A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1941

From the start of this project, rather than having a long list of links, I've been attempting to corral them under subheadings to make them easier to read.  But during this war period, so much is happening all the time, that it's nearly impossible.  The links below under the "Home Front" demonstrate how, by the 1940s even with its limited number of channels domestically, the BBC had become a multifaceted organisation catering for a number of different audiences.  

If you only watch/read one of the pieces, it has to be 19 Metre Band, which in its 13 mins gives offers an atmospheric portrayal of Broadcasting House and some of the people who worked there including essayist Z.A. Bukhari (pictured above).  At around the 6th minute there are some brilliant shots of the canteen and elsewhere within the margins you get a real sense of the hierarchies which existed in the corporation at the time, even in the services catering for overseas audiences.

Home Front


"Go behind the scenes of Indian programmes on the BBC General Overseas Service (later the World Service)."
[BFI] 

"The BBC has featured entertainers of colour from its inception, but more as an attraction than a celebration of other cultures. In part four of our 13-part series on the history of the BBC, David Hendy explores how the corporation tried to include diverse voices, from the 1930s to the postwar years..."
[History Extra]

"This thesis focuses attention on the two years that George Orwell spent, between August 1941 and November 1943, at the Indian Section of the B.B.C., producing propaganda talks for listeners in India and elsewhere."
[Edinburgh Research Archive]

"A man with the name of Wilfred Pickles brought regional dialect to the BBC as part of an anti-Nazi-propaganda strategy."
[Smithsonian]

"THIS IS London Calling! Night after night all through Canada, people sit and listen to the voice of a British Broadcasting Corporation announcer, thousands of miles away in London, bringing the day’s news to them from a city deluged in war."
[MacLeans]

Includes BBC News broadcast.
[Pathe]

"During the Second World War the shortage of manpower for industry meant that women were employed in many jobs previously thought to be the preserve of men. The BBC was not exempt from the problem of finding sufficient staff."
[Orbem]

"There is a connection between Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the Morse code. Although approximately 30 years separated the creation of this particular symphony and the telegraph code, the link played a role in Allied broadcasts during World War II."
[CMUSE]

"Women of the Royal Armed Forces compete in a 1941 quiz show on the BBC."
Note: From the show Women at War broadcast 24th November (this film was issued on the 27th).  The section filmed here is "the Brainteaser's Trust".

"21 March 1941: ‘Anything in the nature of persecution, victimisation, or man-hunting is odious to the British people’ - Churchill"
[The Guardian]

"In this recording of the proceedings at a Foyles Literary Luncheon, guest of honour Lynton Fletcher, who ran the BBC Recorded Programmes Department, exhibits some of the items preserved for posterity."
[BBC Archive]




Talks


"Deputy Prime Minster Clement Attlee speaking to the nation on B.B.C. (British Broadcasting Corporation). Tells of the eight points agreed on at the Atlantic Charter meeting between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Churchill and Roosevelt representing Britain and the U.S.A. (Recorded from B.B.C. broadcast)."
[Pathe]

"Merchant seaman Frank Laskier talks about the postscript he gave at the B.B.C."


Annual Reports


"In the year 1941, the range and penetrating power of British broadcasting were formidably increased."
[World Radio History] 

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1940

On the 18th February 1940, the BBC Forces radio station began transmissions at 11am with A Short Morning Service followed by a summary of the day's programmes, which consisted of music from numerous genres interspersed with Home Service opt-ins (mostly also musical).  This was followed at 4pm with second half coverage of an "Association Football" match between The French Army v. The British Army, commentated by Raymond Glendenning from Lille (which wouldn't be occupied by the Germans until the end of May).

Introducing the service, the Radio Times explains, much care was taken in selecting the programmes for the service, between national security concerns and just how to entertain troops who could be called to action at any moment, often in difficult circumstances.  After a consultation, which included the BBC's DG himself visiting various forces including the RAF in France, it was decided to keep the tone light, with music which could not easily be disrupted and "may even be enhanced by communal enjoyment and a running exchange of comments."

The final day of broadcasting, 26th February 1944 contains much the same mix of content as the opening day, of gramophone records, live music and a second half coverage of a couple of rugby matches, England v. Scotland and England v. Wales.  The biggest change is an extra programme at 8pm, Home is on the Air, in which "men of the Service tell how they and their comrades are listening now and will be listening in the future together with you at home" as the channel transitioned to General Forces Radio, which also catered to US forces and the Home Front.


