to live inside it. Not only was the economy booming, so too were our arts and culture. Alongside The Beatles, The Stones, The Small Faces, The Dave Clark Five et al signed up for the British Invasion. Jimi Hendrix left New York to get noticed in London. And whilst The Kinks poked fun at Swinging London, The Who celebrated the rush of youthful revolution in My Generation quite clearly telling the old guard they could just go and ''F-F-F-Fade away''...

Then there were the fun and fresh fashion of Mary Quant, modeled by Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy and sold on Carnaby Street or the Kings Road. And of course you got there by jumping onto the back of a red bus, or even better, in a Mini-Cooper. On TV, Ready, Steady, Go! and The Avengers captured the vibe. On film Blow Up, Alfie and Georgy Girl captured the zeitgeist.

But did the rest of Britain feel quite the same way? In hipper cities, like Liverpool and Manchester: yes. But in smaller, more parochial towns, while The Beatles and Kinks still blasted out of every transistor radio, life probably went on just as it had in the '50s. And Swinging London probably looked like a different planet.

Did you experience Swinging London in its heyday? Was Britain in the mid-'60s as exciting as it looked? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

27Gold - Thatcherism and the aspiration of the 80s20130703

27Gold - Thatcherism And The Aspiration Of The 80s2013070320160928 (R2)

When Margaret Thatcher came to power in May 1979, she declared she was determined to drag Britain out of the strike-bound '70s; as the memorable campaign poster had it: Labour isn't working. Thatcher was determined to reverse the nation's economic decline, and what she saw as the Union's all-too-powerful grip on much of the working class. The nation's first female Prime Minister heralded serious and sweeping change.

But with someone as divisive as Thatcher, there were plenty of acts that were willing to take a stand against her and what she stood for.

27Gold - Thatcherism And The Aspiration Of The 80s20130703

When Margaret Thatcher came to power in May 1979, she declared she was determined to drag Britain out of the strike-bound '70s; as the memorable campaign poster had it: Labour isn't working. Thatcher was determined to reverse the nation's economic decline, and what she saw as the Union's all-too-powerful grip on much of the working class. The nation's first female Prime Minister heralded serious and sweeping change.

But with someone as divisive as Thatcher, there were plenty of acts that were willing to take a stand against her and what she stood for.

28Tubthumping - Environmentalism and Anti-Globalism20130710

28Tubthumping - Environmentalism and Anti-Globalism2013071020161005 (R2)

Chumbawamba's single is definitely one of those tracks that's become known as an earworm; once inside your head, it's very hard to dislodge. It's also an unusual commercial hit in that it came from a resolutely anti-commercial bunch of anarchic folk-punkers. It even reached number six in the USA, though one can assume that buyers were unaware of the band's socialist leanings. It's also obviously the song's infectiousness (as well as the lyrical refrain of getting back up having been knocked down) that led Nike to offer the band $1.5 million for use of the song. The band said they considered the offer for all of 30 seconds before saying "no". But they still enraged hard-core fans by signing with the major label EMI: seemingly going against their anti-corporate stance. EMI would later drop the band for their political activism.

Tubthumping is lyrically ambiguous, yet the band have adjusted the lyrics in the live setting to offer support to death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamil and to criticise Tony Blair's stance over his refusal to support the Liverpool docker's strikes. The band has also campaigned for the miners, for animal rights and against homophobia. They've questioned Bob Geldof's motives for organising Live Aid and raised money for the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster. They were nothing if not polemical, impassioned and interesting. The band seemed to stand for that classic British trait of fair play and decency.

28Tubthumping - Environmentalism and Anti-Globalism2013071020161005 (R2)

Chumbawamba's single is definitely one of those tracks that's become known as an earworm; once inside your head, it's very hard to dislodge. It's also an unusual commercial hit in that it came from a resolutely anti-commercial bunch of anarchic folk-punkers. It even reached number six in the USA, though one can assume that buyers were unaware of the band's socialist leanings. It's also obviously the song's infectiousness (as well as the lyrical refrain of getting back up having been knocked down) that led Nike to offer the band $1.5 million for use of the song. The band said they considered the offer for all of 30 seconds before saying "no". But they still enraged hard-core fans by signing with the major label EMI: seemingly going against their anti-corporate stance. EMI would later drop the band for their political activism.

Tubthumping is lyrically ambiguous, yet the band have adjusted the lyrics in the live setting to offer support to death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamil and to criticise Tony Blair's stance over his refusal to support the Liverpool docker's strikes. The band has also campaigned for the miners, for animal rights and against homophobia. They've questioned Bob Geldof's motives for organising Live Aid and raised money for the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster. They were nothing if not polemical, impassioned and interesting. The band seemed to stand for that classic British trait of fair play and decency.

28Tubthumping - Environmentalism And Anti-globalism20130710

Chumbawamba's single is definitely one of those tracks that's become known as an earworm; once inside your head, it's very hard to dislodge. It's also an unusual commercial hit in that it came from a resolutely anti-commercial bunch of anarchic folk-punkers. It even reached number six in the USA, though one can assume that buyers were unaware of the band's socialist leanings. It's also obviously the song's infectiousness (as well as the lyrical refrain of getting back up having been knocked down) that led Nike to offer the band $1.5 million for use of the song. The band said they considered the offer for all of 30 seconds before saying "no". But they still enraged hard-core fans by signing with the major label EMI: seemingly going against their anti-corporate stance. EMI would later drop the band for their political activism.

Tubthumping is lyrically ambiguous, yet the band have adjusted the lyrics in the live setting to offer support to death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamil and to criticise Tony Blair's stance over his refusal to support the Liverpool docker's strikes. The band has also campaigned for the miners, for animal rights and against homophobia. They've questioned Bob Geldof's motives for organising Live Aid and raised money for the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster. They were nothing if not polemical, impassioned and interesting. The band seemed to stand for that classic British trait of fair play and decency.

29Light Flight - The Folk Revival20130717
29Light Flight - The Folk Revival20130717

29Light Flight - The Folk Revival2013071720161012 (R2)

Off the back of the Skiffle movement in the mid-'50s, the UK's folk club scene enjoyed a boom spearheaded by the likes of Ewan MacColl who saw our indigenous folk music as both an antidote to the influx of American rock 'n roll and also as a means of conveying a left-leaning message which was totally absent in popular music. Though Skiffle had originally been founded mostly on covers of American folk and blues songs - Lonnie Donegan's Rock Island Line being a perfect example - many of those British kids who had picked up acoustic instruments found their way towards our nation's own folk music. This inspiration could come from the pens of singer-songwriters like Ewan MacColl or instrumentally from people like Davy Graham, whose timeless piece Angi was hugely influential on a generation of kids learning to play guitar, and inspired everyone from Ralph McTell and Martin Carthy to Jimmy Page.

But, ironically, it was an American, Bob Dylan, whose part in this revival cannot be over-stated. Dylan had turned to folk troubadours like Woody Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliott for inspiration, but it was when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 that folk music was made anew and forever changed. Dylan had shocked and upset the Newport audience, and did so again months later when he toured the UK. Dylan's compadres, The Byrds' mix of folk music and Rickenbacker guitars also helped move the music towards folk-rock and progressive folk. And among the leading lights of the progressive folk movement were Brits Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, who would later form the folk rock band Pentangle in the late '60s.

