The British Broadcasting Century with Paul Kerensa

100 Years of the BBC, Radio and Life as We Know It.
Be informed, educated and entertained by the amazing true story of radio’s forgotten pioneers. With host Paul Kerensa and rarely-heard clips from broadcasting’s golden era. Original music by Will Farmer. www.paulkerensa.com

As the BBC turns 100, enjoy 100 Years in 100 Minutes!

This is just part 1, 1922-54 - from the company years of Magnet House then Savoy Hill, to the corporation years up to the eve of commercial competition, the last time the BBC was the sole official broadcaster.

For the early years, enjoy the archive clips, some very rare - from the first presenters, John Reith and early performers. As time goes on, extracts give way to insights: from experts, podcast listeners and those who were there...

 

YOU HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO:

1920s:
John Reith, Arthur Burrows, Kreisler's Liebesleid (first music on the BBC), A.E. Thompson, Leonard Hawke (Drake Goes West - first music from London), Charles Penrose (The Laughing Policeman), Helena Millais as Our Lizzie, Rev John Mayo, Rev Archibald Fleming, Harold Bishop, Cecil Lewis?, Peter Eckersley, Kathleen Garscadden, Lord Gainford, Dr Kate Murphy, Dr Andrea Smith, Archibald Haddon, Marion Cran, Percy Scholes?, Justin Webb, Nightingale and Cello, Rev Dick Sheppard (first broadcast service), Richard Hughes’ Danger (first play), A.J. Alan, King George V, Alan Stafford, Tommy Handley, John Henry and Blossom, Dr Martin Cooper, Harry Graham, Arthur Phillips, Filson Young, H.L. Fletcher, Flotsam and Jetsam, Christopher Stone, Henry Wood, Prof David Hendy, Vita Sackville-West, Clapham and Dwyer, Mabel Constanduros, Toytown
 
1930s:
Norman Long and Stanelli, Harold Nicolson, Simon Rooks, Val Gielgud, Gillie Potter, Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra, King George VI, Gerald Cock, Elisabeth Welch, Caroll Gibbons and the Savoy Orpheans, Lew Stone, Murgatroyd and Winterbottom, Nelson Keys, Sandy Powell, The Western Brothers, Stuart Hibberd, Charles Siepmann, King Edward VIII, Elizabeth Cowell, Tommy Woodroffe, Bandwaggon, ITMA (Mrs Mopp), Neville Chamberlain, John Snagge
 
1940s:
J.B. Priestley, Winston Churchill, Music While You Work, Edward Stourton, Charles Gardner, Bruce Belfrage, Princess Elizabeth, C.S. Lewis, Stephen Bourne, Una Marson, Nightingale and the Bomber, Charles Huff, Lilliburlero, Romany, Richard Dimbleby, Edward R Murrow, Frank Gillard, Guy Byam, Johnny Beerling, George Elrick, Norman Shelley, Michael Standing, Paul Hayes
 
1950s:
Jeffrey Holland, Julia Lang, Roger Bolton.
 
(...+ various unknown announcers)

 

FURTHER LINKS: 

  • Like what we do? Share it! We're on facebook.com/bbcentury, with a separate group on facebook.com/groups/bbcentury, and (while it lasts) on twitter.com/bbcentury. Tag us in, let people know you listen.
  • Love what we do? Support us at patreon.com/paulkerensa
  • The novel based on this podcast is due out in February 2023: Auntie and Uncles - details here: https://amzn.to/3hxe4lX

 

We look forward to continuing to unpack this century of broadcasting in our usual slower way on the podcast.

But next time, join us for part 2 (1955-87) and part 3 (1988-2022).

paulkerensa.com/oldradio

Episode 56 has BBC100 recommendations (on iPlayer and BBC Sounds for a limited time), 3 poems about the early BBC/radio, and from the Beeb Watch podcast, ex-Radio 4 presenter Roger Bolton. Past, present and future, all mixed in here as Auntie Beeb turns 100 around us.

But our celebrations are a little muted due to some of the changes at Beeb towers - like the cuts to local radio, BBC News and the World Service... But our guest is keeping a watchful eye from afar.

