My first visit to China was a three week trip in November 1988. I had been given £1,000 by the Independent Local Radio Programme sharing unit in the UK to part pay for the making of a Documentary. I had received an official invitation from the Chinese Ministry of Radio, TV and Film - and found out on day two that they were charging me 25 Dollars per day for the privilege of being their guest.

I arrived in Beijing with 2 credit cards, some US Dollar Travellers Cheques and my trusty UHER tape recorder. I spent three weeks in China at a time when few Westerners were to be seen. The trip blew my mind and changed my life……. for ever.

Ive never liked and always been terrible at ‘narration’ These programmes were not made for the BBC but for commercial radio in the UK. They were also broadcast on RTHK Radio 3 in Hong Kong. The problem with’documentaries’ is that they are made to appeal to people who are interested in the subject. That is a luxury far beyond what ‘Commercial’ radio is able to do, unless, perhaps, they are trying to win an award or brownie points. Almost all of my time in broadcasting was with live programming…. UN prepared and NEVER scripted. 

In successful commercial radio - when I was involved with it - spontaneity was the most important ingredient and any kind of ‘narration’ would break the one to one relationship between the voice in the studio and the person tuned in. I hesitate to use the word ‘listener’ because the vast majority of commercial radio listeners are NOT ‘listening’ They simply have it turned on as a background to whatever else they may be doing……. But DO pay attention to parts. This is a complicated subject…… I will write more elsewhere on this site.

These programmes were edited on reel to reel tape with a razor blade in the studios of Moray Firth Radio and in my cottage in Cawdor.

CHINA 88 - Part ONE

A visit to the Great Wall and cup of tea with Mr Li, editorial director of the biggest radio station in the World. My translator was

Mr Huang from the Chinese ministry of Radio Television and Film. He was a truly lovely guy who is one of the very few Chinese people who I regard as a true friend.

CHINA 88 - Part TWO

Another cup of tea…..  This time with Mrs Dong from Chinese National Radio. She had total control over ALL the non Chinese music broadcast on Chinese National Radio and had banned the song ‘Roll Over Beethoven’

After this, Mr Huang took me to a Beijing Opera and I interviewed some of the musicians during the interval.

Mr Huang was my official guide in Beijing but when I told him I wanted to travel alone down to Shanghai and Guangzhou he said it would be impossible for me to do so because I could not speak Chinese. After he had watched me interview the musicians, and at the end of the opera he said ‘Mr Anderson I have now seen you with our people and am no longer worried about you travelling alone in China. Come and see me in the morning”

Next morning he gave me lots of little cards with writing on…… “Please take me to the train station” Please take me to a doctor” and my favourite which I still have…….. “I am making a radio programme about our country, Please help me”


A night market in Beijing and a chat with Mr Li from the Chinese equivalent of the BBC World Service

CHINA 88 - Part FOUR

Shanghai - People on the streets, and a look at what THEY knew about US…… Some of their thoughts about Western Music show how completely isolated from the rest of the world they had been. 

It is simply ASTOUNDING how things have changed since my first visit in November 1988.

CHINA 88 - Part FIVE

Trying to buy a Television set in Shanghai and a visit to a Buddhist Temple