Christmas Links #7

Links  Review 2008 was a bit of a bijou selection of posts, clustered in the gap between Christmas and the last day of the year.  The premise was to write a series of open letters to a number of subjects and the end these were Obama (who had just been elected US President), the ten year old version of me, the BBC (just weathering Sachsgate), Steve Coogan (who seemed to be rehearsing his tour on stage in front of paying customers) and my choice from the year, George Lucas which is a lesson in careful what you wish for.

Advent crown (1965)
"Christopher Trace makes the iconic Blue Peter Advent crown. BBC Archive reckons you should probably replace those candles with something less of a fire risk these days, maybe some nice LED ones."

"I could eat a Christmas dinner every day – and so I did, all in the name of research. But from Wetherspoon’s to Beefeater and Toby Carvery, which chain had the perfect roasties, the best brussels and the poshest pigs in blankets?"

"Christmas has arrived at a central meeting point in Parliament - following the gift of a tree by the ambassador for Georgia to the Speaker of the House of Commons."

"The towns who are going to great lengths to make sure their Christmas lights stay on during the cost of living crisis."

"We asked you to send in your strange and wonderful Christmas ornaments and you didn't disappoint. Here are some of the special decorations you have sent in so far."

"Jack Pepper curates a playlist of the best arrangements of festive favourites from carols to jazz hits."

"Handpicked festive music for every Christmas occasion from BBC Sounds."

"Oliver Johnson, Professor of Information Theory at the University of Bristol, helped explain the constant stream of statistics during the pandemic. He has also been busy writing his debut book Numbercrunch, out next year with Heligo Books, which reveals how numerical thinking can help resolve some of life’s biggest conundrums."

“As soon as we heard about Mission Christmas, myself and the other artists wanted to get involved"

"Some Britons to receive one-off, tax-free gift to boost festive coffers."

Christmas Links #6

Links  With Review 2007, I pushed things back into the blogosphere and asked others to define what "home" meant to them.  Perhaps signalling the times, I didn't get as many submissions, but the quality was incredibly high.  I rather cheated by submitting a book review, but there had already been two other entries about Liverpool and I didn't want to repeat myself.  Also unlike previous years, I emailed more strangers out of the blue so that some far-flung places could be included.

The entries were incredibly heartfelt.  Perhaps the most relevant for today is the piece by Annette about her home town of El Paso and her interactions with the local immigrant population.  It's an incredibly moving piece, especially given everything which has happened since and how similar people, perhaps even relatives of those mentioned have systematically had their humanity removed in the eyes of some members of the public.

"Paint a friend’s ceiling, fix their bike, babysit. There’s joy to be had if you pull yourself off the meathook of consumerism."

"A Manchester company has set up a 'virtual store' on something called the internet.  This clip is from North West Tonight.  Originally broadcast 22 December 1997."

"Lindsay Lohan’s comeback in Falling for Christmas puts Netflix in a strong position but there are countless hunks-in-plaid yuletide romcom options this year."

"For the first time in the poll’s 70-year history, a film by a female filmmaker takes the top spot: Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles."

"Over the weekend of Saturday, December 2 residents were left dismayed after spotting a tiny Christmas tree in the town centre."

"A teenager in Cornwall has run out of space on the front of his house so he has decided to decorate the rest of his housing estate."

"An excited golden retriever not only couldn't wait for Christmas before unwrapping her gift, but she also knew exactly which one was hers."

"The final dates for sending off packages for Christmas have been brought forward."

"One of the UK's largest accountancy firms will close most of its offices over Christmas and New Year for the first time to save on energy bills."

"The Mendelson family would love to find the envelope where their father, Lee, scribbled some lyrics to jazz musician Vince Guaraldi’s composition “Christmas Time is Here” for an animated TV special featuring the “Peanuts” gang in 1965."

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1928

You will notice that the selection below, apart from the opening lecture, is mostly texts and documents.  Some years aren't as well represented in the archives I've been covering and so now and then they will be a slightly threadbare, though I hope with a no less interesting selection.

One of the topics I've been less able to find material on is the foundation of the BBC Dance Orchestra under Jack Payne (see above).  Even the History of the BBC page is a bit threadbare.  Fortunately they did release a lot of material on 78 and there are plenty of those recordings at the Internet Archive.


"The technical challenges of transmitting a service live from a space like King’s with its notoriously difficult acoustic must have been an almost impossibly ambitious feat in 1928, involving early Marconi-Reisz microphones slung on cables across the Chapel as well as fixed around the building."
[Recorded Church Music]

"To mark the centenary of this Christmas tradition, composer Bob Chilcott returns to King's College Chapel to explore the history of the service, to meet the people involved and to reflect on why this sequence of carols and readings has had such a major impact."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]


"Memorandum from William Joynson-Hicks, Home Secretary, concerning the commemoration of the Armistice and the BBC, 16 April, 1928."
This led the way to the first radio broadcast of the service of remembrance from the cenotaph later that year.
[The National Archive]

State of Play

Wide-ranging video lecture by Professor Jeremy Summerly about BBC radio in this period which partly uses as its basis a poem written by a listener to the Radio Times in 1928.
[Gresham College]

"If the true policy of an open forum is adopted the BBC may become one of the greatest educational forces in the country."
[The Guardian]

"In advance of a special Media Show debate on the future of the BBC, Steve Hewlett explores the troubled past behind today's dilemmas - and traces them back to the Corporation's origins in the distant world of the 1920s."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

Annual Reports

"The year 1928 witnessed a steady endeavour to improve the quality and increase the variety of programme material transmitted, and developed the plans for better distribution combined with a service of alternative programmes, referred to in the last Report as the Regional Scheme."