29Light Flight - The Folk Revival20130717

Off the back of the Skiffle movement in the mid-'50s, the UK's folk club scene enjoyed a boom spearheaded by the likes of Ewan MacColl who saw our indigenous folk music as both an antidote to the influx of American rock 'n roll and also as a means of conveying a left-leaning message which was totally absent in popular music. Though Skiffle had originally been founded mostly on covers of American folk and blues songs - Lonnie Donegan's Rock Island Line being a perfect example - many of those British kids who had picked up acoustic instruments found their way towards our nation's own folk music. This inspiration could come from the pens of singer-songwriters like Ewan MacColl or instrumentally from people like Davy Graham, whose timeless piece Angi was hugely influential on a generation of kids learning to play guitar, and inspired everyone from Ralph McTell and Martin Carthy to Jimmy Page.

But, ironically, it was an American, Bob Dylan, whose part in this revival cannot be over-stated. Dylan had turned to folk troubadours like Woody Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliott for inspiration, but it was when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 that folk music was made anew and forever changed. Dylan had shocked and upset the Newport audience, and did so again months later when he toured the UK. Dylan's compadres, The Byrds' mix of folk music and Rickenbacker guitars also helped move the music towards folk-rock and progressive folk. And among the leading lights of the progressive folk movement were Brits Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, who would later form the folk rock band Pentangle in the late '60s.

30Wannabe - Girl Power And Feminism20130724
30Wannabe - Girl Power and Feminism20130724

30Wannabe - Girl Power And Feminism20130724

For most people the expression of 'girl power' is synonymous with The Spice Girls, but its origins pre-date any mainstream appearance. It's believed that 'Grrrl Power' was first floated in the early '90s in a fanzine by punk band Bikini Kill: part of the hardcore female punk/grunge movement Riot Grrrl and worlds away from the slick, homogenised pop of The Spice Girls. The pop punk band Shampoo later released a single and album called Girl Power the year before the Spice Girls had their huge hit (and which also featured such feminist tracts as Don't Call Me Babe and Bare Knuckle Girl). But as this was around the peak of the New Laddism, it's no surprise that a counter ideology sprung up celebrating and empowering the feminine. Also at this time there was a marked increase in iconic and indelible fictional female characters that kicked ass and weren't to be trifled with (but still looked like shampoo models): Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider game, Xena the Warrior Princess, Nikita or Tank Girl.

But for some girls and young women The Spice Girls were the first time they'd even thought about gender identity and politics. Each Spice Girl each supposedly represented a role model to be admired, celebrated and possibly emulated. From a marketing perspective, no doubt, it was hoped that young girls could identify with one of the girls, whether Posh, Scary, Sporty, Baby or Ginger. Whilst it's easy to mock the broad brush-strokes at work here, maybe a sporty girl (maybe a little boyish) or a ginger girl (perhaps mercilessly taunted) could feel a little better about themselves. And was there a more indelible image of late '90s Britain than Geri's Union Jack dress?

30Wannabe - Girl Power And Feminism2013072420161019 (R2)

For most people the expression of 'girl power' is synonymous with The Spice Girls, but its origins pre-date any mainstream appearance. It's believed that 'Grrrl Power' was first floated in the early '90s in a fanzine by punk band Bikini Kill: part of the hardcore female punk/grunge movement Riot Grrrl and worlds away from the slick, homogenised pop of The Spice Girls. The pop punk band Shampoo later released a single and album called Girl Power the year before the Spice Girls had their huge hit (and which also featured such feminist tracts as Don't Call Me Babe and Bare Knuckle Girl). But as this was around the peak of the New Laddism, it's no surprise that a counter ideology sprung up celebrating and empowering the feminine. Also at this time there was a marked increase in iconic and indelible fictional female characters that kicked ass and weren't to be trifled with (but still looked like shampoo models): Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider game, Xena the Warrior Princess, Nikita or Tank Girl.

But for some girls and young women The Spice Girls were the first time they'd even thought about gender identity and politics. Each Spice Girl each supposedly represented a role model to be admired, celebrated and possibly emulated. From a marketing perspective, no doubt, it was hoped that young girls could identify with one of the girls, whether Posh, Scary, Sporty, Baby or Ginger. Whilst it's easy to mock the broad brush-strokes at work here, maybe a sporty girl (maybe a little boyish) or a ginger girl (perhaps mercilessly taunted) could feel a little better about themselves. And was there a more indelible image of late '90s Britain than Geri's Union Jack dress?

31How Soon Is Now? - The Sound Of The Post-industrial North20130731
31How Soon Is Now? - The Sound of the Post-Industrial North20130731

31How Soon Is Now? - The Sound Of The Post-industrial North20130731

From the bombed-out, broken down cities of the North they came, a stream of pasty-faced, earnest young men and women in trench coats and black clothing with a new music that sowed the seeds of what became commonly known as 'indie': totally changing the nation's musical landscape.

When the Sex Pistols played Manchester's free-trade hall in 1976, many of the crowd went on to form their own bands; The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, Durutti Column, The Fall and The Smiths, all began after that fateful night. And word soon spread like wildfire across the North of England. Out of Sheffield came The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and Heaven 17. From Leeds there was The Gang Of Four, The Mission and The Cult. Liverpool gave us Echo And The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and The Icicle Works. Maybe it was the wetter weather that encouraged kids to stay indoors and play records and pick up instruments. Or maybe it was the lack of job opportunities and the hard, bleak social conditions that persuaded kids to turn their attentions elsewhere. Maybe these teenagers couldn't get a job and, inspired, by the old cliché, found an escape through music.

31How Soon Is Now? - The Sound Of The Post-industrial North2013073120161026 (R2)

From the bombed-out, broken down cities of the North they came, a stream of pasty-faced, earnest young men and women in trench coats and black clothing with a new music that sowed the seeds of what became commonly known as 'indie': totally changing the nation's musical landscape.

When the Sex Pistols played Manchester's free-trade hall in 1976, many of the crowd went on to form their own bands; The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, Durutti Column, The Fall and The Smiths, all began after that fateful night. And word soon spread like wildfire across the North of England. Out of Sheffield came The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and Heaven 17. From Leeds there was The Gang Of Four, The Mission and The Cult. Liverpool gave us Echo And The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and The Icicle Works. Maybe it was the wetter weather that encouraged kids to stay indoors and play records and pick up instruments. Or maybe it was the lack of job opportunities and the hard, bleak social conditions that persuaded kids to turn their attentions elsewhere. Maybe these teenagers couldn't get a job and, inspired, by the old cliché, found an escape through music.

32Give Ireland Back to the Irish - The Troubles20130807

32Give Ireland Back to the Irish - The Troubles20130807

32Give Ireland Back to the Irish - The Troubles2013080720161102 (R2)

It's hard to believe now, but back in the early to mid-1970s a bloody running battle was taking place between the British Armed Forces and Irish Republicans. Bombs went off in Birmingham, Coventry, London, Aldershot and Bristol. Families were ripped apart on both sides of the divide. 1972 alone was a terribly bloody year in Northern Island; nearly 500 people lost their lives, of which over half were civilians. The apogee of The Troubles was Bloody Sunday, when 13 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by The Forces. As the blood continued to spill and the rhetoric raged, both sides became further infuriated and more deeply entrenched. The nation was truly divided.

Into this vicious, volatile climate stepped the cuddly ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney, and, to the surprise of many (and probably disdain of even more), he introduced his new band with a single that he'd written in response to Bloody Sunday. The band was Wings, and the song was called "Give Ireland Back To the Irish". For many, this was more the domain of the firebrand radical Lennon, but McCartney? The man who'd broken ranks with the Beatles and had become a staunch vegetarian and sheep-farmer? That an MBE-awarded ex-Beatle took such an outspoken and essentially anti-Monarchy stance was remarkable, and perhaps seen as a slap in the face to many who'd welcomed McCartney into homes.

