Tuesday 15 November 2022

Auntie's Secret Past

In Auntie’s Secret Past we learn of the contents of the time capsule in the Broadcasting House foundation stone, the furore over Prospero and Ariel (“maidens are said to blush”), the pithy memos of the Programme Review Board, the “surfeit of sentiment” concerns over Vera Lynn’s Sincerely Yours, why women commentators were not favoured and whether television viewers should be called ‘televiewers’ or ‘lookers’.

This programme, broadcast in 1997 to mark the BBC’s 75th anniversary delves into the Written Archives at Caversham to bring some of the behind the scenes stories of the Corporation to life. It’s also scattered with a generous selection of Sound Archive gems.

Presented by Terry Wogan and produced by Bridget Apps, Auntie’s Secret Past went out on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday 9 November 1997.    

Saturday 12 November 2022

BBC 100

On Monday the BBC celebrates 100 years since its first radio broadcast on 14 November 1922.

Making the opening announcement on station 2LO was Director of Programmes Arthur Burrows who wrote: “November 14, 1922, was the day chosen to commence British broadcasting in the official sense. It was the day of the declaration of polls in connection with the General Election, and the news for that evening consisted in the main of election results. The next day the Birmingham station, 5IT, began to operate, and within a week 2ZY had also joined in the work. The London station continued in my charge (Mr Jeffries arranging the musical programmes and sharing in the pleasures of the children’s hour). Birmingham fortunately secured the direction of Mr Percy Edgar, already well known in the Midlands, and Metropolitan Vickers appointed to the Manchester station Mr K.A. Wright, a young graduate of Sheffield, who, since his earliest days with the firm, had shown a keen interest in music and its propagation by wireless. One cannot look back upon those early days without a smile.”

To mark the BBC’s centenary I’ve produced this sound montage 100 Years of BBC Radio in 100 History. Roughly chronological in order it’s my selection of some memorable voices and programmes designed to show something of the breadth of the radio services. I hope you enjoy it.

You’ll hear some broadcasters who make more than one appearance but see if you can spot who appears most often, on seven different clips throughout the sequence.

Here’s the version with accompanying pictures.

The selection of early clips was, of course, limited by what’s survived from that period. Most of my audio for the first half century comes from compilation records issued by the BBC (for their 50th and 75th), documentary programmes about BBC history I’ve recorded over the last 40+ years and repeats, often on Radio 4 Extra. Those 1920s clips you here were all recreated for the May 1932 programme The End of Savoy Hill produced by Lance Sieveking. Much of what you hear from the mid-70s onwards was recorded by me at the time or may come from recordings kindly donated since starting this blog.  

Inevitably as soon as I’d edited the ‘final’ final version I remembered all the stuff I’d missed out. No “I’m rather worried about Jim” or “Give ‘em the money Barney”, no Noel’s funny phone calls, no reports from foreign correspondents (other than wartime), the role of the  European Service during the Cold War. I could go on. Summarising local radio or what the BBC calls ‘the Nations’ was impossible; they all just get seven minutes. The wonderful World Service has been reduced to two minutes.

I first started work on this project after completing my BBC90 montage, saving clips away in a separate folder. Most made the cut, some just didn’t fit or no longer felt appropriate or interesting. Serious editing, sequence by sequence, started in February and altogether I’ve used nearly 700 different bits of audio (including jingles). I reckon about 20% of material was also in the BBC90 celebration. Thanks go again to Andy Howells who helped with some BBC90 material in 2012 and to Aircheck Downloads who tracked down a couple of DJ jingles for me that appear in one of the Radio 1 sequences.

Here’s the audio only version.   


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