Roger Bolton has just left the BBC, but moved from Radio 4's Feedback to his own independent podcast Beeb Watch. Hear what he thinks the BBC gets right, wrong and what we need to keep a close eye on. Listen to him on this episode, then find his podcast...

 

SHOWNOTES:

- Roger Bolton's Beeb Watch is available from all good podcast outlets, eg: https://shows.acast.com/rogerboltonsbeebwatch

- The 3 poems you hear are:

- 'I am radio' by Eric H. Palmer (publisher in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, 30/09/27)

- A Radio Times letter by Lilian L. Cornelius (August 1928)

- 'In the early days of '23' by Olive Bottle (who signs it as the widow of C. Bottle, Assistant Engineer-in-Charge, London Control Room, Broadcasting House)

- Like us? Considering supporting on Patreon.com/paulkerensa and gain access to videos, readings from old books and monthly behind-the-scenesy updates.

- Or share what we do on Facebook or Twitter. Search for 'bbcentury' and you'll find us on both.

- Paul's new novel will be out on February 2023: https://amzn.to/3zIY9Hq

- Last tour dates of The First Broadcast are in Chelmsford and London: paulkerensa.com/tour

Next time, 100 Years in 100 Minutes (part 1: 1922-54)

Landing on centenary day (well, 100 years aince the BBCompany was formed), episode 55 is the tale of the first Bard on the Beeb.

Dr Andrea Smith joins us to talk us through the first broadcast Shakespeare - but it's only part 1, as on Feb 16th 1923, it's just excerpts: scenes from Julius Caesar and Othello. Andrea will return for the first full-length play, when we reach May 1923 in our podcast timeline.

Plus as the BBC finally turns 100, we consider some BBC100 celebration programming, including the redicovered Hancock's Half Hour episode - so Steve Arnold of the Radio Circle tells us the how and the why when it comes to finding and preserving such lost episodes.

 

SHOWNOTES:

- More info on the Radio Circle, of which Steve Arnold is part, who rescue 'lost' programmes: http://www.radiocircle.org.uk

- Hear Dr Andrea Smith on BBC Radio 3's The Essay - The Bard and the Beeb, in late October 2022: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001d68d

- The last dates of my tour of The First Broadcast live show are at www.paulkerensa.com/tour

- My novel Auntie and Uncles is now up for ebook pre-order, with paperback pre-order to follow when I can work out the buttons: https://amzn.to/3EODANc

- Support us on www.patreon.com/paulkerensa to keep us afloat and in return get extra writings, videos and ample more! Thanks to all who support us there. 

- We're on www.facebook.com/groups/bbcentury, where our Newspaper Detective Andrew Barker is chronicling newspapers on this day 100 years ago.

- Follow us on www.twitter.com/bbcentury, where I'll keep you updated with some TV/radio spots I'm doing to talk about the Beeb's birth tales - inc. BBC's Songs of Praise, BBC Breakfast and Radio 4's The Media Show.

Next time: the centenary specials! 100 Years in 100 Minutes...

Stay subscribed, and if you haven't rated/reviewed us, go on - it helps bring new ears to this pod-project.

Happy Birthday, Auntie!

Let Season 4 begin!

We pick up our timeline of the BBC origin story in February 1923 - and the launch of Cardiff 5WA, the first Welsh broadcast station.

Plus back in 2022: places you can go, museums, exhibitions and the like - from Bradford's National Science and Media Museum (and their Switched On exhibition) to St Bride's in London (and their A Kingdom of Cardboard exhibition). We chat to Lewis Pollard, curator of broadcasting at the first, and Bob Richardson, ex of BBC Presentation and Exhibitions departments, who's put together the latter.

They're great chats - and great exhibitions. Details on the links below.

Back in Wales, in the past, you'll hear some of the speeches delivered on launch night, from John Reith, Lord Gainford, Sir William Noble and the Lord Mayor of Cardiff. Fancy! Thanks Andrew Barker for sourcing the text, from newspapers of the day. We'll post the full text of the speeches on our Facebook group - again, link below.

 

SHOWNOTES:

Enjoy!

