September 6, 2015


One of the exciting chapters in 1960s pop culture was the rise of pirate radio. Combatting the limitations of national broadcasting in the UK, floating stations were set up to beam music 24 hours a day outside the boundaries of the law in international waters. For many kids growing up in the era, this network of DJs offered a kind of subversive rebellion to the establishment and provided a hearty diet of Rock and Roll. Radio Caroline (launched in 1964) transmitted from two ships anchored off the Isle of Man and Frinton-On-Sea and provided stiff competition to Radio Luxembourg, which had been long supplying the UK with broader content (a great inspiration to early Beatles!). The history of Pirate Radio has been celebrated on a number of sites. Pirate Radio Hall of Fame features a wonderful collection of artifacts and clippings, including original Radio Caroline Club publications. One of my favorite discoveries is 242 Showbeat (previously 242), a monthly magazine published in the 1960s for Radio Scotland that featured news about DJs, musicians, and pop icons. Radio Scotland launched in December 1965 from a former Irish light-ship called The Comet. The station "that swings to you on 242" transmitted to fans in Scotland, Ireland and northern England until the Marine Offenses laws closed them down in August 1967. The magazine sported fun graphics, duotone images, and cool 1960s fashion. I was pleased to see The Man From U.N.C.L.E. appear on issue #1 of 242 (April 1966)spotlighting Glasgow-born actor David McCallum. In addition to the Hall of Fame site above, I can also recommend Radio London for more cool artifacts and historical info. Of course, the best example in the world of espionage is the final black and white episode of Secret Agent, Not So Jolly Roger, starring Patrick McGoohan. According to IMDB, the story interiors were filmed at the Red Sands Fortress, a Thames Estuary anti-aircraft structure from WWII. And the site actually played host to real pirate radio broadcasts in the 1960s by Radio Invicta, King Radio, and Radio 390. The location was used again for the Doctor Who story Fury From the Deep (1968). Spy Vibers can keep riding this wave with the 2009 film, Pirate Radio, starring Lucy Fleming (Ian Fleming's niece), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Emma Thompson  Kenneth Branagh, Rhys Ifans, and Bill Nighy- great fun and a fantastic soundtrack. Enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe posts: Spectre Advanced PosterHonor Blackman at 90UNCLE SchoolIan Fleming MemorialRadiophonic ExhibitPortmeirion PhotosDoctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismArt of ModestyTokyo Beat 1964Feraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.


  1. Spy Vibers interested in the days of Pirate Radio should also check out the Danger Man episode "Not So Jolly Roger" in which John Drake goes undercover as a disk jockey on an offshore platform:

    I found it a lot more enjoyable than the film!

  2. i remembered Secret Agent after I left the house for the day- such a great episode! Just updated the post with additional info. thanks!