We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here

The Culture Show

Swinging into the Blitz: A Culture Show Special

Swinging into the Blitz: A Culture Show Special

not currently available
Add this to your watchlist to find out when it is available via broadcast or catch-up.


Clemency Burton-Hill presents a companion piece to Stephen Poliakoff’s drama Dancing on the Edge (Mondays BBC2) with a neat history of swing bands in Britain.

Poliakoff is interviewed and talks of the “excitement, rawness and sexual energy” of 1930s jazz bands just like his fictional Louis Lester Band. And we learn that London is swinging again with a resurgence of the jive and jitterbug. Swing was pioneered in Britain by charismatic bandleader Ken “Snakehips” Johnson and Leslie Thompson, a gifted musician. The two forged a partnership in a band that became the toast of London. But tragedy dimmed the brilliance when London’s celebrated Café de Paris took a direct hit during the Blitz.


When a handful of musical immigrants from the Caribbean came to Britain in the 1920s and 30s, it was the beginning of both musical and political change. Clemency Burton-Hill investigates the stories of some of the black musicians who brought swing to the UK, including Jamaican trumpeter Leslie Thompson and bandleader Ken `Snakehips' Johnson from British Guiana.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Clemency Burton-Hill
Director Kath Pick
Editor Janet Lee
Series Producer Matthew Springford


Have Your Say What did you think of Swinging into the Blitz: A Culture Show Special?

view all comments (0)