Another huge night for the amateurs

Another huge night for the amateurs


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2011

Non-UK readers, look away. This is strictly for citizens of the green and pleasant (I think).

The BBC, delving for grass roots, is appealing for amateur musicians from all over the land to play in a new recording of the signature tune of its longest-running daily soap – you know what it is: The Archers.

You can access the score and record any part for free. I would love to play an Ondes Martenot obbligato, but can’t find one. I’ll have to volunteer for a walk-on part in the show. Might write it myself: non-driving urban type, middle-aged gent, staggers into the Bull, desperate for a Nelson (work it out, used to be called a Johnny). Sid bars his way. Much comic embarrassment.

Here’s the press release:


BBC Radio 3 invites musicians to play The Archers’ theme tune for online orchestra performance


Radio 3 is inviting amateur musicians all over the country to be part of an online orchestra for a performance of The Archers theme tune. The melody Barwick Green is recognisable to millions of dedicated Radio 4 Archers listeners and is one of the great classics of British Light Music. Now amateur musicians can go to and record one of the 23 orchestral parts under the direction of conductor Gavin Sutherland. The recordings will be mixed into a complete performance for broadcast as part of Radio 3’s Light Fantastic – a celebration of British Light Music taking place 24 – 27 June, 2011.

The orchestral parts of The Archers’ theme are available to download free at Individual players are then invited to upload their performances which will subsequently form one online orchestra performance.  Complete instructions are available online at and to help everyone keep time, a guide video of the BBC Concert Orchestra and its conductor will be available to play along to.

Radio 3 Editor Edwina Wolstencroft said, ‘The Archers’ theme tune is one of the best known and loved pieces of British light music. The online orchestra performance is one way of involving people all over the country by re-connecting them with this rich and rewarding vein of music in a creative, practical and fun way.’

For further information
Notes to Editors

    • Light Fantastic is a BBC Radio 3 festival celebrating British light orchestral music, centred around a summer weekend (24-27 June). During the weekend, live concerts will be broadcast from a working warehouse in Salford (a re-creation of radio’s long-running Music While You Work concerts, first heard during World War II) and from London’s South Bank Centre, as part of the SBC’s Festival of Britain 60th anniversary celebrations. SBC concerts include performances conducted by John Wilson, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the John Wilson Orchestra.
    • BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Archers’ – the world’s longest-running soap opera – celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2011.
    • The signature theme for the ‘The Archers’ is by Arthur Wood (1875-1953) an English composer and conductor; the theme’s proper name is ‘Barwick Green’, a maypole dance from the suite My Native Heath.  The version available for download is an arrangement by Roy Moore.
    • Recordings will be broadcast subject to Radio 3’s normal editorial criteria.
    • Further information about Radio 3’s Light Fantastic is attached.


  • This has made my day! I LOVE The Archers, and I also loved the ‘Upshares Downshares’ tunes which ran every day on the PM programme last year (the CD was sold for Comic Relief).

    Since I am learning Messiaen at the moment, it might be appropriate for me to offer a ‘Messiaenic’ rendering of Barwick Green 😉

    • Graeme Kay says:

      Please don’t, CrossEyedPianist!

      It will give our sound engineer a massive headache!!

      Graeme Kay
      Producer, BBC Radio 3 Light Fantastic Barwick Green project