Radio 3 ‘New Generation Thinkers’ Application

The Funding Award (AHRC/Radio 3)

Do you want to tell the world about your work?

In the last six months BBC Radio 3 has broadcast programmes presented by academics on subjects as varied as 16th century Scottish history, Johnsonian linguistics, Turkish literature and the history of astronomy. Its daily arts and ideas programme Night Waves has provided a platform for debate and commentary from scholars across the world.

Now BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) are joining forces to find the next generation of public intellectuals. Together they are launching New Generation Thinkers – a pilot talent scheme for emerging academics with a passion for communicating the excitement of modern scholarship to a wider audience and who have an interest in broader cultural debate.

Up to sixty successful applicants will have a chance to develop their own programme-making ideas with experienced BBC producers and, of these up to ten will become Radio 3’s resident New Generation Thinkers. They will benefit from a unique opportunity to develop their own programme for BBC Radio 3 and a chance to appear on air in special New Generation Thinkers debates and sessions.

The Submission

“Describe how your research could make an engaging and stimulating 45 minute programme for a non-academic audience.” (250 words)

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON”: it’s a cry that has been heard around the country, and around the world, particularly since November 2008, when the credit crunch really hit, with many using it as a mantra to get through their daily lives.  Catching the mood of the nation it has been widely distributed, copied onto mugs, T shirts and student walls.

What is it about this poster, and other Second World War posters, that continues to appeal to the British public? Is it pure nostalgia, is there something intrinsically British about them, or is it just a case of timing?

As a studio-discussion, the programme would bring in guardians of some of the key archives where posters are held, including Patrick Bogue of Onlsow’s poster auctions, to discuss the questions posed above.

The programme would start with Keep Calm and Carry On: the story of those first posters, their significance, and wartime reactions.

Whilst tracing the interest in wartime posters over the intervening decades, we would discuss how the ‘rediscovery’ of Keep Calm has drawn in new audiences. We would bring in a number of stories of how the message has been subverted and reused to create new meanings in the modern age.

The programme would move on to discuss other campaigns which have been reused in recent years, including Make Do and Mend for both environmental and recessionary concerns, and other potential options to capitalise on the nostalgia, including the ‘Staggered Travel’ campaign to aid our crowded transport systems.

Awardees will know by the end of January, so we’ll see, but with over 1000 people, and not sure that my second half of the application was up to my own standards!