The Man They Could Not Hang
In January 1885 John Lee, a young servant, was condemned to death in Exeter for the murder of his employer. For reasons that have remained mysterious to this day he could not be hanged: he was placed three times on the scaffold's trapdoors, but each time the executioner pushed the lever the doors became inexplicably locked. The only recorded failure in the history of the ' drop ' system - it made of Lee, convicted murderer, a popular hero, known all over the country. Over the years, John Lee's extraordinary escape from death has led to endless speculation.
Melvyn Bragg relates the hard facts we know about John Lee to the popular versions of the legend: the sensational illustrations of the Victorian Press, Lee's 'autobiography,' a silent feature film made in 1917, a cycle of rock songs, and intriguing stories still circulating in South Devon.
Songs performed by members of FAIRPORT CONVENTION:
Dave Swarbrick , Simon Nicol Dave Pegg , Jerry Donahue
Dave Mattacks , Sandy Denny Broadsheet Ballads sung by MARTIN CARTHY
Written and produced by MARK KIDEL Assistant editor TONY STAVEACRE Editor BILL MORTON