27th February 2020

Members of Alzheimer’s Support’s day club in Warminster have played their part in helping to create new programmes for BBC Memory Radio.

A producer from the BBC visited Old Silk Works Club to play members parts of radio shows specially created from the BBC archives. Jake Berger, pictured above, wanted to see how members reacted to the music and interview clips, to listen to their feedback and gather ideas for more programmes.

Songs from the 1950s and 1960s were most popular with the group, who recalled times in their own lives through the music of The Shadows, the theme to the Third Man and Nat King Cole. Songs sparked entertaining stories and laughter about dances and nights out in the 1950s. The group sang along to favourite tunes and correctly guessed the artists in a mini musical quiz. News items such as an interview with Lord Beeching led to conversation about the railways, and several people recalled where they were when President Kennedy died.

Club manager Louise Gover said: “Everyone was engaged and listening and it was wonderful to hear people sharing their memories and listening and interacting. The songs were enjoyed more than the interviews from the past as people could relate to them more.”

The positive impact of music in dementia

Jake, BBC Executive Product Manager, said: “We are on a mission at the BBC to open the archives as much as possible and dementia is one of the areas where this can have a really positive impact.

“It has been really helpful to come here today. You work for years on an idea and never know if it is really going to work. Hearing some of the memories that were triggered and the way people were enjoying the music was exactly what I was looking for.  The point is not to get people to listen to the programmes, it is to help them to talk and to reminisce. Seeing people do this today makes it all worthwhile.”

Jake will now feedback to his colleagues how the material went down in the club, and use comments of club members and staff to help create more themed programmes, including on sport and transport.

How to find your music memories

The BBC has started two related radio websites for people to use at home or in group settings.

BBC Musical Memories allows people to create their own playlists from a huge bank of music organised into different genres and decades.

Memory Radio lets listeners to hear one and a half hour programmes based on different decades where presenters introduce songs, snippets of news from the era. Downloadable activity sheets explain the items and include ideas for follow up activities and conversation prompts.