Winston Churchill announced the end of the War in Europe with a speech broadcast from Downing St on 8 May 1945. He said "we may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, but let us not forget for a moment the toils and efforts that lie ahead". King George VI also gave a speech, broadcast from bomb scarred Buckingham Palace, in which he thanked the nation. Both speakers reminded listeners that Japan was as yet undefeated.
Anticipation was high after radio programmes were interrupted the previous evening with the announcement that the 8th would be Victory in Europe Day and that Churchill would speak at 3pm. Churchill's speech was preceded by a fanfare, and afterwards the BBC switched to a planned sequence of celebratory programmes. National celebrations were well under way as Broadcasting House was floodlit for the first time since 1937, and bedecked with the flags of the Allies.
The BBC's Listener Research Department recorded the best ever programme satisfaction figures, but conceded that these were all but inevitable due to the nature of the events being covered. The BBC survived the war, and established its reputation internationally with the authority of its news programmes.
World War 2 and the BBC
The BBC at War
The BBC reinvented itself during World War 2 and public perception of the institution changed dramatically. Explore its expansion into a global media network, the changing nature of its programming, and the way that war re-defined its relationship with both government and audiences.
Chamberlain returns from Munich - 30 September 1938
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returns with a paper signed by Adolf Hitler.
BBC Monitoring founded - 26 August 1939
As part of the intelligence war effort, BBC Monitoring gathered and interpreted international news from across the World.
Close down of Television service for the duration of the War - 1 September 1939
Mickey Mouse is the last star seen on BBC Television for six years as the TV service is shut down for the duration of WW2.
Chamberlain announces Britain is at war with Germany - 3 September 1939
"I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany."
Winston Churchill's first wartime broadcast - 1 October 1939
Churchill delivers the first of many broadcasts which define the collective memory of WW2.
De Gaulle's first broadcast to France - 18 June 1940
General Charles de Gaulle broadcast to German occupied France, and rallied the French Resistance to him in London.
The Battle of Britain - Summer 1940
The BBC reports on the battle taking place in the skies
Bombing of Broadcasting House - 15 October 1940
A bomb lands on the BBC's headquarters, killing 4 men and 3 women.
The Queen’s Hall destroyed by bombing - 10 May 1941
The Proms loses its home, but rises from the ashes at the Albert Hall.
London Calling Europe began - 6 July 1941
London Calling Europe was one of many programmes broadcast by the BBC to occupied Europe.
D-Day broadcasts - 6 June 1944
John Snagge announces that "D-Day has come..." as the Allies land on the beaches in Normandy.
VE Day broadcasts - 8 May 1945
Winston Churchill announced the end of the War in Europe with a speech broadcast from Downing St, but the war in the Far East continues.
1 May 1986
Top of the Form
1 May 1948
First VHF transmitter opens at Wrotham
2 May 1955
Horizon first transmitted
2 May 1964
The Ascent of Man first broadcast
5 May 1973
VE Day broadcasts
8 May 1945
First gardening programme
9 May 1931
The Queen’s Hall destroyed by bombing
10 May 1941
First episode of Bucknell's House
14 May 1962
Broadcasting House opens
15 May 1932
Strictly Come Dancing
15 May 2004
The Debussy film debuts
18 May 1965
Beatrice Harrison, cello and nightingale duet
19 May 1924
Thomas Woodrooffe at the Coronation Fleet Review
20 May 1937
Opening of Lime Grove Studios
21 May 1950
Eurovision first broadcast
24 May 1956
26 May 1973
The Goon Show
28 May 1951
The Great War
30 May 1964
31 May 1988