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Like Blackpool Went Through Rock

In the late 1950s, folk musicians Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger and BBC radio producer Charles Parker joined forces on a radio endeavor unlike anything the BBC (or the world, for that matter) had heard before.

2008 / Sara Parker / Third Coast Conference, UK

In the late 1950s, folk musicians Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger and BBC radio producer Charles Parker joined forces on a radio endeavor unlike anything the BBC (or the world, for that matter) had heard before.

By 1964 the trio had carved their place in radio history with the Radio Ballads, eight documentaries that brought voices from England's furthest corners and least-celebrated communities to the airwaves in one-hour, non-narrated programs that were part radio documentary, part sound-rich poetry, and part musical tapestry.

The first Radio Ballad, The Ballad of John Axon, told the story of a steam-locomotive driver from Stockport who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for an act of heroism when he refused to abandon his runaway train, saving the lives of others at the expense of his own.

To mark the 50th anniversary of The Ballad of John Axon, Sara Parker (daughter of Charles) and Sean Street collaborated on Like Blackpool Went Through Rock, revisiting the making of this monumental radio program, and exploring the Radio Ballads' influence on today's documentary makers and audiences. The program is a Falling Tree production.


produced by

Sara Parker

Sara Parker is an award-winning independent producer, mainly for BBC Radio.


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