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Defining the Discographic SelfDesert Island Discs in Context$
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Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, and Stephen Cottrell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266175

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266175.001.0001

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Desert Island Discs and British emotional life

Desert Island Discs and British emotional life

Chapter:
(p.155) 8 Desert Island Discs and British emotional life
Source:
Defining the Discographic Self
Author(s):

David Hendy

, Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, Stephen Cottrell
Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266175.003.0013

This chapter explores how Desert Island Discs has responded over time to an increasing public appetite for openness and honesty. One of the programme’s presenters once said it was ‘properly impressed by power, wealth and ambition, but … knows that the world is made up of more than that’. This spoke to a longer-term revolution in modern life, as outlined by historians of the emotions: an increasing informality of manners, especially in broadcast talk. How did the BBC navigate these trends in a series that had long been a byword for decorum? And what did Radio 4 listeners think of its new willingness in the 1980s and 1990s to probe guests more deeply? Drawing on unpublished BBC records and Mass Observation archives, this chapter focuses on how desire for openness over private lives and feelings—and the anxieties this prompted—was negotiated behind the scenes at crucial moments in its history.

Keywords:   radio and emotional life, confessional radio, BBC openness, restraint in broadcasting, Zeitgeist broadcaster, Englishness, informalisation, interviewing

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