In the beginning... religious broadcasts were there ever since Marconi said, "Let there be sound!" (He never said that.)
Whether you're a faithful or heathen, you're very welcome here and I think you'll enjoy this whizz through a century of British broadcasting blessings (and some early US ones too) - including some very rare clips and new discoveries of old things/names/juicy geeky details.
From Reginald Fessenden's violin to Justin Welby's sermon to half the planet, via Dr Boon, Revs Dick Sheppard, W.H. Elliot, Bramwell Evens and many more, hear rare clips of the pioneer preachers, the tale of how Reith shaped religious broadcasting in his own image, and the challenges of war, TV, competition and changing attitudes. Plus the shocked Archbishop, how hats prevented a royal wedding broadcast, and where to look for some undiscovered Paul Simon music.
It's a mostly Christian tale (for historical editorial reasons), but we explore how and why the Beeb sometimes wrangled with that issue - and the rare Jewish service the BBC aired during WW2.
Helping us on our journey, three wise men (can you tell this was meant to be a Christmas, then Epiphany special?):
- Dr Ian Robertson - broadcaster and author of With God on Our Side: A Comparative Study of Religious Broadcasting in the USA and the UK 1921-1995
- Michael Wakelin - ex BBC Head of Religion & Ethics, Exec Chair of the Religion Media Centre, Exec Producer at TBI Media
- Dr Martin Cooper - broadcaster and author of Radio's Legacy in Popular Culture: The Sounds of British Broadcasting over the Decades
Buy their books! They're great. Paul's book Auntie and Uncles: The Bizarre Birth of the BBC will be available soon. That will be great, when finished.
(More of these guests on future episodes - I'm holding back some gold. And frankincense. And myrrh.)
Due to limits of time, we've barely scratched the surface this episode. There could be another few episodes on this story (in fact, maybe there should be - hello radio producers. Shall we? Drop me a line...)
This is a helicopter view of 100 years of God on the air. Maybe we'll come back to it to add further details - and look out for our Christmas special later in 2023, with more on Britain's first religious broadcast.
Paul is touring this year with The First Religious Broadcast: Re-Enacted. For info on booking it for your venue/group/church/village hall/anywhere, get in touch with Paul.
You can support this podcast by joining us on Patreon.com/paulkerensa for extra behind-the-scenes videos and writings. Or tip at ko-fi.com/paulkerensa - and thank you!
We're on www.facebook.com/groups/bbcentury, where our Newspaper Detective Andrew Barker is chronicling newspapers on this day 100 years ago. Enjoy!
We're also on www.twitter.com/bbcentury - do say hi.
Huge thanks to Will Farmer for the original music.
Archive clips are either public domain or used with kind permission from the BBC, copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
We are nothing to do with the BBC - just talking about them, not with their 'blessing', to use a religious term. That's what this episode is about, you see?
Next time: Season 5! We're back in the 1923 timeline to bring you all the key landmark moments of the BBC's first year, starting with the battle with the press. It's going to get feisty...
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