Radio and television


RD 2When the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) came into being in 1927, as well as broadcasting from London, it also broadcast from regional stations around Britain.

Sometimes a programme was broadcast simultaneously from London and a regional station, and sometimes it was only broadcast from a regional station.

We hope this helps to explain the notations included in our listings of RD’s radio broadcasts.

The broadcasts listed below were broadcast from London unless otherwise stated.

We are extremely grateful to Robert Crewdson who researched and collated the following listings from available archives.

David of Israel. Sunday 10th April, 1927. 5SC Glasgow.

Readings of Prose and Poetry. Wednesday, May 25th, 1927. 5NO Newcastle.

Summer Scenes from Shakespeare. The Merry Wives of Windsor, As you Like It, Much Ado About Nothing. Manchester 2ZY. Monday 13th June, 1927.

Wireless Quintet. Friday December 23rd, 1927. Radio 5SC Glasgow

The Quarrel Scene from Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3 (Shakespeare)  Thursday January 12th, 1928. Radio 5GB Daventry.

Recitations. Sunday, January 29th, 1928. Radio 2ZY Manchester.

Samson and Delilah (Act 2). Friday May 25th 1928. Relayed from the Covent Garden Opera House and broadcast from Daventry 5GB.

Foundations of English Poetry – 9. Blake and Smart, read by J.C. Squire and Robert Donat. Sunday May 27th, 1928.  London and Daventry 5XX.

The Augmented Station Orchestra. Harold Hallas (Baritone), Robert Donat (Reciter). Sunday June 3rd, 1928. Manchester 2ZY

The Complete Angler, by Izaak Walton, part 2. Frank Foxon (character baritone); Robert Donat reading A Fishy Tale by Philip Middlemiss.  Thursday August 9th, 1928. Manchester 2ZY.

The Secret of the Flying Scud: a play in four episodes from The Wrecker by R.L. Stevenson, presented by the Station Repertory Players (including Robert Donat).  Friday November 2nd, 1928. Manchester 2ZY.

Poetry Reading: The Hound of Heaven, by Francis Thompson and other poems, read by Robert Donat. Good Friday, March 29th, 1929. Daventry 5XX.

Recollections in Tranquility. Readings of Wordsworth by Robert Donat. Manchester 2ZY. Sunday 7th April, 1929.

Children’s Hour: Home Sweet Home. Poems by Robert Donat. Manchester 2ZY. Friday 21st June, 1929.

Pastorale: Robert Donat (from Liverpool) reading Elegy in a Country Churchyard (Gray), The Solitary Reaper (Wordsworth),  A Boy’s Song (James Hogg), The Shepherd (Edmund Blunden), Moonrise at Grasmere once more (James A. Mackereth). Manchester 2ZY. Sunday 23rd June, 1929.

Children’s Hour: Famous Musicians. The Pied Piper and other poems by Robert Donat. Manchester 2ZY. Friday 19th July, 1929.

Children’s Hour: Rogues and Vagabonds. The Jackdaw of Rheims, recited by Robert Donat. Manchester 2ZY. Friday 13th September, 1929.

Christmas is Coming: poems by Robert Donat. Manchester 2ZY. Tuesday 10th December, 1929.

The Northern Wireless Orchestra: Robert Donat (readings). Sunday December 7th , 1930. Broadcast from Manchester and Leeds.

The Forsaken City, a picture in sound of the Great Plague of 1665, compiled by Mr M.H. Allen, from the works of Defoe, Pepys, Nash, and Harrison Ainsworth. (Donat in the cast). Thursday 25th February, 1932.

Hamlet (Robert Donat as Horatio). Sunday June 5th, 1932.

Midsummer Eve, a new play by John Drinkwater. June 23rd, 1932.

Julius Caesar, adapted for the microphone by Miss Barbara Burnham. Sunday December 10th, 1933.

An Interview with Robert Donat, who is producing and playing the lead in James Landsale Hodson’s play, Grey Dawn – Red Night, at the Opera House, Blackpool. BBC Northern. Monday January 20th, 1936.

Hospital Party: Programme from the Children’s Ward of the Manchester Royal Infirmary. An appeal on behalf of sick children in the North of England will be given by Robert Donat. BBC Regional. Monday 5th October, 1936.

