Top Of The Box Vol. 2


Top Of The Box Vol. 2 by Tim Worthington - the story behind every album released by BBC Records And Tapes.

From Play School Play On to Russell Grant’s Zodiac Jukebox, the story behind every album released by BBC Records And Tapes.

Between 1967 and 1991, BBC Records And Tapes released more than seven hundred albums. These featured everything from collections of theme tunes and full radio plays to sound effects, academic lectures, Radio 2 house bands being let loose on synthesisers, and an unlikely assortment of public figures being invited to express their love of flowers. Some are welcome reminders of some of the BBC’s most popular programmes ever. Others are valuable documents of programmes that came and went and which in some cases there is little else left of now. Others still it’s difficult to fathom why anyone believed that their potential audience might extend beyond double figures. Then there are the dozens and dozens of albums of birdsong; so many, in fact, that they could probably drive even the most patient of listeners to eat worms.

From records based on Doctor Who, EastEnders, The Magic Roundabout, Play School, Not The Nine O’Clock News, The Singing Detective, Fawlty Towers and Top Of The Pops to records based on Disc A Dawn, The Hot Shoe Show, Rubovia, Pebble Mill At One, The Paul Daniels Magic Show and Hold Tight – It’s Lena!, from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to Nick Berry, from Get Fit With The Green Goddess to John Peel’s Archive Things, from Let’s Have Another One! to Sound An Alarm!, Top Of The Box Vol 2. tells the story behind each of these albums and even a couple that weren’t released. Including all of the birdsong. So much birdsong…


Top Of The Box, the story behind every album released by BBC Records And Tapes, is available here.

Doctor Who - The Sensorites


Doctor Who - The Sensorites (1964).

To a certain kind of viewer and enthusiast of 'old stuff', there are few things more exciting than early black and white Doctor Who, particularly at the height of 'Dalekmania'. Unfortunately, there are also a handful of stories that for various aren't quite as exciting, and 1964's The Sensorites is one of them. After a spooky and atmospheric first episode, it never really gets going and I have to admit that, despite the fact that it's got pretty much everything I'm looking for in sixties television and I really, really want to like it, it fails to hold my attention to the extent that whenever I try to watch it, I usually end up forgetting which episode I'm up to and have to look it up; sometimes even when I start watching the same episode again by mistake, I don't even notice until halfway through.

There's Not An Ounce Of Curiosity In Me! is a light-hearted feature on my attempts to make it through The Sensorites without losing my place, and to find out if there are actually reasons worth persevering with it after all, which you can read on my site here or find in a longer form in my book Can't Help Thinking About Me here. If you're interested in early Doctor Who, you can also listen to me debating its supposed 'problematic' reputation with Emma Burnell and Steve Fielding on the politics-meets-pop-culture show The Zeitgeist Tapes here.

The Larks Ascending

The Larks Ascending is a complete guide to comedy, humour and downright oddness on BBC Radio 3, from Kenneth Williams’ archival documentaries about strolling players who never existed, through Rowan Atkinson’s academic profiles of public figures who never existed, right up to Armando Iannucci’s interval talks about composers who did exist, but they’re fitting around him and his using his ears whether they like it or not. There’s Chris Morris interviewing Peter Cook (and getting in trouble), BBC Radiophonic Workshop hi-jinks, the first ever proper staging of Joe Orton’s unused film script for The Beatles, some sitcoms that definitely wouldn’t appeal to viewers waiting for Coronation Street, satire, silliness, and a couple of plays about cricket. And if that’s just not highbrow enough for you, then you could always enrol at The Half-Open University…

Featuring in-depth looks at little-known and little-heard works by Peter Cook, Sue Townsend, Ivor Cutler, Kenneth Williams, N.F. Simpson, Peter Tinniswood, Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci, Malcolm Bradbury, John Sessions, Joe Orton, David Renwick And Andrew Marshall, Rowan Atkinson, Toby Hadoke, The National Theatre Of Brent, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop and more, The Larks Ascending is the full history of silliness and satire on the channel that Dr. Hans Keller called a 'daytime music station'. Priced at just a few pence*!

(*Please direct all complaints about actual price to Peter Weevil and John Throgmorton, Polyphonica Neasdeniensis)

Paperback - Kindle

You can hear me talking about the book and some of the shows featured in it here: