Archive for the ‘BBC’ Category

Mocked from Day 1?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

On 10th September 1963, the day after Wilson announced his plans for a university of the air, at the Labour Party conference (as part of his ‘white heat of technology’ speech) the Daily Mail’s Emmwood (John Musgrave-Wood) poked fun by reference to popular programmes of the period, including Coronation Street.

The Daily Mirror’s Stanley Franklin compared (image not featured here) the plan to the ‘hot air’ talked by the Tories, indicating if not the paper’s support for the OU then at least its continual deriding of the Conservatives. Vicky (Victor Weisz) in the Evening Standard focused on another concern of the period, violence on TV. The cartoons can be found in The British Cartoon Archive is located in Canterbury at the University of Kent’s Templeman Library and online here.

Calls for papers

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

This from Bournemouth:  

Thursday May 3rd 2012 ‘Addressing the Audience: European Historical Perspectives’,  The Centre for Broadcasting History, Bournemouth University  

Broadcasting History and Media History more generally have tended to focus on institutions and production rather than the audience. There are obviously methodological challenges in studying audiences of the past but there is nothing to stop a consideration of how audiences were imagined and spoken to, and that will be our main theme. This informal one day gathering brings together British and European scholars to exchange ideas and research. It also reflects the ‘European turn’ in media history which has been a feature of recent research projects and publications. We have invited media historians from the universities of Utrecht, Lund, Hamburg, Maastricht and Roskilde to share research and ideas.  We invite papers on the history of audience address (British or European) however that is interpreted. The following key note speakers are confirmed; Patrik Lundell, University of Lund & Kate Lacey, Susex University. Contributions are welcome from academics and researchers interested in the history of broadcasting (radio and television but other media historians are welcome to join us) as well as doctoral students, archivists and curators.  

ABSTRACTS: Please send abstracts of less than 250 words before 2nd April to<> (Kathryn McDonald)  

This from Edge Hill 

The Centre for Learner Identity Studies 4th Annual Conference, themed around ‘Identity, State, Education’ is to take place at Edge Hill University on July 11th-13th 2012. The call closes on the 28th February. See  

We are hoping that the conference will provide opportunities for a wide range of issues to be discussed, ranging from curriculum and pedagogy to policies and structures. We welcome contributions from researchers at all stages of their careers and the call is for paper, symposia and roundtable presentation abstracts. The conference aims to explore the changing role of the state in the provision of mass education from national and international perspectives and to consider the impacts on structures of educational provision, delivery and governance of a range of pressures, including, for example, marketization, neo-liberalism and globalisation.  

This from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa: 

Since its inception in 1998, the Higher Education Close Up (HECU) Conference has distinguished itself among conferences with a focus on higher education for its interest in research methodology, in particular qualitative approaches which afford fine-grained analysis of higher education practices. Over the five conferences themes have included: assessment, academic literacies, professional development, management and change, quality assurance and the student experience. Consistent with this focus, HECU 6 is an opportunity to reflect upon higher education research from a theoretical and methodological perspective.  

Higher Education Close Up 6 Conference, 11 – 13 July 2012. The theme of the HECU6 conference is ‘Challenging Dualisms in Higher Education Research and Practice’.  Research and practice in higher education abounds with dualisms, in the HECU 4 conference, for example, Paul Ashwin identified problems associated with the dualism of structure and agency, other such dualisms include quantitative/qualitative, essentialist/non-essentialist, macro/micro, academic/vocational.  At this conference four dualisms are considered in the Thinkpieces of the keynote speakers: 



Essentialism/Social Constructionism 


Conference participants are invited to submit abstract that speak to these dualisms in the Thinkpieces. 

This from Saint Andrews:  

Function, form and funding: What are universities for – and who should pay for them?.  An international conference hosted by the University of St Andrews, UK 29 – 31 August 2012  

To mark the 600th anniversary of the foundation of St Andrews University, the School of History and the Institute of Scottish Historical Research are joining with the International Commission for the History of Universities to host an international conference on the theme of ‘Function, form and funding: What are universities for – and who should pay for them?’  

The conference theme is intended to allow for an exploration of both the historic and contemporary function of university education and the extent to which its academic purposes have been, and still are, driven by broader economic, social and political issues.   


Radio Fun

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Within a few years of OU broadcasts starting the BBC broadcast two half-hour sketch shows entitled ‘Half-Open University’. Written by Andrew Marshall, David Renwick and John Mason these parodied Open University programmes. The first one paid homage to an OU ‘Environmental Science’ course. The cast consisted of Timothy Davies, Chris Emmett, Christine Ozanne and Nigel Rees. The writers were Andrew Marshall, John Mason and David Renwick, and the producer was Simon Brett. It was broadcast on Radio 3 during a Bank Holiday weekend on 25 August 1975. Characters included Dr Fiona Parody and Professor Jim Einstein. You can hear part of it here. The second broadcast which mocked the presentation of history, was broadcast on 1 December 1976.  

