Kings Cross broadcasts through time – courtesy of the #BBCgenome

BBC-LogoThe wonderful archive team at the BBC have put almost the entire contents of the Radio Times from 1923-2009 online in a project known as the BBC genome.  It’s a glorious resource you could get lost in for hours.  A quick search there for Kings Cross (and below for King’s Cross the BBC are apostrophe pedants) amid all the railway stuff provides some absolute gems from the sublime to the ridiculous.  Here’s a tantalising glimpse of a John Mortimer Play ‘Kings Cross Lunch Hour’

‘A play written in 1960, the TV adaptation became part of Thirty Minute Theatre twelve years later. John Mortimer’s style is much more spare here, when what’s not said is more significant than what is.

Joss Ackland and Pauline Collins play management and office girl on a lunch break in a seedy hotel in Kings Cross, run by Lila Kaye (a natural barmaid if there ever was one). They’re just there for an assignation – but Ackland’s dug a big hole for himself trying to invent a back story for why they’re there.

Collins is the perfect flighty girl from the typing pool – fake furs, giggles, and all. Ackland plays the repressed and frustrated boss perfectly, the glances at his watch showing agitation as everything conspires against the two of them being alone.

Dialogue-wise, this is a complex play but a successful one. In a short running time, we sympathise and empathise with the characters and get involved in their little story. And Kaye provides marvellous support, bristling behind her starchy outfit.’

According to Didi-5 at IMDB.  This was one of the ‘Thirty Minute Theatre’ productions

But if you search for King’s Cross (the BBC are apostrophe pedants it would seem – perhaps an apostrophe is more RP?) then you get a different view of the archive.

The piece I desperately want to hear is from 1933

A burlesque by the King’s Cross (London) Welsh Tabernacle Literary Society from King’s Cross Welsh Tabernacle Chapel, London
Lord Mayor…….The Rev. Elfed Lewis Principal Guest…….Lady Shan Teify
(Miss Janet Evans )
Master of Ceremonies
Sir Hurstwood Harries
(H. 0. Harries)

A burlesque by a Welsh Tabernacle Literary Society – fabulous

And this one from 1925 seems absolutely bonkers – Children’s Corner by a Welsh Druid from the Welsh Tabernacle in Kings Cross at the Piccadilly Hotel, which in those days of course had it’s own orchestra (for more on the Tabernacle search for it on this long British History page about Pentonville Road – fabulous to see the BBC broadcasting in Welsh in the 1920s and this interview in Kings Cross Voices)

2LO London, 1 March 1925 17.00

S.B. to all Stations.
Welsh Service.
Conducted by the ARCH-DRUID Helnyed from the Welsh Tabernacle, King’s Cross, London. S.B. to other Stations.
Relayed from
The Piccadilly Hotel, London.
S.B. to other Stations.

And there is even a Goon Show 

‘Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan in ‘ Foiled by President Fred ‘
Two poverty-stricken foreign devils, Sefior Grytpype-thynne and Count Moriarty, skint to the wide, are one day watching TV in their chicken-run in a King’s Cross back alley when Neddie Seagoon arrives to empty the gas meter.’

And a reminder that Roland Rat’s ratcave was under Kings Cross Station

Live from the Ratcave studios underneath King’s Cross station it’s the international megastar with another scintillating show.
A strange pet arrives for Little Reggie and joins the other bunch of hangers-on in the Ratcave, thus assuring itself of fame and fortune for the rest of its life. But who is this strange pet? Professor Stanley Unwin and Margaret Thatcher are among the lucky guests in the programme that refreshes the parts other shows cannot reach.

The Radio Times is of course merely the data that tells us about the programmes (what the geeks call ‘metadata’).  Now if only the archive itself was online, we could replay these broadcasts to the modern Kings Cross community and connect them with their past, in situ.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
This entry was posted in Arts and Entertainment, Community stuff, Film and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Kings Cross broadcasts through time – courtesy of the #BBCgenome

  1. It’s always worth taking a look at the Pathe News site ( for films about your area. A search for King’s Cross brings up a number of them, including footage of the Duke of Kent’s body being brought back to London in 1942.

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