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Class Year

2013

Abstract

There are few institutions in British history that have had such a massive role in shaping the daily lives of British citizens as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Although the BBC is only about eighty years old, an infant compared to an institution like the British monarchy, its contributions to national identity are practically unparalleled in the twentieth century. The scope of the Corporation in terms of its influence on British life is hard to imagine in a United States with multiple competing and politically-aimed networks. Robin Aitkin, a former BBC reporter and journalist says, “For many it is an ever-present companion: from breakfast-time to bedtime, from childhood through to old age, there it is telling us about ourselves and the wider world, amusing and entertaining us.” Aitkin captures the dual nature of the BBC in that it both reflects the conditions and needs of the time while also exercising influence over the future of British society. The BBC’s ability to educate, inform, and entertain from its beginnings in 1922 to the end of the Second World War in 1945 is of special interest because these pivotal years helped redefine what it means to be British in modern society. [excerpt]

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