Having recorded the single, McCartney was soon phoned by the chairman of EMI, Sir Joseph Lockwood, who was unhappy with the track. McCartney stood by it, saying he felt strongly about what had just happened in Northern Ireland. Lockwood warned him it would simply be banned. And so it proved. Yet though the single received no airplay in Britain it still got to number 16 (and to number one in Southern Ireland and Spain).

32Give Ireland Back to the Irish - The Troubles2013080720161102 (R2)

It's hard to believe now, but back in the early to mid-1970s a bloody running battle was taking place between the British Armed Forces and Irish Republicans. Bombs went off in Birmingham, Coventry, London, Aldershot and Bristol. Families were ripped apart on both sides of the divide. 1972 alone was a terribly bloody year in Northern Island; nearly 500 people lost their lives, of which over half were civilians. The apogee of The Troubles was Bloody Sunday, when 13 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by The Forces. As the blood continued to spill and the rhetoric raged, both sides became further infuriated and more deeply entrenched. The nation was truly divided.

Into this vicious, volatile climate stepped the cuddly ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney, and, to the surprise of many (and probably disdain of even more), he introduced his new band with a single that he'd written in response to Bloody Sunday. The band was Wings, and the song was called "Give Ireland Back To the Irish". For many, this was more the domain of the firebrand radical Lennon, but McCartney? The man who'd broken ranks with the Beatles and had become a staunch vegetarian and sheep-farmer? That an MBE-awarded ex-Beatle took such an outspoken and essentially anti-Monarchy stance was remarkable, and perhaps seen as a slap in the face to many who'd welcomed McCartney into homes.

Having recorded the single, McCartney was soon phoned by the chairman of EMI, Sir Joseph Lockwood, who was unhappy with the track. McCartney stood by it, saying he felt strongly about what had just happened in Northern Ireland. Lockwood warned him it would simply be banned. And so it proved. Yet though the single received no airplay in Britain it still got to number 16 (and to number one in Southern Ireland and Spain).

32Give Ireland Back to the Irish - The Troubles2013080720161102 (R2)

It's hard to believe now, but back in the early to mid-1970s a bloody running battle was taking place between the British Armed Forces and Irish Republicans. Bombs went off in Birmingham, Coventry, London, Aldershot and Bristol. Families were ripped apart on both sides of the divide. 1972 alone was a terribly bloody year in Northern Island; nearly 500 people lost their lives, of which over half were civilians. The apogee of The Troubles was Bloody Sunday, when 13 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by The Forces. As the blood continued to spill and the rhetoric raged, both sides became further infuriated and more deeply entrenched. The nation was truly divided.

Into this vicious, volatile climate stepped the cuddly ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney, and, to the surprise of many (and probably disdain of even more), he introduced his new band with a single that he'd written in response to Bloody Sunday. The band was Wings, and the song was called "Give Ireland Back To the Irish". For many, this was more the domain of the firebrand radical Lennon, but McCartney? The man who'd broken ranks with the Beatles and had become a staunch vegetarian and sheep-farmer? That an MBE-awarded ex-Beatle took such an outspoken and essentially anti-Monarchy stance was remarkable, and perhaps seen as a slap in the face to many who'd welcomed McCartney into homes.

Having recorded the single, McCartney was soon phoned by the chairman of EMI, Sir Joseph Lockwood, who was unhappy with the track. McCartney stood by it, saying he felt strongly about what had just happened in Northern Ireland. Lockwood warned him it would simply be banned. And so it proved. Yet though the single received no airplay in Britain it still got to number 16 (and to number one in Southern Ireland and Spain).

32Give Ireland Back to the Irish - The Troubles2013080720161102 (R2)

It's hard to believe now, but back in the early to mid-1970s a bloody running battle was taking place between the British Armed Forces and Irish Republicans. Bombs went off in Birmingham, Coventry, London, Aldershot and Bristol. Families were ripped apart on both sides of the divide. 1972 alone was a terribly bloody year in Northern Island; nearly 500 people lost their lives, of which over half were civilians. The apogee of The Troubles was Bloody Sunday, when 13 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by The Forces. As the blood continued to spill and the rhetoric raged, both sides became further infuriated and more deeply entrenched. The nation was truly divided.

Into this vicious, volatile climate stepped the cuddly ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney, and, to the surprise of many (and probably disdain of even more), he introduced his new band with a single that he'd written in response to Bloody Sunday. The band was Wings, and the song was called "Give Ireland Back To the Irish". For many, this was more the domain of the firebrand radical Lennon, but McCartney? The man who'd broken ranks with the Beatles and had become a staunch vegetarian and sheep-farmer? That an MBE-awarded ex-Beatle took such an outspoken and essentially anti-Monarchy stance was remarkable, and perhaps seen as a slap in the face to many who'd welcomed McCartney into homes.

Having recorded the single, McCartney was soon phoned by the chairman of EMI, Sir Joseph Lockwood, who was unhappy with the track. McCartney stood by it, saying he felt strongly about what had just happened in Northern Ireland. Lockwood warned him it would simply be banned. And so it proved. Yet though the single received no airplay in Britain it still got to number 16 (and to number one in Southern Ireland and Spain).

32Give Ireland Back To The Irish - The Troubles20130807

It's hard to believe now, but back in the early to mid-1970s a bloody running battle was taking place between the British Armed Forces and Irish Republicans. Bombs went off in Birmingham, Coventry, London, Aldershot and Bristol. Families were ripped apart on both sides of the divide. 1972 alone was a terribly bloody year in Northern Island; nearly 500 people lost their lives, of which over half were civilians. The apogee of The Troubles was Bloody Sunday, when 13 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by The Forces. As the blood continued to spill and the rhetoric raged, both sides became further infuriated and more deeply entrenched. The nation was truly divided.

Into this vicious, volatile climate stepped the cuddly ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney, and, to the surprise of many (and probably disdain of even more), he introduced his new band with a single that he'd written in response to Bloody Sunday. The band was Wings, and the song was called "Give Ireland Back To the Irish". For many, this was more the domain of the firebrand radical Lennon, but McCartney? The man who'd broken ranks with the Beatles and had become a staunch vegetarian and sheep-farmer? That an MBE-awarded ex-Beatle took such an outspoken and essentially anti-Monarchy stance was remarkable, and perhaps seen as a slap in the face to many who'd welcomed McCartney into homes.

Having recorded the single, McCartney was soon phoned by the chairman of EMI, Sir Joseph Lockwood, who was unhappy with the track. McCartney stood by it, saying he felt strongly about what had just happened in Northern Ireland. Lockwood warned him it would simply be banned. And so it proved. Yet though the single received no airplay in Britain it still got to number 16 (and to number one in Southern Ireland and Spain).

33The Ying Tong Song - Comedy and Popular Music20130814

33The Ying Tong Song - Comedy and Popular Music20130814

33The Ying Tong Song - Comedy and Popular Music2013081420161109 (R2)

Britain has always loved a good comedy song. And even a bad one from time to time. As a large part of British musical entertainment had its roots in the nudge-nudge wink-wink of the Music Hall, the risqué songs of Noel Coward or the clever but daft Flanders And Swann, it's no surprise that comedy songs keep rearing their ugly heads. During the Second World War, while Vera Lynn kept the boys in touch with home, it was George Formby who kept them laughing through those dark days. And laughter would prove to be a much needed tonic during the hard task of re-building our country during the austere 1950s. Thus, the Goons: Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe - a comedy trio who were just as influential on The Beatles as Chuck Berry (just watch any Beatles' films or press conferences for proof). And it was the 'fifth Beatle', George Martin, who had honed his skills recording comedy songs with the likes of Sellers and Milligan, as well as Rolf Harris and later Bernard Cribbins (Cribbins' "Digging A Hole" was discussed earlier in the series in the "Part of The Union" episode).

