"I had little idea what broadcasting was." So said John Reith after his job interview to become General Manager of the brand new BBC.

On this exciting episode, meet your first General Manager (Reith), Director of Programmes (Arthur Burrows v Cecil Lewis - who'll get the job?), Secretary (Major Anderson beats 245 others to it, but doesn't last six months) and Chief Engineer (R.H. White - nothing to do with the lemonade - he's appointed but doesn't last the weekend...).

Spanning December 7th-16th 1922, we've got the nerves, the prayers, the interviews, the winks, the nudges, the near-misses (discover who turned down the top job before it was offered to Reith - how different it could have been...) and the programmes.

You'll hear Charles Penrose's The Laughing Policeman, Peter Eckersley spoofing the chimes, A.E. Thompson literally nailing down where the police band sit... plus complaints, correspondence and memos about the broadcasts one month into the BBC's being.

Our special guest is 'Diddy' David Hamilton (who was not one of the first staff, to clarify our episode title). David's a delight, and brings tales of playing Elvis to Elvis, introducing the Beatles and the Stones, and his latest radio home, Boom Radio.



  • Watch the full David Hamilton interview, including his face, my face + audio from a future episode, here on our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/posts/47583443. You'll need to sign up to our Patreon, but a) you only need sign up to the minimum level to watch the video, b) you can cancel any time, and c) it all helps support this podcast and keeps us in web-hosting and books. Books like...
  • David Hamilton's fab radio books are The Golden Days of Radio 1 and Commercial Radio Daze - recommended.
  • I guest-presented an episode for The History of England podcast. Hear it here! It's essentially the entire first season of this podcast, squidged into half an hour. (If it vanishes from their feed, we'll be posting it as a special episode on this podcast in a few months' time). 30,000 people have heard that episode now - 100 times the listenership of our episodes here! So welcome if you've joined us from there...
  • The Britishbroadcastingchallenge.com is on a mission to open up the future of public service broadcasting
  • Want to hear the full version of Charles Penrose's The Laughing Policeman? Course you do...
  • The British Broadcasting Century Facebook page is here. Do like. I post things there.
  • The British Broadcasting Century Facebook group is here. Do join. You post things there.
  • The British Broadcasting Century Twitter profile is here. Do follow.
  • My other podcast of interviews, from Rev Richard Coles, Miranda Hart, Milton Jones and more is called A Paul Kerensa Podcast - and I'm adding more interviews all the time. Do listen. 
  • My mailing list is here - do subscribe to keep up with things.
  • My books are available here or orderable from bookshops.
  • Support us at patreon.com/paulkerensa or paypal.me/paulkerensa - Thanks to those who do/have/will!

We're nothing to do with today's BBC - we're talking about the BBCompany, not made by or anything to with the BBCorporation. But they have loaned us the memo we read out - so that's BBC copyright content, reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation, all rights reserved. Archive clips are either public domain or someone's domain and we don't know whose. But we thank them and reiterate that all copyright belongs to them, whoever they are...

Do please rate and review this podcast where you found it... and keep liking/sharing/commenting on what we do online. It all helps others find us. We are a one-man band. I mean, I am. Not we. I.

Email the podcast here. Your comments are always welcome.

Next time: Burrows' broadcasting company vs Marconi's messaging company. Who'll win? Both! 

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Thanks for listening! Now stand for the National Anthem.

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