On the 18th October 1922, the British Broadcasting Company was established. Originally established as a private consortium of radio manufacturers to secure the first broadcasting license in the UK, the company later became the British Broadcasting Corporation when it transferred to government ownership under the Postmaster General, the ministerial position that was responsible for the postal system and telecommunications.

In the early 1920s, the UK’s radio set producers were keen to expand their market. At the time the government only granted occasional ‘experimental’ radio licenses, which meant that there were large periods when the airwaves were completely silent. This was no use to radio manufacturers themselves who needed broadcasts in order to make their products worthwhile.

As more and more requests were submitted for the ‘experimental’ licenses, the government declared its decision to instead grant a single broadcasting license to a consortium of the UK’s leading radio manufacturers. The six companies held an equal amount of shares in the new venture, which hired John – later to become Lord – Reith as its first Managing Director.

The new broadcasting company was funded through a royalty on the sale of radio sets sold by the member producers, and by a license fee. However, the number of amateur electronics enthusiasts who began building their own sets meant that the income did not produce adequate funds. Consequently the member companies found themselves making a loss, which contributed to their desire to extricate themselves from the arrangement. By the time the BBC had begun its first experimental television broadcasts in 1932, the company had been publicly funded for five years.

On the 12th October 1810, the first Oktoberfest took place in Munich. First established to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, the most important part of the festivities was a horse race held on the final day. The decision to repeat the race the following year led to the establishment of the annual festival, at which beer halls and carnival stalls soon began to dominate although certain elements – such as the procession from Maximilian Strasse to the festival ground – continue to be important parts of the event. Amazingly, since its foundation, the festival has only not taken place 24 times in over 200 years.

The fairground on which the Oktoberfest is held also takes its name from the original event. Known as Theresienwiese or “Theresa’s meadow” in honour of Ludwig’s wife, the land used to lie outside the city gates but is now such an important part of the city that it even has its own station on the U-Bahn. Covering an area of 420,000 square metres and now housing 14 large tents and 20 smaller beer tents in addition to a huge fairground, the site hosts in excess of 6 million people a year.

These visitors invariably travel to enjoy the Oktoberfest beer, a special brew that is 2% stronger than conventional beer, and that must be brewed within the city limits of Munich according to the Reinheitsgebot or German Beer Purity Law decreed by Duke William IV in 1516.

Incidentally, the last horse race – the event that kick-started Oktoberfest as an annual celebration – took place in 1960.

Saturday Night Live was originally known as NBC’s Saturday Night to avoid any confusion with the ABC show Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell. Having been developed to fill the gap left by the Johnny Carson’s request to stop showing The Best of Carson reruns of The Tonight Show at the weekend, the new show was intended to be a variety show featuring a mix of comedy sketches, political satire, and guest musical performances.

Dick Ebersol had been brought in by NBC president Herbert Schlosser to create the show, and he in turn approached Canadian television producer Lorne Michaels to oversee the show. Together they refined the show’s concept and recruited a number of young comedians to join the cast who would later become household names. Comedians such as Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and Chevy Chase had been recruited from The Second City improvisational theatre troupe and The National Lampoon Radio Hour. The original theme music was composed by Howard Shore, who has since become a renowned film composer and Academy Award winner.

The very first episode was hosted by stand-up comedian George Carlin and featured music from Janis Ian and Billy Preston. Comedy sketches featuring the cast, known as the ‘Not Ready for Prime Time Players’ were not a prominent feature, although the episode did begin with a cold open sketch which has become a tradition.

The show was renamed to Saturday Night Live in March 1977, having gradually developed the format and built a dedicated following. It has continued to be broadcast from Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Center ever since.

At 7am on the 30th September 1967, the words “… And, good morning everyone. Welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1” launched the BBC’s new popular music station. Created to compete with the successful offshore ‘pirate’ radio stations that had been outlawed by an Act of Parliament, Radio 1’s target demographic has continued to be the 15-29 year old age group, and so the music it broadcasts has continuously evolved throughout its history.  While “Flowers in the Rain”, a song by The Move, was the first to be played on the new station you would never hear it on Radio 1 now!

The first voice on the station – that of DJ Tony Blackburn – had first been heard on the pirate stations Radio Caroline and Radio London. Having moved to the BBC earlier in 1967 his cheery presenting style made him the perfect person to host the breakfast show, which he did until 1973. However, his own dislike of heavier rock music made him unpopular with some listeners who were disappointed that the BBC had managed to get the pirate stations banned but then didn’t fill the hole in the airwaves with anything equivalent.

Adding to the complaints from listeners, the existence of so-called ‘needle time’ meant that Radio 1 featured more DJ talk than the pirate stations. This legally imposed limit on the amount of commercial music the station could play was initially a problem for the station, but it led to a large number of live broadcasts and recordings being made that have – over time – become prized in their own right.

On the 16th September 1978, filming began on Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Seen by some as the greatest comedy film of all time, the film has courted controversy since its release due to its satirical portrayal of religion that is interpreted by some as blasphemous.

