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This New Noise

Charlotte Higgins

A brilliantly researched and gripping history of the BBC, from its origins to the present day.

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A brilliantly researched and gripping history of the BBC, from its origins to the present day.

‘The book could scarcely be better or better timed. It is elegantly written, closely argued, balanced, pulls no punches.’

Charlotte Higgins, the Guardian‘s chief culture writer, steps behind the polished doors of Broadcasting House and investigates the BBC. Based on her hugely popular essay series, this personal journey answers the questions that rage around this vulnerable, maddening and uniquely British institution. Questions such as: what does the BBC mean to us now? What are the threats to its continued existence? Is it worth fighting for?

Higgins traces its origins, celebrating the early pioneering spirit and unearthing forgotten characters whose imprint can still be seen on the BBC today. She explores how it forged ideas of Britishness both at home and abroad. She shows how controversy is in its DNA and brings us right up to date through interviews with grandees and loyalists, embattled press officers and high profile dissenters, and she sheds new light on recent feuds and scandals.

This is a deeply researched, lyrically written, intriguing portrait of an institution at the heart of Britain.

‘Beautifully written’. THE SPECTATOR
‘Exactly observed and beautifully written.’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘A loving portrait . . . never creaks with excess.’ FINANCIAL TIMES
‘A pleasingly intricate jigsaw of biography, politics, and opinion.’ INDEPENDENT
‘Excellent and enthralling . . . informative, educational and entertaining.’ GUARDIAN

Critic Reviews

The book could scarcely be better or better timed. It is elegantly written, closely argued, balanced, pulls no punches and yet wears its respect for the BBC on its sleeve.

Melvyn Bragg, The Observer
Critic Reviews

Exactly observed and beautifully written, her book is a series of thematic essays mingling past and present to show how a tiny radio establishment from less than a century ago - more village than city - because the megalopolis that inspires such intense affection and hostility today.

Francis Wheen, Mail on Sunday
Critic Reviews

A thoughtful paean to the BBC ... a pleasingly intricate jigsaw of biography, politics, and opinion, and the author is at her best when sketching bohemian characters from the BBC's early days.

Julie McDowall, Independent on Sunday
Critic Reviews

Charlotte Higgins's excellent and enthralling book could hardly be better timed ... If it is to survive in anything like a recognisable form - and it would be a national tragedy if it did not - the BBC needs to reinvent itself again. It also needs its friends to make their voices heard, and in this context Higgins's informative, educational and entertaining book makes a powerful contribution.

Alwyn W Turner, The Guardian
Critic Reviews

A very good book that recaptures the spirit of the BBC as a pioneer but also the roller coaster ride of its adolescence and maturity. This is a stirring, spirited narrative of the human individuals who led the corporation through those changes

Charlie Beckett, Prof of Media and Communications, LSE, Polis
Critic Reviews

An engrossing exploration of key figures and flashpoints ... Should the BBC be abolished, reduced, sold off? Is the licence fee unfair? Whither the World Service? Higgins's book is a timely and useful airing of such questions. It reminds you how unique, remarkable and utterly flawed the corporation is and makes you realise, too, that its self-mocking satire W1A doesn't tell the half of it.

Nick Curtis, Evening Standard
Charlotte Higgins

Charlotte Higgins was born in the Potteries and studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford. She is the Guardian‘s chief culture writer. Her last book, Under Another Sky, was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Thwaites Wainwright Prize, the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and the Dolman Travel Book Award.

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Charlotte Higgins