A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1939.

Here we are then, World War II.  Much has been written about this period but two books I would recommend are Edward Stourton's Auntie's War: The BBC during the Second World War and The BBC: A People's History by David Hendy which cover the entire period in immense detail from the differing perspectives of the correspondents in the field and the backroom staff (Hendry is excellent on the human logistics and less than ideal sleeping arrangements).  This project can't cover everything and doesn't want to but will include some of the speeches of politicians and royalty and try to capture some of the tone of the Home Service, which replaced the previous services during war time.

As part of the preparations for war, the BBC purchased Wood Norton, a hall dating back to medieval times, as a back up should the inevitable happen and they could continue broadcasting from outside the capital.  On reading that I was reminded of the draft documents leaked last year to The Guardian which suggested "that in a national blackout it would run a greatly reduced temporary radio service from the UK’s emergency broadcasting centre, called the EBC, based in a rural location not acknowledged by the BBC."  Although Wood Norton Hall itself has been sold, the buildings in the ground are still used for technical training.  Might they be pressed back into service?

Not the War

"Various shots beauty queens parading in special BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation / Company) studio at show. London. M/S of winner Patsy Kent being interviewed in front of Television camera."

"Footage of the interior of Broadcasting House, London."

"Autograph full score. Comprising fifteen numbers, with one leaf of the composer's written instructions and comments on the music. Scored for voices, flute (piccolo), clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, harp and percussion."
[British Library]

The War

"This is an extract of the speech Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made to the nation via a BBC Home Service broadcast at 11.15am on Sunday 3 September 1939."
[British Library]

"The Common Crier’s proclamation (BBC catalogue number 871580) lists all those items to be considered as contraband of war, and they include ammunition, explosives, and anything that can be used to make chemical weapons."
[London Sound Survey]

"BBC News report from September 2nd 1939."

"What really did happen that day in 1939, when the BBC Television Service closed down “for the duration of the conflict”?"

"Winston Churchill speaks at BBC Broadcasting House and reviews the progress of the war."

"Edward Stourton tells the story of the BBC in the ”phoney war” of 1939-1940 and the period’s strange echoes of Covid-19."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"Footage shot by D.R. Campbell of Anti-Aircraft Demonstration from the south terrace at Alexandra Palace, performed for the BBC Television service. Shortly after the television service was closed for the duration of the war, reopening in 1946."
[Alexandra Palace]

"This book tells briefly of the promise, the achievements, and the diverted energies of a broadcasting year which seemed like to at one time to outstrip and of its sixteen predecessors."
[World Radio History]