by Justin Phillips
This book does several things. First, it is a history of the BBC and its adaptation to wartime conditions, beginning in 1939.
Second, it is a history of religious programming on the Beeb. The use of religious programming to meet the needs of national morale is discussed. The larger theme, though, is the cultivation of new talent who could help pioneer a new approach to religious programming, especially in drama and apologetics.
Third, it is the history of that talent learning to use broadcasting as a means of doing what they were already doing. Dorothy Sayers's play-cycle, The Man Born to be King, is fully discussed. But the lion's share of the book is about how C.S. Lewis came to the attention of the Beeb, was persuaded to do four series of fifteen-minute talks which later were published as Mere Christianity, which made of him a national (and international) figure. His later history with the BBC (mostly of stalling and refusing to be used as what we would call today a "talking head") is also given in full.
Finally, the book talks about how the spirit of ecumenism which the Beeb helped foster, and about the reputation of C.S. Lewis as a Christian apologist. Interestingly, Lewis's reputation in England is largely as a children's author; it is in the US that he is mostly known as a theological writer.
Summary opinion: It ain't deathless prose, but it's worth a read.