Helen Mirren 1967

Helen Mirren 1967

An intimate portrait of the iconic but elusive English folksinger Annie Briggs

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4 first broadcast in September 2016.

Annie Briggs was a leading figure in the English folk revival of the early 1960s, inspiring Bert Jansch (famously, in Blackwater Side), Sandy Denny, The Watersons and many more. But she was a restless spirit, travelling through the British Isles and Ireland, finding songs and living close to the earth.

As Sandy Denny depicted her in The Pond and the Stream:
Annie wanders on the land.
She loves the freedom of the air.
She finds a friend in ev’ry place she goes.
There’s always a face she knows.
I wish that I was there.

And so she remains, now a grandmother living by the water in the west of Scotland. She’s always resolutely resisted celebrity and commercial success, withdrawing from the folk scene in the early 1970s, but her legacy – her voice and her attitude – continue to inspire and to carry a link to life as it was once lived in ‘the imagined village’.

Annie talks to Alan Hall about childhood holidays singing along with the waves, writing songs while living on a beach in west Ireland, her garden and the wildlife that she shares it with, and the ballad tradition she discovered as a teenager and that she ‘belongs to’.

Producer: Alan Hall