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Auntie goes to war again: The BBC External Services, the Foreign Office and the early Cold War

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  • Political Science


The period between the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the 1950s represents a forging experience for the External Services of the BBC, as they initially defined themselves in an unfamiliar peacetime context before rapidly coming to terms with a cold war in which they again became a principal mediator between Britain and estranged or strategically important communities overseas - either behind the Iron Curtain or in regions such as the Middle East. The Cabinet decision on publicity policy in January 1948 was a pivot around which the tenor of the voice of Britain was attuned to these prevailing geopolitical considerations. Its working out in the BBC was, however, part of a continuing understanding of the purpose of broadcasting overseas that once it was set in its cold war mode, as it was in this period, defined policy and output for years to come.

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