‘A fascinating and informative account of the BBC’s first 100 years’ Daily Telegraph
‘A dramatic tale of innovation and determination’ Guardian
In 1922, three men – only one of whom had previously heard of ‘broadcasting’ – founded the BBC. In doing so, Arthur Burrows, Cecil Lewis, and John Reith set out to accomplish something utterly bold: using what had been a weapon of war – Marconi’s wireless – to remake culture for the good of humanity.
In The BBC: A People’s History, professor and historian David Hendy traces the BBC from its maverick beginnings through war, the creation of television, changing public taste, austerity and massive cultural change. The BBC has constantly evolved, developing from one radio station, to television, then multiple channels and now the competition with the internet and streaming services.
This is a history of a now global institution that defines Britain and created modern broadcasting; it is also a reflection of 100 years of British history.
David Hendy's magisterial The BBC: A People's History is a truly wonderful book. Captivating, compelling, moving, and richly detailed it is both a ground-breaking and important history of our national broadcaster and one of the best things I have read on the transformation of British society, culture, and politics since the 1920s -- Matt Houlbrook, Professor of Cultural History at University of Birmingham A superb account of an institution that was both the Auntie and Teenage Rebel of British society from the Great War to the culture wars. David Hendy stages a cast of brilliant and sometimes flawed characters in a page-turning narrative. Quite simply wonderful -- Robert Gildea, Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford Sympathetic but never uncritical, a masterpiece of lucid presentation, and about the programme makers and footsoldiers as much as about the suits in Broadcasting House, this is the authoritative, much-needed history of the BBC's first century - a century at the heart of British everyday life. I hope it does its bit to counter the vandals -- David Kynaston, historian and Visiting Professor at Kingston University A dramatic tale of innovation and determination ... at the dawning of what would turn out to be this country's biggest and most significant cultural institution -- Andrew Anthony * Observer * A fascinating and informative account of the BBC's first 100 years -- Robin Aitken * Daily Telegraph * Although the story of the BBC's early days is well known, Hendy tells it colourfully and briskly ... an impassioned defence [of] a national institution -- Dominic Sandbrook * Sunday Times * Hendy ... combines a historian's sense of sweep with the eye for colour of the TV producer he once was * The Economist * David Hendy's history of the BBC is both engaging and fair ... it is very much the case for the corporation, but it is a case that needs to be made -- Allan Massie * Scotsman * An appropriately large-scale account of the media giant at the very heart of British life ... Much of this history has been told before but never in such well-researched depth and sparkling detail * Kirkus * Hendy tracks the Beeb from its chaotic formation and its pivotal, sometimes covert, roles during the Second World War through peaks and troughs ... packed [with] vivid tales -- Graeme Thomson * Radio Times * A solid ... case for the BBC's survival -- Clive Davis * Times * Lucid and well-researched -- Rod Liddle * Spectator * In 2022, when the BBC celebrates its centenary and its future lies in some doubt, it is time for a little perspective. Therein lies the value of David Hendy's new history of the BBC. His is a tale of creative endeavour and technological innovation, beset by a constant tension between leading and following the audience * FT * Extraordinary ... Hendy's stated aim is a kind of history from below: a counterpoint to Asa Briggs's magisterial five-volume account of British broadcasting history to 1974, which occasionally gave the impression that the story of radio and TV consisted largely in calm, besuited bigwigs gliding through boardrooms and Whitehall, setting policies and initiating parliamentary committees. Hendy, rather, wants to give a place to the people who actually did the work ... At times, Hendy succeeds magnificently -- Charlotte Higgins * Guardian * A masterful biography ... fair, critical, and elegantly written ... a triumph of research and writing on the cultural history of broadcasting -- Tim Crook * CloJ Journal * The author knows what he is doing, and has quietly and elegantly written a book which is nothing short of a nonfiction thriller. Hendy takes a controversial subject and with riveting anecdotes offers a forensic cross-examination of BBC executives and their political adversaries. There are enough showdowns in this account to satisfy any Gunsmoke aficionado, with firings and resignations taking the place of gunfights -- Howard Stringer * Airmail * Thorough and engaging ... you can't understand England without understanding the BBC -- Dwight Garner * New York Times * David Hendy's book has the strengths of an insider's account, packed with detail and anecdotes, shrewd in its assessment of personalities -- Stefan Collini * LRB *
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