BBC Listener Research Department reports, 1937-c.1950

BBC Listener Research Department, 1937-c.1950

BBC Listener Research Department, 1937-c.1950

The Listener Research Department 1937-1950 collection offers a comprehensive picture of audience research in the era before television was a mass medium
Sion NicholaUniversity of Wales, Aberystwyth

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Watch BBC audience research grow from an experiment to profession

The Audience Research Reports of the BBC", covering the period 1937-c.1950, present the early research of the British Broadcasting Corporation's pioneering Listener Research Department (LRD) into wireless listening in Britain nationwide and at a regional level. From the controversial founding of the Department in 1936, it takes in the turbulent years of the Second World War through to the early post-war period leading up to launch of Britain's first national television channel. These items reproduce the entire available collection of weekly Audience Summaries, together with the weekly then daily Listening Barometers. Also included are the Audience Reaction Reports on specific programmes and Special Reports on particular themes or issues for the period, as well as some key policy documents produced by the LRD during these years, tracing the early development of what has come to be known as market research within the BBC. During the Second World War, listener research took on a new urgency as the BBC became an indispensable part of life on the Home Front. The LRD's wartime audience research, reproduced here for the first time, provides crucial insights into the listening habits and cultural preferences of the British people at this time, as well as detailed listener responses to some of the key radio programmes and personalities of the era, from ITMA and The Brains Trust to Winston Churchill and William Joyce, the voice of Nazi propaganda better known as Lord Haw-Haw. Through its special reports on topics ranging from news readers' accents and evening listening habits to listeners' views about Russia, this collection provides a unique and revealing window onto the behaviour, attitudes and preoccupations of the British people at a key moment in their history. Accompanied by an online guide by Siân Nicholas, University of Wales Aberystwyth. (Note: To help with searching, optical character recognition (OCR) software has been used on the scanned images of the archived documents, and the resultant uncorrected OCR'd text has been associated to most images in this collection. The quality of the OCR output varies, depending on the clarity of the typeface, which are often carbon copies of the originals, using relatively low-grade paper and ink available during the austere WW2 and immediate post-war years.)


BBC Listener Research Department reports, 1937-c.1950...

Containing 10,298 pages belonging to 51 documents housed in 4 volumes...

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Audience research special reports

BBC WAC ref. R9/9: Relating to specific topics or aspects of audience behaviour between 1937 and 1950, these reports were...

General listening barometers

BBC WAC ref. R9/11 and R9/12: These reports show the numbers of listeners in England to particular radio broadcasts expressed...

Listener research bulletin supplements

BBC WAC ref. R9/3: These supplements cover the period December 1945 to October 1952. Their purpose was, as stated at...

Listener research weekly reports / bulletins

BBC WAC ref. R9/1: This series of reports runs from July 1940 to June 1953. Its title changed to 'Listener...


  • These reports' focus is upon radio audience figures for each week and other measures of how many people tuned into their programs.
  • The 'BBC Barometer' was used to compare listener data for each of the BBC's most popular programs against each other.
  • Listener research bulletins include listeners' opinions on what they would like to hear more or less of. The national mood was also a core concern.
  • Lists of listener research papers tell the reader which questions the BBC was asking its listeners and in some cases, which groups of listeners they were asking.
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