The Good Old Days? (Sunday Feature)
Broadcast on BBC Radio 3
Sunday 29 November 2009 22:00-22:45
Billy Bragg grew up in East London to the sound of his nan singing old music hall songs such as Don't Dilly Dally and Any Old Iron. In this programme he goes on a journey to explore the hidden history of this seminal but often misunderstood part of Britain's popular music heritage.
Perceptions of the victorian music hall were shaped by the long-running TV series The Good Old Days. Billy strips away the cosy nostalgia to reveal what was, in fact, Britain's first pop music – an urban folk culture in which raucous song vied with cut-throat commercialism.
His journey takes him from Abney Park cemetery, resting place of several music hall stars, to the Museum of London and Wilton's Music Hall, the last big music hall in the East End that survives from the mid-19th century. Among the experts he talks to are Professor Jacqueline Bratton of the University of London, Professor Derek Scott of the University of Leeds and Professor Jeffrey Richards from the University of Lancaster. The journey culminates in a specially staged performance in which Billy dons a pearly suit and gives his own characteristic take on some classic songs.
Presenter/Billy Bragg, Producer/Adam Lively
captured from iPlayer, 128kbps 44Khz, runtime 44:04