Professor Jean Seaton - Professor of Media History and the Official Historian of the BBC.

In short

Jean will speak about her next volume of the Corporation’s history 'Holding the Line: the BBC and the Nation' which is due to be published in early 2015.

Free and open to all.

The whole story

'Holding the Line: the BBC and the Nation' deals with everything the BBC did in a tumultuous decade from the conflict in Northern Ireland, to the invasion of the Falklands, to Not the Nine O’Clock News, the Proms, the early music revolution, devolution, Dennis Potter’s greatest plays, Attenborough’s revolutionary series Life on Earth, and Radio 1s most influential moment, as well as the role of women in the Corporation, programmes for children and a tense and complicated relationship with the government.

The history was given access to BBC archives, but also gained privileged access to state papers. For the first time the Corporation’s history is seen in the round. It is based on several hundred interviews, and explores both the programme making decisions that go into the making of an iconic Television series like John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, as well as the high politics around the imposition of the broadcasting ban.

A new 8th edition of the classic book she wrote with James Curran, 'Power Without Responsibility: the Press and Broadcasting in Britain' was published in 2014 and contained new research on the international role of the British media. This book has become a moving project, still aiming to change the media as well as describe it.

Her concern with the impact of the media on politics has been developed in a series of books, including Ed. (with Ben Pimlott) The Media in British Politics, Gower, Aldershot, 1987, The Media and Politics in Britain: Harlots and Prerogatives at the Turn of the Millennium Blackwells, 1998, and with John Lloyd of the Financial Times, What Can be Done? Making the Media and Politics Better, 2006, Blackwells.

Her interest in the role of the media in conflict has been developed in Ed. (with Tim Allen), War, Ethnicity and the Media, Development Books, 1996, Ed. (with Tim Allen) The Media of Conflict. It was taken further in Carnage and the Media and developed in the work she has done as BBC historian on the BBC in Northern Ireland during the conflict.

Jean is an editor of Political Quarterly, on the editorial Boards of 20th Century British History and Media History. She is on the editorial advisory board of Prospect. Recently she has received research awards from the AHRC, the BBC, The British Academy, the Leverhulme and the Axess Foundation. She is a founding member of several active media NGO’s that hold the media to account, including Full Fact and the Reuters Institute. She was awarded the Thank-Offering to Britain Fellowship for her work on the BBC and the Holocaust. She speaks frequently at conferences and public meetings. In 2007 she became Chair of the Orwell Prize. This has become Britain’s premier prize for political writing, set standards and held journalism to account as well as celebrating good journalism and writing.