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Debasing Reith

This year's Reith lectures fell far short of an acceptable standard both in form and content

By David Henderson   July 2000

This year’s BBC Reith lectures marked a debasement of the series. One of the corporation’s notable contributions to the world of ideas has been robbed of the features that gave it a claim to distinctiveness.

When the lectures were instituted, over 50 years ago, they were a new venture in radio. As such they were given a special character and format by the BBC governors, who choose the lecturer.

First, the lectures were intended to enable well-qualified speakers to make an original contribution to public understanding; a lecturer had to have something new and substantive to say. Second, there was…

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