BBC science broadcasts

The OU made thousands of broadcasts with the BBC and between the two bodies there was a flow of information about how best to communicate and support learning. However, educational broadcasting predates the OU by several decades. It was these early broadcasts which provided many of the blocks onto which later broadcasts were built. Sometimes the BBC produced programmes whichwere criticised. ‘Outlook’ went out on the television in the 1960s. It offended the clear, and narrow, view of education held by reviewer J D S Haworth, writing in The Listener (17th Feb 1966, p. 255) it ooffered ‘instructional essays [which] cannot be thought of as wholly educational in purpose because they are not rendered through whatever  techniques as lessons’.  He went on ‘if this is strictly educational television it does damage to the vague idealism conjured up by the phrase ‘University of the Air’ whose plans we are awaiting with awe and cynicism’.

Looking further back is Allan Jones. An exploration of the role of one of the BBC’s first science producers, Mary Adams 1898–1984, who was active in BBC radio from 1930-36, has recently been written by Allan Jones, of the OU. Mary went on to work at Alexrandra Palace as the first woman appointed as a television producer. Allan’s paper, Mary Adams and the producer’s role in early BBC science broadcasts, should soon appear in the journal Public Understanding of Science, a peer reviewed, quarterly international journal covering all aspects of the inter-relationships between science (including technology and medicine) and the public. For an example of his previous work on Adams see here.

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