"The second issue of this Handbook shows that consolidation and further preparation are the characteristics of 1928 in broadcasting. The plans for an improved system of distribution by fewer and higher powered stations, framed two years ago, received official sanction in principle, and the construction of a twin wavelength regional station for London and the south-east has begun. The work of the Daventry Experimental Station has been continued and developed. It will be seen that there has been no relaxation of effort to improve the programmes."
[World Radio History]

Christmas Links #5

Links  This will have to be quick because I'm writing thison the evening of the 4th, it's almost bedtime and I'm going to Southport tomorrow.  Review 2006 flipped the paradigm of the previous year and was the first year I asked readers to submit questions for me to answer on any topic.  There's a full list here with subsequent comments.  As you can see there were a wide range from asking how to fix Torchwood to why Doctor Who was "so disappointing all of a sudden?" which is a bold moment after what's now considered the imperious second season with the Tenth Doctor and Rose.  

There's some satire ("What are your views on the pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre?"), some genuine fact finding ("What is the significance of the Wolf in American Indian teachings?") to others which really challenged me to do some of the personal blogging which I'd probably leave on Twitter if at all now.  Looking back at that final link, I realise that I was more progressive than I thought in those days.  Now I think I'd identify myself as being on the ace spectrum in that I fancy women and want to spend time with them but don't think I could go further.  Or something.

You weren't expecting that, were you?  Anyway, my favourite post is the answer to "Which famous 5 people, dead or alive, would you invite to a dinner party. What would you eat/drink ? What entertainment would you lay on for the 6 of you afterwards?"  Whereas I could have simply dashed off a list, I went into some detail on the choices which were chosen because they'd been meaningful to me in 2006.  It's also the moment when I realised I'd left a huge factual error in the introduction of my MA dissertation and none of the markers had noticed (I'd accidentally credited Tim Bernier-Lee with coining the term "hyperlink".  Sigh.  Anyway, I'm off to bed.  Good morning.

"Charitable donations peak in December, but what about the rest of the year? Sally Howard meets the people dedicated to random acts of kindness – and learns why giving anonymously is even better for you."

"Channel 4's terrestrial premiere of Season 30 of The Simpsons in the UK began on Tuesday 1st November. A Tuesday. I ask you.  Anyway, it wrapped up earlier this week; back in September, I predicted which episodes might be cut, dropped altogether or otherwise moved around for the fourth year in a row, and here we see how the battle of expectations versus reality panned out."

"Nationwide investigates whether the recession is having an effect on shoppers this Christmas."

"It’s refreshing to have a Jamaican cook from Britain write about Caribbean food culture."

"Christmas market stall holders fear their profit margins will be badly hit this year as their goods are costing far more to produce."

"It's an event - you don't get Wetherspoons prices at an event."

Tie-in author Una McCormack's amazing AMA on the Star Trek Reddit.

"With December finally gracing our doorstep, the season of Christmas candles is officially here, meaning it's time to bring out all the warm, spicy and cosy scents to help us get into the festive spirit."

"Christmas food, parties, celebrations and festivities of all kinds including stage plays, singing and dancing, became illegal under Cromwell making him the original Grinch."

"A Hokkaido-grown Sakhalin fir tree towering about 20 meters was set up for the event at the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse commercial complex next to the city's harbor, and a fireworks display drew oohs and aahs from residents and tourists."

Christmas Links #4

Links  Around this time, seventeen years ago, I was a couple of months into my MA course, working on this assignment about the Doctor Who novel The Dying Days and looking forward to the final course screening of the year, all three hours of The Box of Delights.  Just getting to university had been a five year project of saving up enough money to pay for the tuition by working in call centres.  Sometimes I call it my Everest but it really was, that someone with my background managing to get to a red brick university.

To celebrate, for Review 2005, I boldly asked a bunch of people, mostly fellow bloggers, to write about something they'd achieved that year and in the event, thirty odd people submitted guest blogs which were posted daily across that December.  As I said in the epilogue, I hadn't expected that.  It's all worth reading to be honest so it would be unfair to choose one particular entry although I will say I'm still not convinced at least one of them isn't a hoax and I know for a fact another was written by someone using a pseudonym. 

"Heritage project finds practices thought to bring good fortune in one place were believed to sow disaster down the road."

"James Stewart chats to Michael Parkinson. He explains why Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life is his favourite ever film, and why his trombone teacher had to quit after five days."

"The Christmas fun run returns for its 19th year."

" Perhaps more than any other holiday season, Christmas is full of nostalgia. As the years go on, whether anyone likes it or not, it can be nearly impossible to avoid memories of the seasons that have passed and Christmas traditions around the tree, whether spent with family or alone. As different as those holiday memories are for everyone, so is the music often heard during this time, whether it’s traditional Christmas carols or new tunes."

