‘This is London Calling’: Whose Britain are we listening to in Listen to Britain?

Modern British Studies Birmingham

Kathryn Robinson Kathryn Robinson

In the first of a series of blogs by students taking the Sites and Sources of Modern Britain module on our MBS MA Programme, MBS member Kathryn Robinson reflects on Humphrey Jennings’ Listen to Britain and the use of film in historical research. You can find more about the MA programme here.


During the Second World War, the stirring melody of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.17 in G could be heard echoing against the empty walls of the National Gallery. At the piano was renowned pianist Myra Hess. When she embarked upon the intricate piano part, the members of the audience were listening to a woman with a Germanic name playing a piece by an Austrian composer in their lunch hour before resuming their war work to help secure Britain’s victory. A strange situation to say the least!

The aim of Listen to Britain was to capture the…

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