London Letter – BBC World Service – December 1, 1948 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
One of the upshots from technological advances due to World War 2 was this new age of communication. It was coming very close to making the seemingly impossible only ten years earlier, commonplace by 1948.
Among them was broadcasting. One of the things the war was unique in doing was bringing the world considerably closer together by way of Radio. In the early days of the War, when it was still a European conflict, America was the recipient of endless hours of speeches, news and propaganda from all the warring capitals of Europe.
When the war ended, radio eased away from being the bringer of conflict to being the Imparter of knowledge. Europe was a lot closer to America than it was in 1918 and, for the most part, we were curious.
Among the many and varied programs the BBC beamed to the U.S. by way of the World Service, as well as The Transcription Service, were these informational programs, talking about life in Britain after the war – the history and background of people, places and events – a lot of human interest.
This program, from a series entitled London Letter, was hosted by British Author and commentator John Connell. His programs were similar in many ways to fellow BBC presenter Alistair Cooke in that an event or a commonplace set of circumstances were given a history and background.
This particular episode deals with the infamous Fog that plagued London in 1948 and was plaguing London since the middle-ages. A precursor to what we call Smog today, The Fog was a choking, grimy blanket of mist that hung over everything and obscured the visual ability to drive, or even take public transportation, aside from the Underground. It caused no end to respiratory problems and was a serious health issue for a long time.
Whether these shows were popular with American audiences isn’t really known. That they did much to promote British life after the War may have been factors in helping establish support of the Marshall Plan for European reconstruction, since it was hard to get around talking about the destruction of cities while discussing how hard it was to get around them in Fog.
The World Service is alive and well in 2021 and still putting out hundreds of hours of programming covering a vast area of subjects today, doing it mostly via streaming – technological advances continue.
To get an idea what it sounded like in 1948, here is London Letter as it was beamed to America on December 1, 1948.
As you know, we’ve suspended indefinitely our ads in order to make Past Daily a better experience for you without all the distractions and pop-ups. Because of that, we’re relying more on your support through Patreon to keep us up and running every day. For as little as $5.00 a month you can make a huge difference as well as be able to download all of our posts for free (news, history, music). You’ll see a banner just below. Click on that and become a subscriber – it’s easy, painless and does a world of good.