Friday, 4 January 2013

The legendary Charles Chilton

Those of us who fondly remember "Riders of the Range" on radio and in the Eagle comic followed by "Journey into Space" were greatly cheered by Charles Chilton's revelation on a BBC Radio 4 reminiscence programme that not only was he still alive -and lively - in the twenty-first century but also that he had maintained a private archive of recordings of his work. We also learned of his socialism (which led to the radio ballads and to "Oh, what a lovely war") and his previous achievements, including contriving to produce the first jazz programmes on BBC against the prevailing conservatism of the management. I, for one, looked forward to further revelations. Sadly, he has died, aged 95.

The print obituaries will no doubt cast light on other aspects of his career, but it is already clear that he will go down as one of the great radio producers, not only in the UK but in English-language broadcasting worldwide.


Frank H Little said...

I can't resist adding a tale from a long-ago programme of reminiscence by Val Doonican. One of his earliest gigs was as a member of "Sons of the Saddle", the group which interspersed the dialogue of "Riders of the Range" with Western songs. In those days, the programme went out live. Doonican recalled an occasion when the hero Jeff Arnold was supposed to sound a warning about a herd of wild horses, which instead came out as a "horde of wild hearses". He reckoned that virtually all the performers corpsed apart from the actor playing Jeff Arnold, who had to carry the show on his own for the next few minutes.

There is the transcript of an interview with Charles Chilton here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Frank,

I just stumbled across your blog entry about Charles Chilton and thought you might like to know that BBC Radio 4 Extra are airing a whole host of Chilton programmes to mark the anniversary of his death. You can listen to them here:

Debbie Sheringham

Frank H Little said...

Thanks, Debbie, and for those in the UK who missed the first transmission of these programmes there is the BBC iPlayer.