"Everyone will enjoy a slice of this Christmas cake, which can be baked and matured up to eight weeks before Christmas. Feed the cake weekly with your choice of brandy, rum or whisky for extra moisture and a warming flavour."

"The Gentleman Jack star is a modern-day Scrooge in the Sky Christmas special."

"Two Pittsville families have united this holiday season as Christmas Town and the Nick Family Christmas Light Show will be in the same place in Pittsville for people of all ages to see."

"The Coliseum Shopping Park is based just yards from the festive frenzy at Cheshire Oaks."

"A community in Glasgow is calling for its Christmas tree to be set free after it was obscured by boards and a high fence."

Dreaming of a white Christmas? AccuWeather forecasters weigh in on where it’s most likely:
"Winter got an early start in some areas this year, but will snow stick around long enough for the holiday? AccuWeather meteorologists provide a sneak peek at which places have higher-than-normal chances for snow this Christmas."

Christmas Links #3

Links  Ah Review 2004, you were Letterboxd before Letterboxd.  That's when I spent the year keeping a diary of all the film, television and audio drama I watched and listened to that year.  On the 3rd December 2004, I watched The Incredibles at the cinema (from celluloid) and Have I Got News For You Season 28, episode 7 (Neil Kinnock as guest presenter with Will Self and Linda Smith)(episode 8 is also listed for some reason but that wouldn't be broadcast for another week so I wonder what I was thinking)(again).

After subsequently deciding in the few years afterwards it was one of the most boring things I'd ever posted on this blog, I've since warmed to having this time capsule, so much so that in 2014 I paid homage to it by not just listing all the films I was watching but reviewing them in herds on a weekly basis.  It's all still here and reminds me that March 2004 is when I first signed up to receiving DVDs by post from Screen Select.   How times have changed.

"Created especially for the BBC by the film’s animators, the three 40-second idents show Charlie Mackesy’s beloved characters across day, dusk and night scenes."

"Christmas card efficiencies."

"Nearly two decades in the making, Crossroads: The Noele Gordon Collection is an exclusive box set of 94 discs (over 700 shows) containing every known existing episode from the earliest surviving show through to Nolly's final performance in November 1981 (wrapping the set up with the last show transmitted by ATV on New Year's Eve 1981)."

"Christmas dinner will be nearly 22% more expensive this year than in 2021, according to new research for the BBC.  The price of seven key items has risen by £5.36 over a year, with chipolatas - the crucial ingredient in pigs-in-blankets - seeing the steepest jump."

"The Christmas Tractor Run is returning to Liverpool to raise money for Alder Hey Children's Hospital."

"It happens every December, before dinner parties and cocktail events. My husband rummages deep in his dresser, pushing sweaters around like piles of autumn leaves, until he emerges triumphant with the piece of knitwear for which he has been searching: that legendary item, the ugly Christmas sweater."

"What does Christmas mean to men? Tonight asked some men - namely Bernard Levin, Rene McColl, Andrew Shonfield, Lord Boothby and Steven Watson - to take a little time to reflect." 

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a dead wife must be in want of a festive miracle, apparently. Here, Stylist’s Kayleigh Dray explores the most baffling of all Christmas movie tropes."

"2022 marks Channel 4’s 40th Birthday. It also marks 40 years since Channel 4 first broadcast the film adaptation of the late Raymond Briggs’ timeless picture book - The Snowman™. In a huge celebration of this iconic animation this 1x60 documentary explores how this little twenty-six-minute film has become so embedded in the nation’s heart at Christmas."

Christmas Links #2

Links  The annual reviews on this blog really began in earnest in 2003 with Review 2003 in which I asked a number of friends, writers, directors and other people who's worked I'd enjoyed that year a series of questions about that year.  Such was the joy of the blogosphere twenty years ago, you could send a list of questions to the likes of Charlie Stross, Paul Cornell, Danny Wallace or Emma Kennedy and they'd reply, some with long paragraphs.  

As such it's difficult to pick a single post, but the question which says much about the one thing in 2003 which will have the most lasting consequences is perhaps the most interesting because the oddly ambiguous working led to some talking about the global consequences of the Iraq war and others moments which happened in their own life big and small, with some deeply personal writing.  I hope everyone subsequently prospered all the same.

"My mother is an artist, and every December she built me a lifetime of memories, one day at a time."

"The lights on the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree are due to be switched on later, marking the beginning of the countdown to the festive season.  The tree has been an annual gift from the people of Norway to the people of Britain since 1947, in gratitude for Britain's support during World War Two.  So how have times changed since the first tree was levered into place? Track the tree's early history through the newspapers of the time."

"This won’t take more than half an hour."

What’s on the box?
"It’s Puzzler magazine’s 50th birthday and we’re marking the occasion by challenging you to crack the visual clues to name 50 well-known British TV shows from the last 50 years.  Send us the name of any FIVE of the shows and you could WIN a 50" Ultra HD LG TV. You’ll need to submit your answers via the entry form just below." [via]

"With one month until Christmas Day, BBC Newsreel was out and about looking at some possible gift ideas."

