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PIRATE RADIO

About The Production
"It's 10:00 at night. 
The dull dudes on the planet are sitting in their slippers and sipping their sherries. 
But the people who love to rock and to roll are ready to ride the rocking roller coaster once more. 
You are listening to Radio Rock, and I am The Count, and I'm counting you in as we count down to ecstasy and rock

 

ALL THE DAY & ALL OF THE NIGHT.” -- The Count

In 1966, the government-backed British Broadcasting Company (BBC) broadcast barely two hours of rock and pop music every week over the U.K. radio airwaves; by comparison, 571 American radio stations were showcasing such music 24 hours a day. So in the home country of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and The Who, at the height of British pop music's greatest era, the only way 25 million people – over half the British population – could hear their music (and other favorites) at any time was to tune in to…a boat. Bringing the music home were rogue rock-and-roll deejays broadcasting from ships and marine structures anchored just outside U.K. territorial waters. But the pirate radio stations were targeted by the government, which did its very best (or, worst) to suppress the (technically illegal) transmissions coming from the waters into the hearts and souls of millions of Brits.

From that jumping-off point, in Pirate Radio writer/director Richard Curtis continues his cinematic explorations of the most telling and/or hilarious moments of love and friendship. The new movie is the first of his screenplays to be set in the past.

"For the last ten years, I've been thinking about it as a subject to explore,” says the filmmaker. After completing work on his directorial debut, Love Actually, Curtis again found himself reflecting on childhood memories of nights spent staying up late and listening to The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, Dusty Springfield, Janis Joplin, and Aretha Franklin – to name but a few – and the larger-than-life personalities providing patter and platters. "Every person in my generation has the same memory,” recalls Curtis. "You would go to bed at night, put your transistor radio underneath your pillow, switch it on with its little glowing light -- and stay up late to hear this fantastic music and voices you could not hear elsewhere. Your parents would shout from downstairs, ‘Go to sleep! Turn off the light!' It was one of the things that made me love pop music most, that slight sense of it being illicit and illegal.”

The soundtrack of his youth had earlier infused the soundtrack of Love Actually, where he carefully chose songs by Joni Mitchell, Darlene Love, Paul Anka and Lennon & McCartney, among others. To even more fully embrace his love of music from the 1960s, he would set his new movie in 1966 on a pirate radio ship and ensure that even more of his favorite songs made up the soundtrack.

Music supervisor Nick Angel was reunited with Curtis on the new film, as they sought to bring some of the best sounds from the 1960s back for a big-screen voyage. Angel comments, "Richard wore his heart on his sleeve for this film, and the music is an integral part of it. My job was to make sure that we got the songs he wanted in the film.”

That process had started a couple of years earlier, when Curtis first mentioned to Angel that he was writing a film based around the world of pirate radio. Angel had then begun to gather songs that he felt might be used for the new movie.

He recounts, "I made Richard some CDs featuring period tracks I liked and ones I thought were interesting, things that he could listen to while he was writing. Richard obviously had his own ideas. But with some of the tracks, I wanted to jog his memory.”

The two men ultimately compiled a catalogue of some 200 songs that were contenders for use<

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