The BBC Heritage Collection

The BBC Heritage Collection

An interview with Rory O'Connell from the BBC's Heritage collection

Rory O'Connell, who looks after the BBC's Heritage Collection, talks about working with Tardises and Alistair Cooke's typewriter.


Gifts and Bequests

There are also some objects relating to famous BBC personalities, such as the journalist Alistair Cooke. We're lucky to have his typewriter, which was donated to the BBC by his family after the BBC organised his memorial service in Westminster Abbey. Alistair Cooke was the presenter of 'Letter from America' among many other programmes, but that's the one he'd be best known for. 'Letter from America' was Alistair Cooke's personal observation of developments in America down the years, and this was one of the typewriters, the last one, that he used to type the script for the letter. He tried computers but he didn't like them so he went back to the typewriter, so it's quite a special thing really.

The BBC often receives gifts from people just to say thank you for being there. This was particularly the case during the Second World War. At the end of the war, various Allied governments presented the BBC with thank yous. This one in particular was from the Dutch people, raised by public fundraising to present this bronze plaque, which says on the inscription 'To the British Broadcasting Corporation, for fortitude and consolation given to the Netherlands in years of oppression' and it depicts a man rising up and breaking free of his shackles. Of course, the Netherlands was occupied by the Germans and the Dutch people would have found it very difficult to find out news about the progress of the war, so they were dependent on illicitly listening to BBC broadcasts.

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