There were three main BBC Radio stations broadcasting in Britain in the 1950s. The most widely listened-to service, the "Light Programme", brought us popular music as well as mainstream light entertainment in the form of variety shows, comedy, and drama. The "Home Service", whilst it also had its share of general entertainment programmes, was the main channel for news, features, and drama of a more demanding kind and was the home too of regional programming. The "Third Programme" meanwhile was unashamedly highbrow in character: broadcasting in the evenings only, its output consisted of classical music concerts and recitals, talks on matters scientific, philosphical, and cultural, together with poetry readings and classic or experimental plays. In 1957 its weekly hours were cut by 40%.
Also, The General Overseas Service (previously The Empire Service, now the BBC World Service) was an international service which was beamed around the World from London with its news prelude Lilliburlero, famous since 1943. Every news bulletin was preceded by this strict sequence: at 59.32 the announcer would say "This is London". At 59.35 Lilliburlero was played, followed at 59.55 by the Greenwich Time Signal. The continuity announcer would then give the time - e.g. "Thirteen hours Greenwich Mean Time" and the news studio would be cued and the newsreader would say "BBC World Service. The news, read by....".
The tuning dial of a wireless receiver of the times contained a multitude of broadcasting stations from around Northern Europe. Places such as Hilversum, Lille and Luxembourg, Allouis, Athlone, Droitwich, Warsaw and Moscow.
Orange and Lemons was the station identification of The Allied Expeditionary Forces Programme, which went on air on the 7th June 1944 (D-Day + 1). It was played on a Novachord by Charles Smart. The AEFP broadcast until the end of WW2. This theme was then picked up by the BBC Light Programme for use during intervals in the service during the '50s and '60s It was usually played on a novacord but there are four versions of differing duration, the other three being played on a novacord celeste. The tune is available on a Guild Music CD.
The six pips (Greenwich Time Signal) began at 9:30 pm on 5th. February 1924 when they were broadcast from The Royal Greenwich Observatory. In recent years the sixth pip has been elongated for emphasis (and those who cannot count up to six!).
The BBC Sound Archives is a repository of over 500,000 recordings, kept at Broadcasting House. The earliest, such as the squeaky voice of Florence Nightingale in 1890 originally recorded on a wax cylinder, were made before broadcasting was invented. The vast bulk, however, are of BBC programmes of all types, beginning with an extract from the opening of The British Empire Exhibition in 1924. About 3000 hours of programmes a year are added to the collection, though this is only a tiny fraction of what goes out. It supplies hundreds of recordings a week for use throughout the BBC. It has also been used to compile most of the cassettes of gems from the past which form the BBC Radio Collection. Despite its meticulously indexed vastness, however, it does have gaps; there is no voice of George Orwell, nothing at all from Riders of the Range, nothing from the first year of The Archers, only one episode of Jennings and only one of Norman and Henry Bones.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
You can browse through some of the programmes of the period using the menu over on the left.
Whirligig 1950's British TV and Radio Message Board
Times Back numbers
Kelly Publications hold stocks of back numbers of RADIO TIMES. Although stocks from the 20s, 30s and early 40s are limited, stocks of most issues and editions from 1950 are available for individual purchase.
Download some Radio Times issues from the 1930s
If you reached here via a searchengine, click the logo above to go to the Radio Days Homepage
If you have any comments, questions
or further information of interest,
is a participant in the Amazon Europe S.à r.l. Associates
Programme, an affiliate advertising programme
designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.
design and management by:
[ Top of Page ]
copyrights acknowledged. This website is offered for
noncommercial, educational and entertainment purposes only.
Copyright © 1999 -