On May 1st 1976 this intriguing listing appeared for 11pm on BBC2:
Open Door was a programme produced by the BBC’s Community Programme Unit. It was first broadcast on 2 April 1973, and was a platform for the public to talk about its own issues and give their own views without editorial input.
“Speak With One Voice” was the result of a much performed and adapted script by Clarion, taking in trade union and labour history, various manifestations of “May Day“, and culminating in this broadcast on the fiftieth anniversary of the General Strike.
Although now dated in it’s style, the content resonates with contemporary issues, and the cry of the bosses: “We’re all in it together” is not a million miles from the rhetoric of a certain Mr Cameron in a Tory Conference address.
The resulting ensemble piece showcased the many talents of individual members of the Birmingham Clarion Singers, whilst also foregrounding the strength of the collective.
In a further twist to the story, the two Chartist songs performed in the programme became the subject of a copyright dispute, amicably resolved via the Performing Rights Society:
Here, for the first time online, is a brief extract from the programme, with an introduction by Martin Marshall to “A Hundred Years, A Thousand Years”, composed by Eric Hudes, and performed by Birmingham Clarion Singers:
The full version of the programme is now only available on a handful of rare VHS cassettes, with no plans to release the video more widely.
It is lodged with the BFI here.