Radio Newsreel

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Radio Newsreel was a news programme produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation between 1940 and 1988. The programme, which eventually had four 15-minute international editions as well as a nightly 30-minute domestic version (The News and Radio Newsreel), broadcast in the BBC Light Programme, was composed of taped or recorded dispatches from correspondents in the field, live and recorded actuality and such other features, borrowed from the format of the film newsreel, as interviews with people currently in the news.[1][Note 1]

An example of the programme's early content is the coverage of Captain George Robinson's "Adventure in a lifeboat adrift in the Atlantic", broadcast on 19 August 1942.[2]

The programme was broadcast in the United Kingdom at 19.00 each evening; transmission to North America was scheduled for 3.30 GMT, which was 10:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time and 7:30 P.M. Pacific Standard Time.

Radio Newsreel was created by Norman Collins, who had worked as the head of the BBC General Forces Programme and the BBC Light Programme.[3] It was first broadcast as part of the Overseas Service of the BBC, but was transferred to the Light Programme in November 1947.[4] In 1953, the programme had a domestic audience of over 4 million listeners.[5] On 3 April 1970, it was broadcast in the UK for the last time, but it continued to be broadcast on the BBC World Service for a further 18 years.

Outside the United Kingdom, the programme was also carried weekly on the Mutual Broadcasting System in the United States during World War II[6] and as part of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio programming in the 1970s. Until 1987, American Public Radio also carried the programme in the United States.[7]

The programme's introductory title music was "Imperial Echoes" by Arnold Safroni.[8]


  1. ^ For a date range such as 1940 - 1988, it can be misleading to use "tape" as a synonym for "record". In this case, a reader might assume that the BBC had what are now widely recognized as "tape recorders" in 1940. The only such recorders commercially available at that time were made by AEG (Germany) and used extensively by the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft. They were not classified technology, but were essentially unknown in other countries until after Germany's surrender in May, 1945. Prior to the adoption of audio "tape recording", broadcasters in various countries recorded on film (optical and engraved), disks, and magnetic wire and steel 'band' or 'ribbon' . Some could have even used wax cylinder systems, such as then out of date home recording phonographs and their derivative office recording systems such as the Ediphone. See also: Philips-Miller, Magnetophon, Telegraphone, electrical transcription, E.R.P.I., Dead Media Project, et al.


  1. ^ Conboy, John. Journalism: A Critical History. 2004, Sage Publications Inc. ISBN 0-7619-4100-2. Page 195
  2. ^ Lane, Tony. The Merchant Seamen's War. 1990, St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-7190-2397-1. Page 64.
  3. ^ Jacobs, Jason. The Intimate Screen: Early British Television Drama. 2000, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-874233-9. Page 82
  4. ^ Briggs, Asa. The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom. 1995, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-215964-X. Page 62
  5. ^ Simon, Earnest Dawn. The B. B. C. from Within. 1953, V. Gollancz. Page 81
  6. ^ Cull, Nicholas John. Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign Against American "neutrality". 1995, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-511150-8. Page 86
  7. ^ Wallis, Roger, and Stanley J. Baran. The Known World of Broadcast News: International News and the Electronic Media. 1990, Routledge. ISBN 0-415-03604-6. Page 41
  8. ^ Weedon, Robert. Audio Identities: Radio news themes,, 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010