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The Road to Nineteen Eighty-Four

58 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 09 February 2013

What led avowed socialist George Orwell to write a novel beloved of the Right?

David Aaronovitch traces how a decade of political chaos shaped Orwell's vision of a totalitarian future.

He explores how, after the war, the threat of the new atom bomb played a crucial part in the birth of Nineteen Eighty-Four - and how Orwell coined the term 'cold war' in the process.

He traces the impact on the novel of the provocative ideas of an American ex-communist, James Burnham, who predicted a world dominated by three tyrannical superstates.

He finds out why Orwell saw some form of Western European Union as the best way to prevent Britain being swallowed by Big Brother.

And he asks why, if Orwell was an English socialist, the totalitarian party ruling 'Oceania' in Nineteen Eighty-Four is called 'IngSoc' - which is short for 'English Socialists'.

With Peter Davison, Frances Stonor Saunders, DJ Taylor, Hugh Wilford

Producer: Phil Tinline.


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