A gift in pdf from the BBC Genome team: the Christmas Radio Times of 1923. More is explained at the BBC Genome blog. This is the era of the BBC as monopoly private company rather than autonomous corporation and that's reflected in the business-led feature writing which opens the magazine; but there are contributions too from Ramsay Macdonald, a few weeks away from becoming first Labour prime minister, and Lilian Bayliss of the Old Vic, as well as various broadcasters including several of the uncles and aunts of the regional stations. The adverts are revealing of a vanished time; the listings show that a simultaneous broadcast of Shakespeare recitals by Sir Frank Benson was taken by most stations, intriguingly for me coming from 5NO in Newcastle; 5WA in Cardiff offers A Christmas Carol instead. Although not the modern Woman's Hour, which did not begin until the 1940s, there is a Women's Hour, but it only seems to last thirty minutes. Christmas Day itself is one of a Christmas party and religious messages, including one specifically aimed at children.
A very good preliminary exploration of the culture which allowed Jimmy Savile to prosper, in the online edition of the London Review of Books. I don't agree with everything, and some of the contextual details are wrong which skews Andrew O'Hagan's argument. 1963 is the age of Carry On Jack or Carry On Spying rather than Carry On Camping, and there is lots to be drawn from the contrast. I'm not sure that Savile was ever loved - bewitchingly possessed of some energy late twentieth-century Britain found preternatural, perhaps. Revealing interviews with Joan Bakewell and Nicholas Parsons, and just as revealing bewilderment from David Attenborough, frame historical cameos from people now mainly remembered as people who paid their visits to Roy Plomley to reveal their Desert Island Discs.
A friend on Facebook is reeling at the disappearance of non-sport programmes from BBC1 for the duration of the Olympic Games, with an expanded BBC3 schedule being swelled by the Olympics. This inspired me to hunt down a broadcasting schedule for a random day in the 1948 Olympics, the last to be held in London. I thought I'd also share it here.

Friday 30 July 1948's BBC Television schedule consisted of a Demonstration Film from 11am-12noon, with Olympics coverage from 2.30-4pm, 5-6.45pm, 8-8.30pm and 8.45-9.15pm. The only other programmes were Newsreel at 8.30pm, Inventor's Club from 9.15 to 10pm, and News (sound only) from 10-10.15pm.

On BBC radio there were Olympics reports on the Home Service from 1.10-1.20pm, 6.15-6.30pm, 9.15-9.20pm, and on the Light from 12.55-1pm and 10.15-10.30pm. The Third, as might be expected, ignored it. So as close to blanket coverage on television as might be expected, with a token non-Olympics or news programme, but more absent than I had expected on radio.
sir_guinglain: (salmon)
( Jul. 10th, 2012 09:16 pm)
I'm not usually one for linkspam, but here are a few items which have distracted me today:
  • For sale: Bush House. A landmark of BBC World Service history.
    • Christopher Middleton at The Telegraph mourns the end of an era; but how often is 'Lillibulero' played on the BBC World Service these days? Its associations are questionable to say the least.
  • Auction for BBC World Service
    • Here is the flysheet for the online auction mentioned in Middleton's article. If you want to set up your own worldwide broadcasting service, now is your chance.
  • Baroness Fauconberg and Conyers
    • The blog post is about the death of Lady Wendy Lycett, but peerage-spotters can welcome back the baronies of Fauconberg and Conyers to the extant peerage as Lady Wendy and her elder sister Lady Diana Miller were co-heirs to those titles. At the age of 92, I think it's unlikely that Diana, the new Baroness Fauconberg and Conyers (once she has had the automatic termination of the abeyance recognised by the Crown Office, and been added to the Roll of the Peerage) will be seeking election to the House of Lords, but you never know.
  • Lords reform: this will be our last chance for a generation
    • With the vote on Lords reform dropped, the elected hereditaries look as if they will be hanging on alongside the life peers and bishops for a little while yet. Peter Hain doesn't I think have all the details right on the measure the government had intended to put before the Commons tonight, but as he says it could have been amended.
  • Before Adam, by Jack London
    • Project Gutenberg e-book of Jack London's 1906 novel about an early homo species, possibly in the literary geneaology of the first Doctor Who story.
The last few weeks have largely been concerned in the thinning of the contents of my flat, a task still not done, but there has still been time for some television. Possible spoilers for those wary of such things.

Wales is insane )

Your eyes always get piggy when you lie, Moneypenny )

I will never swim in the sun again... )

Papers, papers... )
The BBC announced today that the sale process for Television Centre has begun. Whatever the commercial arguments, this is a sad day for a generation who grew up with Television Centre at the heart of their collective popular imagination, though part of the existing structure is likely to survive as part of the broadcasting business in some form. The retreat of the BBC sprawl from Wood Lane has already begun, with the move of BBC Worldwide from Woodlands, just north of Westway, where the flags of Radio Times and Doctor Who once flew, and one wonders if the BBC logos have already been removed from the road signs further down Wood Lane.

In the meantime, this film is a record of the construction period made to inform BBC staff; it has a haunting, concrète soundtrack from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (John Baker?), provides glimpses of the buildings demolished to allow Television Centre to be built (mainly associated with White City stadium, I think, but including the old Wood Lane station on what was then the Hammersmith branch of the Metropolitan Line), and shows those curved corridors (built, it's said, because in those convivial days few BBC employees could walk in a straight line) taking shape, as well as the statue of Helios being elevated into place.

