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BBC Radio 4's Anaylsis, 1970-1983

By Hugh Chignell


The 'historical turn' in British Media Studies has yielded new histories of television but little work on the history of post-television radio. This thesis hopes to contribute\ud to that neglected area. The research, based on radio and written archives and interviews with former BBC staff, examines the BBC Radio 4 current affairs programme, Analysis between the years 1970 and 1983. It addresses a number of questions about the programme, including the precise reasons for its creation, how it evolved, and how it covered a range of current affairs topics. In addition, this history of current affairs radio provides useful, new insights into the rise of professionalism in the BBC, the existence of informal networks, impartiality and bias, the tension between elitism and populism and the specificity of current affairs. The thesis includes a full discussion of the history of current affairs radio from 1927 to 1960. In this section the relationship of the literary elite to the BBC in the 1930s is addressed and the evolution of the 'topical talk' and the post-war 'talks magazine'\ud are described. The precise origins of Analysis in the late 1960s are explained with reference to the tension between the more journalistic and populist 1960s news sequences and the elitist and anti-journalistic talks tradition from which Analysis emerged following the publication of Broadcasting in the Seventies. The role of individual presenters of Analysis is examined and the evolution of the form of 'broadcast talk' employed on the programme. There is a chapter on Analysis in Africa and a concluding chapter which evaluates the relationship between Analysis and the emerging political ideology of Thatcherism. By focussing on one programme over a period of time, and following the careers of named individuals who worked in BBC radio, it is possible to reveal conflicting broadcasting values and ideals of professionalism and current affairs and to trace\ud these back to their antecedents in the pre-war BBC.\u

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