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100 Years of our BBC (Read 901 times)
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100 Years of our BBC
Jan 4th, 2022, 10:32pm
 
The BBC has launched the website featuring lots of information and memories .

It may be explored here.


"Timeline", "Objects", "Faces" and "Voices".
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Re: 100 Years of our BBC
Reply #1 - Jan 9th, 2022, 4:30pm
 
This is taken from the Sunday Times:

BOOKS | BROADCASTING
The BBC: A People’s History by David Hendy review — will it survive the next 100 years?
The heyday of the corporation is long gone, whatever this centenary history of the BBC might like to suggest
By Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday January 09 2022, The Sunday Times


David Hendy’s authorised history of the BBC, published to mark the corporation’s centenary, opens with a lovely bit of scene-setting. It’s the early evening of December 19, 1922, and darkness is falling over the streets of London. The department store windows are glowing; the pavements are crowded with theatregoers; the headlines are full of Bonar Law’s newly elected Conservative government and the radical fascist regime in Benito Mussolini’s Italy. And down a back street off Aldwych three men are huddled in their greatcoats, staring up at the brick façade of 2 Savoy Hill — the proposed office for their new British Broadcasting Company.

Company — not corporation. Although we commonly think of the BBC as the incarnation of public service, it began as an offshoot of one of the most entrepreneurial private companies of the early 20th century, Guglielmo Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company. In the spring of 1922 Marconi’s engineers had begun the first regular radio broadcasts from a hut at Writtle, near the firm’s Chelmsford factory.

Audiences were relatively tiny — only tens of thousands — but it was obvious that radio was the technology of the future. Across the Atlantic there were already some 318 registered radio stations by the summer of 1922, and Britain’s radio pioneers were keen to avoid the “jumble” and “chaos” of their American cousins.

So on October 18 the six largest firms, led by Marconi, agreed to form a monopoly, licensed by the General Post Office and funded by a ten-shilling radio licence fee — the BBC.

Although the story of the BBC’s early days is well known, Hendy tells it colourfully and briskly, and these opening chapters are easily the most enjoyable part of his book. He is good on those first pioneers — the former Royal Flying Corps ace Cecil Lewis, the Marconi publicist Arthur Burrows and, above all, the ultra-patriotic Presbyterian evangelist John Reith — and has some fun with the BBC’s early critics.

Chief among them, unsurprisingly, was the super-snob Virginia Woolf, who loathed the idea of taking culture to the masses and mocked its first director of talks, Hilda Matheson, for her supposedly “wooden face”. Never mind that Matheson was a pioneering woman in a man’s world. For Woolf, what damned her was that she lived in South Kensington, middle-class, “drab” and “dreary”.

Although Hendy writes as a friend of the BBC, he’s not blind to its faults. In one telling section he shakes his head at its indulgence of the now-unwatchable Black and White Minstrel Show, which ran for 20 years from 1958 despite protests from the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination and even the BBC’s own chief accountant. What he doesn’t mention, though, is the reason it survived for so long — the fact that it was extremely popular, attracting audiences of almost 20 million and winning the inaugural Golden Rose of Montreux, the world’s most prestigious light entertainment award.

That reflects a deeper problem. Even at more than 600 pages, Hendy’s book is simply too breathless to do such an enormous subject justice. As he points out in his introduction, the BBC has transmitted between 10 and 20 million programmes, so even the longest book could barely skim the surface. His answer is a “people’s history”, putting the voices of individuals centre stage.

Yet, as in so many authorised histories, this laudable ambition is soon crushed by the weight of institutional detail. The loudest voices belong to senior executives, not actors or presenters, let alone ordinary viewers and listeners. Even landmark programmes such s EastEnders and Doctor Who come and go in a few sentences, with no new revelations or insights.

True, Hendy has a lot of ground to cover. Even so, it’s a shame that he rarely pauses to think, and never draws comparisons with the BBC’s commercial rivals or with broadcasters overseas. Perhaps above all it’s a shame that his narrative choices are just so familiar. His chapter on the 1960s, for example, focuses on That Was the Week That Was, Top of the Pops and the launch of Radio 1, but has little new to say about any of them. When we reach the 1980s he plunges us straight into the row with Mrs Thatcher about the coverage of the Falklands. To put it bluntly, it’s all far too predictable.

In its final pages Hendy’s story turns into an impassioned defence of the BBC against what he calls its “enemies”, not least in the Conservative Party. He scores some palpable hits, pointing out that, even in the age of streaming, nine out of ten British households use the BBC’s services every week. But I wonder if his book rather undermines his argument. For the real threat to the BBC, surely, isn’t the government. It’s simply the pace of technological change, creating a cultural ecosystem at once far more globalised and far more fragmented than ever before.

As Hendy shows, the BBC was the product of a particular historical moment. Many of its founding fathers, such as Reith, were Great War veterans. Many — Reith again — were deeply religious. And all of them shared a vision of a common national culture, carefully tended by a team of well-educated gardeners. In many ways this was not so different from the paternalistic ethos of that other creaking, much-loved and much-criticised national institution, the NHS, which was born two decades later.

Yet no matter how much many of us protest that we love the BBC, the heyday of the great collective national institutions is long gone. I watch much less BBC television than my parents did, and my ten-year-old son watches far, far less than I did at his age. His cultural gatekeepers are the bright young things at Disney, Netflix and Amazon, not the commissioners at Broadcasting House.

So will those three letters mean anything to the next generation? Or the next? Hendy insists that they must. My guess, sadly, is that they won’t.

The BBC: A People’s History by David Hendy
Profile £25 pp638
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Re: 100 Years of our BBC
Reply #2 - Jan 26th, 2022, 3:22pm
 
BOOK | RADIO'S CULTURAL HISTORY & LEGACY
Published in January 2022 is "Radio's Legacy in Popular Culture: The Sounds of British Broadcasting over the Decades[/url]" by Bloomsbury Academic. https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/radios-legacy-in-popular-culture-9781501360442/

The author, Martin Cooper, has spent 20 years in BBC Local Radio and ILR. He is Assistant Subject Leader Emeritus in Journalism & Media at the University of Huddersfield.

A sample chapter is at: https://bloomsburycp3.codemantra.com/viewer/61c091c75f150300016f10af

It's the only academic monograph to find a link between the BBC's first Director of Drama Val Gielgud... and Bob the Builder.

It features 300 case studies from film, pop music, fiction and art. Writers and creatives include James Joyce, Evelyn Waugh, George Lucas, Martin Scorcese, Agatha Christie, Tom Petty, Queen, The Buggles - and, yes, TV stop-motion characters too. Each offers a critique of BBC, commercial, pirate and online radio listening.

This book explores the enduring fascination with radio; the act of listening as a form of cultural expression – focusing on fiction, films and songs about radio.

Follow Martin's academic blog at https://prefadelisten.com/
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