Next time: The First Shakespeare on the BBC - and the BBC turns 100!

www.paulkerensa.com

 

Tying up our 'summer' specials (now autumn), part 4 of 3 (whoops) is this special on radio as propaganda in World War 2. The non-BBC story.

Sefton Delmer sent black propaganda from near Bletchley Park into Germany, as Lord Haw-Haw did the opposite, sending radio propaganda from Germany back into Britain.

Meanwhile Hilda Matheson (remember her from two episodes ago?) was sending transmissions from the JBC - the Joint Broadcasting Committee - in Woburn Abbey, also near Bletchley Park. And somehow between here, there and everywhere, bouncing between Germany and Britain and across Europe, somehow involving MI5 and Ian Fleming, there's that man again... Peter Eckersley.

It's quite a tale, and here to bring it to you is Tim Wander (author of 2MT Writtle and From Marconi to Melba) and Edward Stourton (author of Auntie's War).

Plus with the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, we bring you the first broadcast from the most broadcast person in the world (I think) - aged 14, Princess Elizabeth on The Children's Hour in 1940.

Next episodes from here? Well it's the end of our summer specials, but the start of our centenary specials! The regular episodes in our 1923 timeline will return in the New Year. But first, a few episodes commemorating and celebrating 100 years of British broadcasting - including an episode on 100 Years in 100 Minutes... and for that we need you!

Record a short voice memo (20-40 seconds) on ANY element, moment, landmark or programme from the last 100 years. Send to me - paul at paulkerensa dot com. Be on our centenary special!

SHOWNOTES:

Next time: Museums, Exhibitions and Events celebrating 100 years of British broadcasting... (know of one? Let us know and we'll feature it!)

The BBC in WW2 is our focus for the third of our summer specials - longer-form chats with brilliant authors and their take on a century of British broadcasting.

This time meet Auntie's War author and BBC presenter (Today, Sunday, The World at One, and plenty more), Edward Stourton. We can only ever scratch the surface in half an hour (what, no John Snagge?) - but it's a helicopter view of the key moments, from Munich to victory marches in Italy. Discover why reporting from Dunkirk to D-Day differed so much, and which BBC reporter gained notoriety for treating a war report like a football commentary.

Hear tales (and clips) of Edward R Murrow, Guy Byam, George Orwell (no clip there alas), J.B. Priestley, Charles Gardner, Winston Churchill. 

Professor David Hendy joins us too to shine a light on a forgotten figure of D-Day: Mary Lewis, a BBC duplicator. 

(There's a supplementary episode too, next time - on the flipside of broadcasting in WW2: black propaganda, as programmes were sent from Germany to Britain by Lord Haw-Haw and co, or from Britain to Germany by Sefton Delmer and co... and somehow involved in both, was our favourite radio pioneer, Peter Eckersley - next time!)

 

SHOWNOTES:

  • Edward Stourton's book Auntie's War is available from your local independent bookshop, or online inc: https://amzn.to/3dTA6gX
  • David Hendy's book The BBC: A People's History is available from your local independent bookshop, or online inc: https://amzn.to/3TnsX8Z
  • Our previous summer specials included authors Sarah-Jane Stratford (https://amzn.to/3CHhFqk) and Stephen Bourne (https://amzn.to/3ARHoKf)
  • Join my mailing list for updates on my forthcoming novel Aunties and Uncles: http://eepurl.com/M6Wbr
  • ...or find my existing books including Hark! The Biography of Christmas (https://amzn.to/3AZCzjf)
  • Be on our centenary special! '100 Years in 100 Minutes'. Pick a moment (the start of television? The final Top of the Pops?), a programme (Python? Grandstand?), or a year of broadcasting history, record yourself talking about it for 20-60sec, and send it to me: paul at paulkerensa dot com (spelt out to dodge the spambots!). I'd love to get lots of different voices on that episode, and who better than the voices of listeners! Go on. Send something in. 
  • If you like the episode, share it! It all helps get this project out there.
  • If you like the podcast enough to want to support it, help it continue, £5/mth on www.patreon.com/paulkerensa gets you extra behind-the-scenes videos, written updates, filmed walking tours of broadcasting heritage sites, readings from the first ever book on broadcasting... and anything else you'd like. You request, I'll see what I can do! Thanks for £supporting - it keeps me in books and web hosting.
  • We're on www.facebook.com/bbcentury  and www.twitter.com/bbcentury
  • We're nothing to do with the BBC - just talking about how they used to be.

