Live Comedy

Paul Kerensa - The First Broadcast: The Battle For The Beeb In 1922

Paul Kerensa
Play
  • 2nd Feb 2022 - 14th Nov 2022

It's the centenary year of the BBC (born November 14th 1922), but also of pre-BBC regular broadcasting (February 14th 1922). But what do we know of the people who started it?

In this new comic play The First Broadcast, Paul plays two genuine radio pioneers: Arthur
Burrows and Peter Eckersley. 100 years ago they were opposing voices in The Marconi Company,
with very different ideas of what radio was: Burrows the prophetic dreamer eager to inform and
educate... while rebellious Eckersley just wanted to entertain. But who will give the first broadcast?

Both could claim it: Eckersley's team gave Britain's first regular broadcast on February 14th 1922
from a muddy Essex field. Burrows gave the first BBC broadcast exactly nine months later in a
converted London cinema. Between them there was jealousy, mockery via on-air impersonations -
but somehow these rivals created demand for radio sets. Burrows became Director of Programmes
- the 2nd BBC employee! - while Eckersley became Chief (and for a while only) Engineer.

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