The Goons' comedy offspring like Dudley Moore and Peter Cooke as well as The Pythons also had pop hits; the former with "Goodbye-ee" and the latter with "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life". Other comics like The Goodies, Bennie Hill, Jasper Carrot, Alexei Sayle, The Comic Strip or Spitting Image have had hits. The latter's "The Chicken Song" was almost inescapable for a large part of 1986. Then we've had groups like The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band who did comedy material or The Barron Knights who specialised in comic parodies.

33The Ying Tong Song - Comedy and Popular Music2013081420161109 (R2)

Britain has always loved a good comedy song. And even a bad one from time to time. As a large part of British musical entertainment had its roots in the nudge-nudge wink-wink of the Music Hall, the risqué songs of Noel Coward or the clever but daft Flanders And Swann, it's no surprise that comedy songs keep rearing their ugly heads. During the Second World War, while Vera Lynn kept the boys in touch with home, it was George Formby who kept them laughing through those dark days. And laughter would prove to be a much needed tonic during the hard task of re-building our country during the austere 1950s. Thus, the Goons: Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe - a comedy trio who were just as influential on The Beatles as Chuck Berry (just watch any Beatles' films or press conferences for proof). And it was the 'fifth Beatle', George Martin, who had honed his skills recording comedy songs with the likes of Sellers and Milligan, as well as Rolf Harris and later Bernard Cribbins (Cribbins' "Digging A Hole" was discussed earlier in the series in the "Part of The Union" episode).

The Goons' comedy offspring like Dudley Moore and Peter Cooke as well as The Pythons also had pop hits; the former with "Goodbye-ee" and the latter with "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life". Other comics like The Goodies, Bennie Hill, Jasper Carrot, Alexei Sayle, The Comic Strip or Spitting Image have had hits. The latter's "The Chicken Song" was almost inescapable for a large part of 1986. Then we've had groups like The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band who did comedy material or The Barron Knights who specialised in comic parodies.

33The Ying Tong Song - Comedy and Popular Music2013081420161116 (R2)

Britain has always loved a good comedy song. And even a bad one from time to time. As a large part of British musical entertainment had its roots in the nudge-nudge wink-wink of the Music Hall, the risqué songs of Noel Coward or the clever but daft Flanders And Swann, it's no surprise that comedy songs keep rearing their ugly heads. During the Second World War, while Vera Lynn kept the boys in touch with home, it was George Formby who kept them laughing through those dark days. And laughter would prove to be a much needed tonic during the hard task of re-building our country during the austere 1950s. Thus, the Goons: Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe - a comedy trio who were just as influential on The Beatles as Chuck Berry (just watch any Beatles' films or press conferences for proof). And it was the 'fifth Beatle', George Martin, who had honed his skills recording comedy songs with the likes of Sellers and Milligan, as well as Rolf Harris and later Bernard Cribbins (Cribbins' "Digging A Hole" was discussed earlier in the series in the "Part of The Union" episode).

The Goons' comedy offspring like Dudley Moore and Peter Cooke as well as The Pythons also had pop hits; the former with "Goodbye-ee" and the latter with "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life". Other comics like The Goodies, Bennie Hill, Jasper Carrot, Alexei Sayle, The Comic Strip or Spitting Image have had hits. The latter's "The Chicken Song" was almost inescapable for a large part of 1986. Then we've had groups like The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band who did comedy material or The Barron Knights who specialised in comic parodies.

33The Ying Tong Song - Comedy and Popular Music2013081420161116 (R2)

Britain has always loved a good comedy song. And even a bad one from time to time. As a large part of British musical entertainment had its roots in the nudge-nudge wink-wink of the Music Hall, the risqué songs of Noel Coward or the clever but daft Flanders And Swann, it's no surprise that comedy songs keep rearing their ugly heads. During the Second World War, while Vera Lynn kept the boys in touch with home, it was George Formby who kept them laughing through those dark days. And laughter would prove to be a much needed tonic during the hard task of re-building our country during the austere 1950s. Thus, the Goons: Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe - a comedy trio who were just as influential on The Beatles as Chuck Berry (just watch any Beatles' films or press conferences for proof). And it was the 'fifth Beatle', George Martin, who had honed his skills recording comedy songs with the likes of Sellers and Milligan, as well as Rolf Harris and later Bernard Cribbins (Cribbins' "Digging A Hole" was discussed earlier in the series in the "Part of The Union" episode).

The Goons' comedy offspring like Dudley Moore and Peter Cooke as well as The Pythons also had pop hits; the former with "Goodbye-ee" and the latter with "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life". Other comics like The Goodies, Bennie Hill, Jasper Carrot, Alexei Sayle, The Comic Strip or Spitting Image have had hits. The latter's "The Chicken Song" was almost inescapable for a large part of 1986. Then we've had groups like The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band who did comedy material or The Barron Knights who specialised in comic parodies.

33The Ying Tong Song - Comedy And Popular Music20130814

Britain has always loved a good comedy song. And even a bad one from time to time. As a large part of British musical entertainment had its roots in the nudge-nudge wink-wink of the Music Hall, the risqué songs of Noel Coward or the clever but daft Flanders And Swann, it's no surprise that comedy songs keep rearing their ugly heads. During the Second World War, while Vera Lynn kept the boys in touch with home, it was George Formby who kept them laughing through those dark days. And laughter would prove to be a much needed tonic during the hard task of re-building our country during the austere 1950s. Thus, the Goons: Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe - a comedy trio who were just as influential on The Beatles as Chuck Berry (just watch any Beatles' films or press conferences for proof). And it was the 'fifth Beatle', George Martin, who had honed his skills recording comedy songs with the likes of Sellers and Milligan, as well as Rolf Harris and later Bernard Cribbins (Cribbins' "Digging A Hole" was discussed earlier in the series in the "Part of The Union" episode).

The Goons' comedy offspring like Dudley Moore and Peter Cooke as well as The Pythons also had pop hits; the former with "Goodbye-ee" and the latter with "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life". Other comics like The Goodies, Bennie Hill, Jasper Carrot, Alexei Sayle, The Comic Strip or Spitting Image have had hits. The latter's "The Chicken Song" was almost inescapable for a large part of 1986. Then we've had groups like The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band who did comedy material or The Barron Knights who specialised in comic parodies.

34Bleeding Love - X Factor and Talent Shows20130821

34Bleeding Love - X Factor and Talent Shows2013082120161123 (R2)

Britain's music scene is at an interesting juncture in the second decade of the 21st century. On the one hand technology is changing the rules of how a band interacts with its audience and how it supplies its music to that fanbase. Yet that same technology has also destroyed a band's traditional form of income: selling CDs. So, in a sense, music is now paradoxically both more and less popular. On the one hand, fewer people are actually buying music, and yet it's ubiquitous: in shops; on mobile phones; online and on TV, especially prime-time weekend TV where programmes like X-Factor, The Voice and Britain's Got Talent dominate the ratings wars.

The talent show is nothing new to the British audience. Opportunity Knocks debuted on radio in 1949, then appeared on TV in 1956 where it came and went for three decades. But when the BBC revived the show for a final run in 1987, the Beeb's decision to use a telephone voting system created the format we still watch today (prior to this, rather sweetly, the audience was invited to post their vote in).

