Rock 'n' Roll Britannia

Rock 'n' Roll Britannia



It’s difficult now to fathom all the fuss over the arrival of rock ’n’ roll. Or is it easy? One mouth-foaming newspaper rant from 1956 called it “deplorable”, “tribal”, and worse. But the Beeb was similarly timorous, as this pre-Beatles retrospective shows while tracing the roots of British rock via washboard-tastic skiffle and a flurry of Elvis wannabes.

Cliff Richard admits he got lucky, and we see his 1950s self a-moving and, indeed, a-grooving. As ever, the researchers have uncovered top-drawer archive (Six-Five Special host Pete Murray jiving to a trombone solo) and managed to track down yesterday’s heroes. They include spry pensioner Cherry Wainer, who knocks out a burst of Hoots Mon on her organ (a number one for her and Lord Rockingham’s XI in 1958).

It’s another invigorating instalment of this peerless documentary strand. Britannia still rules the airwaves.


A look back at the beginnings of British rock 'n' roll, when acts such as the Shadows and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates helped to lay the foundations of an enduring musical culture. Including the current line-up of the Quarrymen - forerunners of the Beatles - performing Rock Island Line, and contributions by Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Joe Brown and Bruce Welch. Narrated by Roger McGough.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Roger McGough
Contributor Cliff Richard
Contributor Marty Wilde
Contributor Joe Brown
Contributor Bruce Welch
Contributor Cherry Wainer
Contributor The Quarrymen
Director Ben Whalley
Executive Producer Mark Cooper
Producer Ben Whalley
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