Spencer Leigh radio documentaries

This collection consists of three radio documentary series by music journalist and broadcaster Spencer Leigh on the music of Liverpool, particularly the Merseybeat era. The documentaries were written by Leigh, who also interviewed hundreds of contributors. They were broadcast on BBC Radio Merseyside between 1981 and 2007. These documentaries form part of a larger collection of Spencer Leigh’s work held at Liverpool Record Office, which also includes extensive notes for each series.

Uher tape recorder (public domain image uploaded by Huhu at German Wikipedia

‘Let’s Go Down The Cavern’ was a weekly series of twelve episodes, first broadcast in May 1981 and repeated in 1983. The series looks at the background to Merseybeat from the late 1950s through to the growing scene in Hamburg and the clubs in Liverpool. Interviewees are mostly musicians and a number of demo versions and unreleased recordings are unearthed and played for the first time on radio. Spencer Leigh hosts the series, which is produced by Jenny Collins, and is made up of interviews Leigh recorded on a Uher tape recorder. The tape reels digitised are the ones used for the rebroadcast in 1983.



‘Germany Calling’ was an eight-part weekly series exploring in more detail the links between Hamburg and the Beatles. Leigh interviews people from Liverpool and Hamburg, even recording walking around the notorious St. Pauli area at night. This series was first broadcast in May 2002 and produced by Georgina Furnell.


‘Soup & Sweat & Rock & Roll’ was another eight-part weekly series made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cavern club in Mathew Street, Liverpool. Looking at the club through the decades, from its beginnings as a jazz club in the fifties, its move across the road in the 1970s, right up to the gigs in recent years. This series was broadcast in May 2007 and produced by Colin Disley.


The full length interviews will be available at Liverpool Record Office in due course.

You can read the full descriptions online at the British Library’s Sound and Moving Image catalogue. The British Library collection reference is UAP023. The local reference is 780 LEI.


One comment

  1. Excellent documentaries and factual musical biographies by Spencer Leigh are a given. Strange then that BBC Radio Merseyside are currently unable to provide even a hour a week in its schedules for this diligent and professional broadcaster.

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