The difficulties of using television to support adult learning was a subject often considered at the OU. In 1976 Arthur Marwick (Professor of History at the OU) explained that his aim was ‘to leave each piece of film to speak for itself without being overlaid by an intrusive commentary’ (Arthur Marwick, ‘History at the Open University’, Oxford Review of Education, 2, 2, 1976, pp. 129-137). In spite of this Marwick’s own soft Scots burr intruded in that it was a
a friendly and melifluous commentary voice. OU students often remarked to me how accessible they found the television programmes and the audio cassettes he narrated, even if they did not always agree with his interpretations (James Chapman, Arthur Marwick(1936–2006): an appreciation, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 27, No. 2, June 2007, pp. 237–244 (p240)).
In 1995, Paddy Maguire saw things differently. Writing in the Journal of Design History, 8, 2, p. 155, made public his irritation about ‘self-conscious didacticism, tinged with aspiring populism customarily adopted by Open University or schools programmes’ producers, wherein an adoption of the familiar second person is presumed to serve as an aid to historical imagination’.