“For 11 years, they kept me off the air. They prevented me from expressing views that proved to be right. Their behaviour has been tyrannical.”
This is an important history lesson for anyone who thinks that state-owned media can in any way be informative or that politically correct censorship began recently.
He was finally invited to give a talk in 1934 and used this opportunity to warn of the danger of ignoring German rearmament. That broadcast demonstrated the impact Churchill could have had in warning the country against appeasement. It was not to be. This was his last radio appearance on the subject before the outbreak of war.
Churchill did complain to a young BBC producer who visited him on the day after Chamberlain returned home from Munich. A memo records their meeting. They spent hours discussing the Nazi threat and “Churchill complained that he had been very badly treated… and that he was always muzzled by the BBC”. The producer was called Guy Burgess. The man who would become his country’s most famous traitor tried to reassure the man who would become its saviour that the BBC was not biased.
Burgess proved to be a top Soviet agent who eventually fled to Moscow. And the BBC's alienation of Churchill helped open up the television marketplace, marginalizing the Beeb.
Some years earlier, Churchill had taken a decision that would change television for good. He had decided to break the BBC monopoly that his old enemy John Reith had considered so vital for broadcasting. He did so in the face of Reith’s hysterical warning that commercial television would be as disastrous for Britain as “dog racing, smallpox and bubonic plague”. Indeed, that wild overstatement seems to have helped overcome Churchill’s initial doubts. The grand old man explained his conversion to his doctor, Lord Moran: “For 11 years, they kept me off the air. They prevented me from expressing views that proved to be right. Their behaviour has been tyrannical.”