The Forsaken City. BBC Regional. Repeated from 1932. Sunday 21st March, 1937.

The Dark Lady of the Sonnets, by George Bernard Shaw. Friday April 22nd 1938.

Stop! Gala Performance of In Town Tonight. The 200th and final performance of the sixth season. Robert Donat interviewed by Lionel Gamlin. BBC National Programme. Saturday 27th May, 1939.

Robert Donat appealing on behalf of the Victoria Home for Invalid Children, Margate, Kent. Saturday July 29th, 1939.

Will Shakespeare, by Miss Clemence Dane. Robert Donat in the title part. Saturday January 13th, 1940.

The Devil’s Disciple, by George Bernard Shaw (excerpt) BBC Home Service. Friday May 17th, 1940.

A Reading by Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Tuesday August 6th , 1940.

E.N.S.A Programme, compere: Robert Donat. BBC Home Service Programmes for the Forces. Friday August 30th, 1940. Robert Donat in The Young Mr Pitt adapted for radio.

Dr. Faustus: a tragical history of the Renaissance, by Christopher Marlowe, a shortened version for broadcasting. BBC Home Service. Saturday September 7th , 1940.

Picture Reporter – 6. A Radio Film Magazine. Robert Donat as William Pitt. BBC Home Service. Thursday 5th June, 1941.

Saturday Matinee -3. As You Like It, Robert Donat, Peggy Ashcroft, Ralph Richardson, Edith Evans. The actors introduce the scenes before acting them. BBC For the Forces. Saturday 23rd May, 1942.

Scenes from Love on the Dole . Robert Donat and Wendy Hiller. BBC Home Service, Programmes for the Forces. Saturday September 19th, 1942.

Britain to America. Young Allies: radio picture of children of all nations in Britain this Christmas united in celebration of the children’s festival. Narrator: Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Saturday 26th December, 1942.

Britain to America. Meet the Family. The  radio story of a Lancashire family at War, told by themselves. Narrator: Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Saturday 2nd January, 1943. Re-broadcast in the USA by the Blue Network.

Short Wave at War. Programme for the tenth anniversary of the inception of the BBC shortwave service. Narrator, Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Wednesday 6th January, 1943.

Cancer appeal, asking for donations to be sent to Robert Donat, Christie Hospital, Manchester, and the Liverpool Radium Institute. Sunday July 25th, 1943.

Vaudeville of 1943. A Saturday night entertainment featuring famous stars of Variety, music and drama. BBC Home Service. Saturday 25th December, 1943.

In Memorium: Lines from Tennyson’s Poem, spoken by Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Sunday January 2nd 1944.

An Ideal Husband. Radio version of Robert Donat’s Westminster Theatre production of the play by Oscar Wilde, and other members of the Westminster Theatre Company. BBC Home Service. Sunday 19th March, 1944.

Children’s Hour. Robert Donat introduces scenes from The Glass Slipper, by Herbert Farjeon and Eleanor Farjeon, acted by the Company now appearing at the St. James’s Theatre. BBC Home Service. Wednesday 3rd January, 1945.

Here’s Wishing You Well Again. A new edition of the weekly magazine for Forces in hospitals everywhere. Puzzle it Out with Robert Donat. BBC General Forces. Thursday 18th January, 1945.

Winston Churchill, The History of a Reputation. A history of Churchill through the eyes of his contemporaries. Narrator: Robert Donat. BBC General Forces. Friday 11th May, 1945.

How to Cope with Christmas, including How We Used To, by Stephen Potter and Joyce Grenfell. Enlarged edition of last year’s Christmas How, demonstrated by Robert Donat , Celia Johnson , Joyce Grenfell , and distinguished members of the How Repertory Company. BBC Third Programme. Sunday 22nd December, 1946. Repeated Monday 23rd.

Venus and Adonis, by William Shakespeare. Read in two parts by Robert Donat. Part 1. BBC Third Programme. Friday 11th July, 1947. Repeated 2nd April, 1948.

The Life and Death of Dr. John Donne, by Douglas Cleverdon. BBC Third Programme. Wednesday 21st May, 1947, repeated Saturday August 16th, 1947.

The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes (Part 1).  BBC Third Programme. Wednesday October 22nd, 1947.