The BBC at War


"A handbook about the BBC's war effort written during the conflict.  It ends on a postscript, "... when victory is ours, the high task of radio will be to help in building civilization upon more enduring foundations, and to a better and a livelier pattern. Once again, through broadcasting, Nation shall speak peace unto nation.' "
[World Radio History]

"News coverage becomes top priority for the BBC in wartime Britain."
[The Guardian]

"It's all action on the home front with civilians on high alert to support the war effort."
Contains drama documentary footage of a BBC radio broadcast during a family dinner time.
[BFI]  

"Just after 8pm, on 15 October 1940, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s headquarters (built 1932) were hit by a 500lb delayed-action high explosive bomb.   The bomb destroyed the BBC switchboard before penetrating the Music Library on the fifth floor."
[West End at War]

"On the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War, German writer Timur Vermes examines how the BBC used humour throughout the war to counter Nazi propaganda."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"The first in a series of programmes by the BBC broadcast in early 1940 to inform the British public about how the BBC monitors propaganda and news by enemy and neutral countries. This seemingly open, light-hearted tactic was typical of the strategies used in the war against propaganda."
[BBC Archive][BBC Programme Index]

"Martin Wainwright marks the life of a broadcasting phenomenon - the story of how Yorkshire man JB Priestley became the voice of the nation during the darkest days of the Second World War."
[Imperial War Museum][BBC Programme Index]

"A BBC arranged trans-Atlantic broadcast between English parents and evacuated children in America and Canada."

"In Britain, during the first weeks of the Second World War, public entertainment venues closed down. The blackout darkened the streets, and people stuck at home turned to radio as never before. They were seeking news but also diversion — a difficult balance for the BBC to achieve. Many hated what they heard. But the BBC had a seemingly unlikely star: Canadian-born Sandy Macpherson, the BBC’s resident theatre organist."
[The Conversation]


BBC Programmes


"It was in the dark days of 1940 that the BBC instituted 'Music While You Work', following a Government suggestion that morale in industry would be improved if there were daily broadcasts of cheerful music piped into the factories. The theory (which turned out to be right) was that improved morale would lead to better production."
[Masters of Melody]

"A lot of these excellent broadcasts are taken from the United States Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service which monitored many foreign stations during the conflict."
[Michael Marshall Voice Actor]

Speeches


Excerpt.
[Pathe]

"In her first public speech, Princess Elizabeth addresses the children of the Commonwealth, many of whom have been evacuated from the cities due to the war, and footage of the Princesses Royal and various other children plays throughout."

[UCL George Orwell Archive][BBC Programme Index]


Annual Reports


"The following pages give an outline of the way in which the British Broadcasting Corporation has met the call of war, and its contribution to the national war effort of which it is a vital part."
[World Radio History]

A History of the BBC in Other Objects: 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."
[Pathe]

"Footage of the interior of Broadcasting House, London."
[Pathe]

"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."
[4TheRecord]

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

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

"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]


Annual Reports


"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]

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1938


One of the websites which is being an immense help as I move forward with this project is Chronomedia which says on its opening page that it, "is designed to become the most comprehensive and accurate timeline of developments in communications media ever compiled."  It's quite old in web terms, most of the pages having last been updated when Russell T Davies was last showrunning Doctor Who.  But it still feels immensely comprehensive, especially in charting when sporting events were first broadcast or the changeover from the Baird to Marconi television system which happened in around 1938.

New research is available all the time though.  It confidently states that in February 1938, the "BBC introduces one hour of television on Sundays."  Except we can how see from the BBC Programme Index that the first TV programme broadcast on Sundays was actually in April 1938, Rowing Blues, a review of the Boat Race, which went out for half an hour in the afternoon.  Notably the Radio Times did mention this launch in a February issue (scan here) so perhaps someone in the past has their wires crossed, or the BBC were doing test transmissions which went unlisted in the Radio Times.

Either way, by now the BBC is in its pre-war pomp ambitiously broadcasting cricket commentaries from abroad (England vs South Africa from Johannesburg) and the first televised phone-in show, as Gerald Cock, director of programmes took viewers questions on the air (above photo courtesy of Transdiffusion), both after Chamberlain's fateful "I have in my hand a piece of paper" speech.  Find below a taste of the breadth of programmes across television and radio which were in production a year before the cataclysm.  It's a confidence in purpose which arguably wouldn't been seen from the corporation for at least a decade.


Full Screen Ahead


"Mr Ogilvie, new Director General of the British Broadcasting Corporation, arrives at Broadcasting House for his new appointment."
[AP]

"M/S as 'Lemo' the 18 month old lioness gets out of a car with her keeper, she walks towards Broadcasting House while crowds stand and watch."
[Pathe]

"Produced by the GPO Film Unit, this film shows preparations made by GPO to help the BBC with the nationwide outside broadcast of a major sporting event, the TT motorcycle race on the Isle of Man."
[BT Archive]

"Sir Henry Wood and BBC Symphony Orchestra play 'Serenade to Music'."
Visual record of The Henry Wood Jubilee Concert from 5th October 1938.