"It's arguably the most festive street in Wirral."

"The skincare founder will celebrate with dancing and partying in her native Colombia."

"Lots of venues in Liverpool are having special screenings of Christmas films in the run-up to the big day, so here are 9 places where you can take your Buddy to see one ..."

"This year, we have created an online Advent Calendar, featuring contributions from Physics students from over twenty countries across five continents."

"On the Breadline: Parents tell how they are forced to cut back on swimming lessons and other activities to pay for food and heating."

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1927

There were a number of firsts for the BBC in 1927, although one of the more popular examples, that Christopher Stone became the first Radio DJ in April doesn't seem to be true.  A glance at the BBC Programme Index indicates that what was then called a "gramophone recital" began as early as November 1922, and the first named "DJ" was Moses Baritz in March 1925 (although some sources date this back to as early as 1924).  Is this a mistake or has Baritz, born in Manchester of Ukrainian Jewish origin and founding member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain been written out of history?  See above the only photo I could find for him online.

Below are some actual firsts.  The first director general of the BBC was Lord Reith and there's a lengthy interview with him from 1967 with Malcolm Muggeridge (clips from which have featured in documentaries throughout the years notably TV Hell).  There's a tribute to Sir Henry Wood because 1927 was the first year the BBC Proms were broadcast on the radio.  It's also the first year various sporting commentaries began across rugby, cricket, football and tennis (this was the first BBC Wimbledon).

Lord Reith

"Lord Reith was the first Director-General of the BBC (in 1927). He is commemorated with a blue plaque at his former home at 6 Barton Street in Westminster."
[English Heritage]

A series of interviews in which Lord Reith tells his life story to Malcolm Muggeridge.  You'll recognise it from the clip from the TV Hell theme night in which he says that everyone having access to television is "a potential social menace of the first magnitude."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"As the BBC approaches its 90th birthday, arch scrutiniser and listeners' champion Roger Bolton examines the genesis of Reithian values and finds out how well Lord Reith - the first Director General of the BBC - lived up to his own exacting standards."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]


The Thirty-Second Season of the Promenade Concerts was the first to be broadcast and supported by the BBC.  Broadcast during the 1994 concert series.
[BBC Clips]

"Nicholas Kenyon explores early music at the BBC in the 1920s."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]


The first iteration of the BBC's Children in Need began on Christmas Day 1927.  
[BBC Programme Index]

"The BBC had just one instruction for Captain HBT Wakelam when he made its pioneering sports broadcast: "Don't Swear" was pinned up at eye-level as he faced the microphone while England faced Wales in the rugby international at Twickenham."
[The Guardian]

Annual Reports

"The Governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation assumed office on January 1st, 1927, and have the honour herewith to present their first Annual Report."

"The issue of this Handbook is a reminder that broadcasting is an established and accepted institution. People may still marvel at the wonder of wireless, but perhaps they should marvel still more that in so short a space of time this new Public Service should have become so essential and so powerful a factor in our life."
[World Radio History]

Christmas Links #1

Links  Happy First of December.  Here we go again with another year of Christmas Links, the one consistent element of this blog since 2014.  Since it's also the twentieth anniversary of the annual reviews, I'm going to include links to some of the favourite guest posts and choose some meaningful items I've written myself before we head off into the links each day.

Let's begin with Review 2002, which for the most part was simply the reposting of material from earlier in the year and has really been a case of trying to find the least embarrassing piece which is sadly this somewhat overwritten description of a real thing which definitely transpired at a Cafe in Paris.  My memory still suggests this is how it happened, but I don't know.  The older version of me has many questions.
BBC Radio and BBC Sounds to bring festive joy, magical stories and musical treats for audiences this Christmas:
"This Christmas BBC Radio and BBC Sounds will delight listeners with a line up full of festive joy, magical stories and musical treats."

"The Chimes is a feature-length, full-cast adaptation of the ‘lost’ Christmas book by Charles Dickens, due for release on December 5th, and now available to pre-order."

"An unknown "Grinch" tried to steal holiday cheer in on Florida town. On Monday, Melbourne Beach's public works crews were doing their morning check of the historic town pier and discovered someone cut up their 1,400 feet of holiday lights."

"Students’ self-portraits, handwritten recipe cards and yes, the Bidens’ pets, play a starring role."

"When the world is going to hell, you reach for the familiar and the comforting. Even if it leaves you covered in needles."

"Take a look at these festive photos of food from the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition's past entries."

"A huge crane that is helping to restore flood protection to a Derbyshire town has been given a festive makeover.  The machinery, which was named Lifty McShifty following an online poll, has been in Matlock since August."

"There has been an idea expressed that, despite the "what what what?" conclusion of Doctor Who: The Power Of The Doctor, that the Fourteenth Doctor iteration of Doctor Who, while physically very similar (add a few years around the temples) to the Tenth Doctor, may have a very different personality indeed, and might not reflect David Tennant's original portrayal of the character."

"BBC Newsreel (1948) goes to Wimbledon to take a behind-the-scenes peek at the people working painstakingly hard on sets, costumes and rehearsals to ensure the traditional Boxing Day pantomime goes off without a hitch."

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1926

The big news of 1926 was the general strike in which large parts of the UK workforce walked out for nine days that May to try and force the government to "prevent wage reductions and worsening conditions for 1.2 million locked-out coal miners" due to an uncertain market due to Germany providing "free coal" as part of the reparations for the Great War and mine owners deducting pay in order to keep their companies in profit.

As a result of the strike, newspapers stopped publication for the duration because the printers had walked out and the BBC decided to broadcast five news bulletins a day to keep the public informed, breaking a prior agreement that radio news would only be available in the evening so as not to create unfair competition for the printed word.  The then Chancellor, Winston Churchill, attempted to commandeer the broadcasts for propaganda purposes, but Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin (pictured) resisted.

On The Air

"The first reports came through just after 7:40 on Saturday evening. Listeners to the BBC's fledgling radio service heard the closing words of a talk on Gray's Elegy, then a plummy announcer's voice breaking in with news that an unemployment demonstration in Trafalgar Square had turned violent. The angry demonstrators were already sacking the National Gallery, he said, and they weren't finished yet."
[radio slade]

"Rare footage of a silent British film in production, as newsreel cameras capture a BBC on-set radio broadcast."
The programme, A Film in the Making, was broadcast on 5th March 1926 on 2LO London.

"First 'Outside Broadcast' by the BBC. This was one of the first LP recordings at the BBC- aptly named LP1. St.Hilary local prayer/ Christmas play rehearsals by the local vicar recorded in 1926."
This is a documentary about the broadcast with clips.
[Cornish Memory][BBC Programme Index]

Collection of BBC News radio broadcast summaries from during the period of the general strike.
[University of Warwick Digital Collections]

Behind The Scenes

"Letter to Lord Chancellor on the granting of a Royal Charter to the BBC, 19 November, 1926 (Catalogue ref: PC 8/1089)"
[The National Archive]

"This was another contest about the existence, or otherwise, of what has become the most frequently disputed copyright subject matter – compilations.  The plaintiffs, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), claimed an injunction to restrain what they considered an infringement of the copyright in its periodical, the Radio Times."
[University of Cambridge]


"Initially called 'The televisor', Baird first demonstrated his televison set in 1926. This programme traces the history of his invention and includes extracts of interviews with William Taynton, the office boy who became the first ever person to be televised and the voice of Logie Baird himself."
[BBC World Service]

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1925

It's been remiss of me not to mention this sooner, but there's a superb Twitter feed if you like this sort of thing called "The BBC, 100 years ago today" which is charting the BBC's origins in a compelling fine grain detail with contemporary news articles and elements of the schedule.  Follow here.

Back in 1925, the transmitter at Daventry opens providing signals to a much wider area of the country.  It also, amazingly, sets the stage for the first experiments with stereo sound as a contemporary article from Wireless Weekly will explain.  The listing from that week's Radio Times is also worth a read.  

The lady above is Madame Luisa Tetrazzini, the Italian coloratura soprano.  There's a silent clip of her below, but the Internet Archive has a wax cylinder recording of her singing (as well as numerous 78s) and a copy of her memoir, also published in 1922, too early to mention this radio appearance.

Daventry Opens

Amateur Wireless: Daventry: Official Opening, July 27, 1925
Contemporary news article about the opening of the transmitter.
[World Radio History] 

"The visuals in this Topical Budget newsreel item certainly pack a punch. The futuristic valves inside Daventry's broadcast station, and its impressively tall masts outside, made the 5XX long-wave radio facility 'space age' for 1925. Located on Borough Hill on the outskirts of Daventry, it reached 94% of the population, and still has a single mast to transmit the BBC's DAB signal."

"From its inception in the days of 2LO during the 1920s until its final demise in 1992, Daventry Wireless Transmission Station and its well remembered host of aerial masts became much more than a Northampton landmark. The name itself was known world-wide to crystal set owners and wireless listeners."
[World Radio History]

"In the distance lofty "2LO". Shot of rooftops, building with two radio masts on top. Tilt down to show the two masts. Views of the transmitting room - engineers, changing valves, overhauling panels etc. On location, engineers wiring up special lines needed for the outside broadcast. Inside a London Cinema Theatre the curtains open and we see a large seated audience singing a song."

Experiments in Stereo

Article about early experiments in stereo sound conducted through BBC Radio.  Two microphones were set up at a concert with each being sent to broadcast through a different LW radio station with the result that rudimentary stereo could be heard with the right equipment (two radios, basically).
[World Radio History][BBC Programme Index]


"Madame Tetrazzini Broadcasts - The golden voice of the prima donna carried by wireless waves from 2L0 to all the world."

"Illustration for 100 Years in Pictures with text by DC Somervell (Odhams, c 1950)."
[Look and Learn History Picture Archive]

Just including this because its amazing.

A History of the BBC in other Archives: 1924

1924 brings a few more firsts, the first pips, the first drama written specifically for radio, the first broadcast from a monarch and the BBC's first fakery scandal, although the truth wouldn't be revealed for ninety odd years.  

Or was it?  I've included The Guardian story below, but the text under the episode of Private Passions which discusses the potential siffleur now includes a correction that the audio the zooilogical experts were working from was from a commercial release in 1927 not the original broadcast (which had been mislabelled in the BBC archive) and although there is testimony from the imitator Madame Saberon and her family, there's equally valid testimony from others, so no one really knows.

