The Origins of Certain Lives: The Development, Reception and Influence of the 'Inventions for Radio' by Barry Bermange and Delia Derbyshire

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This article explores the four ‘Inventions for Radio’, first broadcast on the BBC’s Third Programme across 1964 and 1965, created by the dramatist Barry Bermange in collaboration with the composer and sound designer Delia Derbyshire. The ‘Inventions’ combined a collage of interviews, on subjects such as the existence of God, the process of ageing and the dream condition, with electronic music and soundscapes by Derbyshire. The ‘Inventions’ have been described as pioneering a ‘poetic realism’ and established a distinctive form of radio feature. Yet, existing scholarship on the radio feature has made little if any reference to the ‘Inventions’ and their authorship has been contested with Derbyshire’s role often uncredited and their development unclear. The article addresses how the ‘Inventions’ came into being and their immediate reception and influence. In doing so, the article argues that the ‘Inventions’ were important not just for their formal achievement but for their socio-political significance as well, integrating the thoughts and experiences of people from different socio- economic backgrounds and providing an atypical outlet for working class voices in particular, on subjects they would not normally be heard discussing on British radio and television at that time.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-846
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2019

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