Simon Elmes celebrates British graphic artists' work on the covers of the Radio Times.
Arena presents the art of the Radio Times through the eyes of illustrator Eric Fraser.
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As Radio Times turns 90 this week, Peter Day tells the story of the outstanding British graphic artists who made the magazine their canvas.
The idea that a broadcasting listings magazine should provide the opportunity for writers and artists to produce some of their finest creative work seems perhaps a little far-fetched in the present era of TV Quick, What's On TV and TV Choice. Yet Radio Times, which first appeared on the bookstands on 28th September 1923, was a great nurturer of artistic talent. It started with cartoons - the early magazine loved a gentle 'Punch'-like joke - but soon Radio Times evolved its own individual graphic idiom, using line drawings and motifs, alongside more conventional photographs, to illustrate the imaginative world of radio, in particular. In the magazine's heyday, an elegant Eric Fraser cover would regularly grace the bumper-selling Christmas edition, and 1953's Coronation Number became a collector's item with Fraser's simple and noble heraldic theme.
Alongside Eric Fraser, amongst the great British artists to create some of their most distinguished work for Radio Times were Edward Ardizzone, Val Biro and Victor Reinganum; Bob Sherriffs contributed thumbnail caricatures in the early years and fifty years later Peter Brookes, before becoming a fixture on The Times was a regular contributor.
In this programme, Peter Day explores the graphic heritage that Radio Times fostered with those who drew and those who commissioned for it.
Producer: Simon Elmes.