Pips & Chimes

"The six-pip Time Signal was introduced on 5 February 1924 following the successful broadcast of the chimes of Big Ben to usher in the new year."
[Royal Museums Greenwich]

"One of the most familiar sounds on BBC services, Greenwich time signal pips turn 75 years old. Inventor Frank Hope-Jones explains them to the listeners."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"On New Year's Eve, 1923, BBC engineer AG Dryland climbed onto a roof opposite the Houses of Parliament with a microphone to record the chimes of Big Ben."
[BBC Archive]


"Exclusive: bird impressionist was brought in for Beatrice Harrison’s historic performance, says broadcaster"
[The Guardian]

"Radio seems a natural medium for the play, or maybe it doesn’t. The first to be commissioned especially for the wireless in Britain was ‘A Comedy of Danger’, aired in January 1924. The playwright was 23 year old Richard Hughes: “I was asked by the BBC, in January of 1924, to write a play for effect by sound only, in the same way that film plays are written for effect by sight only”. The production was set in the darkness of a coalmine, where listeners and characters alike were at the same disadvantage. Both could ‘see’ nothing."
[audioboom][BBC Programme Index]

First Royal on the Radio

"This is the first broadcast made by a British monarch on radio. King George V opened the British Empire Exhibition on 23 April 1924. In his speech, broadcast by the BBC, he thanks all those who worked to deliver such a ‘magnificent result’, despite challenges such as the ‘unfavourable weather’."
[British Library][BBC Programme Index]

Annual Reports

"Who would hear the story of a year's pioneering?  A rare enough thing these days, when all the grounds seems to have been gone over again and again, and all the walks of life seem to have been explored and exploited."
[World Radio History]

Hello Ruby Sunday!

TV  As you have seen (possibly above), the newest Doctor Who companion was announced during tonight's Children in Need and here she is in the first joint photo with Ncuti as tweeted out by the Disney+ Twitter account because everything is weird now:

Usually I would have just embedded that tweet but like I said everything is weird now and its worth keeping for posterity, just in case the unthinkable actually does happen.  Space Karen.

Not having been party to Coronation Street I've no idea who Millie is but having done due diligence whilst writing this paragraph, I've watched some clips of her on YouTube and she seems very good indeed and won a soap award this year.  So consider me somewhere between positively whelmed and cautiously optimistic.  

What is clear, especially from this photo is that after the fan service of next year, RTD2 is very much looking to give the show a much fresher, younger tone, the casting of both leads pointing towards capturing the kind of audience that like Millie were born during the revival series and for whom this might their first Doctor Who.

Just to finish picking over the bones of what we actually know right now, Ruby Sunday's quite the name.  Redolent of a Rolling Stones song, it feels unusual in a way that Who companion names tend to be, as memorable as possible.  But it's not as unusual as you might think.  It's root is Sandys which was first recorded in Worcestershire and then spread across the world, notably to Nigeria where its immensely popular and there have been a number of footballers with that name across the years.

My first reaction was that it sounded very late era JNT, something Andrew Cartmel might include in a story inspired by a dystopian novel set in space.  But on reflection, I don't think Russell is going to break the routine of having this new  companion from a non-contemporary Earth setting so my guess is she'll be another iteration of the Dorothy McShane/Sam Jones/Izzy Sinclair/Lucie Miller/Rose Tyler genre of companion, especially with those Tooth & Claw style dungarees.

Welcome to the family Millie.  See you in 2023.

A History of the BBC in other Archives: 1923

By 1923, the BBC broadcasts were successful enough to require their own listing magazine and so the Radio Times was born.  Elsewhere, the British National Opera's production of The Magic Flute from Covent Garden becomes the corporation's first outside broadcast, transmitters in Glasgow, Sheffield, Aberdeen and Bournemouth open and at the close of the year the BBC broadcasts the chimes of Big Ben for the first time at New Year's Eve.

Radio Times

"It was launched in a fit of pique. In January 1923, the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association announced that it would be charging the three-month-old British Broadcasting Company the standard advertising rates for publishing its radio listings in newspapers. Although the newspapers capitulated the following month, realising that not including the broadcasting schedules would affect their circulations, the BBC’s general manager, John Reith, was irritated by their attitude and it gave him an idea."
[joe moran's words]

The very first issue of the Radio Times.
[BBC Programme Index]

"The first edition of Radio Times magazine hit the bookstands in September 1923. Nine decades later, radio historian Simon Elmes discovers that music, and particularly classical music has always been a staple ingredient of its success formula."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

Off and Running

BBC gets licence
"Extract of a letter from General Post Office to the Secretary of State for the Colonial Office about the licensing of the BBC, 8 March, 1923."
[The National Archives]

"Here, BBC Chairman Lord Gainford reflects on the BBC's first year."

