Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
31 October 2005

I just finished watching a documentary about the rise and fall of the BBC’s Third Programme, an ambitious attempt to make an unashamedly ‘high culture’ music and speech programme on the radio after WWII. The documentary interestingly put it into a wider cultural context – it was part of a general feeling among politicians and cultural elites at the time that during and after the war the public needed access to the opportunity to ‘improve itself’ through appreciation and consumption of the best of what the arts could offer.

It’s a rather outmoded idea now but I can’t help admiring the idealism of those times. The programme argues that the Third Programme was killed off by both hostility towards elitism in the 50s and the general availability of more and more competing cultural products. This sounds to me reminiscent of what happened to high-minded dissident authors in Eastern Europe when their art was no longer suppressed and they found, ironically, their market and popular support collapsed.

The wheel seems to have come full circle here in the UK with the launch of BBC 4, a digital TV station with some of the same “no compromise” ethos. It has faced similar criticism because of its high budget per viewer but it has been generally agreed that in a massively multichannel world there is once again room for an island of highbrow-ness to exist.

P.S. I seem to be getting the Wikipedia habit – I found a halfway useful Wikipedia entry on the Third Programme (linked above) and couldn’t resist spending a half hour or so correcting it and adding the details I could…

P.P.S. In my search for web stuff relating to the Third Programme (there was disappointingly little) I came across this Third Programme magazine – an online site about broadcasting put out by the rather interesting Transdiffusion Broadcasting System, “a not-for-profit historical society dedicated to documenting and preserving broadcasting history” (which alas doesn’t seem to have an article dedicated to the Third Programme itself).

1 Comment »

  1. […] Ad: uSwitch now offers credit card and personal loan comparisons too. I try to keep my short blogroll of people I actually read fairly diverse, so it’s unprecedented for two of them – Small Values of Cool and blog.org – to hit on the same headline. And what a headline: ‘Nuclear now’. Both are following up on a Wired article of that name and are inclined to agree that nuclear power is the only real solution to the world’s energy needs. I was prompted to write about nuclear power’s inevitable comeback last July, when Tony Blair started to get serious about climate change (and mentioned US pro-nuclear lobbing). Nuclear energy’s killer selling point is that it’s an off-the-shelf solution, while nothing else is proven or unobtrusive enough: wind farms always provoke protests like this one with David Bellamy. […]

    Pingback by Stephen Newton » Blog Archive » uSwitch to renewable green electricity… or go nuclear — 2 February 2007 @ 5:06 pm

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