Cold War Radio: The BBC’s plans in the event of nuclear war

BBC-AT-WAR

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, William Lee, who shares this item from the BBC:

(Source: BBC News)

For the first time, the BBC has given detailed access to the plans it drew up in the Cold War for a Wartime Broadcasting System to operate in the event of nuclear war. Paul Reynolds, a former BBC diplomatic and foreign correspondent, has been studying the secrets of what was known as the “War Book”.

The War Book reveals a world of meticulous BBC planning. The Wartime Broadcasting System (WTBS) – referred to in the book as “Deferred Facilities” – would have operated from 11 protected bunkers spread across the UK.

Known as “Regional Seats of Government”, these would also have sheltered government ministers and staff from government departments during what is termed a “nuclear exchange”. The BBC had a studio in each, usually with five staff drawn mostly from nearby local radio stations.

The BBC’s headquarters would have been a bunker at the Engineering Training Department at Wood Norton in Worcestershire, where 90 BBC staff would have been assembled, including engineers, announcers, 12 news editors and sub-editors and ominously “two nominations from Religious Broadcasting”. Output would have been controlled by the government.

To keep the public amused during Armageddon, a collection of cassette tapes of old radio programmes including the Goon Show, Just a Minute and Round the Horne, was kept in a grey locker at Wood Norton. It was eventually realised, however, that these were redundant. If there had been a nuclear attack, radios would probably have been dependent on batteries and these would have needed to be conserved for news and important announcements.[…]

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Oh how I would love to read a copy of the “War Book”–! I hope, at some point, the BBC adds it to their online archives. Last year, we published a post with the actual statement the BBC would have broadcast in the event of a nuclear exchange. Click here to read the post.

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2 thoughts on “Cold War Radio: The BBC’s plans in the event of nuclear war

  1. Kevin

    One of those Regional Centres of Government was the site of a break-in by peace activists and anarchists, the so-called ‘Spies for Peace’, in 1963. They published a pamphlet which explained what they found and the plans for what amounted to military government following a nuclear attack which it revealed. Of course censorship meant that the newspapers didn’t mention it, and those involved were not arrested at the time, but a lot of information became public later. See Wikipedia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spies_for_Peace

    Reply

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