Written by Books

The Envy of the World

This book is subtitled, Fifty years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3.
I picked it up cheaply in one of those Soho remaindered bookshops a few weeks ago on the recommendation (well mention really) of a friend. I’ve got to say that it’s a fascinating read about one the cultural aspects of which Britain can be really proud. Radio 3 has always been pretty elitist, and regularly there have been moves to dumb it down (in today’s parlance).
I suppose as an employee of Virgin Radio, it’s interesting to learn it’s history since we now occupy the medium wave frequencies that used to belong to Radio 3. I particularly liked the story about the early stereo broadcasts that took place between Radio 3 and BBC Television (as it was then, since there was only one channel). Radio 3 broadcast one channel, and BBC TV the other to give a stereo image to the listener who’d arranged their radio and TV alongside one another.
There have been some wonderful people down the years working for the station, and some talents that have been brought to bear, grew up with the Third Programme. Simply speaking, it’d never happen in a commercial environment. And for that we can be proud about the BBC.