Tuesday 31 August 2010

The Exhaustive Guide to the BBC Handbook #1

The BBC Handbook is rather a dry read - some opening comments, mission statements, rules and regulations, addresses etc etc, enlivened only by the odd picture of a programme being made, or a promotional still. Or the cover. Using the Between Channels archive, let us have a look at the evolution of the BBC Handbook cover - who knows, perhaps it will uncover something about the changing nature of the Beeb itself, or how commercial art / graphic design has evolved through the years? Or maybe there'll be a photograph from the set of Cheggers Plays Pop?

Lets kick off with the earliest handbook I could find. Freed from its acid-free cardboard box for the first time in 15 years ...

Well, so far so Reithian, with a nice granulated cover and coat of arms. It looks like something a First World War officer may have taken into the trenches. The keyword is 'gravitas'. But its not all work, work, work ...

From the days when radios were put together by wealthy, handy men and listening to a weak signal from Fiume was the highlight of the listening day, this bookmark will help you convert metres to kilocycles. I'll bet none of the A* graded pupils of today would be able to do that. For that insert alone, I award the 1928 Handbook 6 out of a possible 10. Originally there were some rather flashy dust-jackets, which would probably give a higher final mark but I can only work with the tools I have available.

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