"In the earliest days of radio, women commented on 'household matters', talked about their garden or their travels - writers Vita Sackville-West and Rebecca West were regulars - and became Children's Hour 'Aunts'; but certainly never read the news. On the other hand, the young BBC employed a number of brilliant young women behind the microphone who shaped the earliest days of programme-making."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"We reveal the vast activities behind the organization of the B.B.C. Studio shots of band playing. Announcer at mike. Instrument panels. Shots of the staff at work. Pan shots around machinery. Studio shot of string band playing. Sound proof booth with man wearing headphones. Announcer introduces the next tune. Lamp flashes on wall. Band starts playing. Operators at work. Exterior shot of radio tower. Pan down from tower."
[British Movietone]

"On January 1923, one of the earliest outside broadcasts from the newly formed BBC took place - The Magic Flute performed at Covent Garden by The British National Opera Company. The programme was a statement of intent by the early BBC as broadcasting was a revolutionary way in which culture could be brought to many people through their new wireless sets. Ever since its foundation 100 years ago, the BBC has been an arena in which debates have played out about what sorts of culture the British people want or need."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1922

It's 1922:  Ivy Williams becomes the first woman to be called to the English bar, Howard Carter finds Tutankhamun's tomb, TS Eliot's The Waste Land is published and Branston Pickle begins production at the Cross & Blackwell factory in Staffordshire.

Meanwhile, the BBC begins.  Find below the history of 2LO and its first broadcast base through various text and video and a virtual recreation of the hut from which some of the very first radio transmissions were produced.  But as BBC News reports today, this was a national service, the schedule for which we're still piecing together.

Before 2L0

"The UK’s first weekly radio show was broadcast on 14 February 1922 from a former military hut in Writtle, using the call sign 2MT or ‘Two Emma Toc’. The experimental, irreverent shows proved to be so popular with audiences that they led to the creation of the BBC on 18 October 1922."
Interactive website which includes digital recreation of the hut, which is in Chelmsford Museum's collection and connected documents.  More information here.
[Chelmsford Museum]

"The third episode of A Century Remembered, presented by Robert Kee, about the birth of the BBC."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"The press fulminated, the enthusiasts were frustrated, and the radio manufacturers fumed. Despite the fact that Marconi had invented radio before Queen Victoria had celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, radio in Britain took another 25 years to begin an official service to listeners. But when, on November 14th 1922 the British Broadcasting Company's station at Marconi House radiated to an awaiting nation "This is 2LO calling" for the first time under the company's name, it marked the start of the first and most distinguished public-service radio station in the world."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]


"In 1922 the BBC transmitted its first radio programme, marking the beginnings of official state broadcasting and a new era for listeners at home.   On 14 November 1922, Arthur Burrows, Director of Programmes at the British Broadcasting Company, launched Britain’s first national radio broadcasting service from Marconi House in the Strand, London."
[Science Museum]

"This is a presentation about 2LO, the BBC's first transmitter, given by Martin Ellen on 14th November 2002 (the BBC's 80th birthday)."
[Science Museum]

"Marconi 1.5kW transmitter, Marconi Company Limited, Chelmsford, 1922. Used by the BBC London station 2LO between 1922 and 1925, as rebuilt c.1954 incorporating some non-original but contemporary components."
[Science Museum]

"Main part of Marconi 1.5kW transmitter (minus central rack), 1922, used by the BBC London station 2LO between 1922 and 1925, as rebuilt c.1954."
[Science Museum]


"'The birth of the wireless'. Profile of radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, with contributions from his daughter Degna Marconi, second wife Maria and radio specialist Dexter Smith."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"A visitor to the site, John A. Strubbe, who was the architect responsible for the internal reconstruction of Marconi House in 1950-53 when English Electric aquired the Marconi company along with their building, has very kindly sent in a great deal of information and images on Marconi House, formerly the Gaiety Restaurant."

"Shots of Marconi testing radio device. Shots of technicians working on radio transmitter. CU Newspaper 'Wireless For All".  CU top of Marconi House early home of BBC. Arthur Burrows broadcasting. Technicians work machinery. VS radio masts and machines and performers. Shots of people listening to radio in various ways. (Radio garter included). Pan up radio mast."

Review 2022:
A History of the BBC in Other Archives: Introduction.

Broadcasting  Tomorrow will be the 100th anniversary of the first official transmission of the BBC, a news bulletin through the 2LO station in London.  Within months it quickly grew through a network of transmitters across the country  Now here we are a hundred years later with the multifaceted, multimedia organisation which exists today and we're hoping against hope will continue into the future.

This year's Review 2022 is going to be a bit different in that it's going to span the past hundred years and continue well into the next twelve months.  It will be is a celebration of the BBC but with a twist.  The corporation itself has been doing a pretty good job of highlighting its own history through the BBC 100 website and its connected history website so there's little point in replicating that.  

Instead, I'm going to be look at that history mostly through the prism of other organisations, specifically their digital archives and libraries, news agencies and universities and linking to their video, audio and documents.  It'll be clearer once you see tomorrow's first post which contains links to footage from Pathe News of Marconi testing radio equipment, articles about these origins and photos of the original transmitter.

This will not necessarily be everything.  One or two of the UK film archives have hundreds of news clips from local BBC regional news programmes and I'll exercise some editorial control, only including material which helps to tell the story of the BBC.  Similarly some of the digitisations of deposits in university archives are thorough enough to include random envelopes with a date scrawled on them which I'm not sure is even useful to a George Orwell historian.

