The BBC: Entertaining the nation, speaking for britain, 1922-2022

Tuesday 14 March 2023, 4.30 - 6.30pm
HYBRID: This talk will take place on campus in St Alphege Building (SAB204), as well as being streamed live via MS Teams

In this talk, Prof. Simon Potter will look back over hundred years to ask whether the BBC is really the 'voice of Britain', exploring its role in changing wider culture and society and promoting particular versions of British national identity, both at home and overseas. He will be drawing from his latest book This is the BBC: Entertaining the Nation, Speaking for Britain, 1922-2022 where he looks at that history in terms of people and programmes, and also explores the BBC as an institution. It examines the role of politicians and civil servants in shaping and guiding the work of the BBC, and the impact of successive technological innovations, from radio, to television, to the new digital age. It shows how the BBC has changed over the last century, adapting to dramatic shifts in its political, social, and cultural environment. The BBC was initially constituted as a monopoly, controlling all broadcasting in Britain, including an Empire Service for white listeners in Britain’s colonies. It went on to provide services for audiences at home and overseas throughout the Second World War and into the Cold War, seeking to ‘inform, educate, and entertain’, roughly in that order of priority.

Professor Simon Potter is Reader in Modern History at the University of Bristol and led a Leverhulme Trust International Research Network 'Connecting the Wireless World: Writing Global Radio History' (2016-2019) bringing together a group of scholars from around the world to think about global perspectives on the history of international broadcasting.

This event is organised by the Modern History Research Centre. For more information about this event, or to reeceive the Teams link, email

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