Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01Stockwell20190902

Political historian Peter Hennessy reads from his new study of Britain in the early 1960s.

Peter grew up in Nympsfield in the Cotswolds and, apart from the excitements of new music from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, satirical TV in the form of That Was the Week that Was and the coming of the first motorways, those adolescent days were overshadowed by the threat of nuclear war. Not least in the form of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s top-secret nuclear-proof stronghold, code-named Stockwell, which was being built just a few miles away.

Written and Read by Peter Hennessy
Adapted for radio by Libby Spurrier
Produced by Simon Elmes

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4

02The World Crisis - From Berlin To Cuba20190903

Political historian Peter Hennessy reads from his new study of Britain in the early 1960s.

In the nuclear standoff of the Cold War, two great nightmare events stalked the early 1960s and the premiership of Harold Macmillan. He called it The World Crisis which manifested itself first on the streets of the now divided pre-war German capital, Berlin. Following the end of the Second World War, the city was overseen by the Soviet Union, the USA, the British and the French. As tension flared across the line of division between east and west Berlin, tanks appeared on the streets and the infamous wall was erected to keep the sectors apart.

Shortly after the wall went up, Cuba became the focus of world tension as Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev sent vast quantities of weaponry to the Communist-ruled Caribbean island, targeting the nearby United States. A young and still relatively inexperienced US President, John F Kennedy, had to decide how to confront the new threat in his backyard.

Written and Read by Peter Hennessy
Adapted for radio by Libby Spurrier
Produced by Simon Elmes

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4

03End Of The Line - From Beeching To Profumo20190904

Political historian Peter Hennessy reads from his new study of Britain in the early 1960s.

Of the many crises to assail the government of Harold Macmillan, what came to be known as the Profumo Affair was the most lurid and most talked about among ordinary voters. John Profumo was Macmillan’s Secretary of State for War who became embroiled in a scandal involving Soviet spies, call-girls and wild society parties. Profumo was forced to resign and the scandal tainted the political fortunes of the Conservative party for years afterwards.

Also reaching the end of the line were the steam trains and branch lines axed as a result of the notorious report on the future of the railway network by the boss of British Railways, Richard Beeching.

Written and Read by Peter Hennessy
Adapted for radio by Libby Spurrier
Produced by Simon Elmes

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4

04The Young Ones20190905

Political historian Peter Hennessy reads from his new study of Britain in the early 1960s.

Top of the Pops was one of a number of TV shows created to showcase the tsunami of new, exciting pop and rock music sweeping across the western world. And when heart throb Cliff Richard sang about going on a Summer Holiday as he drove his double-decker bus to France in the hit film of 1963, he was echoing another social phenomenon of the swinging sixties, the package holiday to Europe.

But if the costas were swarming with Brits abroad, traditional English resorts like Margate, Clacton and Brighton found themselves overrun by rival marauding mobs of young biker thugs, the Mods and the Rockers, whose punch-ups tarnished the annual bucket-and-spade outings for many Brits who decided to holiday at home.

Written and Read by Peter Hennessy
Adapted for radio by Libby Spurrier
Produced by Simon Elmes

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4

Political historian Peter Hennessy reads from his new study of Britain in the early 1960s.

04The Young Ones20190905

Political historian Peter Hennessy reads from his new study of Britain in the early 1960s.

Top of the Pops was one of a number of TV shows created to showcase the tsunami of new, exciting pop and rock music sweeping across the western world. And when heart throb Cliff Richard sang about going on a Summer Holiday as he drove his double-decker bus to France in the hit film of 1963, he was echoing another social phenomenon of the swinging sixties, the package holiday to Europe.

But if the costas were swarming with Brits abroad, traditional English resorts like Margate, Clacton and Brighton found themselves overrun by rival marauding mobs of young biker thugs, the Mods and the Rockers, whose punch-ups tarnished the annual bucket-and-spade outings for many Brits who decided to holiday at home.

Written and Read by Peter Hennessy
Adapted for radio by Libby Spurrier
Produced by Simon Elmes

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4

05The Changing of the Guard20190906

Political historian Peter Hennessy reads from his new study of Britain in the early 1960s.

The politics of the early 1960s were dominated by the premiership of Harold Macmillan. But when the ageing and infirm Prime Minister decided to resign, his replacement as leader of the Conservative administration was a lofty-voiced peer, Lord Home, who had been Macmillan’s Foreign Secretary. Obliged to give up his peerage, the former Fourteenth Earl, now plain Alec Douglas-Home, was PM for under a year - when he was defeated in October 1964 by his pipe-smoking nemesis, the Yorkshire-vowelled Labour leader, Harold Wilson, in one of the closest-fought British general elections of all time.

Written and Read by Peter Hennessy
Adapted for radio by Libby Spurrier
Produced by Simon Elmes

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4

Political historian Peter Hennessy reads from his new study of Britain in the early 1960s.

05The Changing of the Guard20190906

Political historian Peter Hennessy reads from his new study of Britain in the early 1960s.

The politics of the early 1960s were dominated by the premiership of Harold Macmillan. But when the ageing and infirm Prime Minister decided to resign, his replacement as leader of the Conservative administration was a lofty-voiced peer, Lord Home, who had been Macmillan’s Foreign Secretary. Obliged to give up his peerage, the former Fourteenth Earl, now plain Alec Douglas-Home, was PM for under a year - when he was defeated in October 1964 by his pipe-smoking nemesis, the Yorkshire-vowelled Labour leader, Harold Wilson, in one of the closest-fought British general elections of all time.

Written and Read by Peter Hennessy
Adapted for radio by Libby Spurrier
Produced by Simon Elmes

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4