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The secret history of Analysis

Duration:
28 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 25 October 2010

Analysis celebrates its 40th birthday by making its own history the subject of its trademark examination of the facts.

The Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, recently told the New Statesman that in decades past the organisation's current affairs output had displayed a left wing bias. He could not have had in mind the early years of Analysis. "We tried to avoid received opinion like the plague," says the programme's founder editor George Fischer. He required his producers to look at issues from scratch and to go beyond the bien pensant agenda.

In doing so they spotted issues that others missed. Amongst the themes they identified as important were the depth of the Thatcherite project before the term Thatcherism was coined; the tensions likely to emerge in the feminist movement; and the potential for disaster in Zimbabwe if expectations over land reform were not fulfilled. The programme's willingness to question fashionable assumptions attracted some accusations of political bias. Was that fair? Michael Blastland, an Analysis producer from the 1990s and now a regular presenter, looks back at the programme's history and meets some of its early staff and contributors. Follow Analysis on Twitter: @R4Analysis

Contributors:
George Fischer, founder editor of Analysis
Ian McIntyre, founder presenter of Analysis, later Controller of Radio 4
Rt Hon Tony Benn
Gillian Reynolds, radio critic, The Daily Telegraph
Michael Green, former Analysis producer, later controller of Radio 4
Caroline Thomson, former Analysis producer, now Chief Operating Officer for the BBC
Fraser Steel, former Analysis producer
Hugh Chignell, Associate Professor of Broadcasting History, Bournemouth University
Lord Griffiths

Producer: Linda Pressly.

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    Don't miss an episode of Analysis by subscribing to the free podcast. Alternatively, you can catch up via the BBC iPlayer.

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  • When Fischer met Wilson

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    George Fischer describes his meeting with Harold Wilson and the political words of wisdom he received.

  • GEORGE FISCHER

    GEORGE FISCHER

    The first producer of Analysis, George Fischer, escaped Hungary as Soviet tanks rolled in to quell the revolution of 1956. Contacts in Vienna, a fortuitous bet with a Times Journalist in Budapest and a talent for basketball all helped him along his journey to a new life in Britain.

    He began his BBC career in the Hungarian Section of the World Service in 1963, and then secured an attachment in Broadcasting House.

    In the late 1960s he was summoned to the office of the Controller of Radio 4. He feared he might lose his job. Instead he was offered the role of producer on a new programme that would have, "a very sharp cutting edge" and be aimed at, "people who read the quality dailies". It was George Fischer's idea to call the programme Analysis.

  • When McIntyre met Bhutto

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    In 1972, Analysis went to interview Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto - who much to his press agent's alarm - spoke very openly about how he liked to have a good time.

  • IAN MCINTYRE

    IAN MCINTYRE

    Cambridge graduate Ian McIntyre started out as a broadcaster on Radio 3. He spent much of the 1960s working for the Conservative Party in Scotland, and stood unsuccessfully as a Member of Parliament.

    He returned to the BBC as a freelancer making documentaries around the world. At the tail end of the 1960s, his old friend and colleague Tony Whitby - then controller of Radio 4 - asked him to present a new series of current affairs programmes. The brief was simple - “make them challenging, make them interesting, and make them amusing if you can". This was Analysis.

  • ANALYSIS FROM 1971: 'SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL'

    ANALYSIS FROM 1971: 'SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL'

    Ian McIntyre talks to feminist intellectuals and practitioners, 'pussy cat' opponents, male doubters and supporters of the fight for women's rights.

    Listen to 'Sisterhood is Powerful' from the Archive Collection
  • READ THE PROGRAMME TRANSCRIPT

    READ THE PROGRAMME TRANSCRIPT

    Read and download the full programme transcript of Michael Blastland's Analysis.

    Read the transcript

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