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Offshore Radio on Film and TV


Inside Out


Season 9, Week 2


Pirate Radio segment

For nearly 40 years the BBC ruled the airwaves with little or no competition.

But then in the mid sixties something happened which would change the way we listened to music for ever… pirate radio.

It challenged the BBC's monopoly.

The government tried to shut them down, but couldn't, as they operated out to sea in international waters.

Several pirate ships were launched, probably the most famous was… Radio Caroline which operated off the Essex coast

One of the pirate DJs was Keith Skues.

Recently whilst clearing out his attic he came across some movies he shot on board. It has never been broadcast before.

It's a unique insight into what life was like working on pirate radio.

All aboard!

Keith takes a trip to a 'replica' of the original Radio Caroline ship moored at Tilbury docks in Essex.

With ex-pirate mate, Tony Blackburn, and the help of the movies, they relive pirate radio memories.

The ship itself was quite large and comfortable, but there were a few rules, alcohol was strictly rationed and overnight visits from girlfriends definitely not allowed.

Looking after us was a Dutch captain and crew.

It's difficult now to imagine just how popular the pirate radio stations were.

Back in the mid sixties there were only two TV channels and they only broadcast for part of the day.

Radio was still the most popular medium. The DJ's were even more famous than the pop stars whose music they played.

By the summer of 1967 the days of the pirate radio ships were numbered.

The Labour Government, who had tried so hard to close down the pirates, finally succeeded by passing the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act.

However, Radio Caroline managed to continue broadcasting from the North Sea right up until 1990.



First Transmitted (UK) - 16th January 2016  (BBC East)

Running time - 8 minutes (Pirate Radio segment )    60 minutes (Full programme)

Offshore Radio Connection

Former offshore radio DJs Keith Skues and Tony Blackburn recall the story of Radio Caroline in the 1960’s.

The segment includes many scenes of Radio Caroline South aboard the Mi Amigo.

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The ‘Pirate Radio’ segment of this programme