with RCS

Radio 4 opens up Reith Lecture archives

BBC Radio 4 has made 240 archive recordings of Reith Lectures from years gone by available online, along with transcripts of the recordings.

The archive covers the last 60 years, with the audio files available to download as podcasts or stream on-demand from the Radio 4 website.

This year’s lectures – due to begin airing tomorrow and next Tuesday, then continue in September – are Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and former Director-General of MI5 Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, speaking on the topic of Securing Freedom.

Andrew Caspari, the BBC’s Head of Speech Radio and Classical Music Interactive, said: “This is a unique collection of stunning intellectual significance. Making our great programmes of the past available permanently is a vital role for Radio 4’s digital offer.”

The Reith Lectures were created as a “stimulus to thought and contribution to knowledge” and named in honour of the first Director-General of the BBC, Lord Reith. The lectures have included many eminent speakers since they began, but in 1992 there were no lectures as the BBC couldn’t find anyone to do them.

Radio 4’s website currently offers transcripts of the Reith Lectures from 1948-75 and 1990-2010 and the BBC says ones for the years in the middle will be made available online soon.

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