The Lincoln School of Film and Media research seminar this Wednesday is a paper to be given by Dr. Jamie Medhurst, Reader in Media History from the University of Aberystwyth. The paper is entitled: Reith, Television and the BBC’s Cultural Mission in the Interwar Years

The most commonly-accepted view in most television histories is that John Reith detested television, would have nothing to do with the medium, viewed those involved with establishing and running the BBC’s television service with contempt and refused to watch television programmes. The BBC’s own website perpetuates this idea:

He was less interested in the development of television. Anthony Kamm, the biographer of television’s inventor, John Logie Baird, says that Reith usually managed to be on holiday when significant events in television took place … One of his leaving gifts when he left the BBC in 1938 was a television set. He said he would never look at it.[1]

[1] Accessed 7 July 2016.

However, I argue that Reith’s complex relationship with television – as a medium (or cultural form) and a technology – needs to be viewed in a more nuanced way. This paper, based primarily on archival research, will revisit the relationship and will attempt to offer an alternative view on Reith and television taking into consideration Reith’s background, beliefs and views on technological developments. It will also offer a fresh insight into the role played by the infant medium in the BBC’s cultural mission in the interwar period.

Dr Jamie Medhurst is Reader in Media and Communication in the Institute of Arts and Humanities at Aberystwyth University. He has published widely on broadcasting history including A History of Independent Television in Wales (2010) and Broadcasting in the UK and US in the 1950s: historical perspectives (2016) which he co-edited with Siân Nicholas and Tom O’Malley. He is currently writing a book on The Early Years of Television and the BBC (which will be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2017) and is PI on a Leverhulme Trust Research Project on ‘Television and Society in Wales in the 1970s’

Venue: MC3107 in the MHT building
Doors open at 1pm for a 1.15pm start.

  • The paper will be approx.. 40-50 mins in length with a Q & A session
  • The event concludes by 3pm
  • Tea, coffee and cakes will be served