Bradford: 50 years of BBC Radio: National Science & Media Museum (2017)
The project’s first public event was held at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford on Saturday 7th October 2017 and celebrated fifty years of BBC Radio 1,2,3 and 4.
On 30 September 1967, as the Summer of Love reached its climax, the old Home Service, Light Programme and Third were put to rest – and dear old Auntie nervously embraced pop. At exactly 7am on that Saturday morning, Tony Blackburn took to the air, welcomed everyone to “the exciting new sound of Radio 1”, and played his very first record, Flowers in the Rain. The BBC would never be the same again. Some reckoned it was the last gasp of a dying medium – that television would soon kill off radio altogether. In the half-century since, radio hasn’t just survived it’s thrived: a testimony to how important it is in our everyday lives, how much we love this taken-for-granted device.
As part of the fiftieth birthday celebrations, the BBC teamed up with the National Science and Media Museum and media historians at the University of Sussex for this one-off event. The event explored the role of radio in all our lives – the sets we had at home growing up, the technology that put our favourite voices and music on the air, the personalities who made it all happen behind-the-scenes. Guests were given the opportunity to explore the Museum’s collections, saw new archive footage from the BBC’s vaults, and heard talks by broadcasters and historians. The event also collected personal memories of radio, and recordings of delegates’ BBC reminiscences on film.
Britain Reimagined: A New Oral History of the BBC, British Library (2018)
On Tuesday July 10 2018 the project’s second public event was held at the British Library in London.
35 people attended the free event, where they were able to view rare footage from the BBC’s vaults and consider what it can tell us about how our national broadcaster has imagined – and reimagined – Britain, its people, and their changing place in the world.
Guests were invited to contribute to the project by sharing their memories of the events, completing a survey, and selected guests were invited to share their reminiscences in filmed interviews.
They were given a sneak preview of the new 100 voices website’s People, Nation, Empire pages, and the opportunity to see footage from the BBC oral histories archive.
Mike Phillips (pictured above) chatted with David Hendy about the BBC. Mike’s son accompanied him, along with his brother, Trevor Philips.
Through a series of clips, lectures and discussions, the event focused on the challenges presented for the BBC by its responsibilities in a more multicultural and migrant Britain. For a broadcaster that claimed to speak to the whole nation, this meant a need and demand for new programmes, new voices, new faces. Clips from rare, previously unseen footage from the BBC archives were shown to give insight into the BBC’s attempts to reflect working-class life, to be less metropolitan in outlook, to represent different faiths and ethnicities – in short, to be truly inclusive. The event concluded with a tour of the British Library’s Windrush exhibition, led by the exhibition’s curators.
War from the inside: Oral histories from the BBC, The Keep (Brighton) (2019)
On the 19th October 2019 the third public event of the project was held at The Keep, a home to historic documents, including the Mass Observation Archive, partnered with the project.
The MO Archive’s curators teamed up with the BBC and the University of Sussex and through hearing personal accounts from key BBC figures, we traced how the BBC helped shape our experience of World War 2 – at home, abroad, and in our minds. By exploring rare recordings from the BBC’s vaults and the stories they tell about how our national broadcaster has reported war and helped us live through it, we retraced landmark coverage of the Blitz and D-Day, but also lesser-known stories from behind-the-scenes: the ‘secret war’ of coded messages and secret beams, the arguments over the hit-series Music While You Work, the strange life of siege experienced by a generation of broadcasters who felt themselves on the front-line.
Finally, participants had the chance to see new clips from the BBC’s archive and hear from the legendary war correspondent Allan Little. The event also offered a unique opportunity to participants to take their place in BBC history by bringing their own memories and visiting our special pop-up TV corner to record their reminiscences on film.