Life of Brian was the third motion picture to be released by the Monty Python comedy troupe, and is said to have had its origins in the publicity circuit accompanying their previous film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The box-office success of Holy Grail had proved that there was significant demand for feature-length creations from the group, and soon the idea of lampooning organised religion became a focus for development.

Two members of Monty Python, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam, dismissed the idea of a direct satire of Jesus Christ since they agreed that – despite both being non-believers – there was nothing to mock in his teachings. Therefore they settled on the idea of his neighbour, Brian, being mistaken for the Messiah despite not wanting the attention.

It took just over a year for the script to be completed, and EMI Films had been lined up to fund the project. However, just two days before filming was due to begin the funding was withdrawn on direct orders of the company chief executive. Faced with catastrophe Eric Idle confided in his friend, ex-Beatle George Harrison, who stepped in to save the film by providing £3 million through his production company HandMade Films. It grossed over $19 million in America alone during its first year of release.

Michelangelo’s David is considered to be one of the greatest examples of Renaissance sculpture. Carved from a piece of marble from a quarry near the Tuscan town of Carrara, the statue is a nude male standing 517cm tall without his pedestal.

Michelangelo was not the first artist to begin carving a statue of David from the marble block. The Florentine sculptor Agostino di Duccio had first been contracted by the Overseers of the Office of Works of Florence Cathedral in 1464 to create the statue as one of twelve figures to appear on the buttresses of the recently-completed cathedral. Having begun to shape the feet and legs, he stopped work on the statue in 1466 and work only resumed a decade later when Antonio Rossellino took over.

Rossellino did not do much more to the marble before his contract was terminated shortly after it had been awarded. The block then remained on its back in the cathedral yard for 25 years before Michelangelo was recruited to complete the statue two years after he finished work on the Pietà.

The 26 year old was given two years to produce David and, according to the written contract, was to be paid ‘six broad florins of gold in gold for every month’. Dr Barrie Cook of the British Museum has since used the Bank of England’s price inflation index to calculate that Michelangelo was therefore paid just £40,000 at today’s prices for the finished piece.

On its completion the sculpture was placed next to the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, although it has been displayed in the Accademia Gallery since 1873 to protect the fragile marble.

Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, the USA’s most popular television show, for the first time.

Ed Sullivan was a former New York entertainment columnist who had once vowed never to have Elvis Presley appear on his variety show. He had previously turned down an opportunity to hire the singer for $5,000 but realised his mistake when his show ratings were crippled by Elvis’ appearance on a rival show hosted by Steve Allen.

Sullivan consequently agreed to pay the unprecedented sum of $50,000 for three appearances, the first of which took place on the new season premiere. Sullivan, however, was not able to host the show as he was recovering from a head-on collision that had almost killed him. British actor Charles Laughton was recruited as the stand-in host, and introduced the rock n roll star with the words “…and now, away to Hollywood to meet Elvis Presley!”

Elvis needed to perform at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, rather than the New York studio where The Ed Sullivan Show was based, because he was in the middle of filming his debut movie. Having opened with his recent hit ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, Elvis went on to perform the title song from the forthcoming film, ‘Love Me Tender’.

He appeared again later, performing Little Richard’s hit ‘Ready Teddy’ and a shortened version of ‘Hound Dog’. This segment included some full-body shots of Elvis, but when he began dancing the cameras tended to focus only from his waist upwards.

Sullivan’s decision to hire Elvis to appear on the show paid off. 60 million people tuned in to watch the show, a staggering 82.6% of the evening’s television audience. Knowing they would be unable to compete, Steve Allen’s network chose only to show a movie.

The first ever women’s cricket match was played on Gosden Common near Guildford in Surrey.

The match was reported in The Reading Mercury and featured teams from the villages of Bramley and Hambledon. The newspaper made the point that all the players were dressed in all white, but those from Bramley wore blue ribbons while the Hambledon ‘maids’ wore red.

Although the identities of the players are unknown the final result, which saw the team from Hambledon beat Bramley with a score of 127 to 119, was recorded. Furthermore the article highlighted that, ‘the girls bowled, batted, ran and catched as well as most men could do in that game.’

The majority of early women’s cricket matches were local fixtures played in the communities around Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey. Often associated with heavy betting, the sport quickly spread and gained a level of respectability in 1777 when Elizabeth Smith-Stanley, the Countess of Derby, organised a match in which upper-class women made up the two teams.

Despite the growing popularity of women’s cricket, the first women’s cricket club wasn’t formed until 1887. The White Heather Club was established in North Yorkshire, and was followed three years later by the chronologically-confusingly named Original English Lady Cricketers. However, a national organisation for women’s cricket wasn’t established until 1926 when the Women’s Cricket Association was founded. Under its guidance the England team played its first series of test matches in Australia in 1934-5. The Women’s Cricket Association was eventually absorbed by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 1998.

On the 25th July 1965, American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan performed at the Newport Folk Festival with an electric band. His dramatic shift away from his traditional instruments of acoustic guitar and harmonica was said to have, “electrified one half of his audience, and electrocuted the other”.

