31 Down


Radio 101

BCA Gallery

Curated by Zoe Irvine

Bedford England

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Radio 101 was an exhibition and radio project that responded to the legacy of the R101 airship.

For this broadcast, 31 Down created an in-fight instructional for the passengers of the airship on its maiden voyage to India from England. Using actual information about the R101 with actual sounds of Rolls-Royce diesel engines (it was actually the R100, the 101's sister and rival airship that used Rolls-Royce), the theater created a factual account of what instructional may have been heard during the actual flight.

Using the slideshow cynicism of David Cronenberg's "SHIVERS" as inspiration, this track offers an ironic tilt to the tragic story of the R101.

The R101 was scheduled to travel from Cardington to Karachi in Pakistan (then part of British India). A number of routes were planned and a refuelling station erected in Egypt at Ismailia. At 6.24pm on Saturday 4th October 1930 the R101 departed Cardington. However this maiden voyage ended in disaster after 7.5 hours when the airship came down at Allonne, not far from Paris. Of the 54 passengers and crew only 6 survived. Radio 101 will broadcast on 87.7FM in the Bedford area from 18:24 on October 4th 2004 until 02:04 on October 5th 2004.

This 7 hour and 20 minute radio station is on air for the duration of the R101's flight at the same time in 1930. As the R101 flew over London at 20:00, the guests had just finished eating dinner. BBC London put on a special show of music (Jack Payne and the BBC Dance Band played a live set) in honour of the passengers, who could receive the show on their wireless set in the dining car. Witnesses reported that it was possible to hear the music from the radio as the ship flew overhead. No sound recording was made of this radio programme.

Credits: Music, voice and direction by Ryan Holsopple

The Radio 101 project included free103point9 Transmission Artists 31 Down and Scanner.