Charles Chilton MBE (15 June 1917 – 2 January 2013) was a BBC radio presenter, a writer and a producer. Born in Bloomsbury in London, England, he never knew his father – who was killed during the First World War – and when he was six his mother died as a result of having a botched abortion, with the result that Chilton was brought up by his grandmother. He was educated at St. Pancras Church of England School. 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.

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  • Charles Chilton MBE (15 June 1917 – 2 January 2013) was a BBC radio presenter, a writer and a producer. Born in Bloomsbury in London, England, he never knew his father – who was killed during the First World War – and when he was six his mother died as a result of having a botched abortion, with the result that Chilton was brought up by his grandmother. He was educated at St. Pancras Church of England School. Chilton left school at the age of 14, and after a brief apprenticeship making electric signs, he 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 Ceylon to run the forces radio station with broadcaster David Jacobs, later to participate in Chilton's Journey into Space. Back in the BBC he wrote and produced programmes for, among others, Roy Plomley, Michael Bentine and Stéphane Grappelli. He also met and married his wife, Penny, who was a secretary at the corporation. 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. During its run, Riders of the Range attracted audiences of around 10 million. Chilton wrote a comic-strip version of the series drawn by for the Eagle which outlasted the radio version, and wrote another western series, "Flying Cloud", for the Eagle's sister comic Girl. Chilton was also briefly a producer on the comedy series The Goon Show. However, major international recognition came with his science fiction trilogy Journey into Space which he wrote and produced between 1953 and 1958. His interest in space travel also led him to join the British Interplanetary Society. 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 spent his last years acting as a tour guide for the Original London Walks company. In January 2014, BBC Radio 4 Extra broadcast a selection of programmes to celebrate the life and work of Charles Chilton. This included The Long, Long Trail, Chilton's forgotten masterpiece telling the story of the First World War through the songs sung by soldiers, broadcast for the first time since its original transmission on the BBC Home Service in 1961. On 4 January 2014, in conjunction with BBC Radio 4 Extra, BBC Radio 4 broadcast Archive on 4: The Long, Long Trail. Roy Hudd told the story of Chilton's ground-breaking 1961 musical documentary. Interviewees included satirist Ian Hislop, Chilton's widow Penny and their children Mary and David Chilton, and the producer was . In a five-star review, the Financial Times said "Chilton ... merits this tribute – as does the British soldier's stoic humour that so movingly illumines the four-year hell." Archive on 4: The Long, Long Trail won a Silver Radio Award in the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards 2014. (en)
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  • Charles Chilton MBE (15 June 1917 – 2 January 2013) was a BBC radio presenter, a writer and a producer. Born in Bloomsbury in London, England, he never knew his father – who was killed during the First World War – and when he was six his mother died as a result of having a botched abortion, with the result that Chilton was brought up by his grandmother. He was educated at St. Pancras Church of England School. 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. (en)
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