From workshop to soundhouse - Managing the transformation of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

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Posted by APM on 19th Mar 2015

The East of England branch, Norwich group had an amazing evening on Tuesday 17th March 2015

Presented by Brian Hodgson, a composer at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop during the 1960s & 1970s, the group was led through the ups and downs faced by Brian and his team as they struggled for funding for and recognition of their pioneering work.

Frustrated by the struggle, Brian took a break to explore different artistic options but in 1977, he returned to Radiophonics having devised a 5 year plan to turn the workshop from a place where the composers had to struggle with the technology available to them, into a Soundhouse where composing music & special sounds could be their primary focus.

Brian described the controversial decisions he often had to make, dealing with BBC bureaucracy, ever tightening budgets and a multitude of other challenges around perception, the value of what he was doing, and even the idea that he could appoint or promote people based on their talent rather than their length of service!

What Brian and his team achieved was innovative and technically challenging, Brian showed us rare footage of how the sounds and music were created and explained how iconic sounds, including the sound of The Tardis and the voices of the Daleks came into being. The achievement he is most proud of from his time at the Radiophonic Workshop is managing the workshop's transformation from a place where the BBC sent its obsolete electronic equipment to die, to one described as the most advanced sound studio in Europe (as the European Chief Engineer of Yamaha Music put it). How all this was done despite the BBC bureaucracy, ever tightening budgets and a multitude of other challenges is the story.

Frank, fun, sad in places but totally fascinating! “

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