"Inside BBC Broadcasting House, we see several male and female contestants of the British Spelling Bee team sitting in a line wearing headphones.  Commentator points out Spelling Master Tom Woodruffe, sitting at a table and talking into a microphone."

"In St. George's Hall, London, the BBC hold a programme composed of couple who have been married over 50 years. Charles Brewer interviews the old folk and also taking part in the programme are a pair married the same day."

"BBC vs The Listeners darts championship at Eastbourne."

"Incidental music for The Ascent of F6, a stage play by W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood.  Signed by Britten on ff 1, 1v, 3, and 47. The volume is not dated."
[British Library][BBC Programme Index]

Eighty years ago the BBC conducted Britain's first ever survey of time use. Its aim was to discover whether anyone would have time to take up a brand new leisure activity - watching TV. In fact last year's time use survey in the US tells us that if people gain any unexpected spare time they spend it watching TV.
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"One typescript and one manuscript copy of a talk or article about Charles Darwin. The typescript copy is annotated in pencil at the top: "BBC Lecture on Darwin" [not in Haldane's handwriting]."
[University College London]

"Rare behind the scenes cine film taken at Alexandra Palace."
[BBC Clips]

"And no, it wasn't Doctor Who."
[Smithsonian Magazine]


Freud!



"In 1938 Sigmund Freud recorded a speech for the BBC. It remains one of the few recordings ever made of his voice."
[Freud Museum]


BBC Programmes


"This was long before there was a TV in every home."
[Dusty Old Thing]

"However, while no direct recordings were possible, surprisingly one instance of a pre-World War 2 broadcast compilation remains publicly accessible thanks to an indirect recording."
[Lost Media Wiki]


Annual Reports


"Sir John Reith left the BBC on 30 June 1938 to become whole-time Chairman of Imperial Airways."
[World Radio History]

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1937

You will have noticed over the past few weeks I've begun to include a section towards the bottom of these posts for "BBC Programmes".  As I was looking through the various external digital archives and the more obscure parts of the BBC website, I kept bumping into complete or near complete programmes which certainly aren't available through the iPlayer and I don't even know for sure if the BBC itself has copy.  

To offer examples of programmes broadcast in each year would seem to be as important as describing how they were made so here they are.  You'll notice I've modified the format slightly so that it reflects the Radio Times details which will make more sense as the weeks (years) pass-by.  The only other rule I'm following is that it has to be from an official or organisational source such as museum, archive or digital content agency (especially if its hosted on YouTube).

Television Update


"A survey of BBC television production during the first six months since its official launch in 1936. Introduced by Leslie Mitchell, Jasmine Bligh and Elizabeth Cowell." 
[BBC Archive]

"The very earliest extant moving images of a work by Moore appear in a 1937 documentary titled BBC Television Demonstration Film. The BBC had begun a regular high definition television service from two studios at Alexandra Palace in north London in November 1936, and this documentary was a ‘survey of television production during the first six months of operation’, intended for viewing primarily by set manufacturers and engineers."
[Tate]

"This page contains examples of the various tuning signals and test cards used on BBC Television since the 1930s. The feature remains a work-in-progress and we’d be delighted to hear from anyone who has any additional information about any of the items covered here."
[Clean Feed]

"One of the myths about pre-war television is that it no longer exists. Before the advent of videotape in the 1950s, everything was live and therefore ephemeral – so the story goes."
[Sheldon Times]

"Henry Hall's final television show (bandleader) (pictured above)."

"Researching pre-war adaptations of specific theatre productions of Shakespeare, I was intrigued to discover a 1937 review of scenes from Macbeth with Laurence Olivier."
[Screen Plays]

"Fifty years ago this year, Westminster Abbey played host to a remarkable occasion, a memorial service for a mere journalist and broadcaster. The Abbey was packed. Hundreds of members of the public stood outside in the cold and wet to pay their respects to someone they saw as a trusted friend, Richard Dimbleby."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]


The Monarchy


"King George VI speech to the Nation following his Coronation in 1937."

