The British Broadcasting Century with Paul Kerensa

SPECIAL: The Prehistory of the BBC (extended cut)

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Episode notes

It's the BBC’s 99th birthday! Well it was on the day this episode landed. So for episode 37, here’s the podcast’s story so far...   Between season 2 (covering the BBC in 1922) and season 3 (the BBC in 1923), we’re on a run of specials. So here we summarise EVERYTHING we’ve learned so far. 36 episodes condensed into one.   Condensed, yet also extended - because we recorded a shorter version of this episode for The History of England Podcast. So to lure in folks who’ve heard that already, I’ve added a ton of new stuff, including some brand new bits. By which I mean, very old bits. As well as hearing the voices of:

  • First teenager to listen to the radio in his bedroom GuglielmoMarconi
  • First major broadcast engineer Captain HJ Round
  • First voice of the BBC Arthur Burrows
  • First regular broadcaster Peter Eckersley
  • First slightly terrifying boss John Reith
…You’ll now also hear from:
  • First broadcast singer Winifred Sayer
  • First BBC pianist Maurice Cole (the most wonderful accent, “off" = "orff")
  • First BBC singer Leonard Hawke (although WE know from episode 28 that the Birmingham and Manchester stations broadcast music the day before - but the BBC didn't know that)
That's a lot of firsts. Plus more recent voices - hear from these marvellous experts:  


  • This podcast is NOTHING to do with the present-day BBC - it's entirely run, researched, presented and dogsbodied by Paul Kerensa
  • You can email me to add something to the show. eg. Send your ‘Firsthand Memories’ - in text form, a time you’ve seen radio or TV being broadcast before your eyes: a studio, an outside broadcast - what were your behind-the-scenes insights? Or record your ‘Airwave Memories’ (AM) - a voice memo of 1-2mins of your earliest memories hearing/seeing radio/TV. Be on the podcast!
  • My new one-man play The First Broadcast is now booking for dates in 2022. Got a venue? Book me for your place. Here's one - The Museum of Comedy. Join me, in April or in November on the very date of the BBC's 100th birthday!
  • Thanks for joining us on Patreon if you do - or if you might! It supports the show, keeps it running, keeps me in books, which I then devour and add it all to the mixing-pot of research for this podcast. In return, I give you video, audio, advance writings, an occasional reading from C.A. Lewis' 1924 book Broadcasting From Within etc.
  • Thanks if you've ever bought me a coffee at Again, it all helps keep us afloat.
  • Like our British Broadcasting Facebook page, or better still, join our British Broadcasting Century Facebook group where you can share your favourite old broadcasting things.
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  • I have another podcast of interviews, A Paul Kerensa Podcast, inc Miranda Hart, Tim Vine, Rev Richard Coles and many more. Give us a listen!
  • Please rate and review this podcast where you found it... and keep liking/sharing/commenting on what we do online. It all helps others find us. 
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  • My books are available here or orderable from bookshops, inc Hark! The Biography of Christmas. Coming in 2022: a novel on all this radio malarkey.
  • Archive clips are either public domain or used with kind permission from the BBC, copyright content reproduced courtesy of the British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. Oh yes they are.
Next time: What Marconi Thought of Broadcasting - plus 1920s adverts, voiced by listeners...