Radio Times Treasure Hunt recovers lost BBC programme
An episode of radio show Workers' Playtime dating back to 1949 has been unearthed thanks to the campaign.
A previously lost 1949 episode of BBC Radio's Workers' Playtime has been unearthed thanks to Radio Times Treasure Hunt, a campaign to discover lost TV and radio that was launched last October.
The episode was recorded on 9th March 1949 and broadcast on 26th July and is the only surviving edition from that year – with the BBC archives holding only seven copies dating from earlier than our find.
Workers' Playtime was launched in 1941 to boost the morale of wartime factory workers and was broadcast from a canteen "somewhere in Britain".
This episode was recorded at a building site, A Smith & Son in Cosham, Portsmouth, where 200 houses were being constructed for people whose homes had been bombed.
The recording, on six 78rpm discs, now belongs to Lesley People and her sister Dawn Holder, who live in West Sussex. Their father, Len Smith, was a works foreman.
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Speaking to Radio Times, Dawn said: "Being at Workers' Playtime was one of my dad's proudest moments, he was chuffed to bits. My mother [Flora] and father talked about it all the time.
"The records have moved around from house to house with us, and my mother looked after them as if they were a baby."
Meanwhile, Dawn – who was 15 at the time of the recording – remembers the event well and recalled the arrival of actress Beryl Reid and comedian Stainless Stephen.
"Beryl Reid was lovely and very friendly," she said. "She arrived in her fur coat and high-heeled shoes on this cold, wet, muddy day. It was horrible weather, but it was good fun. Stainless Stephen loved taking the mickey out of everyone. After the war, things were very austere, so we enjoyed it."
Although Lesley was three and too young to remember it, both sisters agreed the records are special.
"It's nice to have a bit of history we can look back on and listen to," Lesley said. "It brought tears to Dawn's eyes when she heard it. It's fond memories for her."
And Dawn added: "The records will be passed down in the family. I think they'll be around in the next 100 years."
To listen to the recording, you can search Workers' Playtime 1949 at bbc.co.uk/archive.
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