"The Coronation was the first major outside broadcast and the most elaborate and complicated ever undertaken by the BBC, even though the television cameras were not allowed into the Abbey.  This was the culmination of months of planning and organization by the Outside Broadcasts Department and the Engineering Division."
[Archive of Recorded Church Music]

This is the complete audio of the service, with contemporary commentary as released subsequently on 15 78rpm records.
[Klaus Dr. Amann]

This was the first use of the outside broadcast unit.
[BBC Clips]


BBC Programmes

First broadcast: Sun 18th Jul 1937, 20:00 on Regional Programme London
(Roman Catholic) from St. Edmund's College Chapel, Ware
[Archive of Recorded Church Music][BBC Programme Index]


Annual Reports


"The Governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation present here with their report for the year ending 3lst December 1937."
[hathitrust]

"This Handbook records the notable events and developments in the fifteenth year of the British Broadcasting service."
[World Radio History]

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1936

New year, new media.  Television!  We're here!  It's strange to think that in 2036 BBC Television will be celebrating its hundredth birthday of the moment Elizabeth Cowell (pictured) appeared on screen for the first time and we've no idea what form it'll take then.  Surely we have to assume in fourteen years the entire landscape will have changed again.  Will individual linear channels exist?  Will there be a variety of streaming services?  Or will all providers produce programmes for a single service or group of services offering the same content?  Will the BBC still exist as an entity capable of commemorating the start of its televisual existence?

Television


"In 1936, the BBC launched its new TV service – and changed British broadcasting at a stroke. In part ten of our 13-part series on the history of the BBC, David Hendy charts the technological innovations that produced the so-called “magic rays” – and explores the delights they offered the viewing public."
[History Extra]

"Baird Television transmission announcement during the experimental period leading up to the launch of television from the BBC Studios at Alexandra Palace."
[Alexandra Palace]

"An insight into pre-war television. First broadcast Monday 2nd Nov 1936, 21:05, BBC TV."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"On 2nd November 1936 the BBC launched the world's first high-definition television service from studios at Alexandra Palace. Two companies raced to bring one of the greatest revolutions in entertainment and communication to the world."
This is a Google Arts & Culture exhibit.
[Alexandra Palace]

"On 2 November 1936, the BBC began regular TV broadcasts. Initially, two different broadcasting systems were tested on alternate weeks. John Logie Baird's 240-line mechanical system was deemed inferior and was dropped after just 3 months, leaving the 405-line Marconi-EMI format as the permanent system."
[BBC News]

"The first regular television service broadcast by the BBC on the 2nd November 1936, ushered in a new era."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"Leslie Mitchell announced the official opening of the first high-definition public television service in the world an 2 November 1936. Forty years later, from the same studio at Alexandra Palace, he traced the origins of television from the beginning of the 20th century to the first outside broadcast - the Coronation of George VI in May 1937."
Documentary from the 40th anniversary of the service in 1976.
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

Thorough history of television broadcasts including blueprints and studio plans.
[TV Studio History]

"BBC press releases from October and November 1936."
[Transdiffusion]

"The Future States conference, about which I have been writing and which continues online until 17 April, is focussed on illustrated magazines in the interwar period. In Britain, much of the academic work on this topic, at least in relation to popular titles, has considered the mainstream illustrated weeklies from mid-1930s on, and most notably Picture Post. But I have long been fascinated by Radio Times, the BBC’s weekly magazine which enjoyed a monopoly for broadcast listings."
[Illuminations]

"Plaque erected in 1977 by Greater London Council at Alexandra Palace, Wood Green, London, N22 7AY, London Borough of Haringey."
[English Heritage]

It's December 13th 1936, just over a month since the BBC's television broadcasts began and The Observer is already complaining about the number of repeats.
[The Guardian]

"A clip from the tribute programme documenting the role Ally Pally played in the birth of British television."
[BBC Archive][BBC Programme Index]


The First Global Christmas Message


"Following the death of George VI, the reign of Edward VIII gets off to shaky start in this recording (BBC library number 1171A) made on 21 January 1936. It features Sir Gerald Wollaston reading aloud the proclamation of Edward’s accession from a balcony at St James’s Palace"
[London Sound Survey]

"On 11 December 1936 the former King Edward VIII spoke to a stunned nation and announced that he had abdicated the throne in favour of his brother, so as to be free to marry the woman he loved - Mrs Wallis Simpson. The historic broadcast and climax of the constitutional crisis was heard by the whole country, most of whom had been unaware of the royal love affair only a week earlier."
[BBC Sounds]

"King Edward VIII's first address to the nation is broadcast in 1936."

"Various shots of broadcasting equipment, radio masts etc.  M/S of a young woman listening by her radio. L/S of a pylon in background with sign saying BBC in foreground. M/S of bridge and lands (presumably representing Empire). Various shots of Broadcasting House with people stood outside.  Various shots of radio masts and equipment including radio operator on ship."


