I shall be a-chatting on the radio....

Auditioning For Auntie

Journalist and broadcaster Pete Paphides delves into the BBC auditions process for aspiring bands of the 1950s and 1960s such as The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Pink Floyd.

Throughout this era, any artist hoping to achieve wider national recognition would have to try and secure national radio exposure. To do this, they would have to meet the exacting standards of a small but powerful board of assessors within the BBC.

Producers and sound engineers of the time remember the sessions, and musicians such as Peter Hammill of Van der Graaf Generator, Judy Dyble of Fairport Convention and Alvin Stardust recall their audition processes.

The audition panels' notes are carefully kept to this day in the BBC Archive. Nick Drake's notes, for example read as follows: "Suitable to broadcast, but would probably only be in specialist late night programmes. Type of artist who would appear on 'John Peel' record label – underground, folky. YES."

Among the artists the BBC weren't initially convinced about were The Rolling Stones, while the errant behaviour of other groups' recording BBC sessions (for example Pink Floyd) threatened their relationship with the Corporation.

Presenter/ Pete Paphides, Producer/ Laura Parfitt for a White Pebble Media production

BBC Radio 4 Publicity

Ep 1/1

Monday 21 October