Dylan came to prominence in the early years of the 1960s with songs that chronicled the social situation in the USA at the time. Labelled as the “spokesman of a generation” by the media he had released four acoustic albums in the first three years of his recording career. But, in March 1965, Bringing It All Back Home indicated a new direction for Dylan. While one side of the record maintained his acoustic roots, the other side featured an electric backing band.

Dylan’s appearances at the Newport Folk Festival reflected his album releases. In 1963 and 64 he had been the poster boy of acoustic folk alongside female musician and on-off romantic partner Joan Baez, but on the night before his appearance at the 1965 festival he decided to go electric. Gathering together a group of musicians from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, he frantically rehearsed a short four-song set that was performed on the Sunday evening.

Accounts of the performance, and the crowd’s reaction to it, differ. While some claim that the crowd were hostile to Dylan appearing with an electric guitar, others say that the booing was a response to the short set and poor sound system. Whatever the case, Dylan going electric marked a watershed moment for both the folk and rock music scenes.

Today is World Fringe Day where people around the world are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the world famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which took place for the first time in 1947. HistoryPod is proud to be able to celebrate #WorldFringeDay, and the foundation of the Fringe movement, in this special live recording from the Buxton Festival Fringe in the wonderful English spa town of Buxton in Derbyshire. I’m recording today’s episode in front of a group of Buxton Fringe-goers, and we’re very lucky to be situated within a beautiful Victorian building that now serves as Scrivener’s Bookshop on the outskirts of the Peak District National Park in England.

When Sir Rudolf Bing, a controversial Austrian opera impresario, curated the first Edinburgh International Festival in the summer of 1947, he focused the programme on what he called the “highest and purest ideals of art in its many and varied forms”. This high-brow mission statement immediately drew criticism from many artistic groups who felt alienated by the festival’s exclusivity. The fact that approximately £60,000 was being spent on an elite cultural celebration just two years after the devastating effects of the Second World War also seemed to ignore the fragile state of Britain’s economy and social fabric.

Despite these concerns, companies including Glyndebourne Opera, the Halle Orchestra and Sadler’s Wells Ballet converged on Edinburgh for the inaugural festival. However, another eight theatre companies who had not been invited to perform took matters into their own hands. Although it is unlikely that they had conspired in advance to provide an alternative programme, the companies – who soon referred to themselves collectively as the ‘Festival Adjuncts’ – benefitted greatly from the audiences who had travelled to Edinburgh for the official festival. Consisting of six Scottish and two English theatre companies, this loose collection of like-minded groups caught the eye of many festival-goers with what was referred to by Alistair Moffatt in his 1978 book about the Edinburgh Fringe as their ‘missionary zeal’.

Since the major venues in Edinburgh were already in use for the official festival performances, these other companies were forced to find alternative spaces to stage their productions. These ranged from smaller theatres in the city to the innovative use of Dunfermline Abbey to stage a production of the medieval morality play Everyman. The Abbey’s location, about 20 miles outside Edinburgh, led to a critic lamenting its location ‘on the fringe of the Festival’.

This is the first recorded use of the term ‘fringe’ in the context of the Edinburgh Festival, although it’s important to note that it was written with a small letter F. This happened again the following year when the Scottish playwright and journalist, Robert Kemp, commented on the wealth of ‘private enterprise’ that was taking place ‘round the fringe of official Festival drama’. It wasn’t until 1958 that the Festival Fringe Society was created to coordinate what the Scotsman newspaper referred to as an ‘official unofficial festival’. In the wake of this more formal organisation, the Fringe finally acquired its all-important capital F twelve years after the first performers converged on Edinburgh, and the Fringe was recognised as a festival in its own right.

A key value of the Fringe is that it is an unjuried festival – meaning that there is no selection committee, and that anyone who can secure a venue is able to perform. This has led to some innovative uses of the available spaces, and where we’re recording this podcast at the Buxton Festival Fringe is no exception. Scrivener’s Books and Bookbinding shop is situated on the High Street of this ancient market town in a building that was originally a Victorian tobacconist’s shop. Consisting of five floors of rare and not-so-rare books, and even featuring a small Victorian museum in the cellar, I frankly couldn’t imagine a better place for a history fan like me to speak to history fans like you.

And Buxton itself has a fascinating history. The Romans established a settlement here, naming it in honour of the natural spa waters that have been a focal point for the town ever since. The spa water drew the Earl of Shrewsbury to the town in 1573 when he and his wife, Bess of Hardwick, brought the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots to stay at the Old Hall Hotel in the centre of the town. This hotel continues to stand on its original site next to the later 18th century Crescent, which was built by the Dukes of Devonshire when they transformed the town into a Georgian holiday resort similar to Bath in the South West of England. The popularity of the town continued throughout the Victorian era as the arrival of the railway allowed people to travel from all over the country to take advantage of the reputed healing properties of the waters. This period saw the landscaping of the Pavilion Gardens which are overlooked by the imposing cast iron Dome of the University of Derby, which is housed in what were originally the Great Stables of the Duke of Devonshire.