100 Voices that made the BBC

The BBC pioneered the broadcasting of General Elections, first on radio and then on television. Despite resistance from some quarters, how did the BBC bring the mysterious world of Parliament and politicians into homes across the nation, and what does the future hold?

In this series of articles, the BBC Connected Histories project use interviews from the BBC Oral History Project to examine first hand testimony from the radio and television pioneers who brought the excitement of election night to our screens and developed the interview and presentation styles that we are all familiar with today. 

  • Invention: 1922-1950

    Tuning into the General Election results has become a national democratic tradition, but one that was very much a 20th century invention.

  • Invention: 1951-1959

    The popularisation of television makes its mark on election night.

  • Invention: 1960-2015

    How politicians realised their television image could make or break their campaigns.

  • Party Political Broadcasts

    First heard on radio in 1924, how have these broadcasts evolved and influenced the public's perception of politicians?

  • The Interview

    How early obsequiousness gave way to hard-hitting face offs

  • Behind the scenes

    The potential pitfalls of a UK-wide outside broadcast wasn't lost on BBC election producers. How did they pull it off?

  • Broadcasting Parliament

    As the TV studio became the crucible of national debate, where did this leave Parliament?

  • What did we think of it all?

    The BBC pioneered the live broadcasting of election nights - but what did the public watching and listening at home think?

  • Election Timeline videos: 1950-2017

    See how election night evolved over the years in our timeline of every post war TV election broadcast.

  • Picture gallery

    Take a peek behind the scenes of past election broadcasts with historic photos from the BBC Photographic Library.

  • The Radio Times and the election

    See the Radio Times covers and election features and listings for every election, 1923 - 2010

  • 70 years of Election Broadcasting

    Sue Inglish, Former Head of BBC Political Programmes looks back over the oral history collection

  • Share your memories

    Do you remember the excitement of election night? Were you featured on any election broadcasts? Share your memories with the 100 Voices project.

  • Background to the project

    About the BBC Oral History and '100 Voices that made the BBC' projects

About the material on 100 Voices that Made the BBC – Elections

A collaboration with the University of Sussex, commentary texts by Dr. Alban Webb and Professor David Hendy from the University of Sussex (School of Media, Film & Music) and the BBC.

The website contains excerpts and programmes from BBC services at various moments in time. The material should be viewed in this context and with the understanding that it reflects the attitudes and standards of its time - not those of today.

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