Was this affectionate mockery one of the first signs that the OU was on its way to becoming a national treasure? If you have other examples of the OU as the butt of humour, do let us know.    

Were you pally down at the Ally?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

OU television programmes were made at Alexandra Palace, North London, between 1971 and 1981 and then were made at a brand new production centre built at Walton Hall. Although Ally Pally was where the first public television transmissions were made, by the time the OU came along it had only used for news broadcasts for many years and once BBC TV News moved to the TV Centre in 1969 it faced closure. The OU helped preserve its use but, from 1977, when worked started on the new studios in Milton Keynes, the relationship was destined to end. (more…)

200th posting – Yesterday’s world

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
There is an opportunity to hear Marsha and Devin Orgeron (co-editors, ‘Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States’) talk about educational films in the USA at UCL on 7th March. Details to follow. 
There is also work on UK educational films. (more…)

Happy birthday, University of Sussex

Friday, November 4th, 2011
Fred Gray (a speaker on the 29th November forum) has edited a new book, ‘Making the future. A history of the University of Sussex’. This beautifully-illustrated account of the first fifty years of the university (1961-2011) consists of chapters by almost 70 different authors. Here are the voices, and the varied and well-presented images, of former and current staff and students. Their narratives are framed by Fred Gray’s introductions his overview and his account of continuing education (the field in which he became a professor).  

The theme of the liberalism of the sixties and seventies runs through the book as does the engagement with the distinctive and original curriculum. There are some parallels to be made with the OU, the influence of Asa Briggs on both places being one of them and the ‘early leavers’ scheme is another. One might also compare it to the University of Twente (founded 1961 as the first campus university in the Netherlands it insisted that engineers study social sciences) and it also influenced Kent, Lancaster, UEA, Stirling, Essex, York and Warwick.  (more…)

Happy 75th birthday BBC

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

The History of the OU project would like to wish the BBC a happy 75th birthday – for over half its life, and for the entirety of the OU’s existence, there has been a strong partnership between the two organisations which continues to this day.

For the first thirty-five years, course broadcasts were made on TV and radio. The first programme was broadcast in January 1971, a clip of which is available on the History of the OU website. Latterly there have been co-productions, right up to the present day with the new Symphony co-production between the BBC and the OU. For each of the four episodes, OpenLearn will feature an article from a member of the OU’s music department, extending the scope of the series. (more…)

30 years of the OU on the TV

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Arguing that ‘Three decades of Open University TV broadcasts offer a kind of family album, providing fascinating glimpses of the university’s growth and development as it learned the craft of distance teaching in full public view’ Andy Northedge has produced an analysis of a selection of the OU course materials which were broadcast on the BBC. See Three decades of Open University broadcasts: a review.

30 years since OUPC opened

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The new Open University Production Centre, September 1981

30 years ago today saw the completion of the lengthy construction and fitting out of the BBC/OU Production Centre and the transfer of BBC operations from Alexandra Palace to the Walton Hall campus.

Full production of radio and television programmes for the University commenced in the Perry building from 28 September 1981. The building was officially opened by Prince Charles the following year.

The OUPC studio operation was closed in 1991 after significant restructuring.


Drama from The Open University

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Television programmes featuring versions of these plays were made for A307 in the BBC’s Studio A at Alexandra Palace in 1977.

1. Sophocles, Oedipus the King

2. Shakespeare, Macbeth

3. The York Crucifixion and The Brome Abraham and Isaac

4. Carlo Goldoni, The Venetian Twins

5. William Congreve, The Way of the World

6. Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi

7. Georg Büchner, Woyzeck

8. Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt

9. Henrik Ibsen, The Wild Duck

10. Anton Chekhov, Three Sisters

11. August Stindberg, The Ghost Sonata

12. Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author

13. Bertolt Brecht, The Exception and the Rule

14. Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

15. Jean Genet, The Balcony

16. Athol Fugard, Sizwe Bansi is Dead

Although it was involved in the production process the BBC refused to screen Jean Genet’s play, Le Balcon (The Balcony) which was set in a brothel. The 1971 Agreement between the OU and the BBC gave the latter the right to ‘refuse to transmit any programme or part of a programme which in the opinion of the Corporation contains anything defamatory or likely to bring the Corporation into disrepute’ (Agreement 16 December 1971, Broadcasting File 2, OU Archives, Clause 4, p. 3. Copy in Broadcasting File 2, OU Archives). Despite the right to broadcast, or not, resting with the BBC, the Corporation was rebuked by the OU’s Chancellor at the Alexandra Palace degree ceremony (See Open House, 24 May 1977, Open House, 5 July 1977).  For more about the drama made for A307 see Brian Stone and Pat Scorer, Sophocles to Fugard, BBC, London 1977. Brian Stone (1919-95) was the Course Team Chair of A307 and one of the first people to be appointed to the OU. A former actor and director he was made a Reader in English Literature in 1969. Pat Scorer was an OU collague who married Stone in 1985.