BBC World Service

Overseas Broadcasting, 1932–2018

  • Gordon Johnston
  • Emma Robertson

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Gordon Johnston, Emma Robertson
    Pages 1-22
  3. Gordon Johnston, Emma Robertson
    Pages 23-57
  4. Gordon Johnston, Emma Robertson
    Pages 59-98
  5. Gordon Johnston, Emma Robertson
    Pages 99-156
  6. Gordon Johnston, Emma Robertson
    Pages 157-221
  7. Gordon Johnston, Emma Robertson
    Pages 223-279
  8. Gordon Johnston, Emma Robertson
    Pages 281-316
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 317-338

About this book


This book is the first full-length history of the BBC World Service: from its interwar launch as short-wave radio broadcasts for the British Empire, to its twenty-first-century incarnation as the multi-media global platform of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The book provides insights into the BBC’s working relationship with the Foreign Office, the early years of the Empire Service, and the role of the BBC during the Second World War. In following the voice of the BBC through the Cold War and the contraction of the British empire, the book argues that debates about the work and purposes of the World Service have always involved deliberations about the future of the UK and its place in the world. In current times, these debates have been shaped by the British government’s commitment to leave the European Union and the centrifugal currents in British politics which in the longer term threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom. Through a detailed exploration of its past, the book poses questions about the World Service’s possible future and argues that, for the BBC, the question is not only what it means to be a global broadcaster as we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century, but what it means to be a national broadcaster in a divided kingdom.


BBC History of media British Empire Cold War Broadcasting Global networks BBC World Service Media Foreign Policy World War Two

Authors and affiliations

  • Gordon Johnston
    • 1
  • Emma Robertson
    • 2
  1. 1.School of History, Classics and ArchaeologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.History Program, Department of Archaeology and HistoryLa Trobe UniversityBendigoAustralia

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages History
  • Print ISBN 978-0-230-35560-6
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-31855-8
  • Buy this book on publisher's site