Times Remembered, by Barry Bermange and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Whilst browsing some back issues of the Radio Times recently, I found a listing for an early collaboration between the playwright Barry Bermange and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Bermange is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work with Delia Derbyshire on the Inventions for Radio series (BBC Third Programme, 1964-5), but it seems that at least one of his earlier radio programmes also benefitted from radiophonic treatment.

Barry Bermange’s Times Remembered was produced by David Thomson and broadcast by the BBC Home Service on 26th August 1963 at 10.30pm. It featured recordings of old people recalling the holidays of their youth, arranged by Bermange against a musical backing from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. As far as I can tell it’s not known who composed the music for Times Remembered, or if Delia Derbyshire was involved. It was BBC policy at the time to publish only a departmental credit for the Radiophonic Workshop where appropriate, rather than an acknowledgement of the individual composer.

As the master tape of Times Remembered appears to be lost, I guess the composer credit will remain a mystery (the programme master is indicated as missing in this detailed catalogue of surviving Radiophonic Workshop tapes, which Ray White has made available to download as a PDF on his White Files website). I have been unable to find any further information about this programme, but the Radio Times listing and introductory comments by Bermange give a good impression of its content. The following clippings were scanned from the relevant issue of the Radio Times in my personal collection (published 22nd August 1963).

The theme of Times Remembered follows on from some of Bermange’s earlier BBC radio programmes, including Freedom Hours (broadcast by the BBC Home Service on 20th July 1962), which featured old people talking about how they spent their time. This programme was also produced by David Thomson, but its Radio Times listing does not indicate any contribution by the Radiophonic Workshop; a review of Freedom Hours on the Sutton Elms Diversity website explains that the voices were recorded at an old people’s club, and that “sometimes a piano is heard behind the voices, but the music is not identifiable.”

Barry Bermange would later work with David Thomson on the Inventions for Radio series, whose final instalment (The Evenings of Certain Lives, broadcast 15th September 1965) concerns life in old age.