Audiences


Fascinating typed record of a feedback session by female listeners attended by the BBC.
[University of Warwick Digital Collections]

"Imagine a world without polling and audience research - who did the early BBC think it was talking to?"
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]


BBC Programmes


"This delightful programme, which was made for Northern Ireland radio, features visits to Euston and Paddington stations. It records the comings and goings of staff and passengers ('Is there a ladies-only compartment?') and captures the sounds of star steam engines the Royal Scot and the Silver Jubilee."
[BBC Clips]



Annual Reports


"The Broadcasting Committee, appointed in 1935, reported in February, 1936. Expressing in their Report their concurrence in " the widespread approval of the broadcasting service in this country," they recommended the extension of the Corporation's Charter for a term of ten years from the 1st of January, 1937."
[hathitrust]

"For the British Broadcasting service, 1936 has been, from the constitutional point of view, of major importance."
[World Radio History]

Predictions 2022.

That Day We reach the time when I assess how well I predicted the ups and downs of the year and look forward to the next. Here we go again:

The Sugababes release an album of new material.

Well, fucking hell, they did.  If otherwise mostly unheard material recorded about ten years ago counts.  Which it obviously does.  One mark.

More Doctor Who episodes found.

Hell no.  No points.

General election called, Tories lose power.

Ha Ha Ha Ha.  No marks.

Spider-Man film starring Andrew Garfield announced.

It's Sony, what was I expecting?  Zero.

COVID miraculously disappears, everything returns to normal.

Walking around, taking the bus, using public transport, you would think this was the case.  But according to the England dashboard, nearly 37,000 people tested positive in the past week,  just over 508 died and 7000 odd were admitted to hospital.  Which are nowhere near pandemic peak, but still an indication of a lot of misery happening due to the virus.  No points at all.

1/5 which is back to the usual average.

Because I'm in a lazy mood, let's just repeat most of the predictions again.

The Sugababes release an album of new material.

More Doctor Who episodes found.

General election called, Tories lose power.

Spider-Man film starring Andrew Garfield announced.

New old Shakespeare play canonised.

The first four still feel plausible.  

Having caught up on old material the Sugababes could release new material this year.  

It's the 60th anniversary which seems the perfect moment to reveal new finds.  

The Tories have to go this year, surely?  

Sony will probably need an anchor for their version of the Spiderverse and who better and the ever popular Andrew Garfield.  

The other is just a hardy perennial which again feels plausible.  I guess this will be measured if a previously anonymous play is published with Shakespeare's name on the front or performed in one of the great theatres of the world.

Happy New Year!

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1935

If there is a gap in todays offerings it's a link to BBC: The Voice of Britain from 1935, directed by Stuart Legg for the GPO Film Unit.  As BFI's old Screenonline website explains, this was "the most expensive documentary to have been made costing more than £7000 and it was probably the first GPO film to use synchronised sound. The impressionistic approach did not go down well with many contemporary critics, who were disappointed at the lack of detail about how the BBC really worked."

Nonetheless it has proved popular over the years but doesn't seem to be available to stream anywhere online, even at the BFI Player.  The BBC Archive's Facebook page hosts the odd clip like this assessment of the microphone by George Bernard Shaw, but that's about it.  But it is available on DVD as part of The General Post Office Film Unit Collection: Volume 1 - Addressing The Nation.  Hopefully at some point the BFI will compile their range of films pertaining to the BBC into a single collection.

The Dawn of Television


"Grace Wyndham Goldie, television producer and one of the few women executives of her era at the BBC, is commemorated with a blue plaque at St Mary Abbot’s Court, Warwick Gardens, Kensington, where she lived in Flat 86 from 1935. Having early understood the potential of television, she was a powerful influence in bringing politics and current affairs to the small screen, and in giving a critical edge to this coverage."
[English Heritage]

"Plans for construction of the BBC Studios at Alexandra Palace. The First Floor and tower plans show the distribution of space between the Baird and Marconi-EMI systems. The Baird required more space for the three separate elements needed for the electro-mechanical process."
[Alexandra Palace]


The Establishment


"Gen. view of British Broadcasting House and pan. up Broadcasting House. Semi cu. B.B.C. announcer walks to mike. Long view of family listening in radio room. Semi view of policeman walking outside house and cu. of policeman listening outside house. BBC announcer saying "Here are some more election results"

"King George V's Christmas Speech.  He thanks the people for celebrations to mark his 25th silver jubilee, he sends Christmas wishes from Royal Family to all his subjects."

