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London Calling Italy: BBC broadcasts between occupation and liberation (1942-45)

Lo Biundo, E. (2017) London Calling Italy: BBC broadcasts between occupation and liberation (1942-45). PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

In September 1938 the BBC broadcast in French, German and Italian for the first time. The Second World War would break out the following year. The ambiguity of the British propaganda aimed at Italy during the Second World War is clearly reflected in the broadcasts of the BBC Italian Service as well as in the relationships between the British Foreign Office and the Italian broadcasters at the BBC. Radio Londra, as the BBC was known in Italy during the conflict, was concurrently the voice of an occupier and a liberator of Italy from the Nazi-Fascist yoke. Despite this, the station is mainly remembered as the authentic voice of anti-Fascism and Resistance. Drawing on unexplored archival material collected in Italy and the United Kingdom, this thesis aims to understand why the BBC programmes have become one of the myths of Italian cultural heritage of the Second World War. The work takes into account both British and Italian perspectives by answering three main research questions: to what extent the Italian exiles working at the BBC were allowed to operate independently from the British Foreign Office; what the programmes said during the most delicate phases of the Allied Italian campaign in order to engage with as many Italians as possible; and how the programmes were received by the Italian civilians. While answering these questions the research focuses on two key elements: the role played by transnational broadcasts in both creating a European identity and offering ordinary people a window onto a foreign world; and the contribution of the foreigners living in the United Kingdom during the conflict to the development of the BBC as a leading global broadcaster. The thesis argues that the corporation did play an ambiguous role but it was the reception of the programmes in Italy at the time that created the myth of the BBC as an authentic supporter of the Italian antiFascist cause. It also claims that one of the key reasons for the success of the Italian Service was its ability to engage with ordinary people and address their concerns during the difficult years of the war.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Duggan, C., Worley, M. and Cooke, P.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of History
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:77541

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