The importance of films in the cultural and social life of both Britain and the United States has long been recognized. Although radio survived in Britain more or less intact, by 1960 it too had taken second place to television as the prime domestic medium. This book begins by analysing the very different relationships between cinema and radio that emerged in Britain and the United States. It moves on to examine the ways in which cinema adapted radio programmes in the fields of comedy and detective fiction and then how radio dramatized films. When radio first took off in the United States in the late 1920s, it was regarded by the film industry as a rival, something to keep people at home and away from the cinema. But during the 1930s, Hollywood began to appreciate the value of radio in publicizing and promoting its films. The British broadcasting service was set up in 1922 with a monopoly and finance from a licence fee following negotiations between the Post Office, which controlled the air waves, and the radio industry, which manufactured the equipment. Radio in wartime was informational and inspirational. It provided news, entertainment, and propaganda. The book concludes with a look in detail at the ways in which the two media have dealt with three popular fictional characters, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes.
in the punning – he scripted the wartimeradio series ITMA
– yet rather than being merely a display of verbal dexterity, this
speech illustrates a distinctively working-class approach to making ends
meet which is sophisticated in its balancing of debits and credits.
Something similar is encountered in working-class autobiographies of life
earlier in the century. 23
Allied to the working
Contemporary ‘British’ cinema and the nation’s monarchs
one such example, inserting the King back in his rightful place at the
heart of the family and of the nation; another is the appearance of the
royal family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace at the end of The
King’s Speech , after George VI has managed to contain his stammer
for his first wartimeradio speech; another is the long-awaited public
walkabout by Elizabeth II to see the flowers left
’, English Historical
Review 79 (April 1964).
65 Picture Post (4 January 1941).
66 Sian Nicholas, ‘“Sly demagogues” and wartimeradio: J. B. Priestley and the
BBC’, Twentieth Century British History 6:3 (1995), on which the following
summary is based.
67 See, for example, J. B. Priestley, ‘Beware this Tory grip on entertainment’,
Daily Herald (25 November 1944), p. 2.
68 Priestley, Margin, pp. 221–2.
69 Addison, Road, pp. 158, 189.
70 Ibid., pp. 158–9.
71 Brome, Priestley, pp. 255–61.
72 Priestley, Out of the People; Cook, Priestley, p. 192.
73 Priestley, Out of the People