"It is unfortunate that there exists no authoritative account of the dialects of Northern Ireland on the fines of the excellent reference books used in the compilation of the Scottish and Welsh place-name booklets."
[SOAS]


BBC Programmes


Dinner is Served: Market cheapjacks
Thu 17th Oct 1935, 21:00 on National Programme Daventry
"A Sound Picture of the Nation's Food Services.
This feature programme aims at giving vivid pictures in sound of the organisation of the national food supply. The story is told by some of the men who do the work ... farmers, fishermen ... market porters, salesmen, and buyers, against a background of its natural sounds."
[London Sound Survey][BBC Programme Index]



Annual Reports


"The year has been one of further progress and expansion."
[hathitrust]

"An altogether novel instrument for creating unity of thought and emotion during the year to the searching unity of thought and emotion between scattered individuals has been evolved by broadcasting. Never before in history has it been possible to appeal simultaneously and orally to people divided in space and in mood and unaffected by the influences of crowd psychology."
[World Radio History]

This Blog in 2022.

About  Inspired by John at Dirty Feed, here's a look back at some of my favourite posts of the year on this blog.

Annotations:
An Editor's Burial: Journals and Journalism from The New Yorker and Other Magazines.
In which I made turned an anthology into a link list to save you from having to buy it.  I've had mixed emotions about The New Yorker since reading this book after the treatment of Evin Overbey and thinking about how some of the biographical essays and the behaviour of past editors could be viewed through a different lens.

The big kahuna, the one post which went massively viral this year thanks to being tweeted and retweeted by In Our Time's own Twitter feed and some of its contributors.  It was a beast to prepare but absolutely worthwhile given how useful its been to people.  Someone I know even has it bookmarked on their phone so they can use it when they're walking about and looking for something in their field to listen to.  Which reminds me that I need to do an update soon.

The title of the blog became even more ironic than ever this year as most of the bigger posts were lists.  This was a way of accessing a number of BBC programmes about Doctor Who as listed in the parish circular that month by Eddie Robson.

Speaking of lists, here's one which didn't really work.  Putting all of the Trek stories set before Discovery into chronological order seemed like a nice idea in theory, before you realise that so many of them are set in alternate realities, dream sequences or are subsequently wiped out after the timeline's been fixed.  Which is why I haven't included the second season of Picard.  That one is *complicated*.

By far the most popular post on the blog is the Doctor Who viewing order, bringing in a couple of hundred googlers per day when the series is on television.  So I thought I'd play to the gallery and do the same for Star Wars.  No one noticed.

I'll be returning to this in the new year once I've caught up on the BBC 100 posts.  Getting to touch the pages just as they'd emerged from Jaggard's print shop was one of the most spectacular moments of my young life.

After the success of the In Our Time post, I wanted to do something with one of the BBC's other large archives and settled on Cooke's life's work.  Again, no one noticed.

These were arguably three of the main exhibitions to visit Liverpool this year (I'm yet to see the fourth, The Turner Prize at Tate) and I went to town on all of them although it's pretty obvious which I was most comfortable writing about.  The opening line of the Doctor Who review has just made me guffaw.  Speaking of which ...

Having long abandoned even attempting to review the Chris Chibnall era of Doctor Who after finding myself repeatedly noting the same, some would say choices, others would say faults, I knew there'd still need to be words written about Jodie's swansong and right up until transmission, I had no clue what the angle would be.  Then, fortunately, Paul McGann made a cameo.

One of the few posts reacting to current affairs.  In the month's since I've become less and less interested in the current crop of working royalty, especially after the Harry & Meghan Netflix series and the King's first Christmas address in which he congratulated poor people for helping out other poor people while he's decreed that his coronation should be a full budget affair with every pomp and lashings of circumstance.

Twice this year I wrote similar posts (!) trying to explain how I perceive fictional multiverses are nestled together and this was the second, slightly more coherent attempt in the wake of Doctor Strange 2.  We'll see what happens after the next Spiderverse films are released.

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1934

The Christmas Number of The Radio Times in 1934 features the three wise men on the cover.  Inside we find something more akin to The New Yorker than a modern listings magazine, with short stories, columns about various aspects of the festive season by long forgotten literary voices and an especially grim cartoon about a young man receiving a radio as a Christmas present and then spending the rest of his life in bed listening to it with the final panel showing his grave with the apparatus still playing nearby.  Reader, I feel seen.

The Christmas Day schedule on the National Programme favours light classical music for much of the day with Ireland, Sullivan, Kern and Eric Coates the standouts by various orchestras.  Before the King's Message (participants above) is the usual Empire Exchange "a programme of greetings and sound-pictures depicting Christmas in all parts of the British commonwealth" (a running order for which also appears in the magazine).