Leona Lewis' number one single, "Bleeding Love", is a perfect example of the modern hit. Sung by an X-Factor winner, it was not only the biggest selling single in the UK in 2008, but it was the biggest selling worldwide, hitting number 1 in 34 countries. But both song and performer had the advantage of being exposed on national television to an audience of millions. The talent show has given us an insight into the spectacle of creating a star from scratch. It's thrilling entertainment, a large slice of human drama complete with tears and triumph, adversity and audacity, and one that we can have a hand in shaping.

34Bleeding Love - X Factor and Talent Shows2013082120161123 (R2)

Britain's music scene is at an interesting juncture in the second decade of the 21st century. On the one hand technology is changing the rules of how a band interacts with its audience and how it supplies its music to that fanbase. Yet that same technology has also destroyed a band's traditional form of income: selling CDs. So, in a sense, music is now paradoxically both more and less popular. On the one hand, fewer people are actually buying music, and yet it's ubiquitous: in shops; on mobile phones; online and on TV, especially prime-time weekend TV where programmes like X-Factor, The Voice and Britain's Got Talent dominate the ratings wars.

The talent show is nothing new to the British audience. Opportunity Knocks debuted on radio in 1949, then appeared on TV in 1956 where it came and went for three decades. But when the BBC revived the show for a final run in 1987, the Beeb's decision to use a telephone voting system created the format we still watch today (prior to this, rather sweetly, the audience was invited to post their vote in).

Leona Lewis' number one single, "Bleeding Love", is a perfect example of the modern hit. Sung by an X-Factor winner, it was not only the biggest selling single in the UK in 2008, but it was the biggest selling worldwide, hitting number 1 in 34 countries. But both song and performer had the advantage of being exposed on national television to an audience of millions. The talent show has given us an insight into the spectacle of creating a star from scratch. It's thrilling entertainment, a large slice of human drama complete with tears and triumph, adversity and audacity, and one that we can have a hand in shaping.

34Bleeding Love - X Factor And Talent Shows20130821

Britain's music scene is at an interesting juncture in the second decade of the 21st century. On the one hand technology is changing the rules of how a band interacts with its audience and how it supplies its music to that fanbase. Yet that same technology has also destroyed a band's traditional form of income: selling CDs. So, in a sense, music is now paradoxically both more and less popular. On the one hand, fewer people are actually buying music, and yet it's ubiquitous: in shops; on mobile phones; online and on TV, especially prime-time weekend TV where programmes like X-Factor, The Voice and Britain's Got Talent dominate the ratings wars.

The talent show is nothing new to the British audience. Opportunity Knocks debuted on radio in 1949, then appeared on TV in 1956 where it came and went for three decades. But when the BBC revived the show for a final run in 1987, the Beeb's decision to use a telephone voting system created the format we still watch today (prior to this, rather sweetly, the audience was invited to post their vote in).

Leona Lewis' number one single, "Bleeding Love", is a perfect example of the modern hit. Sung by an X-Factor winner, it was not only the biggest selling single in the UK in 2008, but it was the biggest selling worldwide, hitting number 1 in 34 countries. But both song and performer had the advantage of being exposed on national television to an audience of millions. The talent show has given us an insight into the spectacle of creating a star from scratch. It's thrilling entertainment, a large slice of human drama complete with tears and triumph, adversity and audacity, and one that we can have a hand in shaping.

35Don't Cry for Me Argentina - Musicals20130828

35Don't Cry for Me Argentina - Musicals2013082820161130 (R2)

The pop musical has long had a place in the nation's heart; particularly so post-World War II. From the Beatles' films to the jukebox musicals currently clogging up London's West End, Britain clearly has a soft spot for musicals. And if you doubt that, consider this salient fact; the soundtrack for "The Sound Of Music" dominated the pop charts in the Swinging Sixties, being the best-selling album in 1965, 1966 and 1968. In other words, during the absolute height of Beatlemania, the biggest selling album was actually a kitsch, sentimental musical movie.

The seeds of the pop musical can be found in such British stalwarts as Gilbert & Sullivan, Noel Coward, Ivor Novello and musicals like "Oliver". All are very much a part of our culture, and yet have little resonance or meaning outside of the UK. In fact, "Oliver" made its debut three years after the racy American musical "West Side Story" became a hit here, and yet this musical remake of the Charles Dickens novel seems like it's from a different era altogether, as if rock 'n' roll never happened. But the American rock 'n' roll films "The Blackboard Jungle", "Rock Around The Clock" and "The Girl Can't Help It" did shake up sleepy Britain, kick-starting the British rock revolution. Without these there would have been no Tommy Steele, no Cliff Richard or Shadows, no Beatles and thus no Beatles films. And without the Beatles films, you could argue there might not have been any of the other classic rock films, from Slade's gritty "In Flame", to the nostalgic David Essex vehicles "That'll Be The Day" and "Stardust", onto "Quadrophenia", "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" and even "Spiceworld". A huge slice of British pop culture would never have existed.

35Don't Cry for Me Argentina - Musicals2013082820161130 (R2)

The pop musical has long had a place in the nation's heart; particularly so post-World War II. From the Beatles' films to the jukebox musicals currently clogging up London's West End, Britain clearly has a soft spot for musicals. And if you doubt that, consider this salient fact; the soundtrack for "The Sound Of Music" dominated the pop charts in the Swinging Sixties, being the best-selling album in 1965, 1966 and 1968. In other words, during the absolute height of Beatlemania, the biggest selling album was actually a kitsch, sentimental musical movie.

The seeds of the pop musical can be found in such British stalwarts as Gilbert & Sullivan, Noel Coward, Ivor Novello and musicals like "Oliver". All are very much a part of our culture, and yet have little resonance or meaning outside of the UK. In fact, "Oliver" made its debut three years after the racy American musical "West Side Story" became a hit here, and yet this musical remake of the Charles Dickens novel seems like it's from a different era altogether, as if rock 'n' roll never happened. But the American rock 'n' roll films "The Blackboard Jungle", "Rock Around The Clock" and "The Girl Can't Help It" did shake up sleepy Britain, kick-starting the British rock revolution. Without these there would have been no Tommy Steele, no Cliff Richard or Shadows, no Beatles and thus no Beatles films. And without the Beatles films, you could argue there might not have been any of the other classic rock films, from Slade's gritty "In Flame", to the nostalgic David Essex vehicles "That'll Be The Day" and "Stardust", onto "Quadrophenia", "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" and even "Spiceworld". A huge slice of British pop culture would never have existed.

35Don't Cry For Me Argentina - Musicals20130828

The pop musical has long had a place in the nation's heart; particularly so post-World War II. From the Beatles' films to the jukebox musicals currently clogging up London's West End, Britain clearly has a soft spot for musicals. And if you doubt that, consider this salient fact; the soundtrack for "The Sound Of Music" dominated the pop charts in the Swinging Sixties, being the best-selling album in 1965, 1966 and 1968. In other words, during the absolute height of Beatlemania, the biggest selling album was actually a kitsch, sentimental musical movie.

