Latest BBC feature: Requiem inspired by Londoners’ epitaphs is premiered

Barbara Windsor singing

A requiem inspired by the graves of Londoners has been premiered in north London.

Benjamin Till spent two years visiting 20 graveyards and cemeteries for the funeral composition, The London Requiem.

Actress Barbara Windsor, comedian Matt Lucas, playwright Sir Arnold Wesker, folk singer Maddie Prior and pop singer Tanita Tikaram have contributed.

It was performed at Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington.

‘Wonderful, loving fun’

Mr Till who lives in Hampstead, north London, said it was a trip to his local burial ground Highgate Cemetery which gave him the idea to write a requiem.

He said he was struck by the graveyard’s beauty and an inscription which read: “Be kind, for everyone we meet is fighting a hard battle.”

An epitaph in Hoop Lane Cemetery in Golders Green, north-west London, inspired the second movement of the piece, the Kyrie.

It reads: “Ever in my heart, Ever in my mind, Ever by my side. Thanks for 53 wonderful loving fun years.”

The words have been sung by Barbara Windsor.

She said: “When you get to my age – I’m 74 and I’ve experienced a hell of a lot – you don’t get many firsts.”

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Latest BBC feature: Three retired ladies attempt to ride every London bus

Snapshots taken since 2009 from London buses

A Freedom Pass entitles Londoners to free travel from the age of 62. But few exploit the potential of free travel across the entire capital, from Hillingdon to Havering, Barnet to Bromley, quite like three retired ladies.

They have set themselves the challenge of travelling on every bus route in London from end to end and blogging about it in numerical order.

Later, the self-styled “ladies who bus”, Jo Hunt, 68, from Camden, north London, Mary Rees, 68, from Peckham, south London, and Linda Smither, 65, from Forest Hill, south-east London, will take the 381 bus which passes the Freedom Pass office.

‘Completely gobsmacked’

They started their challenge in March 2009 and aim to complete every journey up to the number 549, plus the 600 routes which are not school buses.

Retired teacher Jo Hunt says London bus drivers are “extraordinarily good”

Mrs Hunt, a former History teacher at Watford Girls’ School, said: “It was probably my idea. I’m not a Londoner like the other two and I was completely gobsmacked how far the buses go.”

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London 2012 reports for BBC London 94.9


Several countries have created special Olympic hospitality venues for the Games. The Jamaicans have the 02, the French have Billingsgate Market. Jo McDermott headed to Alexandra Palace to check out one of the most ambitious, with a party reputation from previous Games.


Broadcast on 28 July, 2012.



For the first time at an Olympics, Holland House has branched out and taken over a boat to bring the party atmosphere of London to Weymouth where the country’s sailors will be battling for gold medals. Jo McDermott was invited on board.


Broadcast on 30 July, 2012.



With Team GB’s incredible success, it’s easy to forget what the pain of losing feels like. Every country handles it differently. BBC London 94.9′s Jo McDermott was at London Bridge at the Swiss party camp for Roger Federer’s final.


Broadcast on 8 August, 2012.



Attention is now turning to London’s handover to Rio for the 2016 Games. Jo McDermott headed to Chinatown to find out how the Chinese there think London compared to Beijing.


Broadcast on 13 August, 2012.

Olympic stories produced for BBC London 94.9 by Jo McDermott and Tom Bigwood.