A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1948.

Something which wasn't general publicised during the London Olympics 2012's anniversary year is that almost the entire event, at least what was streamed live, is still available online as part of the Olympics YouTube channel.  Someone has attempted to compile the first eleven days as a sequential playlist here beginning with the opening ceremony and a number of playlists covering each event are on this account.  Should you want to, you can visit this page and experience the entire swimming competition again.

In 1948 such things would probably be considered magic.  Colour footage of London 1948 can be seen in the official Olympic film but that was produced for later release.  But the BBC's coverage was equally innovative for the time with huge ingenuity and massive breakthroughs in broadcast technology being utilised so that a flavour of what was already a huge event could be brought to the public.  But you wouldn't expect the rolling coverage we enjoy today, would you?

Not quite.  The Radio Times shows that after providing commentary of the opening ceremony on the first day, the Home Service, rather live Radio Five Live now, broke into the typical programmes with live commentary at various times at times given at the beginning of each day's listings, augmented by fifteen minute bulletins in the evenings rounding up the day's events.  

Television, during the time it was on air, did indeed have hours of coverage, initially of the athletics and swimming sessions then boxing, gymnastics and "association football" all of which had the benefit of being in the same two venues, the Empire Stadium and Empire Pool.  On the final day, the Olympics had to share its broadcast with a test match and ended with an equestrian event followed by a "short" Closing Ceremony.

London Olympics 1948

"In what's turned out to be an Olympic year, we look back at the televising of the London 1948 Games 73 years ago with Norman Green."
This is a ninety minute lecture that utilises extensive material about the BBC from various archives.
[Royal Television Society]

"Just three years after the end of the Second World War, with both food and fuel still being rationed, London hosted the XIV Olympic Games. They were dubbed ‘The Austerity Games’ with no money for new buildings, existing facilities had to be used. Despite these restrictions fifty-seven countries competed but perhaps understandably, Germany and Japan were not invited.  It was a huge undertaking for the BBC."
[TV Outside Broadcast History]

"This news item celebrates the BBC's acquisition of the most up-to-date technology for outside broadcasting."
[BBC Clips]

"Behind the scenes preparations are made by the BBC for the radio broadcast of the 1948 Summer Olympics from Wembley."

"Throughout the London 1948 Olympic Games, news of the day's events were summarised in specially prepared Olympic Newsreels. This one reports on the Corporation's radio and TV operation at Wembley Stadium."
[BBC Clips]

"The 1948 Olympic Games cemented television as the ultimate immersive experience of the age."
[Science and Media Museum]

"Celebrating 60 years of Sports Report on BBC Radio 5 live on 3 January 2008 with Mark Saggers, Des Lynam and James Alexander Gordon."
[Random Radio Jottings][BBC Programme Index]


"Laurie Taylor trawls the BBC archives in two programmes exploring 60 years of the Reith Lectures, named in honour of the first director-general of the BBC, Lord Reith."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]


"The long-playing record and the BBC’s Third Programme changed the face of classical music in Britain. In popular music the 45 rpm record became the recorded medium of choice, and in 1970 the BBC’s home networks grew to four in order to broadcast respectively (and respectably) pop, easy listening, classical music, and speech. Radio 3’s flagship programmes such as the weekday drivetime slot Homeward Bound and Saturday morning’s Record Review taught listeners what to listen to and how to listen."
[Gresham College]

"Peter Cook, Enoch Powell, Margaret Thatcher, Sheila Hancock, Tony Benn...just a few of the famous voices in this exploration of the Any Questions archive. Jonathan Dimbleby and a special panel of guests offer new answers to old questions from the archive, and explore the changing character of political argument on Radio 4's flagship debate programme."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"Chris Warburton is celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the BBC's Sports Report."
[BBC Sounds]

"Papers related to an episode of the BBC television programme ‘Eye of The Artist’ titled ‘Fantastic Art’"


"Amid the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of Empire Windrush from the Caribbean in 1948, much has been made of the warm welcome that once greeted those migrant men and women in Britain’s hour of need, as post-war reconstruction got underway."
[The Conversation]

"Filmmaker Samantha Horley recently posted an image of this set of “Guidelines,” which she found among her father’s effects, on her Facebook page. Horley told me that her aunt worked at the BBC as a secretary in the 1960s and 1970s; she thinks the page originally came from her aunt’s papers."

"Mr. Ernest Davies (Enfield): I wish to raise certain matters arising out of the Annual Report and Accounts for the year 1946–47 of the British Broadcasting Corporation, presented by the Postmaster-General's Department last month. I do this in no spirit of carping criticism, because, as a former member of the staff of the B.B.C. during the war years, I have a very high respect for the achievements of that Corporation; but I wish to offer some constructive criticism and to seek from the Minister who is to reply some assurances on certain matters which I will raise, particularly regarding the organisation of the staff and the internal organisation of the B.B.C."

"This book, which has been written to impart to its readers fundamental knowledge about the operative, performing and allied arts of television -the latest medium of mass home entertainment - is the first, it is hoped, of a series of annual reports on visual radio in Britain and the world."
[World Radio Archive]

"In a little book that I called Plain Words I drew freely on the BBC for illustrations of things which, in my submission, would have been better said otherwise or not said at all."
[World Radio History]