Next time: More WW2 broadcasting tales from Auntie's War author Edward Stourton, plus author of 2MT Writtle Tim Wander, on black propaganda. It's quite a tale... Stay subscribed to hear it!

How many pre-WW2 black British broadcasters can you name?

We’ll let's change that after this episode: summer special no.2 from The British Broadcasting Century...

EARLY BLACK BRITISH BROADCASTERS - WITH STEPHEN BOURNE

Author and social historian Stephen Bourne specialises in black heritage, and joins us to inform, educate and entertain us about people of colour on air between the wars.

I first encountered Stephen’s work when I spotted Evelyn Dove’s scrapbook in the BBC100 ‘Objects of the BBC’ season. Stephen owns her archive, and was keen to chat about some of the early black stars of British broadcasting.

You'll hear about:

Layton and Johnstone, Lawrence Brown, Paul Robeson, Marion Anderson, Evelyn Dove, The Kentucky Minstrels, Scott and Whaley (aka Pussyfoot and Cuthbert), Elisabeth Welch, Una Marson, Ken Snakehips Johnson, Adelaide Hall... and more.

Separately, you’ll also hear a song from singer Kathie Touin – a new exclusive version of one of the earliest songs about wireless: ‘There’s a Wireless Station Down in My Heart’. Thanks Graham Brown and Kathie Touin for arranging, performing and sending! Details of her album below...

SHOWNOTES:

  • Stephen Bourne’s books are available at stephenbourne.co.uk/books/ and include ‘Deep are the Roots: Trailblazers who Changed Black British Theatre’, ‘Evelyn Dove: Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen’, ‘Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television’ and ‘Under Fire: Black Britain in Wartime 1939-45’. Do grab a book and read more on this – plenty more stories to discover.
  • Kathie Touin’s website has more on her albums and singles: www.kathietouin.com. Kathie's lockdown single was ‘This Time (Save the World?): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kToCUypZWic Thanks Kathie!
  • See/hear a clip of Una Marson from West Indies Calling – well worth a watch: https://youtu.be/ViGwxJloI70
  • I told a tale of broadcasting history on the proper BBC this week: a Pause for Thought for Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show on 100 years since the first religious broadcast. Have a listen: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0cr3ghj
  • If you like the episode, share it! It all helps get this project out there.
  • If you like the podcast enough to want to support it, help it continue, £5/mth on www.patreon.com/paulkerensa gets you extra behind-the-scenes videos, written updates, filmed walking tours of broadcasting heritage sites, readings from the first ever book on broadcasting... and anything else you'd like. You request, I'll see what I can do! Thanks for £supporting - it keeps me in books and web hosting.
  • We're on www.facebook.com/bbcentury  and www.twitter.com/bbcentury
  • We're nothing to do with the BBC - just talking about how they used to be.

One more author special next time: The BBC in WW2: Auntie’s War with Edward Stourton. Then the timeline continues - Feb 1923 at the early Beeb...

 

Summer special time!

The first of three episodes outside of our era, our regular timeline we're telling of the early BBC. Instead we leap from 1923 to 1926 and then some, to meet:

HILDA MATHESON AND THE RADIO GIRLS OF SAVOY HILL

...Your guide is Sarah-Jane Stratford - novelist behind Radio Girls. It's a wonderfully evocative book, and a great summer read. Get your copy now!

We talk about Hilda Matheson's legacy, from first Director of Talks, to her relationship with Vita Sackville-West, to Hilda's positive influence on the BBC in dark times during the build-up to World War Two.

If you like the episode, share it! It all helps get this project out there.

I mention a walking video I did for the Patreon connoisseurs - matrons and patrons can see it here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/68777192 - and do consider joining up, as your few quid will help keep the podcast going. 

We're on www.facebook.com/bbcentury  and www.twitter.com/bbcentury

We're nothing to do with the BBC - just talking about how they used to be.

Next time: The earliest black British broadcasters, with Stephen Bourne.