As Above, Part 2. Thursday October 23rd, 1947.

As Above, Part 3. Saturday October 25th, 1947.

The Last Hour: New Year’s Eve Programme, with Robert Donat as the narrator. BBC Home Service. Wednesday December 31st, 1947.

The Week’s Good Cause: Robert Donat on behalf of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, London. BBC Home Service. Sunday January 25th, 1948.

Curtain Up. Robert Donat and Glynis Johns in Cynara. BBC Light Programme. Wednesday 17th November, 1948.

Ring out the Old, the personal story of 1948 by  D.G. Bridson, narrated by Robert Donat, followed at Midnight by Ring in the New, A Toast to the New Year by Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Friday 31st December, 1948.

Picture Parade. A Truly British Picture .Robert Donat explains how and why he is to become a film producer and talks about his new film, The Cure for Love. BBC Light Programme.  Friday 25th March, 1949.

Film Time. Robert Donat introduces some scenes from his new production The Cure for Love, in which he co-stars with Renee Asherson. BBC Home Service. Thursday 12th January, 1950.

The Queen’s Inheritance. The narrator Robert Donat will conduct the spoken links that will connect the furthest corners of the Commonwealth, in a sequence of Christmas greetings and goodwill. The Queen’s Inheritance and Her Majesty’s own message will be heard in both the Home Service and Light Programme. Thursday December 25th, 1952.

Long Live the Queen, narrated by Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Coronation Day, June 2nd, 1953.

Reading of Poetry by Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Sunday November 14th, 1953.

Laurence Olivier Presents: The Sire de Maletroit’s Door, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Guest: Robert Donat. BBC Light Programme. Tuesday 11th May, 1954.

Henry VIII; a celebration of Dame Sybil Thorndyke’s 50th anniversary of her first appearance on stage. Robert Donat as Cranmer. BBC Home Service. Monday June 14th, 1954.

Close-up of Sir Michael Balcon. First in a new series of radio portraits of famous personalities of the entertainment world with T. E. B. Clark, Robert Donat, Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Jack Hulbert, Alexander Mackendrick, Harry Watt and Sir Michael Balcon. BBC Light Programme. Tuesday 21st July, 1954. Repeated 27th July, BBC Home Service.

Poetry Reading by Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Tuesday December 28th, 1954.

Music for the Sultan, by Stanley Mayes. BBC Home Service. Sunday March 6th, 1955.

Tribute to Robert Donat. BBC Home Service. Tuesday June 24th, 1958. Repeated Thursday July 24th.

The Ring and the Book, by Robert Browning, Part 7 from Book 10. Robert Donat as the Pope. The reading by Donat was recorded in February, 1958.  Third Programme. Sunday 10th August, 1958. Part 8 broadcast August 24th.


An experimental television service began in the UK in 1936. It closed down during the Second World War (1939-45). It was 1952 before the signal could be received by 81 per cent of the population. By 1955, the number of television licence payers had risen to four and a half million (out of around fourteen million households).

We are extremely grateful to Robert Crewdson who researched and collated the following listings from available archives.

Sir Winston Churchill (80th birthday), a programme of greetings. Introduction spoken by Robert Donat. BBC Television. Tuesday November 30th, 1954.

Sir Alexander Korda (1893-1956).  A film programme of his outstanding contribution to British films. Introduced by Kenneth More. Told by Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Flora Robson, Margaretta Scott, Sir Ralph Richardson, Vivien Leigh, Muir Mathieson, Sir Carol Reed, Ann Todd, David Lean and concluded by Sir Laurence Olivier. BBC Television. Saturday 14th April, 1956. Repeated Sunday 4th March, Sunday 20th May.

This was the Future. On the last evening of its anniversary year, the BBC Television Service looks back to the days when This Was the Future. A film which recalls some of the highlights from twenty one years of television programmes – entertainment, sport, and personalities from all walks of life, together with glimpses from the record of history between 1936 and this New Year’s Eve. The story is told by Robert Donat. BBC Television. Tuesday 31st December, 1957.

Some of these radio and television broadcasts may exist in archives. We hope to undertake further research to find out.

If you remember hearing or seeing any of the above, or (even better!) have any recordings you would be willing to share, we would love to hear from you.

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