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Home taping

Tudor tapes rob Toto Coelo of a living!Nowadays your recordable DVDs and iPods allow you to store your favourite music and TV in whatever format you want. However in the pre-VHS era, if you wanted to enjoy your favourite TV show again, you either had to invest in a bulky, expensive reel-to-reel video recorder, or, rather easier, hold the microphone from your tape recorder to the telly speaker and make an audio recording. Inevitably you’d hear your sister shrieking in the background, but given the theme to Windmill was unlikely to make it onto seven inch, this was as good as it got. Similarly, if you couldn’t afford to buy your favourite current singles, Sunday teatimes would see you crouched over the radio, taping what you wanted off the Top Forty on Radio One. Inevitably this meant keeping your finger over the stop button, desperate to avoid getting any of the DJ’s voice on the tape – adding that extra sheen of professionalism. As any Musicians’ Union member would tell you, recording such copyrighted material was illegal, and clearly not to be encouraged. However in later years, the BBC managed to retrieve a substantial amount of stuff no longer in the archives, thanks to a home-taping amnesty. Sadly there was no call for low-quality copies of Shakin’ Stevens singles drowned out by your mum shouting you down for your tea.



  1. Lee James Turnock

    July 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    The MP3 format is killing home taping!

  2. Richard Davies

    August 9, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I’ve still got a few tapes of top 40s, though I wasn’t brave enough to try pausing between songs.

  3. johnnyboy

    December 31, 2010 at 12:03 am

    I managed to get Star Wars recorded off TV onto my tape teck (sound only, obviously) @ 1982 using my cousin’s headphone-out socket on their Ferguson TV. Had to lug a Marantz cassette deck to his house and all the way back. Next day, was playing it in mum’s kitchen when a temp resident builder who was installing our new Bathroom came in asking if we had a VCR as he could hear Star Wars going on in the background. Felt kinda cool doing that!

  4. Vodyanov

    December 31, 2010 at 1:21 am

    I love this topic – be it audio or video home taping. The usual rumour and innuendo accompany it:

    1. If the police ever raided your house and found taped BBC shows that had clearly not been wiped after two months, you were nicked.

    2. Somebody has Bob Dylan Play for Today ‘The Madhouse’ on video.

  5. Paul Norton

    June 6, 2011 at 10:40 am

    My older brother had a reel-to-reel and he often recorded selected tunes from Fluff Freeman’s Top 20 show. Whenever I hear Edison Lighthouse I can see those reels slowly turning.

  6. Glenn A

    February 11, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    I got a radio/ cassette for my 14 th birthday and you don’t need a degree to find out what it was used for on Sundays. I wish I still had that top 40 tape as it had such gems as Don’t You Want Me( the best Christmas number one ever), I’ll Find My Way Home and, erm, The Land of Make Believe.

  7. Richard M White

    September 15, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Thankfully I have managed to acquire 100s of original recordings of the old chart shows but am always looking for more. I’m also writing a comprehensive book on the 5-7pm era, with playlists for every show, interviews with the DJs and producers, etc.

    There are certain shows I am still looking for like the 1979 Christmas chart (23 Dec 79 with Tony Blackburn), Richard Skinner’s final show on 23 March 1986 & the show from Jul 86 when the number 2 got played AFTER the number 1!

    Anyone that can help with recordings, info, etc. do please contact me at and I hope we can do some business.

  8. Tom Ronson

    March 31, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    School playground currency…
    Iffy C90 copies of any of the Derek and Clive albums
    Iffy C90 copies of any of Ivor Biggun’s albums
    Iffy C90 copies of the Monty Python albums (Live at Drury Lane being particularly popular because it had some swearing on it)
    Iffy C90 copies of any of Roy Chubby Brown’s tapes which he used to sell out of his car boot after gigs, until he started releasing videos every year instead.
    Oh, and a special thank you to my old woodwork teacher Mr. Burman, who ‘ran off’ (his words) a C90 with Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery on one side, and Spike Milligan’s The Snow Goose on the other.

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