 

Episode 49 and that old favourite Peter Eckersley returns - he's started regular British broadcasting, helped spark a boom in radio sets, mocked the BBC, been inspired by the first OB to join Auntie Beeb... and now this episode, he's hired.

In this bumper episode, we hear from Eckersley expert Tim Wander, and PPE himself, as well as Noel Ashbridge and Rolls Wynn. Plus our special guest: Professor David Hendy, author of The BBC: A People's History, on the pioneer years.

This is the last of our regular timeline type shows for the summer - but next time, author interviews, with Sarah-Jane Stratford, then Stephen Bourne and Edward Stourton. Stay subscribed, and please rate/review us if you can. It all helps spread word.

Next time: Summer specials!

linktr.ee/paulkerensa

"There's not a lot written about 2BP," says our guest Tony Currie, radio historian, author and presenter. And yet for episode 48, we've wrung a whole 40mins out of it!

In January 1923, the BBC had sole right to broadcast in Britain, and yet a couple of experimental radio stations existed in Glasgow. 5MG had been on the air since October, operated by shop-owners Frank Milligan and George Garscadden, just to sell some wireless sets. And Daimler wanted to sell something too - in-car radios. So they set up a temporary station, 2BP, at the Glasgow Motor Show.

Pull over and hear all about it. Plus from Scotland to Somerset: hear Neil Wilson's tour of his wonderful Radio Museum in Watchet.

  • See the full 20mins Radio Museum tour here: https://youtu.be/ZjDXKQ63RaI
  • Visit the Radio Museum in Watchet - details here: https://www.radiomuseum.uk
  • Come and see my show The First Broadcast, in Watchet, in conjunction with the Radio Museum - or in Ludlow, Bedford, Tunbridge Walls, Guildford, Salford, Chelmsford, London, Isle of Wight... paulkerensa.com/tour
  • Thanks Tony Currie for the expert knowledge and loan of his documentary on Scotland's Radio. Tony's books include The Radio Times Story - and his radio station is Radio Six: https://www.radiosix.com
  • Find us on Twitter: twitter.com/bbcentury
  • Or Facebook: Facebook.com/bbcentury
  • Help us on Patreon - thanks if you do! patreon.com/paulkerensa 
  • Thanks to Will Farmer for the original music.
  • We're nothing to do with the present-day BBC - it's entirely a solo-run operation.
  • Archive clips are either public domain due to age, or some rights may belong to owners we know not whom. BBC content is used with kind permission, BBC copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
  • Subscribe, share, rate, review us - it all helps!

Next time: Peter Eckersley joins the BBC as its first Chief Engineer... and Professor David Hendy joins us for a chat.

paulkerensa.com

January 17th 1923: 2MT Writtle, Britain's first regular broadcasting station, closes down for the last time.

Its chief voice, director of programmes, Lord of Misrule Peter Pendleton Eckersley toasts its listeners with a glass of water, upgraded to champagne via the use of a pop gun - innovating to the last with one of radio's first ever sound effects. Then Eckersley, the first BBC-basher, switched sides and promptly joined the BBC, as its first Chief Engineer.

On episode 47, we've reached the moment where the BBC's peculiar airwaves rival finally shuffles off the ether, having somehow given birth to Auntie Beeb, but outserved its purpose. We tell the full story of how, why, whereupon and whomsoever led to the 2MT closedown, plus we review nearly a year of Writtle broadcasts, including the first radio quiz, first radio play and first radio mockery of a different radio station's chimes.

You'll hear the voices of (and we're indebted to) original radio pioneers Peter Eckersley, Noel Ashbridge and Rolls Wynn, and present-day experts and fans Tim Wander, Jim Salmon, CRH News, and granddaughters of PPE, Caroline and Alison Eckersley - they chatted to CRH News, who've kindly loaned us their audio.

