PhD position "Selling Britain: The BBC German Service in the Post-War Period" (Univ. of Exeter)

Selling Britain: The BBC German Service in the Post-War Period

University of Exeter (Exeter)
Gefördert durch
Arts and Humanities Research Council
United Kingdom
Vom - Bis
01.09.2022 - 30.09.2025
Vike Martina Plock, English, University of Exeter

A funded PhD postition to investigate the history of the BBC German Service in the post-war period.

Selling Britain: The BBC German Service in the Post-War Period

Using an extensive amount of previously unexamined archival holdings in the BBC Written Archives Centre, the British Library’s Radio Broadcast Recording Collection and the BBC’s Monitoring Archive, this funded PhD project will investigate how BBC German-language programmes were used to project positive images of Britain in post-war Germany. When the war in Europe ended in 1945, the BBC German Service already had a dedicated following among listeners who had turned to the British broadcaster for accurate information about current events that had been deliberately distorted by Nazi media outlets. As new political alliances were forged on the European continent and Britain entered a period of imperial decline, the BBC became an important instrument through which the country wielded soft power abroad. Examining surviving recordings, programme scripts, staff files, newspaper articles, governmental directives and other historical documents, the project will be the first study to analyse how the BBC’s German-language programmes presented democratic Britain as a role model for designing a new, non-militaristic German nation in the post-war period. Britain’s recent exit from the European Union and the country’s efforts to re-position itself in a rapidly changing global economy make this research extremely timely. Commencing in the year of the BBC’s centenary, the project will allow the doctoral researcher to develop specialist knowledge relevant for academics, heritage institutions, policy makers and the general public.

Research Questions and Methods:

Research questions cluster around a series of issues relating to transnational broadcasting, Anglo-German relations, media history and European political history, but will be shaped by the interests and research expertise of the postgraduate research in consultation with supervisors. They might include:

– How did the BBC interpret governmental requests to become an agent of cultural diplomacy and use its programmes to boost Britain’s cultural standing in post-war Germany? – What were the programmes designed to cement Britain’s leadership role within post-war Europe and who were the people chosen to address listeners in post-war Germany?
– What can these attempts to influence opinions abroad tell us about the role that the BBC played within European politics in the post-war period?
– What are the lessons to be learned from historical precedents for a post-Brexit Britain aiming to redefine its role in Europe through the projection of “Global Britain” today?


Between them, members of the supervision team cover all areas relevant to this cross-disciplinary project. Professor Vike Martina Plock (Exeter) has published a monograph on the BBC German Service during the Second World War that was supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. Professor Simon Potter (Bristol) has published books on global news flows, the BBC and empire and on British broadcasting and internationalist thinking, and he has led a Leverhulme international research network on global radio history. Both HEI supervisors have worked extensively with the UK National Archives, the BBC Written Archives Centre and other radio-related archives around the world. Both have a track record of supervising PhDs to completion and have previously acted successfully as co-supervisors for a SWW DTP-funded PhD student working on the BBC. Further subject expertise is provided by the Non-HEI supervisor Robert Seatter, who is—in his role as Head of BBC History—ideally placed to create a dialogue between the academic side of the project and current BBC priorities. Leading on commissioning, managing and co-ordinating the wider interpretation of BBC history, his role on the supervisory team is central in facilitating access to further training opportunities and to other divisions within the BBC.


Professor Vike Martina Plock (
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