Doctor Who: Meglos )
sir_guinglain: (parrot)
( Oct. 6th, 2007 11:57 am)
Sound files from 22 and 23 November 1978, when BBC radio reallocated its wavelengths - as much of a shake-up as that of 30 September 1967, much remembered last weekend. Of particular interest to Radio 4 fans is the recording of the handover of 1500 metres / 200 kilohertz from Radio 2 to Radio 4, emphasising that for the first time that day Radio 4 served 'the whole of the United Kingdom', welcoming listeners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; BBC Radio 4 Scotland and BBC Radio 4 Wales became BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Wales that day. The second part includes the introduction to the first ever Radio 4 shipping forecast, treated as only of interest to their new maritime audience, addressed cautiously as 'Gentlemen'; 'Sailing By' is played for the first time without fanfare.

EDIT Correction - the change of name from BBC Radio 4 Scotland to BBC Radio Scotland happened in 1974, says Tony Currie in his history of Radio Times; and as a leading Scottish broadcaster and collector of Radio Times and other listings magazines, he is in a better place to know. Radio Scotland opted in to Radio 4 for some programmes from then on; Radio 4 was not available in Scotland until the frequency change of 1978, and as 'Radio 4 UK' was the lineal heir of the London Home Service, midnight on 23 November 1978 was the first time that Scotland heard the station.
sir_guinglain: (arthurelaineletr)
( Sep. 30th, 2007 10:53 am)
This is a post to mark the birthday of BBC Radios 1,2,3 and 4, though the latter three have other birthdays as 30 September 1967 marked their renamings rather than the launch of entirely new services, however the BBC like to spin the event. Good excuse for some PR-friendly event scheduling, though...

I was going to mark today by quoting from my favourite radio continuity announcement, which I'd come across a few years ago on a radio history website. This was David Dunhill closing down the BBC Home Service for the last time on Friday 29 September 1967 - "This is the end of the Home Service for today, and for all days..." and ending with a very BBC pun, reminding loyal Home Service listeners that if they were moved to consider the question "What is radio fo(u)r?" they would know the answer. However, the quote appeared in the Radio Times this week, in The Daily Telegraph too, and probably elsewhere, so it's no longer my speciality any more.

So, here I am not getting very far (as usual) with a job application, and flipping between listening to Radio 1 on a Sunday morning for probably the first time since the days of Danny Baker (and I'd only started a few years before with Dave Lee Travis on his final lap of amusingly self-referential old-style Radio 1 DJing); and Radio 2's own fortieth birthday, currently replaying an entire Kenny Everett show from 1981, competitions and all. Radio 3 didn't really emerge in a recognisable form until 1970, and they just had sixtieth anniversary celebrations for the Third Programme two years ago, so are being low-key; and Radio 4's birthday programmes are this evening.

Worth enduring on Listen Again, if only to experience 1967 middle-of-the-roadness, is Paul Hollingdale's recreation of the first Radio 2 breakfast show, with a lot of background explanation (including the last Light Programme closedown - not as fun or as gracious as the Home Service farewell - and the opening moments of the convolutedly-named 'BBC Radio 2, the Light Programme, on 1500 metres Long Wave, with Radio 1 on 247 metres') and reflections on the problems of running a radio station with a split identity, where most of the budget was allocated to the five and a half hours a day of Radio 1 (for the first eleven years an opt-out of Radio 2) and where Musicians' Union rules meant that both Radios 1 and 2 had to play cover versions of chart music, often recorded by the BBC's regional orchestras (now mostly gone), so as not to exceed the limit on the number of commercial records they could broadcast.
I wrote recently that I hoped that ITV Play never returns to our screens; and indeed we learn today that it will not return as a channel in its own right. This is a small victory for responsible broadcasting, though Michael Grade today admits that children's television and non-news regional programmes will disappear from ITV in the near future. I would like to write that he is clearly happy once more wielding an axe, but this would be giving in to an unfair Doctor Who fandom stereotype, and the position of services that can't pay for themselves is untenable if ITV is to be considered a purely commercial concern and not a core public service provider.
A look at the Guardian jobs website shows that there are a reasonable number of jobs I could just about throw myself at with some credibility at the moment; and given that the money is running out. There are a few editing jobs which, while they have nothing to do with history, I could try for; but I'm in the middle of clearing lots of decks at the moment - the biggest obstacle being the paper I'm giving at the colloquium next month - and I'm really loath to add to the burdens I've got by spending ages on more job applications, particularly as there's one I've decided to go for on the basis that I am qualified for it though it would mean moving away nearly 200 miles, and the job is only for 21 months. I really, really do take too much time over job applications (though nowhere near the week it took me to write the successful TGW application in 1999). But I feel confident that I could present myself as the bearer of transferable skills outside the editing of a reference work that is only revised on a grand scale once a century; but I plan to finish the book proposal and earn some pocket money (because that's all I'll be able to manage) this week, and I've got the ball rolling on some more TGW freelancing I'd taken away with me when I left in September.

Meanwhile, in broadcasting, a hurrah. I hope ITV Play never comes back, and others with similar formats go too, though 'interactivity' on shows like Dancing on Ice is fairly harmless, unless there's some deception I've missed.

Edit: I can't have been that morose, despite the icon, as I've cheered up making Doctor Who-related comments to my previous post.
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