The seeds of the pop musical can be found in such British stalwarts as Gilbert & Sullivan, Noel Coward, Ivor Novello and musicals like "Oliver". All are very much a part of our culture, and yet have little resonance or meaning outside of the UK. In fact, "Oliver" made its debut three years after the racy American musical "West Side Story" became a hit here, and yet this musical remake of the Charles Dickens novel seems like it's from a different era altogether, as if rock 'n' roll never happened. But the American rock 'n' roll films "The Blackboard Jungle", "Rock Around The Clock" and "The Girl Can't Help It" did shake up sleepy Britain, kick-starting the British rock revolution. Without these there would have been no Tommy Steele, no Cliff Richard or Shadows, no Beatles and thus no Beatles films. And without the Beatles films, you could argue there might not have been any of the other classic rock films, from Slade's gritty "In Flame", to the nostalgic David Essex vehicles "That'll Be The Day" and "Stardust", onto "Quadrophenia", "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" and even "Spiceworld". A huge slice of British pop culture would never have existed.

36Shipbuilding - The Falklands War20130904

36Shipbuilding - The Falklands War20130904

When Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands on the 2nd April 1982, few could have foreseen quite how this event would play out. Certainly not the Argentineans, who gambled on the fact that the Brits wouldn't respond militarily. For them, a successful and swift campaign would be a welcome distraction from the country's dire economic situation and would rally the nation's flagging spirits. Unfortunately for the South Americans, Margaret Thatcher felt much the same way; a war could be a quick and simple way of uniting the country and boosting the industrial manufacturing base at a time of recession.

Though it occurred only 30 years ago, the conflict seems to have happened in an altogether different age. The BBC only found out about the invasion from some islanders, via amateur radio. But this conflict would last for 74 days, 649 Argentineans would die, as would 255 Brits. A British ship, HMS Sheffield was sunk, as was an Argentinean ship, The Belgrano, which was responsible for half of the total number of Argentinean casualties and which was sunk in debatable circumstances.

But beyond these sad and stark statistics, more existential matters arose. Firstly, as a nation how could we lay claim to islands that were thousands of miles from us? It also inspired some soul-searching as to what an empire meant and if it was worth the blood, sweat and tears to maintain it. It certainly provoked a reaction from some of the nation's songwriters. You had The Pretenders' "2000 miles", New Model Army's "Spirit Of The Falklands", Billy Bragg's "Island Of No Return" and probably the most famous example: a song written by Elvis Costello, but made famous by Robert Wyatt

36Shipbuilding - The Falklands War2013090420161207 (R2)

When Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands on the 2nd April 1982, few could have foreseen quite how this event would play out. Certainly not the Argentineans, who gambled on the fact that the Brits wouldn't respond militarily. For them, a successful and swift campaign would be a welcome distraction from the country's dire economic situation and would rally the nation's flagging spirits. Unfortunately for the South Americans, Margaret Thatcher felt much the same way; a war could be a quick and simple way of uniting the country and boosting the industrial manufacturing base at a time of recession.

Though it occurred only 30 years ago, the conflict seems to have happened in an altogether different age. The BBC only found out about the invasion from some islanders, via amateur radio. But this conflict would last for 74 days, 649 Argentineans would die, as would 255 Brits. A British ship, HMS Sheffield was sunk, as was an Argentinean ship, The Belgrano, which was responsible for half of the total number of Argentinean casualties and which was sunk in debatable circumstances.

But beyond these sad and stark statistics, more existential matters arose. Firstly, as a nation how could we lay claim to islands that were thousands of miles from us? It also inspired some soul-searching as to what an empire meant and if it was worth the blood, sweat and tears to maintain it. It certainly provoked a reaction from some of the nation's songwriters. You had The Pretenders' "2000 miles", New Model Army's "Spirit Of The Falklands", Billy Bragg's "Island Of No Return" and probably the most famous example: a song written by Elvis Costello, but made famous by Robert Wyatt.

37World in Motion - The British Love of Football20130911

37World In Motion - The British Love Of Football20130911

New Order's combination of rap and football highlights our love of the beautiful game.

37World in Motion - The British Love of Football2013091120161214 (R2)

Stuart Maconie continues his series charting the history of modern Britain in over 50 records. Tonight, he looks at the music surrounding our love of the national game: football.

385:15 - Youth Tribes20130918

385:15 - Youth Tribes2013091820170104 (R2)

A goth, a punk, a raver and a soul boy walk into a bar... well of course they would, they're probably just mates, hanging out. This is the 21st Century and pop tribes rub along quite differently today. In fact, it could be argued that pop-tribalism isn't the be-all and end-all it once was, when what you wore and how your hair was cut really mattered and defined who and what you were. This track from The Who is a perfect slice of life from the perspective of a young Mod, from the album "Quadrophrenia" and is completely rooted in the notion of youthful tribalism and what it means to be young and searching for one's identity.

Tribalism has been part of British pop music since the rock 'n' roll invasion in the mid-1950s. Kids finally had their own fashion and music, and were thrilled to just look different to their parents. The generation gap opened up, and it was 'us' versus 'them'. But youth culture became more sub-divided over the years. When the skiffle boom happened, on the other side of the aisle were the Trad Jazz fans, looking down their noses at these noisy oiks in their denim jeans and check shirts. In the early '60s you were probably either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan. A few years later, maybe you were a mod or a rocker. Fights broke out depending on which haircut or trousers you sported. In the '70s you might be a mod, a rocker or a punk. As music splintered and mutated throughout the '80s there were now New Romantics, Metal-heads, Trendies, Yuppies, Punks, New-wavers, Rastas, Soul-boys and girls, Hip-hop heads, Goths, Sports Casuals...

But, come the Noughties, pop tribes seem to have dissipated or been assimilated to a large degree.

385:15 - Youth Tribes20130918

Pop's journey from tribalism to multi-cultural smorgasbord.

39Move It - The British Take On Rock 'n' Roll20130925

Cliff Richard's first hit ushered in a very British take on an American import.

40Bye-bye Baby - Pop Heartthrobs20131002

The current hysteria over Harry Styles and One Direction is clearly nothing new. Young girls (and even grown women) have been screaming and swooning over groups of good-looking young men forever. It's said that when silent movie star, Rudolf Valentino died in 1926, thousands of women fell into a state of despair or hysteria. And, ever since the teenager was created in the Fifties, there have been teen idols. Beatlemania caused girls to scream themselves silly, swoon or just fall to their knees in a faint.

Prior to this there was Britain's first teen-idol, Tommy Steele: a man who was cutting "The Tommy Steele Story" biopic movie just four weeks after his first chart success, such was the demand for product. Following hot on his heels was Britain's answer to Elvis: Cliff Richard. Both Tommy and Cliff were toothsome and talented, but clearly non-threatening. Things would later turn a little darker when The Rolling Stones reared their ugly heads, tabloid headlines screaming: 'Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?'.

Post-Beatles there was a slew of manufactured musical mannequins of the likes of The Sweet, Mud and this episode's headliners, The Bay City Rollers - a perfect embodiment of the teenage heartthrob, with their simple, catchy hits and a contrived image based around tartan and trousers that were clearly too short. Pop idols like David Essex soon crossed over from music pinups to movie pinups. Punk briefly broke the heartthrob's stranglehold on the charts (though for many a confused girl or boy, Sid Vicious was something of an anti-pinup). But the likes of Wham! returned golden, girl-friendly guys to the top of the charts, and so began another run of boy bands not seen since the heyday of glam in the '70s. So Andrew Ridgeley, Adam Ant, Robbie Williams, Simon Le Bon and Nik Kershaw were on more walls than Dulux and were the musical manifestation of a million schoolgirl crushes.

