Listen with Mother

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"Are you sitting comfortably?" redirects here. For the album by IQ, see Are You Sitting Comfortably?.

Listen with Mother was a BBC radio programme for children which ran between 1950 and 1982. It was originally produced by Freda Lingstrom and was presented over the years by Daphne Oxenford, Julia Lang, Eileen Browne, Dorothy Smith and others.[1]

It was first broadcast on the Light Programme in a fifteen-minute slot every weekday afternoon at 1.45, just before Woman's Hour. Consisting of stories, songs and nursery rhymes (often sung by Eileen Browne and George Dixon) for children under five (and their mothers), at its peak, it had an audience of over a million listeners. Like Woman's Hour, it was subsequently transferred to the BBC Home Service (later renamed BBC Radio 4).

The theme music, which became synonymous with the programme, was the Berceuse from Gabriel Fauré's Dolly Suite for piano duet, Op. 56. It was recorded for the programme by Eileen Browne and Roger Fiske, though Julia Lang in an Anglia Television interview in the 1990s said that during her tenure, when she finished reading the story she had to get up (noiselessly), rush across to the piano in the studio and play the Berceuse live.

"Are you sitting comfortably?"[edit]

Listen with Mother opened with the phrase "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin." The question, originally an ad lib by Julia Lang, became so well known that it ended up in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations[2] It has been incorporated and sampled by many artists and musicians. For instance, in the episode "The Idiot's Lantern", in the revived series of Doctor Who, it was used by the alien presence known as "The Wire" appearing on a television screen and addressing its first victim, the hapless Mr. Magpie. It was also used as the opening line in the film "The Others". English actor John Wood used the line in the 1983 film WarGames. It was also used on the song "It Doesn't Really Matter" by the Canadian band Platinum Blonde on their 1983 Standing in the Dark album. Listen with Mother's final week's programmes (widely reported in the press) featured Wriggly Worm stories, presented by Nerys Hughes and Tony Aitken and directed by David Bell. These stories were broadcast on the Listen with Mother programmes throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. Listening Corner, which replaced Listen with Mother, began with repeats of the Wriggly Worm stories. Collections of Listen with Mother stories have been published by Hutchinsons/Random House. Two collections of Wriggly Worm stories ('Wonderful Wriggly Worm' and 'Wonderful Wriggly Worm Rides Again'), by Eugenie Summerfield, have been published by Book Guild. The phrase was used as the title and was included in the lyrics of Moody Blues song, "Are You Sitting Comfortably" from the 1969 album, On the Threshold of a Dream. It was also used at the beginning of the Slade song "Did Your Mama Ever Tell Ya, which appeared on the band's 1976 album, Nobody's Fools.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Watch with Mother
  • Sandmännchen The German equivalent to Listen with Mother, that starts with the opening "Nun, liebe Kinder, gebt fein Acht. Ich habe euch etwas mitgebracht" (Now, dear children, pay attention. I have brought you something) in the same way that Listen with Mother started "Are You Sitting Comfortably? Then I'll Begin"

References[edit]