The Shipping Forecast – the BBC celebrates its own institution

BBC Radio Shipping Forecast programme

My thanks to Malcolm Woods for spotting this BBC Radio programme about songs and poems inspired by the BBC’s famous The Shipping Forecast.

I suspect some of it was informed by the Wikipedia’s The Shipping Forecast entry.

It may not sound like much to the rest of the world, but for people in the British Isles, and particularly sailing folk, the forecast’s  mellifluous sound, its steady, soporific rhythm and the exciting-sounding places it conjures up make it a favourite icon of radio.

‘The Shipping Forecast has long provided essential, potentially life-saving, information for those at sea around the British Isles. But the forecast also has a history of sparking the imagination and creativity of those firmly on land – music, poetry and artworks of all kinds have been inspired by it.

‘Award-winning folk artist Lisa Knapp, who has herself written a song inspired by the daily forecast, takes a musical and poetic voyage through the watery regions of the Shipping Forecast and examines the appeal it holds for land-bound musicians, poets and writers.

‘From the poetry of Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy to the music of Radiohead, Blur and Jethro Tull, the forecast has ingrained itself into Britain’s creative arts. Many have employed the Shipping Forecast’s natural rhythm and multitude of connotations to conjure up feelings of familiarity and strangeness, of community and alienation, of safety and danger.

‘Lisa reflects on her own fondness for a forecast for which, in reality, she has no need, but which has ignited her imagination and taken her off to distant mythical lands. She hears from fellow musicians and writers who have been influenced by the Shipping Forecast and finds out how this regular informational broadcast captured their imaginations.

‘Poet Sean Street, songwriter Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and composer Cecilia McDowall are among those to share their thoughts on the forecast’s appeal.’

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