The pulling power of boy bands (no pun intended) can be amply illustrated by Take That's recent, second spell of success. Their massive sell-out stadium tours were pretty much packed with women who'd been teenage followers of the band during their '90s heyday. Both bands and fans had grown up, but were still locked in a mutually beneficial, nostalgia-nursing relationship. And for one night these women could forget about work, family and the inevitable march of time and get back in touch with their inner-teen. Nostalgia is a powerful urge, and music is the quickest means of getting you there.

What's the daftest thing you'd done or worn to be like your musical heroes? The People's Songs wants to hear from you.

Teen heartthrobs have been part of modern culture from Rudolph Valentino to Harry Styles.

41Do They Know It's Christmas? - How Pop Found A Social Conscience20131009

We Brits like to think that we believe in a sense of fair play and of doing the right thing, and this episode proves this absolutely. In the midst of the Thatcher years, the so-called time of greed and self-interest, where pampered rock stars jetted all over the world in mind-boggling luxury, a very strange thing happened. An ex-punk singer was watching TV and was appalled to see a human disaster enfolding on a massive scale in West Africa. Charities were doing their best to help battle the famine, but governments sat idly by wringing their hands and saying how awful this all was. But Bob Geldof was determined to do something about it. So enlisting his pal Midge Ure (of Ultravox fame), they wrote a song and then persuaded, coerced and even bullied the rock royalty of the day to sing on it. It was a song that was at once both uplifting and yet unsentimental, and the key line, "thank God it's them instead of you", was searing in its honesty.

Within a week of release, the single had sold a million copies, was number one for five weeks (ultimately selling 3.7 million copies in the UK), and was, at the time, the biggest selling UK single ever. But that wasn't enough for Geldof. Thanks to Sir Bob's drive and compassion, charity singles became ubiquitous but back in the mid '80s it was a novel solution to an old problem. There'd been George Harrison's single, concert (and subsequent triple live album and film) in aid of war victims in Bangladesh, as well as other ad-hoc charity fundraising gigs, but Geldof's vision was on another level altogether. Do They Know It's Christmas? would sell nearly twelve million copies worldwide and was soon followed with a plan to stage the greatest show ever seen. And in that hot July of 1985 Live Aid took place, most famously in London's Wembley Stadium and the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. But events also took place in Cologne, Moscow, The Netherlands and Sydney. It was truly a global event, watched by an estimated worldwide audience of 1.9 billion - or in other words, by about a third of the planet.

How Sir Bob Geldof's success in galvanising rock royalty changed charity work forever.

43You Should Be Dancing - Living For The Weekend20131023

You Should Be Dancing is the simple, self-explanatory call to action that sums up generation after generation of British kids post-World War II. Although the Bee Gees' song is from the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, a movie that's set in Brooklyn, the theme is universal; the desire, the need to escape from a demeaning and demoralising job through hedonism and pleasure come the weekend. In fact the film's original title was Tribal Rites On A Saturday Night, which was more unwieldy but nails the essence of the film. Napoleon might have thought we were a nation of shopkeepers, but for many Brits we're a nation of weekend warriors: hearty hedonists who work hard but party harder come five o'clock on a Friday night. Whether it's Bognor or Bradford, Belfast or Brechin, at the weekend there are thousands of venues and millions of people ecstatically enjoying their 48 hours of freedom.

Saturday Night Fever is one of the best-selling albums of all time, an unstoppable juggernaut which has sold something like 25 million copies, and which epitomised the urban nightlife of the late 1970s; all flowing locks and flared suits, medallions and mirror balls. Friday night and the weekend had also been portrayed in other films like Human Traffic, which brilliantly evokes the British rave scene of the late Nineties.

Stuart Maconie ponders how pop helps us all look forward to dancing away the weekend.

44The Love Cats - A Peculiarly British Style20131030

Goth is very much a British invention and something most British teenagers will have dabbled with to some degree in their lives, as it tends to be the alienated kid's look of choice. Goth emerged as a musical subculture in the early '80s, with bands like The Cure, Bauhaus or Siouxsie And The Banshees, but the term was first used musically by Tony Wilson to brilliantly describe Joy Division's monochromatic oeuvre. The notion of Gothic was already an historical artefact by the time British teenagers latched onto it at the end of the dour, dismal '70s. Gothic, as an art form, has its roots in the brooding anti-heroes and heroines of 19th Century fiction from the likes of John Keats, Mary Shelley and Lord Byron and, a little later, HP Lovecraft, Bram Stoker or Henry James. It is typically melodramatic and abounds with ghosts, and ghouls, castles and caskets, velvet and vampires. It's also very much the product of an island nation with an over-active imagination and centuries of folklore and tale-telling.

But for a teenager (or even the odd grown-up) wanting to rebel, the Gothic look is one of the most enduring and arresting ways to do it; pale white skin from brooding in your bedroom all night, black clothing to signify you're an outsider (and possibly one of the bad guys) and morose music that echoes your belief that life is all too tough and transient.

Its appeal lies in it being quite outside of, and more authentic than, contemporary life, with its emphasis on the disposable and plastic. Having said that, Goth has entered the mainstream of late through bands like My Chemical Romance, as well as the Twilight films and the BBC's own Being Human series.

Stuart focusses on the early 80s and the notion of the Goth.

45Another Brick In The Wall - The Best Days Of Our Lives?20131106

From blackboards to interactive whiteboards, from hopscotch to laptops, schools will have changed significantly in the last 60 years, but the essential experience probably stays similar. One's school years are a bittersweet time - exciting yet exhausting, surprising yet sometimes sad, rewarding yet routine, interesting yet interminable. It's also where we start to find ourselves, and where we start to form alliances and swear allegiances in friendships, sport, fashion and music. We swap tapes and CDs, learn songs, take sides (Beatles or Stones? Bowie or Bolan? Spice Girls or All Saints?), discuss what happened on last night's Top Of The Pops and make our first tentative steps into tribalism.

Our school years play a huge part in shaping who and what we become. As such, it's little surprise that there are so many songs about school and that so many are big hits; from the light-hearted, like Chuck Berry's School Day, to the whimsical, say, Madness' Baggy Trousers, to the rebellious Alice Cooper's School's Out, with its gleeful boast that school's been blown to pieces! And in this episode, we'll feature Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall, a view of education that is sour and sardonic.

Rock 'n roll is a young man's game, so it's little wonder that a large number of bands are formed at school or college but what's more surprising is the number of ones that go onto great things; U2, Coldplay, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Queen are among the most notable and successful examples. And still fresh from education, many bands have written songs about their experiences. From The Clash to Calvin Harris, from Radiohead to Cliff Richard, Bullet For My Valentine to Belle And Sebastian, and from the Kaiser Chiefs to The Kinks, songs about school are ubiquitous in the pop canon.

46Living In The Past - Progressive And Art-school Rock20131113

Coming at the end of the '60s, Living In The Past was one of the first hit singles of what was to become known as Progressive Rock, a genre of music which is thought to have come into full fruition with the release of King Crimson's In The Court Of The Crimson King. Marrying poetic, esoteric lyrics with deft, knotty arrangements and virtuoso musicianship, it proved that rock music could be arty, thoughtful and grown up. Although it became a dirty word, "progressive" was a positive thing, the desire to want to try and push the boundaries of rock to almost breaking point. It was something for any musician to aspire to. It was also, from around 1969 to maybe 1975, a regular staple of the pop charts. In fact Living In The Past was a top ten hit despite being in the slightly tricky time signature of 5/4, and thus not so easy for the kids to dance to.

