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Charles Chilton

Charles Chilton, MBE, (born 1917) is a BBC radio presenter, a writer and a producer. Born in Bloomsbury, he never knew his father - who was killed during World War I - and when he was six his mother died of the 1920s flu epidemic, so he was raised by his grandmother. He was educated at St. Pancras Church of England school.

When he was 15 Chilton joined the BBC as a messenger boy. A year later he became an assistant in their gramophone library. He had a passion for jazz music, and in 1937 formed the BBC Boys' Jazz band.

His first role as a producer was for I Hear America Singing, after which he moved to the BBC variety department. He then presented his own show between 11pm and midnight called Swing Time, and a weekly jazz programme called Radio Rhythm Club.

Next came five years' war service with the RAF, after which he was sent to Sri Lanka to run the forces radio station with broadcaster David Jacobs[?].

Back in the BBC he wrote and produced programmes for, among others, Roy Plomley[?], Michael Bentine and Stephane Grappelli. He also met and married his wife, Penny, who was a secretary at the company. He was then sent to the United States to research, write and produce a number of series based on American western history. One of these, Riders of the Range, lasted for five years until 1953.

However, major international recognition came with his science fiction trilogy Journey Into Space which he wrote and produced between 1953 and 1959.

He was presented with an MBE for his services to the radio by the Queen Mother (the Queen was abroad at the time) in 1976, a year before retiring from the BBC after 46 years.

He now also spends time acting as a tour guide for The Original London Walks company.

Production/writing credits:

  • Follow the Fun (writer) play.
  • Fledgling (writer) play based on Follow the Fun (1940).
  • The Long Long Trail (writer) - a musical about the First World War featuring popular songs of the time interspersed with scripted material.
  • Oh! What a Lovely War (producer)
  • Round The Bend in Thirty Minutes (producer, series 2 and 3, 1958 to 1960) - starring Michael Bentine
  • Riders of the Range - a cowboy series that found its way into the Eagle comic.
  • Shakespeare's London
  • Dickens' London
  • London's Pleasure Gardens
  • Cries of London
  • Ballad History of Samuel Pepys
  • The Goons (producer) - series 3 episodes 18 and 19, series 8 episodes 1-5 and 17-26, 'Vintage Goons' series episodes 1-2 and 9-14.
  • How Jazz Came to Britain (presenter, July 8, 2000)
  • Journey Into Space (writer/producer)
  • Space Force[?] (writer/producer, 1984 and 1985)



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