As the "mostly" at the top of the third paragraph suggests, some BBC sources will be sewn into the fabric of these posts, but only from the more obscure parts of the corporations website, the "clips" section of programme pages and BBC Sounds, the material which the BBC rarely highlights itself but which reflects on its own history or representing the types of programmes being made at that time.  There are some real gems hidden far below the surface.

Anyway, now the groundwork is laid, I hope you enjoy what's to come.  It's going to be a big, addictive and fascinating effort for me and hopefully interesting for you too.  At least it'll give me something to do in the evenings for a while.  But I'm also genuinely interested to see if I unearth anything the BBC itself doesn't have in its archive.  There's a piece of radio in particular which is old enough and obscure enough that I'm not sure.  But you won't be seeing that for a couple of months yet.

The University of Liverpool Folio Pages.


Books   This morning, I fulfilled a life long dream and was finally to touch and breath the same air as pages from an original First Folio.  For a few years now, I've been travelling the country to see some of the complete books in various exhibitions and institutions, partly as a reason to travel but also because of the fascinating history each of them has.  But I'm under no illusion.  This isn't an academic endeavour.  It's a fannish pilgrimage and up until now, the closest I thought I'd ever get to seeing these pages was through a glass display case, not having an educational reason for consulting the texts.

But a couple of weeks ago, whilst idly looking through local library catalogues for something else, I noticed that although the University of Liverpool's special collections department doesn't have a complete First Folio, it does have a portion, two plays, Taming of the Shrew and All's Well That Ends Well along with a second, third and fourth editions.  After contacting them, it turned out they'd be very happy to let me visit and have a look and for the past couple of weeks have been filled with a nervous energy as I waited for my appointment to view the texts.  Between this and Sunday night's Doctor Who its been quite a nice couple of days.

As you can see, the two plays are bound in a single leather cover which is tightly stretched at the spine which necessitated a large number of sponge book cushions and very careful opening.  After the endpaper is the final page of As You Like It, followed by the other two plays as they would appear in a complete volume.  The catalogue entry doesn't offer a provenance, so I'm intrigued to know what happened to the rest of the book.  The corner of the page facing The Taming of the Shrew has been turned over.  Here's the reverse side:

Which would suggest that these were once part of a complete volume because why else would someone want to save their page?  The library has asked me to include class numbers for each of the volumes.  This is SPEC Y62.5.14.

The census by Eric Rasmussen and Anthony James West suggests that some of the folios are mash-ups, brought together from various sources.  The edition which burnt in the fire at Birmingham was example of this type of volume.  The Folger Shakespeare Library has loose pages in its collection and they're still valuable on their own, presumably because of their age.  Might some them once have been part of this copy?  It's estimated that about 750 copies of the First Folio were originally printed so its a miracle that on top of the extant 233 anything else still exists.

None of which captures how it felt to open the book and turning to the back page of As You Like It and then on into the other two plays.  Running my fingers across the surface, I'm struck by how rough the pages are and despite the thickness of the paper, how fragile.  Did I smell them?  I did.  Musty.  Old.  Seeing these sides through glass is one thing.  Turning them as so many others will have since they came out of the printers at Jaggard's shop is something else entirely.  On the other it's the book.  

The aforementioned page turning isn't the only human intervention.  Although these pages lack marginalia, someone has made an attempt to correct the famous printing error on page 250 of All's Well That Ends Well with a small pencil circle over the incorrect number 2:

The pages are also spackled with the tell-tale brown stains of someone having read this close to either an open fire with floating soot trails or else smoking.  For twenty minutes, I found out what it must have been like for the compilers of various Folio surveys over the years to greet one of these books and have to minutely detail these variations.

Although the third Folio is temporarily unavailable, I was also able to have a look at the second and fourth printings.  The Second Folio (SPEC Morton 334) is rarely treated with the same reverence as the First, perhaps simply because it was second.  But it's no less grander a book with even more dedications at the front and despite the apparent change in print shop ("Printed in London by Thomas Cote, for John Smethwick, Willam Alpley, Richard Hawkins, Richard Meighen, and Robert Allot, 1632") seems have used the many of the same plates used to prepare the earlier volume.  Rather than being corrected, the printing error is back with a slightly different correction:

The Fourth Folio (SPEC H88.01/oversize) is much less distinguished.  The cover on the University of Liverpool copy is falling off, it feels cheaply bound and has less of an aura, despite it still being over three hundred and thirty years old.  Re-typeset and coming fifty years after the first edition, the dedications are crammed in at the front of the book printed in boxes often on the same page, with Shakespeare's portrait relegated to the frontispiece with one of Ben Jonson's odes.  Despite being re-typeset with in a smaller font, it's also an even larger volume because of Pericles and the six plays Shakespeare didn't write crammed in at the back.

Honestly, it was such a privilege to spend time with this and the other two volumes, especially the two plays.  Now, whenever I see one of the full volumes exhibited or even on television, or reading about its preparation in an Arden edition introduction, I'll now have a sensory memory of at least one small portion of the book.

Images of the books are courtesy of the University of Liverpool Library.