By Kate Murphy
Behind the Wireless tells the tale of ladies on the BBC within the Twenties and 30s. Broadcasting used to be fresh in Britain and the BBC constructed with no a number of the overt discriminatory practices normal on the time. ladies have been hired in any respect degrees, other than the very best, for example as secretaries, documentary makers, ads representatives, and librarians. 3 girls held Director point posts, Hilda Matheson (Director of Talks), Mary Somerville (Director of faculty Broadcasting), and Isa Benzie (Foreign Director). girls additionally produced the programmes geared toward woman listeners and taken girls broadcasters to the microphone. there has been an ethos of equality and the opportunity to upward push throughout the ranks from debts clerk to accompanist. yet lurking at the back of the façade of modernity have been hidden inequalities in recruitment, pay, and merchandising and in 1932 a wedding bar used to be brought. Kate Murphy examines how and why the interwar BBC created new possibilities for ladies.
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Extra info for Behind the Wireless: A History of Early Women at the BBC
The General Strike of May 1926 was possibly the last time that women and men came together for a single cause. 29 There was unquestionably a high turnover of senior male staff. The three original employees who had been recruited alongside Reith—Burrows, Lewis and Anderson—had all moved on by the mid-1920s, as had many others, particularly those who had fallen out with Reith. Mobility was far more limited for women and competitiveness was far less, and many of those who arrived at Savoy Hill would stay with the BBC for their entire career.
So how had this ‘individualistic’ organisation begun? 272. This is very apparent from BBC Staff Lists, which were introduced in 1934. 56–7. 18 BBC/WAC:R1/66/2: Director General Reports, Joint Memorandum by Control Board, 27 May 1930. 27. Cecil Lewis was appointed at the same time as John Reith, as Assistant Director of Programmes. 20 This meant that speakers needed to be booked, musicians rehearsed, scripts typed, contracts organised, wages paid and technical hurdles overcome. 22 Lilian Taylor, who opened this chapter, captured the informality of the early BBC which she described as ‘growing like a young giant’.
Reith believed in central control and in early 1924, with employee numbers now nearing 200, he established his Control Board, the inner-circle of his most trusted colleagues. 47 One aspect remained constant; it was always men only. 48 In 1926, the BBC Control Board was formalised with five Assistant Controllers working alongside Reith and Carpendale. In 1933, with the BBC now employing more than 1,500 staff, a major structural change was introduced with the bifurcation of the Corporation into Production and Administration with two Controllers and eight heads of large departments making up the Control Board.
Behind the Wireless: A History of Early Women at the BBC by Kate Murphy