Migrant Voices on the BBC
BBC History Research Blog
by Stewart McCain - Senior Lecturer in History
1y ago
‘It has never been the BBC’s intention to set itself up as the arbiter of pronunciation, but inadvertently it tends to be regarded as such’. These were the words of Miss G.M. Miller, a long-serving member of the BBC Pronunciation Unit. Part of Miss Miller’s role was responding to complaints about the pronunciation and accent of those speaking on the BBC. To judge by this correspondence many viewers and listeners certainly felt strongly about the varieties of English they heard on the broadcaster. When I started a project on language and Commonwealth migration to post-war Britain I knew a visi ..read more
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Alistair Cooke and Letter from America
BBC History Research Blog
by Glenda Cooper and Howard Tumber
1y ago
Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America ran for five decades on BBC Radio 4, its predecessor the Home Service, and the World Service. It remains the longest-running speech radio programme hosted by one individual and consists of 2,869 broadcasts made between 1946 and 2004. Cooke said that his own career was "to try and explain this country [the US] to Britain" and that Letter from America should be equally accessible to "shrewd bishops and honest carpenters". In a memo to Lindsay Wellington, the BBC’s Controller of Programmes in 1946, he put on record his aspirations: "a weekly personal letter ..read more
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Tune in to Switched On
BBC History Research Blog
by Charlotte Howard
1y ago
This year the Science Museum Group is celebrating the BBC's centenary through displays, exhibitions and events across three museum sites (National Science and Media Museum, Science Museum and Science and Industry Museum) on a programme called Broadcast 100. The National Science and Media Museum leads the celebrations with its dedicated exhibition, Switched On: 100 years of broadcast innovation open until January 2023. The Switched On exhibition was developed in collaboration with the BBC to tell the most authentic and surprising stories in broadcast evolution over the last 100 years. To co ..read more
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The Beeb and the Bard
BBC History Research Blog
by Andrea Smith
1y ago
When I first took an interest in the production of Shakespeare’s plays on the radio, a colleague suggested I might like to investigate English language productions across the world. After a bit of research, I discovered that there are quite a few held in American archives, Canada has several and there are around a dozen in Ireland. But the BBC has more – way more. After searching the BBC’s Programme Index I discovered it has broadcast more than 400 versions of the plays. And the archives team were able to find more than 150 recordings still lurking in the archives. That seemed like more ..read more
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The BBC: A People's History
BBC History Research Blog
by David Hendy - University of Sussex
1y ago
David Hendy describes how he went about writing The BBC: A People’s History, his authorised biography of the Corporation, published to coincide with its 2022 Centenary. No-one who attempts writing the story of the BBC can avoid building on the work of others, and in this case that means chiefly the monumental work of the Corporation’s two official historians, Asa Briggs and Jean Seaton. Across more than 4000 pages, their detailed and authoritative work provides an invaluable roadmap of the terrain to be navigated. One finds in their six volumes all the key decisions, the programme rows, th ..read more
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'I accomplish a work' Sylvia Plath's 'Three Women': Composing the maternity ward
BBC History Research Blog
by Nerys Williams
1y ago
In a letter written to Olwyn Hughes on June 18, 1962, Sylvia Plath mentions that she has completed the final draft of her radio script, “Three Women: A Poem for Voices,” for the BBC’s Third Programme. Plath expresses her joy at accomplishing this commission while caring for her two children, Frieda barely two, and Nicholas a new-born: I’ve just done a very long dramatic poem for 3 voices (3 women in a maternity ward, miscarriages, illegitimacies & such, after Bergman) which Douglas Cleverdon, Ted’s producer, will produce. Very excited about the chance to do longer stuff. By this point ..read more
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The Early Years of Television and the BBC
BBC History Research Blog
by Jamie Medhurst
1y ago
‘How’s the book coming along?’ If I had a pound for every time somebody asked me that question I would be a very rich man! It’s with great joy – and an enormous amount of relief – that I can now say that my book, The Early Years of Television and the BBC was published by Edinburgh University Press on 30 June 2022. As I note in the introduction to the book, it took a lot longer to come to fruition than I had originally hoped and expected. In fact, two of my children were born and another grew up and got married during the research and writing of it. The Television Control Room, 16 Portland P ..read more
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A PC at the BBC: The story of Harry Daley
BBC History Research Blog
by Stephen Bourne
1y ago
When Harry Daley made his first appearance on BBC Radio in 1929, he was employed as a police constable. An amiable ‘bobby’ from a working-class background, he was keen to improve himself. It was in 1926 that he had met and befriended the acclaimed playwright J. R. Ackerley. On duty in Covent Garden, PC Daley recognised Ackerley as the author of the play The Prisoners of War, then running in the West End. It was set in the First World War and had a homosexual theme. The two men, both gay, fell into conversation and enjoyed a long-lasting intimate friendship. Memo from J.R. Ackerley's staff f ..read more
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George V's Silver Jubilee and the BBC
BBC History Research Blog
by Steve Hocking
1y ago
This summer sees the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, an event of interest to me both as a historian of the BBC in the 1930s and as a producer of the 2022 television coverage. This will be the fourth St Paul’s Jubilee Thanksgiving Service of the Queen’s reign, following 1977, 2002 and 2012, but it will be the fifth she has attended, for as a 9-year-old she was at St Paul’s for her grandfather’s, on Monday 6 May, 1935. Outside Broadcasts Jubilee Celebrations, 1935. Picture shows looking down Fleet Street as King George V and Queen M ..read more
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Guglielmo Marconi: Inventor, Scientist, Entrepreneur and Visionary
BBC History Research Blog
by Giovanni Emanuele Corazza
1y ago
While celebrating the 100th anniversary of the BBC, our mind should also go to the unique story of one of its fathers: Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless communications, born in Bologna (Italy) in 1874 and raised in the outskirts of the city of towers. Marconi at the microphone, 1929 Since he was a teenager Marconi started to dream that he would become an inventor, and he chose electromagnetism as his playground: a thriving field in the last decades of the 19th century! Today’s equivalent would be an 11 year old child playing with Artificial Intelligence applications, with a keen ..read more
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