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: 1922-1950Tuning into the General Election results has become a national democratic tradition, but one that was very much a 20th century invention.
  • Invention: 1951-1959The popularisation of television makes its mark on election night.
  • Invention: 1960-2015How politicians realised their television image could make or break their campaigns.
  • Party Political BroadcastsFirst heard on radio in 1924, how have these broadcasts evolved and influenced the public's perception of politicians?
  • The InterviewHow early obsequiousness gave way to hard-hitting face offs
  • Behind the scenesThe potential pitfalls of a UK-wide outside broadcast wasn't lost on BBC election producers. How did they pull it off?
  • Broadcasting ParliamentAs 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: 1950-2017See how election night evolved over the years in our timeline of every post war TV election broadcast.
  • Who was Grace Wyndeham Goldie?Quixotic and sharp-witted, Grace Wyndham Goldie pioneered revolutionary TV news formats which are still with us today.
  • Man and MachineExpert election analysis, humans V computers – the race begins.
  • Election TimeSmethick : The racist election.
  • The Radio Times and the electionFeatures, listings and analysis - UK elections covered in the Radio Times since 1922.
  • 70 years of Election BroadcastingSue Inglish, Former Head of BBC Political Programmes looks back over the oral history collection
  • Picture galleryTake a peek behind the scenes of past election broadcasts with historic photos from the BBC Photographic Library.
  • Share your memoriesDo 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 projectFrank Gillard founder of the original BBC Oral History Collection explores its beginnings, and Professor David Hendy of the University of Sussex explains how it is used in the '100 Voices that made the BBC' project.

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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