 

FURTHER READING/LISTENING/VIEWING:

  • Tim Wander's new book is 2MT Writtle 1922-2022: The Centenary of British Radio Broadcasting, and is available at https://2mtwrittle100.co.uk
  • Tim's other books are at https://marconibooks.co.uk
  • Thanks to CRH News for the loan of their audio of their video interview with Caroline and Alison Eckersley. Watch the full video at https://youtu.be/AMFKrsRVd5c - and see the rest of the CRH News Youtube channel for more videos, inc of Tim Wander's book launch.
  • The video of the walk I did with Jim Salmon, from Writtle hut to Writtle pub, is a free post for all on https://www.patreon.com/posts/66447373
  • The video of the Radio Museum tour (in Watchet, Somerset) is also a free post for all on https://www.patreon.com/posts/65666411
  • ...Most videos I keep for Patreon supporters only - so, become one? It all supports the podcast, which otherwise, I'm doing for £nowt. Chip in at patreon.com/paulkerensa - starting at £5/mth. It helps keep the podcast going, AND you get behind-the-scenes vids etc in return.
  • The tour? The First Broadcast: The Battle for the Beeb in 1922 heads to Kettering, Worthing, Ludlow, Watchet (pop into the Radio Museum while there?), Tunbridge Wells, St Albans, Salford, Guildford, Isle of Wight, Cheltenham (pop to Writtle while there?) - details of all paulkerensa.com/tour - say 'Hullo, hullo" if you come!
  • Thanks to Andrew Barker our Newspaper Detective, Will Farmer our composer of original music, the BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham, and the team effort of above names who've made this episode possible.
  • Archive clips are either public domain due to age, or some rights may belong to owners we know not whom. BBC content is used with kind permission, BBC copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
  • We're nothing to do with the present-day BBC whatsoever - just a solo operation.

  • Find us on Twitter, follow our Facebook page, and join our Facebook group. Please share what we do online - it all helps find us new listeners and grow this lil' project into something bigger.
  • Linktree.com/paulkerensa has Paul's mailing list and details of his books, including Hark! The Biography of Christmas, on the history of Christmas. Coming soon: Auntie and Uncles, the novel on this here broadcasting origin story...

 

NEXT TIME: The only other legal rival to the BBC on the air in 1923: The Daimler in-car radio broadcasts...

Thanks for listening!

paulkerensa.com

 

For episode 46 we're joined by one of today's (and Today's) top broadcasters: Justin Webb. Justin's new book 'The Gift of a Radio: My Childhood and Other Train Wrecks' chronicles his lifelong partnership with radio, from an unusual childhood improved by the arrival of an ITT Tiny Super radio, to anchoring the Radio 4's Today programme.

But he's just the latest of 3 generations of broadcaster in his family. Justin's grandfather Leonard Crocombe was not only the first Radio Times editor, but also briefly a broadcaster in 1923 - something which even Justin didn't know. Hear Leonard Crocombe tell a tale or two...

Plus we continue to tell our own tale, of the broadcasting in January 1923 - from reactions to the first OBs to the Veterans of Variety, via Burns Night, Dame Nellie Melba reading to the children on Australia Day, and the BBC finally getting its licence.

 

NOTES:

  • Justin's book is available in all places that sell books, eg here.
  • Hear more of Leonard Crocombe on this marvellous gramophone record, courtesy of AusRadioHistorian on Youtube: https://youtu.be/6N1-hGjP_2M
  • In the podcast I talk about my visit to The Radio Museum in Watchet, Somerset. Here's a video tour given to me by owner Neil Wilson. Watchet! I mean, watch it. Then visit it. In Watchet.
  • I also mention George Robey and Alma Adair's comedy broadcast (thanks Alan Stafford!) - a pic of that moment is here.
  • Thanks too to Andrew Barker, our Newspaper Detective, for details of the newspaper articles.
  • The Pause for Thought slot I mention is now on the BBC Sounds app here and there's more on the history of Pause for Thought on Andy Walmsley's great blog: https://andywalmsley.blogspot.com/2020/04/pause-for-thought.html
  • My tour of The First Broadcast: The Battle for the Beeb in 1922 continues! See paulkerensa.com/tour for details
  • Find us on Facebook and Twitter - @bbcentury
  • Thanks to Will Farmer for the original music
  • My mailing list is at linktree.com/paulkerensa 
  • Support the show at patreon.com/paulkerensa - inc behind-the-scenes video tours etc! All tiers get all videos from now on (but not historic videos - they're for £10/mth-ers - but going forward, everyone gets everything new I post - levelling the playing field! Do join.)
  • We're nothing to do with the BBC, y'hear! 