Prog Rock was very much a British creation, and very much the product of well-educated kids; at the very least grammar school educated but more likely kids from private schools. This was thoughtful, intelligent music made by thoughtful, intelligent young men (and it was almost always young men). As such, the criticisms of the music being elitist could have been as much to do with the class system as it was to musical snobbery. But there was also a second group of bands that were more likely to be loved and championed by regular working class kid, and they were the art-school bands like Roxy Music, Gang Of Four or Talking Heads, bands that were also cerebral and considered, but less tricky, less self-important and much easier to dance to.

According to rock folklore the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Clash came along and destroyed all of the Prog bands, but in truth this was blatantly nonsense.

Stuart focusses on the era of Progressive Rock music.

47Our House - Home Is Where The Heart Is20131120

The cliché goes that an Englishman's home is his castle, but like most clichés it's also a truism. Unlike many of our European neighbours (say France or Germany), we believe that owning our own property is something to aspire to, with the peak coming in 2005 when 71% of householders owned their own property. We as a nation view our homes as something more than just a place to lay our heads or raise our kids; the sheer number of DIY shops on our high streets and property shows on our televisions are testament to this. A house is simply the most expensive and personal investment most of us will make in our lifetimes and as such we take the upkeep and personalisation of our homes very seriously.

Following the destruction wrought by Germany during World War II, whole cities were essentially rebuilt from the ground up (or by joining together a number of smaller towns), and from the '60s onwards, new towns, like Basildon or Newton Aycliffe, were also created to re-house displaced families. Come the '80s, one of Margaret Thatcher's flagship policies was allowing people the chance to purchase their own homes from local councils, which led to a big increase in home ownership and allowed families the chance to get a foot on the property ladder. And a little trivia here; Our House was used on the trailer for the Meryl Streep film about Margaret Thatcher The Iron Lady. Coincidence or a nod to the part Thatcher played in our nation's desire to purchase our own homes?

Madness are a much-loved national treasure, and one of those bands who, like The Kinks or Blur, are quintessentially British and speak of a specific time and place. Our House is so deeply enmeshed in our culture that its use on property and renovation shows has become a lazy cliché.

Stuart studies how the importance of home ownership in Britain is mirrored in pop music.

48Solsbury Hill - Our Love Of The Countryside20131127

Stuart Maconie ponders how popular music reflects Britain's love of the great outdoors.

The 24th April, 1932 saw the Mass Trespass when nearly 500 walkers left Manchester, Sheffield and other towns and cities to meet in the Peak District to defy landowners and their claims that this land was private and not for the pleasure of mere plebs. Arrests were made that day, but in 1949 the National Parks were created for the purpose of allowing the masses access to the nation's land. This in itself is doubly indicative of us as a nation; we love our countryside and we're prepared to fight against something we perceive as unjust and unfair.

For people living in what were once smog-choked cities like Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Birmingham or Port Talbot, there was a need to escape to the countryside come the weekend; walking and taking the air was a blessed relief, and often an absolute necessity. In time it became a huge part of our leisure time, an escape from the overwhelming bustle and even claustrophobia of our urban areas.

Unfortunately, whilst we can all visit the countryside for a ramble and a change of pace and scenery, it's getting harder and harder to actually live in Britain's bucolic countryside. In straitened economic times, it's tough to find work anywhere, but especially in our rural areas. If you add to this the difficulty in getting onto the property ladder in the countryside, forcing younger people to search for jobs and homes in our nation's metropolitan areas, our nation's demographics are constantly changing.

49Radio Ga Ga - A Celebration Of Radio20131204

So what better way to wind up our epic radio series, than to feature a song that celebrates radio itself?

Queen's 1984 number two single might seem something of an odd, possibly even banal track on first listen, but in truth it's deeper than first impressions might suggest. The Queen classic references two legendary radio events; Churchill's Finest Hour speech (as heard in the very first The People's Songs) and also Orson Welles' infamous War of The Worlds broadcast. But more than that, it's a heartfelt diatribe against the dumbing-down of radio station playlists, although this is not something Radio 2 can be accused of doing; boasting, as it does, possibly the most eclectic and wide-ranging programming on the planet. Such a diverse musical menu has been echoed in The People's Songs. In this epic series we've covered everything from Vera Lynn to Black Sabbath, Lonnie Donegan to Dizzie Rascal, Millie Small to Jethro Tull with every sort of musical genre in between.

Though the plethora of ways we can access and listen to music is now dizzying, the radio is still the single most popular way of finding new music and enjoying old favourites. So in this penultimate episode, we'll let the nation reminisce about radio, from Listen With Mother to listening with Peel. Friday night meant it was Music Night or it could mean tuning into The Rock Show. Generations of our nation's pop kids, have huddled under the covers with a portable radio to enjoy whatever we might happen to stumble across on the airwaves, even if it meant tuning and re-tuning the radio to find the illicit thrills of the pirate radio stations. And millions of kids have taken part in the weekly ritual of tuning in for the chart countdown with their cassette recorder or notebook, to record their favourite tracks or make a physical record of what's gone up or down in the nation's Top Forty.

For 90 years now, British radio has been a consistent source of company, a firm friend and a marvellous musical mentor. So having spent the last year in each other's company, let's finish with this celebration of why we're all here: the radio.

50Merry Xmas Everybody - The People's Choice20131211

From the very earliest days of The People's Songs planning, and in particular a lively evening of brainstorming and beer in the King's Arms, Salford, we decided that the final song, the track that would be at the heart of the fiftieth episode should be chosen by a listener. We thought that the scope of the narrative that we'd planned was broad and all-encompassing, from war to peace, school to work, from the Falklands to Ulster, and the silliness of the 'Ying Tong Song' to the exuberance of 'She Loves You' and 'You Should be Dancing' to the portentous solemnity of 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' and the gravity of 'Shipbuilding'. But it was possible we'd overlooked something, either a great song or a significant event or important issue. And seeing as that final show would be around Christmas time, when specials were abounding, we felt that a different kind of show would be a good 'season finale' as our American cousins would say

So we asked for your People's Song and you duly obliged, with suggestions that ranged from anarcho-punk to disability rights, from brass bands to backpacking and gap years, prison culture to the British love of beer. Many of you suggested the death of Princess Diana and the subsequent shift in the very nature of Britishness from a country that showed the world a stiff upper lip to a nation that seems to revel in public outpourings of emotion... or at least sentiment. And of course Elton John's 'Candle In The Wind' was the perfect song. But on reflection, we felt that those issues had been touched on in other shows, not least the 'Things Can Only Get Better' episode about the Blair landslide and the seismic events of 1997, which had included the death of the People's Princess.

In the end, we went with the most popular suggestion. Slade's 'Merry Xmas Everybody' and Christmas itself, not just because it would make for a topical festive show but because Christmas looms large not just over our pop music - the Xmas number one is still the one chart-topper of the year that seems to excite public interest - but also because it gave us a chance to talk about related issues; the British love of a celebration and a party, family, work and the commercialisation of leisure.

So Noddy and Xmas it is. What remains now is for you to share with us your thoughts and memories, of that song itself of course, and the bleak, candle-lit Britain of 1973 it was released into, but of the importance of Xmas itself, perhaps how it has become a pan-religious celebration of 'Britishness' even to those not of the Christian faith.

Share your comments and stories

Your contributions will play a key part in this episode, take a look at the questions below and send us your thoughts:

What do you enjoy most - and least - about the festive period?

What are your memories of Christmas as a child? How do you think the festive season has changed over the years?

Do you have any special family traditions at Christmas?

What songs do you most associate with this time of year? And how do they make you feel?

What has been your best (or worst) Christmas present and why was it so exciting (or disappointing)?

You can send us an email now or read about other ways to contribute.