Radio Camelot

Radio Camelot

Arthurian Legends on the BBC, 1922-2005

Roger Simpson





The Arthurian legend as treated on radio.
`The writer argues persuasively that the treatment of Arthurian themes on radio was a significant contribution to the development of the "Matter of Britain" in the twentieth century... impressively comprehensive, covering music, readings, features, and drama.... He unearths a great deal of information that will be of interest not only to Arthurian scholars, but also to students of radio and the history of broadcasting... An extremely valuable and entertaining record of twentieth-century Arthurian work'. NIGEL BRYANT

Radio has been an important medium for the recreation of the Arthurian legend, reshaping the Matter of Britain in response to changing social and cultural contexts through adapting the traditional material and developing new genres. This pioneering study, drawing on unpublished sources in the BBC Written Archives, uncovers a wealth of material that greatly expands the Arthurian canon. It is both a lively but authoritative record, and critical evaluation, of broadcast music, drama, literature (from medieval to modern), and documentary feature programmes.In particular, the author provides a full account of the growth of Arthurian radio drama, which evolved from D. G. Bridson's patriotic pre-war King Arthur, via fascinations with the Holy Grail and the Lady of Shalott, to its flowering in the 1990s with Kevin Crossley-Holland's Arthur's Knight. Along the way he traces Tolkien's and T. H. White's involvement with the BBC, and reveals radio's role in widening access to the Arthurian operas of Purcell and Wagner. The text is complemented by contemporary illustrations from the Radio Times.

ROGER SIMPSON, who previously taught English and British Studies at the University of East Anglia, is the author of Camelot Regained and numerous articles about the Arthurian Revival.


November 2007
35 black and white illustrations
222 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Arthurian Studies
ISBN: 9781843841401
Format: Hardback
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Table of Contents

1922-1939: `Loud-speakers in Lyonesse'
1940-1959: `The envy of the world'
1960-1979: `The old order changeth, yielding place to new'
1980-2005: `Wave after wave'
1980-2005: `Arthur is come again...he cannot die'


Most welcome and extraordinarily well done. Radio Camelot is an erudite guided tour not only of the history of Arthur on the BBC but also to some extent, of the BBC itself as well as of much of the literature, history and even archaeology which played a role in the development of the Arthurian legends on radio. HISTORICAL JOURNAL OF FILM, RADIO AND TELEVISION
[An] authoritative study. WADHAM COLLEGE GAZETTE
A unique and authoritative record of broadcast music, drama, literature and documentary programmes with Arthurian connections that were broadcast between 1922 and 2005 by the BBC. [...] There are ten invaluable appendices and a detailed index, all of which adds up to my firm recommendation to you: by hook or by crook, you must read this book. PENDRAGON
Exhaustively researched, lovingly written and meticulously documented, this book is definitive. ARTHURIANA

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