The Playlist Series

"I need hardly say that I shall look forward enormously to listening to it and to discovering all sorts of things about my Great Great Great Grandmother and her taste in music." HRH Charles, The Prince of Wales.
Programme Details

The series which recreates the unknown musical life of a famous figure from the past, discovering and recording their favourite songs – including songs they themselves composed.

The Playlist Series is back in 2013 for its third run. We’ll be hearing the music of the Duke of Wellington, Nell Gwyn and, in a programme recorded at his cottage in Helpstone, the poet John Clare.

In the first series, we heard extracts from Dickens’ little-known operetta; Samuel Pepys’s haunting love song; drinking songs written by Benjamin Franklin; music written for Emma Hamilton; and the music Jane Austen played every morning. In the second series we recreated the favourite music of Thomas Hardy, Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde and Queen Victoria – recorded on her gold piano in Buckingham Palace. Later in 2012 special editions of the Playlist series explored Shakespeare and James Joyce. With expert contributors, all recorded on location.

Series 1 – 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th December 2010, BBC Radio 4.
Series 2 – 19th & 26th November and 3rd & 10th December 2011, BBC Radio 4.
Series 3 – 14th, 21st and 28th December 2013 at 10.30am, BBC Radio 4.

Production Credits

Produced by Elizabeth Burke
Presented by David Owen-Norris
Series research by Frances Beere
Executive producer Jo Coombs
Music arranged by David Owen Norris
Singers: Gwyneth Herbert and Thomas Guthrie

The Playlist series on the BBC
Gillian Reynolds in ‘The Telegraph’ on James Joyce’s Playlist



Charles Dickens
Imagining the playlist of Charles Dickens.
Benjamin Franklin
New insight into Franklin's life, through his favourite music.
Emma Hamilton
An extraordinary life reflected in her favourite songs.
Jane Austen
David Owen Norris explores Austen's favourite music.