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100 Years since the World's First Radio Play was Broadcast by the BBC

Authored by Abbie Fray
Published on 15th January, 2024 2 min read

100 Years since the World's First Radio Play was Broadcast by the BBC

On this day (15/01/2024), 100 years ago, A Comedy of Danger, the first radio play, was broadcast by the BBC. The play was broadcast from the BBC’s studios in London and Glasgow. 

A Comedy of Danger was written by Richard Hughes specifically for radio. It tells the story of a group of people trapped within a Welsh coal mine. At a time fraught with social and economic issues surrounding mining, the play can be approached as important social commentary. Starting with the line, “The lights have gone out”, the story introduced listeners to drama constructed for and conveyed via a new form of media. Designed for radio, A Comedy of Danger relied on dialogue, sound effects, and music to help to tell the story. Listeners were encouraged to listen in the dark so as to best experience the play.  

Following the airing of A Comedy of Danger, on 16 January 1924, the Daily Mail published an article with the headline “Drama Thrills by Wireless”. Throughout the 1920s radio plays grew in popularity. By September 1925 the BBC had produced more than 140 plays. These plays were not aired live but were pre-recorded. Until the 1950s radio plays were a leading form of entertainment before being surpassed by television. Nevertheless, in 1973, to mark the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of A Comedy of Danger, a new version of the play was aired by the BBC. By creating a new genre of radio drama, A Comedy of Danger was an important event in the history of British media and broadcasting. 


Authored by Abbie Fray

Abbie Fray

Abbie Fray is an undergraduate student studying History at Durham University. She has a particular interest in the histories of gender and sexuality.


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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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