On BBC Radio 4 on 11 April 2023, Audrey Gillan meets the ‘Samson girls’ of Joan Eardley’s paintings who have come to represent a certain image of Glasgow in the postwar years before urban development.

As the 50s turned to the 60s, a family of twelve brothers and sisters became the subject of portraits by the painter Joan Eardley. The Samson family lived in poverty in a crumbling part of Glasgow called Rottenrow where tenements were marked for demolition. Their faces and features held idiosyncrasies – squints, buck teeth, missing teeth, fiery red hair – that captivated Eardley. Drawn by the warmth of the stove and the promise of thruppence, the children had the run of her studio.

Ann and Pat Samson are two of the children captured in time in Eardley’s emblematic paintings. Back then they were painted side by side. They remain so to this day, sitting talking with Audrey Gillan who grew up with their images. The hand-to-mouth existence that underlined their childhood is still not far away, as they reflect on their lives then and now.

Listen online from 11 April 2023 at:


Presented by Audrey Gillan
Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4