Thanks for listening.

Next time: The end of 2MT, and Peter Eckersley joins the BBC...

paulkerensa.com 

Episode 45 sees us still in January 1923, but on the move...

First BBC Director of Programmes Arthur Burrows visits 5IT Birmingham and 2ZY Manchester to see the 2nd and 3rd BBC stations in action - so here's a podcast snapshot of what broadcasting was like in their makeshift studios in British broadcasting's earliest days.

Our guest is Jude Montague, whose grandfather Sydney Wright was an early on-air musician in the 2ZY Wireless Trio. And you'll hear the voices of those who were there: Kenneth Wright, Victor Smythe, Percy Edgar, A.E. Thompson...

Hear of singers toppling off platforms made of books, as they step back for the big final note. Hear of Manchester beating London to be first station to broadcast Big Ben. And hear of the Grenadier Guards Band, cramming 22 performers into a studio space fit for 3.

Next time: another grandchild of an early radio wonder: Justin Webb on his grandfather Leonard Crocombe, first editor of the Radio Times.

Thanks for listening!

For episode 44, we go to Holland and go back a few years, to hear of radio pioneer Hanso Idzerda and his Dutch concerts. It's not British broadcasting, but it's British listening - our ancestors could hear his regular broadcasts from 1919 to 1924 - at least if they had a radio set of quality.

Gordon Bathgate is a radio history fan and author of Radio Broadcasting: A History of the Airwaves - he guides us through Idzerda's doomed story, in an episode that's less of me, more of him... plus the return of your FMs and AMs - Firsthand Memories of broadcasting in action and an Airwave Memory from Paula Goddard.

Next time: the Birmingham and Manchester stations, inc. an interview with Jude Montague, granddaughter of one of their first broadcasters Sydney Wright.

Thanks for listening!

On January 8th 1923, British broadcasting left the studio for the first time. William Crampton had the idea, Arthur Burrows seized on it, John Reith approved it, Cecil Lewis kept interrupting it with stage directions and synopses...

Hear all about it here on episode 43, with the voices of Peter Eckersley, Harold Bishop, Arthur Burrows, A.E. Thompson and Percy Edgar. Plus Dr Kate Murphy tells us about the first radio 'aunt', Aunt Sophie/Cecil Dixon. And what John Reith did for the first time on January 6th. You won't believe it...

This episode is drawn from over a dozen books and the like, including research at the marvellous BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham. What a place! What a team.

Cecil Lewis' book Broadcasting from Within is quoted from extensively, and I'm reading it IN ITS ENTIRETY for our matrons and patrons on Patreon.com/paulkerensa at the 'superhero' level. If you sign up, even for one month and cancel, you're helping keep this podcast afloat, so thank you.

BUT I'm making part 5 of my reading of it available to EVERYONE. This is the except that's all about this first outside broadcast, so if you'd like to hear me read it and talk about it, it's all here for you, whether you're a Patreon subscriber or not: https://www.patreon.com/posts/63268433 - Enjoy!

My play The First Broadcast is touring the land - details at https://www.paulkerensa.com/tour - or get in touch to book it in for your venue. 

Find us on social media at www.twitter.com/bbcentury or www.facebook.com/bbcentury or www.facebook.com/groups/bbcentury

And do subscribe, share, rate and review us. It all helps spread this little project, which is NOTHING to do with the BBC - it's just a one-man band.

OTHER THINGS:

  • Original music is by Will Farmer.
  • Many of our archive clips are old enough to be public domain. BBC content is used with kind permission, BBC copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
  • This podcast is 100% unofficial and NOTHING to do with the present-day BBC - it's entirely run, researched, presented and dogsbodied by Paul Kerensa.
  • Be on the show! Email me a written ‘Firsthand Memory’ (FM) about a time you’ve seen radio or TV in action. Or record a voice memo of your ‘Airwave Memories’ (AM), 1-2mins of your earliest memories of radio/TV. Get in touch!

Next time: The Birmingham and Holland stations. Yes, Holland...

Happy listening!

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