An historic radio broadcast... memorable cricket... and a road-rage incident with Nigel Mansell...

PUBLISHED: 12:32 12 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:32 12 August 2014

Ninety years on, the BBC returned to the same beautiful Surrey garden and recreated the musical magic (Artist - nPine)

Ninety years on, the BBC returned to the same beautiful Surrey garden and recreated the musical magic (Artist - nPine)

Getty Images/nPine

It’s been another busy month for BBC Surrey Breakfast Show host James Cannon with a historic radio broadcast, some memorable cricket and a road-rage incident with, er, racing driver Nigel Mansell...

Something special happened on the BBC Surrey Breakfast Show a few weeks ago. Ninety years to the day, we recreated the first ever outside broadcast made by BBC radio. We didn’t cross live to New York or Paris, but to the back garden of a house in Hurst Green in Oxted!

Now it might not top the list of remote broadcasts that you’d remember; however, back in 1924, this was unchartered territory. Nevertheless, the then new-fangled BBC radio team managed to run enough cable to set up microphones in the garden of Foyle Riding, the then home of famous cellist Beatrice Harrison, and just after midnight, she started to play Londonderry Air on her cello, live on the radio. What made the whole thing so special though was that the nightingales in her garden joined in and were heard by the enraptured audience.

The story might possibly trigger your memory as it was later featured by Sir David Attenborough, himself a Surrey resident, in a documentary about natural history broadcasts. At the time, the event caused quite a stir, and a mailbag of some 50,000 letters was received requesting that it be repeated. No doubt being the BBC they managed to oblige with a repeat!

Anyway, suffice to say that 90 years on we returned to the same beautiful Surrey garden and recreated the magic of that broadcast with Godstone-based cellist Mary Byers playing the piece. Owner Maria Hall had informed us that there are no longer nightingales in the garden. However, as the sound started, the other birds of Surrey joined in. It was really quite something to have been part of...

With the cricket season now well underway, my annual discovery of new places in Surrey has returned. An away match for my son’s team is likely to take me to parts of our county that I’ve never visited before and sometimes places that I’ve never even heard of! Leafy lanes and farm tracks open up into beautiful clubs with picturesque grounds that are lovingly cared for and most importantly contain a well-stocked clubhouse.

I find it fascinating how gripping an under-13’s match can become, although I managed to provide a huge Dad fail just a few weeks ago. I thought I’d film some of Tom’s innings on my iPhone, so I duly pressed the record button and began capturing the action. A few seconds later, he was bowled out, with stumps flying 
and a disgruntled child berating me: “Did you have to film that?”

One thing I wish I had caught on film happened at this year’s PGA Golf Championship at Wentworth. I hosted the whole of my show from the course on the Pro-Am day. All the big names of golf were there playing alongside celebrities and sports stars. However, the highlight happened when my trusted reporter Adrian Harms nearly got run over by someone reversing a golf cart. “Don’t you know how to drive?” was the shout from Adrian. And who was in the driving seat? Former F1 World Champion racing driver Nigel Mansell! Joy. n


Catch James Cannon on the BBC Surrey Breakfast Show every weekday from 6am to 9am on 104-104.6 FM or on DAB digital radio

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