Anniversary of the first OU programme on Radio 3

The first OU programme on Radio 3 was Arts Foundation Course 1, broadcast on 11 January 1971 between 7 and 7.30pm.  Open House, 7th January, 1971, reported that the initial broadcast was repeated on Radio 4 on 17th January. Professor Asa Briggs, then the vice-chancellor of Sussex University, told the story of how the Humanities had changed over the years and Professor Ferguson examined the OU’s interdisciplinary approach. Derek Hart raised some questions. Programme 2 (January 18th, repeated January 24) was about the culture of Western Nigeria. The work of Yoruba playwright Wole Soyinka was examined and some dramatised excepts were broadcast. Although Peter Laslett argued that ‘The Third Programme was not intended for education at all. There was a strong feeling against education in the original Third’, the Talks producer, Prudence Smith said that she saw

a link between the Third and the Open University. Two of us from the original Third Programme, Helen Rapp and myself were appointed to train the new intake of producers ─ young graduates, straight from university ─ for the Open University. We’d both spent most of our BBC careers in the Third and we naturally brought it to bear on it the experiences gathered there. Also those Third Programme meetings, where ideas were discussed, were simulated at the Open University by the way in which the academics and broadcasters sat at the same table ─ it wasn’t the academics telling the broadcasters what to do. The broadcasters themselves often moulded what was in the academic mind, That was the Third Programme tradition. Humphrey Carpenter with research by Jennifer Doctor, The envy of the world. Fifty years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3. 1946-1996,Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1996, p.264. In interviews with Smith and with Laslett recorded in 1995.

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