Prime time, from 7:30 to 9:30 offers A Radio Christmas Party during which we're promised "comedians, dance music, ghost stories, chorus songs, charades and musical games, all kinds of happy-go-lucky entertainment" which sounds smashing but is thin on detail.  The night closes at 11-12 with Dance Music from Billy Cotton and his band with the Pips at 11:30.

This was also the year of Death at Broadcasting House, the early Ealing drama about a death at Broadcasting House based on the novel by Val Gielgud and Eric Maschwitz.  It's available from Network on Air for a very reasonable £6.  

Service Update


"The building and launch of a new long-wave radio transmitter - just as the TV age is about to be born."
The transmitter opened on the 6th September 1934.
[BFI]  

"Exterior views of BBC Broadcasting House. Closer shot of roof area showing radio masts. More shots of exterior showing different sides of the building. Closer shot of the statue above the doorway. Shots of reliefs and carving on exterior walls."
[Pathe]

"Recording studios, converted by the BBC in 1934-1935 from a roller skating rink, built 1909-1910 to the designs of Lionel G Detmar and Theodore Gregg."
[Historic England]

"From 1931 to 1935, the BBC used this streamlined condenser microphone known as "the bomb", which employed a Western Electric or STC capsule but had a BBC pre-amplifier."
[Science Museum]

"Lord Ponsonby pleads for the preservation of accents but says cultivating one is the most objectionable form of speech that exists."
[The Guardian]

"Originally published on 29 December 1934: Words, according to the French cynic, were given us in order that we might conceal our thoughts – but also, perhaps, in order that we might discuss the B.B.C."
[The Guardian]

BBC Programmes


Sat 15th Sep 1934, 21:15 on Regional Programme London
An Excursion in Sound to the Hop Gardens of Kent
From London Bridge by 'The Hop-pickers' Special'... Old Kent Road... Weald of Kent Fifty Years Ago... Hop-gardens and Pickers Today... Oast-house and Driers... Saturday Night at 'The Limes'
With acknowledgments to Sir Charles Igglesden, Tom Neame, The Southern Railway, The National Union of Farmers, and J. Moon for their kind co-operation.
In connection with this programme, read the article by Pat Forrest on page 616.
[London Sound Survey][BBC Programme Index]

Fri 13th Apr 1934, 19:30 on National Programme Daventry
Spiritualism
E. W. Oaten
President of the International Spiritualist Federation
Mr. Oaten will, at the end of his talk, answer questions put to him by an 'Enquiring Layman'.
[The Leslie Flint Trust][BBC Programme Index]


Annual Report


"THE first B.B.C. was formed on October 18, 1922, and received its licence on January 18, 1923. It represented a joint effort on the part of three hundred wireless manu- facturers and shareholders. Lord Gainford, a former Postmaster -General, was the first Chairman, and the other members of the Board represented the principal wireless manufacturers concerned, that is, the late Mr. Godfrey Isaacs (Marconi Co.), Major Basil Binyon (Radio Communication Co.), Mr. A. McKinstry (Metropolitan Vickers), John Gray (British Thomson -Houston Co.), Sir William Noble (General Electric), Mr. H. M. Pease (Western Electric), and Mr. W. W. Burnham (Burndept). Smaller manufacturers and traders were repre- sented by the late Sir William Bull, M.P., who became Vice - Chairman. Mr. (now Sir) John Reith was the first General Manager, joining the Board as Managing Director in October, 1923."
[World Radio History]

"The year has again been marked by steady progress and expansion."
[hathitrust] 

Christmas Links #24

 

Links  Here we are then, the end of Christmas Links for this year and the surprising reveal of exactly what I was doing with the accompanying videos featuring people walking about random places across the globe at Christmastime.  It wasn't random.  We were following the itinerary of Phileas Fogg and Michael Palin, but around the world in twenty-four posts.  The destinations listed on this page just happened to match the number of days in advent.

I had hoped to post the video of Michael returning to London at the end of the trip, where he's cross with a newspaper vender and isn't allowed back into the Reform Club, but it's not on YouTube and neither is a video of the Reform Club at Christmas.  So instead find above the opening of the journey as he explains the effort he's about to undertake which only makes me want to rewatch the thing all the more.  Happy Christmas!
 
Sugababes are releasing their new album of ‘lost’ music (today) and fans are elated: ‘Pop justice!’:
"After years in the pop wilderness, the original Sugababes trio is about to drop new album The Lost Tapes – a collection of songs that were leaked as demos in 2013."
[Editor's note:  Holy Fuck!]

"The 12 Days of Big Finishmas Christmas sale is here! Check this page for updates on the downloads on offer!"

"A group of four British women recently arrived on a remote Antarctic island to look after its population of passing tourists and penguins. As they prepare for Christmas at the bottom of the world, they tell BBC News how they're settling into their new home."

