(Very) Old Radio: The First Firsts of British Broadcasting Poster

(Very) Old Radio: The First Firsts of British Broadcasting

Sunday 24th September 3pm

Written and performed by Paul Kerensa

A new ‘stand-up history’ show on British broadcasting’s origin story, written and performed by Paul Kerensa

This one-man show informs, educates but above all entertains about British broadcasting’s birth. Enjoy tales, clips and re-enactments of Auntie Beeb’s earliest landmark moments: the first BBC broadcast, the first children’s, drama, sports commentary and so much more – researched, written and performed by British Comedy Award-winning writer (Miranda, Not Going Out) + comedian Paul Kerensa.

Part 1, 1919-22: The build-up to the BBC… Paul plays two feuding real-life pioneers: the wild first regular broadcaster Peter Eckersley and the frustrated first voice of the BBC Arthur Burrows, both with different ideas of what radio could be. This half is based on Paul’s 2022 tour The First Broadcast: The Battle for the Beeb in 1922, and includes Nellie Melba, drunken improvised opera, and the BBC’s launch night.

Part 2, 1922-23: After an interval, Paul (as himself) guides us through the Beeb’s first year: hear the BBC’s first song and first comedian, relive the influential first outside broadcast and the bawdy launch of Savoy Hill. After a Q&A, Paul’s new novel Auntie and Uncles: The Bizarre Birth of the BBC can be available.

With no recordings from the 1920s, we’ll recreate key moments, inc. the first drama The Truth About Father Christmas (recently rediscovered by Paul at the British Library for the first time in nearly a century) and the first political debate (sparking the BBC’s first controversy, foreshadowing the issues for today’s BBC).

In this age of doubt over the BBC’s future, we’ll seek to understand the present by looking at the past – answering questions like: Why the half-hour programme length? How did the first allegation of BBC bias pre-date the BBC? How was the BBC effectively pirate at first, unlicensed for the first two months?


Paul Kerensa has written for TV shows inc. Top Gear, Buble at the BBC, Royal Variety Show and TFI Friday and radio shows inc. The Now Show, The News Quiz and Dead Ringers. He’s a regular on BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s ‘Pause For Thought’ and has presented BBC Radio Sussex/Surrey’s Sunday Breakfast.

As a performer, Paul has performed over 3,000 stand-up gigs, inc. The Royal Albert Hall, The Comedy Store + Montreal Comedy Festivals. He won ITV’s Take the Mike Award and was a finalist in the BBC New Comedy Awards. As a broadcast historian, he presents the five-star-rated The British Broadcasting Century Podcast, has presented at media history conferences and advised on BBC documentaries.

“A brilliant writer, fantastic communicator, deep thinker, philosopher & extremely decent bloke.” – CHRIS EVANS

“Top comic, top writer.” – LEE MACK

“As effortless a writer as he is a performer.” – THE STAGE

“Paul has a brilliant way of bringing these stories to life. I’ve worked in radio for decades but didn’t know any of this tale of how broadcasting began.” – review of The British Broadcasting Century Podcast

TICKETS: £18/£15 concessions

BOOKING: Click on the seating plan below to book online. Alternatively call 020 8995 6035 (leave a message if you can’t get through and we will return your call).

For information about bookings, refunds and exchanges, please see here.

SEATING: We have added an extra row of seats (freestanding chairs) as row AA for this shows. Please note row H, the back row, is high bench seating. The auditorium has steps up the centre aisle, so book at the front for anyone who may have difficulty with steps or heights.

AGE GUIDANCE: Suitable for all

RUNNING TIME: The performance is 1 hour and 45 minutes including a 15 minute interval

LATECOMERS: Latecomers will not be admitted until the interval