Pinkoes and Traitors

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

Pinkoes and Traitors

The BBC and the nation, 1974–1987

Jean Seaton

A dramatic and revealing history of the BBC during some of its most turbulent and testing years

eBook (ePUB/MOBI)?
9781847659163 (26 Feb 2015)

About the book

During the Margaret Thatcher years, Britain experienced mass unemployment, trade union strikes, bloody war in Northern Ireland and the Falklands, and an existential threat to its public service broadcaster, the BBC. Pounded by a coherent free market argument, the BBC had to justify its right to the Licence Fee and its independent place in the 'unwritten' British constitution. It did so by producing memorable programmes for the whole British public (not just for the groups that advertisers liked), bolstered by a surprising amount of help from elements of the Conservative government (although not from Thatcher). Drawing on previously unseen state and BBC papers, many released specifically for this dramatic and revealing account, as well as a compelling range of interviewees, Jean Seaton examines the turbulent controversies (stirred up by programmes such as Maggie's Militant Tendency) and the magnificent triumphs (such as Life on Earth and Morecambe and Wise) of an institution that Britain loved and hated, and in many ways is still defined by.

About the author

Jean Seaton is Professor of Media History at the University of Westminster and Director of the Orwell Prize for political writing and journalism. She has written widely on broadcasting history and politics of the media (especially the BBC), as well as on news, the ways in which wars and conflicts are covered, and children and the media. She has written about and helped form media policy. Her book with James Curran, Power Without Responsibility: the Press, Broadcasting and Internet in Britain (1981), has become an international classic and is in its 7th edition. Her most recent book is Carnage and the Media: How News about Violence is Made (2006). She is a regular broadcaster and an editor of The Political Quarterly. She has three sons and lives in London.


Not the least of this very readable book's main virtues is that it tells us so much about the country that created the BBC as well as the public service broadcaster itself... a book that is both hugely entertaining and wise.

- Chris Patten, Financial Times

[Seaton] writes in prose that would have impressed Orwell himself. Unsentimental, robust, devoid of jargon, and clear as hell, Pinkoes and Traitors demands what Orwell himself asks of us: to stand outside. Look around. Assess. And tell it like it is in an English as direct as you can. Like Orwell's work, Pinkoes and Traitors makes you walk out into the world and see the familiar anew.

- Bonnie Greer, The Independent

The best argument I have read in favour of the BBC.

- Nick Fraser, The Observer

This is a rich and essential history.

- Peter J. Conradi, The Spectator

Essential reading for anyone concerned, in any way, about the future of the BBC.

- Graham McCann, TLS

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics