Welcome to the origin story of British broadcasting...
The BBC celebrates its 100th birthday in 2022. But before that, before Reith, loooooong before the pips and the Proms, there was a wild voice from a small hut in an Essex field (Captain Peter Eckersley)... a visionary publicity director at Marconi's (Arthur Burrows)... a genius engineer who helped win WWI by inventing direction-finding radio, then later designed the first BBC transmitter (Captain Round)... and so many more.
This is part of a huge project I'm undertaking to tell this marvellous underappreciated story via 3 means:
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 40+ episodes and we've only just got to Reith.
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.
Do consider supporting this mammoth research effort via Patreon. The £10ers get a behind-the-scenes video (behind the scenes of research? YES.) and extra writings/updates each month, and my eternal thanks. As a taster, 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 First Broadcast is my new one-man play (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, you'll have to watch the show to find out.
It's touring throughout 2022, with more dates being added through the year. Currently that's to: SURBITON, LEICESTER, BANBURY, BARNES, LONDON, BRISTOL, BLANDFORD FORUM, KETTERING, GUILDFORD and on the exact date of the BBCentenary, the wonderful Museum of Comedy in London.
Like it at your place? It's just me, so it travels light. Click the Contact Me page on this site to get in touch for more info. I'm cheap.
Coming soon... Auntie and Uncles - the first in a trilogy on the early years of the BBC.
The... Something Else?
The radio documentary, the TV drama adaptation, the 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, the play or the novel 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.