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...


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...


  • Stephen Bourne’s books are available at 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: Kathie's lockdown single was ‘This Time (Save the World?): Thanks Kathie!
  • See/hear a clip of Una Marson from West Indies Calling – well worth a watch:
  • 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:
  • 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 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  and
  • 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...


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