- The national anthem was deemed too solemn, the disco
hit Stayin' Alive rejected for being too frivolous. BBC executives preferred
the music of Julie Andrews when they chose programmes to be aired if Britain
came under nuclear attack.
- The BBC, it has emerged, distributed a supply of comedy,
drama and religious programmes to an underground network of radio stations
intended to maintain morale while the survivors of a nuclear blast sheltered
in their cellars. The cache, packed in black boxes, included The Sound
of Music, Andrews's 1965 hit.
- The secret schedule was intended to be broadcast for
up to 100 days of nuclear conflict. The radio stations, equipped with iron
rations, tennis tables and bunk beds, were maintained until 1993.
- Peter Donaldson, Radio 4's chief announcer, was designated
the official "voice of doom". He recorded a warning of impending
nuclear attack, which was to be broadcast on all television and radio stations.
It was accompanied by "Dalek" music and strong pulses of light.
- The 20 underground stations were controlled from Wood
Norton, a mansion near Evesham, not far from Worcester. Staff, drawn from
BBC local radio, were vetted by Brigadier Ronald Stoneham, who reported
to the Cabinet Office from his base at BBC Broadcasting House.
- Producers or presenters who might pose a security risk
were discreetly ruled out by Stoneham and his colleagues placing Christmas
tree symbols in their personnel files. Others turned down the opportunity
of serving the nation because they were not allowed to take their families
with them. One insider said: "I can't blame them for deciding there
were better ways to go than to sit in a bunker with a group of local radio
- Jim Black, a former BBC executive, assembled a schedule
of classic radio comedy, including Round the Horn, Sorry, I Haven't a Clue,
and Hancock's Half Hour. Drama was culled from The Afternoon Play and Thirty
- This weekend Black admitted that some BBC managers refused
to take the project seriously. "We had to run occasional trials to
create a sense of realism," he said.
- Dame Vera Lynne said this weekend that she was "delighted"
that her version of We'll Meet Again, a patriotic anthem in the second
world war, had been selected for the cold war. "For this to be chosen
ahead of all the pop songs that went in between shows that in conflict,
a certain character is required."