"Arriva North West warned customers services in and out of the city centre "may be extremely congested""

"‘Twas the festive season of 2015, and my 5-year-old daughter Molly was trying to explain to me the holiday ditty all the kindergarteners were going to sing in unison at the annual concert."

"Some think I’m a bit of a Scrooge, says teaching assistant who can afford to give everyone turkey and all the trimmings."

"It can save you time as well as money on your energy bills but can it cook a whole roast dinner? We find out."

"Carpenter Tan Koon Tat has been beset by rain and the rising cost of materials, but is still determined to bring some festive cheer to the neighbourhood in Marsiling."

"If you’re stuck for things to watch this festive season, this just might be what you’re after."

"Five Iberian lynx were released into the wild this week in southern Spain as part of an expanding breeding programme aimed at conserving one the most endangered feline species."

Christmas Links #23

 
"Tail Town Cats will spotlight six adorable adoptable cats as they climb the Festivus pole; viewers at home can watch live."

A parent’s guide to setting up a new games console at Christmas:
"If your children have a new Xbox, Playstation or Nintendo Switch waiting under the tree, here is what you need to know about subscriptions, parental controls … and getting the most fun out of it for all the family."

"Birkenhead used to have fab Christmas lights and a Christmas light switch on."

Cirencester couple creates Christmas model village:
"A couple have created a model village and decorated their house for Christmas to raise money for charity."

"A limited edition three-way death match featuring Shoppe Geō, Funko, and Comfort Zone."

"The question everyone wants answered at this time of year is whether or not it snow at Christmas. Helen Willetts has the answer."

"For many in construction, Christmas is not the season of goodwill. Sadly Ebenezer Scrooge has always had his hands on construction’s cash as we head into Christmas.  The old excuse was that the office was shutting and no one was around to process the payments. With online flexible banking this rings a bit hollow, yet we still see companies hoarding cash at the year end."

"Six in ten Britons who celebrate Christmas don’t consider celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ an important part of the festive celebrations."

"Read about some of the cartoons we hold in our collection, including artwork for Christmas cards."

"On the plus side, you never have to remember to water this tree."

A History of the BBC in Other Archives: 1933

Although Eric Gill's sculpture of Prospero and Ariel was created in 1931, it wasn't until 1933 that it was installed above the entrance to Broadcasting House.  Art in Context has posted a superb article about the creation of the statue and an analysis of the controversy surrounding the artist.  In 2006, an article by one of Gill's biographers Fiona MacCarthy opens with a subheading which asks "Eric Gill's reprehensible private life would doubtless land him in prison today. But does that mean we should value his sculpture less?" To which I say, yes, yes it does.  This old Night Waves celebration sounds horrible in hindsight, doesn't it?

Based on what we know now, Gill's sculpture should simply not be there.  Given what he admitted to in his memoirs and other controversies which have effected the BBC's reputation over the years, it is reprehensible that they continue to have a work by this man at the front of their historic headquarters.  Just because it's embedded in the BBC's identity to the point that they named their in-house magazine after it and that its a familiar site is not an excuse for excusing the actions of its creator.  If Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft which was once "the Eric Gill museum" can get there, so can the BBC.


In The City


Striking photograph of Broadcasting House from Munich born photographer Emil Otto Hoppe.
[V&A]

"The two tracks featured on this page were made in 1933 (BBC library number 304) and they may be the oldest surviving BBC location recordings. They appear on two sides of a 12-inch transcription disc which must have been part of a set. The other disc or discs can’t be found."
[London Sound Survey][BBC Programme Index]

"Taken with permission from Journeyman: the autobiography of Ewan MacColl [...] I had started doing occasional radio work in 1933 when I had been approached by Archie Harding, the North Regional Programme Director, to read some verses in a feature programme about May Day in England."
[Working Class Movement Library]


Jazz


"In many ways it is intriguing that the Ellington Orchestra got the opportunity to broadcast on the BBC at all, and the decision to include both an interview with Ellington on the day of his arrival, 9th June 1933, and a forty-five minute performance by the Ellington Orchestra three nights into his week run at the London Palladium, really is noteworthy."
[Wall of Sound][BBC Programme Index]


Television Recording


An article about the restoration of an early television recording made using the 30 line vertical Baird process of a musical revue.
[The Dawn of TV][BBC Television Index]


Annual Report


"The year 1932 saw the close of the first decade of British broadcasting, a decade marked by a record of achievement which can have few parallels in the history of new -born public institutions."
[World Radio History]

"The year has again been marked by steady progress and expansion."
[hathitrust]