Echo in a Bottle
For BBC Radio 4
Researching and presenting a BBC Radio 4 documentary on our enduring and sometimes deathly fascination with the echo. Produced by Peregrine Andrews and Farshoreline. First broadcast 10 June 2018.
In this half-hour documentary, I reveal how writers, poets and musicians in search of the sublime have often been captivated by the echo. I visit a thrilling echo from the industrial age as I examine attempts to bottle echoes through the centuries. I share a grisly 19th century account of a traveller who attempted to buy an echo in Italy. Centuries later, we hear inventor Charlie Watkins explain how he was inspired to pursue the echo after hearing a tape echo effect in Italy. In the 1950s, Watkins invented the Copicat, a cheap, portable tape-echo machine for bands with an unmistakeble, expansive echo of its own.
Rowan Boyson explains how Wordsworth used verse to convey a vivid impression of echoes, decades before the recording age. Miranda Stanyon discusses the uncanny properties of the echo, a feeling Sophie Heawood was aware of when she experienced an eerie telephonic echo across the Atlantic.