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Drawing on the unpublished private papers and fictional writing of the pioneering BBC producer Lance Sieveking (1896–1972), this article argues that a sustained focus on the biographical background of media professionals can broaden the scope of broadcasting history while offering a necessary narrative coherence. In the case of Sieveking, the article provides new detail on his family background, his wartime experience, and the part he played in the broader cultural networks of interwar Britain, in order to argue that many of the programmes he and his contemporaries made in the 1920s and 1930s should be understood as highly personal responses to the artistic and political world trends of the period. Further, in arguing for the merits of biography, the article draws on recent scholarship in ‘the history of emotions’ to suggest that a focus on the private life histories of media professionals can also advance our understanding of bodies such as the BBC as complex ‘emotional communities’ rather than as ‘total’ institutions.
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Keywords: 1920s; 1930s; BBC; Lance Sieveking; biography; emotions; modernism; radio; war

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2012

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