Welcome to the origin story of British broadcasting...

The BBC celebrated its 100th birthday in 2022. But the story doesn't stop there. It doesn't even start there.

Before the Beeb first beebed, before Reith, loooooong before pips and Proms, there were WW1 wireless voices, including technically Britain's first DJ (Gertrude Donisthorpe)... a visionary publicity director at Marconi's (Arthur Burrows)... a wild voice from a hut in an Essex field (Peter Eckersley)... a genius engineer who invented direction-finding radio saving the Battle of Jutland, then later designed the first BBC transmitter (H.J. Round)... and so many more.

After Auntie's birth, the first OB (although there was one pre-BBC), the first religious broadcast (although there was one pre-BBC), the first audio crossword puzzle, the launch of Savoy Hill studios with a drunk lord and an angry Reith... There are a lot of stories to tell.

This is part of a huge solo project I'm undertaking via (at least) 3 means:

The Podcast...

The British Broadcasting Century Podcast is my lockdown project that won't be stopped so easily. I'm telling the origin story of the BBC, radio and life as we know it - the very slow way. So far that's meant 50+ episodes and we've only just got to 1923.

Along the way we've had guests like Lee Mack, Diddy David Hamilton, pirate DJ Emperor Rosko, academics, authors, radio fans, radio hams, grandchildren of the first voices of British radio... We've uncovered one of the first broadcast comedians (Helena Millais), finally discovered the name and photo of Britain's first DJ (Gertrude Donisthorpe) and found clips and facts about everyone from the BBC's first couple (music director Stanton Jefferies and London's first children's presenter Vivienne Chatterton) to the first female employee of the BBC (Isobel Shields).

Join us! It's an epic task - and the more who listen, the better it gets. There's a Patreon page with extra videos, readings + writings, in return for £5+/month, leave whenever you want. Join me there too? It's just lil' ol' me running this, so every encouragement helps.

As a taster of the Patreon page, here's such a video available to all Matrons/Patrons of any level (so to watch it, you could join/watch/cancel if you like - or stick around to see what else gets added, and help keep the podcast in books, web-hosting & visits to the BBC Written Archives Centre). This video features my new (old) crystal set radio, 'on this day' on 1923 BBC, and a reading about Reith.

Or a zero-cost way to support the podcast is to rate/review it wherever you found the podcast - it all helps, and unlike many podcasts, this one's a one-man operation. I am that man. Help me!

The Novel...

Out in Spring 2023... Auntie and Uncles: The Bizarre Birth of the BBC - the first in a trilogy on the early years of the BBC.

Pre-order now on Amazon (only the eBook pre-order is up so far, but the paperback pre-order will follow soon! See that link for full details of the book, add it to your wishlist, make a note to come back for the paperback by all means... I'm self-publishing so learning as I go. It's a cracking tale! Can't wait for you to read it.

The Live Show...

The First Broadcast is my one-man show (aka 'stand-up history) in which I play both Arthur Burrows and Peter Eckersley: the first BBC broadcaster and the first regular British broadcaster. As to which is which, who loathed whom, and why we should thank these rivals for so much of the broadcasting revolution, watch the show to find out. The 2022 tour has now ended, it no longer being 2022. But I'm ready to don the suit and dust off the microphone any time, any venue - get in touch to book it in. I'm also looking at putting on two other one-man shows: the BBC Year One (an audio-packed talk about the BBC in 1923) and a re-enactment of the first religious broadcast, by a lone priest Dr James Boon of Peckham, sent from Blackfriars INTO his church 5 miles away. It's quite a tale!

Again, do enquire. Have car, will travel. I'm affordable.

More details of The First Broadcast 2022 tour here.

The... Something Else?

A radio documentary? A TV drama adaptation? A sitcom? A who-knows-what? ...I'm all ears. If you're a producer, commissioner or all round power-player who can make any of these happen... get in touch.

Let's make radio history. That sounds bad. You know what I mean.

Catch the podcast, novel or show wherever you enjoy those things.

And don't forget, Patreon.com/paulkerensa helps fund all this. A less regular option is Ko-fi.com/paulkerensa. Either way, I thank you. Equally if you've listened, read, shared or recommended, a huge thank you too. It's just little old me, so you too makes it a Little Old Us.