You are here

Radio On

Christopher Petit’s haunting blend of edgy mystery story and existential road movie.

Chris Petit’s cult classic Radio On (1979) is one of the most striking feature debuts in British cinema – a haunting blend of edgy mystery story and existential road movie, crammed with eerie evocations of English landscape and weather.

Stunningly photographed in monochrome by Wim Wenders’ assistant cameraman Martin Schäfer, Radio On is driven by a startling new wave soundtrack featuring David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Lene Lovich, Ian Dury, Wreckless Eric, Robert Fripp and Devo, and reveals an early screen performance by Sting.

Following a young London DJ (David Beames) on the road to Bristol to investigate the mysterious death of his brother, Radio On offers a unique, compelling and even mythic vision of a late 1970s England, stalled between failed hopes of cultural and social change and the imminent upheavals of Thatcherism.

Chris Petit interested both the BFI Production Board and Wim Wenders in backing his first feature despite having no previous filmmaking experience. He went on to make more films during the 80s and in recent years has worked in collaboration with psychogeographer Iain Sinclair. His most recent film was Unrequited Love (2006). Chris has also published several novels and regularly reviews books for The Guardian.

Special features

  • New filmed interview with Chris Petit and producer Keith Griffiths.
  • radio on (remix) (Petit, 1998, 24 min) – a digital video essay, with radical disruption of the original soundtrack by Wire’s Bruce Gilbert.
  • Original trailer.
  • Illustrated 28-page booklet with contributions from Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, John Patterson, Ian Penman, Chris Petit, Sukhdev Sandhu, Jason Wood and Rudy Wurlitzer; director biography and credits

Product information

    • Certificate


    • Colour


    • Sound


    • Running time


    • Languages


    • Original aspect ratio

      1.85:1 (16x9 anamorphic)

    • DVD region

      • 2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories

    • Catalogue number


BFI Shop

DVDs and Blu Ray

You are here

Back to the top

See something different

Subscribe now for exclusive offers and the best of cinema.