The Complete History of the BBC (Abridged)

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. From its first blossoming back in 1922, through wars, recessions and strikes, the BBC has documented and parodied, reported and laughed at most of world history. In this hour, we examine how the seemingly ever-present Beeb has been affected by this history and in turn had its hand in social change, with the progressive advent of radio, colour television and the world service changing forever the ways in which information is communicated.

Taking us on this voyage of discovery is Paul Thomas and Alix Cavanagh as Terence and Ingrid Plater - he a desperate BBC fanboy and dubious collector, she his ever more exasperated partner, joining in because it might finally shut him up. While Terence is constant in his desperate enthusiasm for the Grand History of the BBC, Ingrid has more the tone of a school teacher and provides a more down-to-earth version of events, cracking jokes which elicit a scowl from Terence and a giggle from the audience.

Consequently, this feels like more of a history lesson than a show. Perhaps the hopefully named Cathode Ray Museum of Broadcasting would have benefitted from a multimedia element or two, though our two hosts still do well to tell the story without this. Only a few choice scenes from the Beeb's history are recreated onstage, to Terence's delight and Ingrid's grudging acceptance.

This is an entertaining show throughout but the nostalgia awarded to those who were alive during most of the BBC's 91 year history is lost on those of us only around for its most recent decades. Recent controversies are, thankfully, the elements that find themselves 'abridged', with Jim'll Fix It mentioned but pointedly not dwelt upon, It's A Knockout repeatedly knocked back, and modern-day Director Generals chastised for allowing scandals such as 'Sachs-gate' to arise.

A generally entertaining hour and a quarter, but one which often gives the impression that we should be taking notes throughout.

Reviews by Jenni Ajderian

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The Blurb

Returning by popular demand, revised, expanded and bang up-to-date, Ingrid and Terence present a history of the greatest public broadcasting institution ever. ‘, smart and ... laugh out loud...’ (Castle FM Scotland).