Mary Payne was privileged to be invited to attend the premiere in Fort Worth, Texas
When he began organising his Swinging Radio England/Britain Radio Reunion in London in 2006, Grey Pierson, son of the dual stations' late founder Don, was already working on making a professional TV documentary. Grey felt it was high time both the media and the general public learnt about the important contribution that the USA and in particular the Lone Star State of Texas, had made to British radio. He commissioned the dramatised documentary Swinging Radio England - a tale of Pirates, Texans and Teenagers, as a tribute to his father and co-directed it with Brian Greene.
In 1964, Don Pierson and his best friend Tom Danaher launched Radio London, broadcasting from the ex-WWII minesweeper USS Density, renamed the mv Galaxy, off the coast of Essex. After a split with Big L's British management, they acquired another ship and launched Radio England/Britain Radio – stations with two different formats aboard one vessel, the Olga Patricia, renamed Laissez-Faire – in 1966. Swinging Radio England was a young, high-energy Top Forty format with numerous jingles and fast-talking, echo-enhanced 'Boss Jocks', while sister station Britain Radio was more genteel, its middle-of-the-road music intended to capture an older audience.
Amy Greene, of film-makers Greene HD Productions, interviewed guests attending the Radio England/Britain Radio Reunion at the Red Lion in Mayfair in 2006. The finished documentary, directed by Amy, also features Radio London and interviews with Big L DJs Dave Cash and Pete Brady and there's some great footage of the Galaxy (then called the Manoula) being kitted out in Miami.
Swinging Radio England – a tale of Pirates, Texans and Teenagers is narrated by Steve England and shows the present-day interviews interspersed with live action shots of young actors portraying the interviewees as they were in the Sixties. These sections depicting the swinging decade are shown in monochrome, to great effect. The Pharos Trust's LV18 lightship, anchored in Harwich harbour, provided the perfect vessel for shooting the scenes based aboard the original Radio England ship, Laissez-Faire.
Greene HD Productions is to be congratulated on an excellent and entertaining programme. Various TV companies have expressed interest in airing the documentary, but so far, there is no information concerning showing times, or release on DVD.
Mary Payne, May 2008
(Above) Mary is interviewed at the Red Lion. In the finished programme, a very attractive young lady portrays Mary's younger self. Among the featured interviewees are original DJs Roger Day, Larry Dean, Dave Gilbee, Phil Martin, Ron O'Quinn, Rick Randall, John Ross-Barnard and Johnnie Walker.