BBC Woman’s Hour – from Producer to Teacher

Authors: Murphy, K.

Start date: 11 July 2018

‘Woman’s Hour’ is a BBC radio institution that has been on air since 1946. During this time it has responded to, and reflected upon, momentous change in women’s lives. Not only has the programme documented key events from the fight for equal pay to the ordination of women bishops and interviewed major personalities from Amy Winehouse to Hilary Clinton but it has also provided space for the personal testimonies of ‘ordinary’ women. For this reason, it has the potential to be a rich resource for women’s history. And that is what this paper is about. I worked as a ‘Woman’s Hour’ producer from 1993-2011. My particular area of expertise was history and I completed a part-time PhD on early women in the BBC whilst working on the programme. This led to a career change. I joined Bournemouth University in 2012, initially to run the the BA Radio degree and subsequently established a new BA History degree, with a media flavour, which I now lead. One of our Third Year options – my option - is about ‘Woman’s Hour’ as an historical source. An important dimension of the unit is to consider how those who worked on the programme, shaped the perspective and content of the programme. So, what might this signify for objectivity? subjectivity? individual agency? This paper will reflect on these issues.

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