Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War by Edward Stourton - review by Nicholas Rankin

Nicholas Rankin

Tuning Out

Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War


Doubleday 422pp £20 order from our bookshop

The endpapers of this book show two photos of Broadcasting House, seen from Portland Place. In the first, taken in 1932, the building resembles a sleek white liner; in the second, from 1945, the blackened building looks more like a battle cruiser after a hard run to Malta or Murmansk. The BBC played an integral part in the Second World War, unifying at home, beaconing hope abroad. It should be a great story to tell, but Edward Stourton’s attitude to the BBC is oddly conflicted.

Although he regularly presents programmes on Radio 4 (and read this book aloud on the network), Stourton is a member of the family who wishes to recoil from its embarrassing embrace. This explains his dreadful title, Auntie’s War, and the use of ‘Auntie’ as a nickname for the

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