The Female Pioneers
Jane Garvey investigates the stories behind five landmark moments in the history of the female voice on radio and television. How far have women really come since the early days of the wireless? To what extent are female voices now accepted as carrying the same level of authority and expertise as their male counterparts?
In the first programme, we're back to 1929 and the BBC's launch of 'The Week in Parliament', which went on to become 'The Week in Westminster'. This groundbreaking programme was not only presented by the first woman elected to the House of Commons, Lady Nancy Astor, and aimed at newly enfranchised women, but also produced by women. We hear extracts from an early edition of the programme, dug out of the BBC archive, and Jane talks to BBC historian Professor Jean Seaton and broadcast historian Professor Suzanne Franks about the issues female broadcasters faced in the early days of radio. We also hear from 96 year old writer Diana Athill with her memories of working at the BBC during the Second World War.
Other programmes in the series include: Voice of Authority, which marks the appointment of the first female newsreader in 1955; Upping The Tempo, in which Jane meets Annie Nightingale, the first female DJ on Radio 1 and respected as an expert voice in music journalism; Prime Time Woman, which notes the role played by Esther Rantzen as a campaigning and consumer journalist on TV; and A Level Playing Field, with Jacqui Oatley discussing her debut as the first female footballer commentator on 'Match of the Day'.
Producer: Jane Reck
An Alfi Media Ltd production for BBC Radio 4.
You are at the first episode