|First issue||16 January 1929|
|Final issue||3 January 1991|
The Listener was a weekly magazine established by the BBC in January 1929 which ceased publication in 1991. The entire digitised archive was made available for purchase online to libraries, educational and research institutions in 2011.
It was first published on 16 January 1929, under the editorship of Richard S. Lambert, and was developed as a medium of record for the reproduction of broadcast talks. It also previewed major literary and musical broadcasts, reviewed new books, and printed a selected list of the more intellectual broadcasts for the coming week.
Its published aim was to be "a medium for intelligent reception of broadcast programmes by way of amplification and explanation of those features which cannot now be dealt with in the editorial columns of the Radio Times ". The title reflected the fact that at the time the BBC broadcast via radio only.
(The BBC version of The Listener was preceded by another magazine with the same title which was the Journal of the Wireless League.)
The first issue was published as a four-page insert in the Wireless World magazine on 24 March 1926. The Listener was described as The Journal of the Wireless League and was edited by Prof. A. M. Low. A comment from the BBC was included: "The B.B.C. welcomes The Listener. We have always before us the need for constant progress and we gladly listen to constructive criticism and help from the large body of listeners you represent. The Listener should be a milestone in the advance of British Broadcasting."
The Newspaper Proprietors' Association considered its launch to be "an illegitimate stretching of official activity" and, after consultation between Reith and the Prime Minister, a number of compromises were agreed to, including an upper limit of 10% original contributed material not related to broadcasting. Another compromise was a limit to the amount of advertising it could carry.
It came to be seen as one of a trio of weekly magazines, the other two being The Spectator and the New Statesman , though it was distinguished from them by not being associated with a political party. The management of the other two magazines were occasionally critical of what they saw as the privileged financial position of their subsidised rival.
Above all, The Listener represented the BBC's cultural mission (strongly emphasised by John Reith). It gradually declined after 1960 as British society changed, the BBC became more plural, and other sources of information became more readily available.
The first editor, Richard S. Lambert, left in 1939 after successfully suing Sir Cecil Levita for slander over allegations that he was unfit for his job because of his credulity in believing in Gef, the talking mongoose.
Following the report of the Peacock Committee in 1986, all the BBC’s commercial activities, including The Listener, were moved into BBC Enterprises Limited. Management was now mainly answerable for the magazine’s commercial performance rather than its literary standards.[ citation needed ]
In 1987 The Listener was spun out to a new company jointly owned by the BBC and rival broadcaster ITV. Seeing The Listener’s eclecticism as a lack of focus, the new company appointed Alan Coren from Punch as editor in 1987 to try to establish a clearer identity as a humorous weekly, moving slightly away from the more intellectual and artistic aspects for which the magazine had also been known.
The attempt did not work, perhaps because the change of direction alienated subscribers who had valued the eclecticism, and the company replaced Coren with Peter Fiddick in 1989. In 1990 ITV pulled out of the joint deal, the BBC found itself unable to support it on its own, and the last issue of The Listener was published on 3 January 1991.
In 2011 the magazines were scannedfor digitally preserved archiving. Issues are available via the educational publisher Gale, behind a paywall.
In its early decades The Listener attracted celebrated contributors including H. E. Bates, E. M. Forster, T. S. Eliot, Julian Huxley, George Orwell, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, G. K. Chesterton, Herbert Read, Hans Keller and John Kenneth Galbraith. It also provided an important platform for new writers and poets. W. H. Auden, Edwin Muir, Christopher Isherwood, Stephen Spender, Sylvia Plath and Philip Larkin all had early works published in The Listener. Later, regular columnists included John Cole, Stephen Fry and Roy Hattersley. Barry Fantoni provided the magazine with cartoons and illustrations for twenty-one years.
The Listener crossword puzzle, introduced in 1930, is generally regarded as the most difficult cryptic crossword to appear in a national weekly. It survived the closure of The Listener and now appears in The Times on a Saturday, along with other puzzles and game articles on the last four pages of the "Saturday Review" section.
Solvers are invited to send in their solutions, with each of three randomly drawn correct solutions winning a prize of a book provided by the sponsors, Chambers. An annual list of statistics is also compiled for regular solvers to compare their performances. In most years only a handful of solvers are able to complete and submit all 52 puzzles correctly. The leading solver each year is awarded the Solver Silver Salver, and the all-correct solvers vote for the best puzzle of the year — the setter of which is awarded the Ascot Gold Cup.
Arts and literary editors included J. R. Ackerley 1935–1959, and Anthony Thwaite. Assistant Editors included Janet Adam Smith 1930–1935.
A crossword is a word puzzle that usually takes the form of a square or a rectangular grid of white- and black-shaded squares. The game's goal is to fill the white squares with letters, forming words or phrases, by solving clues, which lead to the answers. In languages that are written left-to-right, the answer words and phrases are placed in the grid from left to right ("Across") and from top to bottom ("Down"). The shaded squares are used to separate the words or phrases.
A cryptic crossword is a crossword puzzle in which each clue is a word puzzle in and of itself. Cryptic crosswords are particularly popular in the United Kingdom, where they originated, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, and in several Commonwealth nations, including Australia, Canada, India, Kenya, Malta, New Zealand, and South Africa. In the United States, cryptics are sometimes known as "British-style" crosswords. Compilers of cryptic crosswords are commonly called "setters" in the UK.
The British Broadcasting Company Ltd (BBC) was a short-lived British commercial company formed on 18 October 1922 by British and American electrical companies doing business in the United Kingdom. Licensed by the British General Post Office, their original office was located on the second floor of Magnet House, the GEC buildings in London and consisted of a room and a small antechamber. On 14 December 1922, John Reith was hired to become the Managing Director of the company at that address. The company later moved its offices to the premises of the Marconi Company. The BBC as a commercial broadcasting company did not sell air time but it did carry a number of sponsored programmes paid for by British newspapers. On 31 December 1926, the company was dissolved, and its assets were transferred to the non-commercial and crown-chartered British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
The Radio Times is a British weekly listings magazine devoted to television and radio programme schedules, with other features such as interviews, film reviews and lifestyle items. Founded in 1923 by John Reith, then general manager of the British Broadcasting Company, it was the world's first broadcast listings magazine.
Alan Coren was an English humourist, writer and satirist who was well known as a regular panellist on the BBC radio quiz The News Quiz and a team captain on BBC television's Call My Bluff. Coren was also a journalist, and for almost a decade was the editor of Punch magazine.
William F. Shortz is an American puzzle creator and editor and crossword puzzle editor for The New York Times.
Puzzle Panel was a light-hearted, though cerebral BBC Radio 4 panel game that was broadcast between 1998 and 2005. An additional series was broadcast over the winter-spring of 2011, and a further series was broadcast during the same period in 2012. It has been written and presented by puzzle columnist for The Guardian, Chris Maslanka.
The New York Times Magazine is a Sunday magazine supplement included with the Sunday edition of The New York Times. It features articles longer than those typically in the newspaper and has attracted many notable contributors. The magazine is noted for its photography, especially relating to fashion and style. Its puzzles have been popular since their introduction.
GAMES World of Puzzles is a puzzle magazine formed from the merger of Games and World of Puzzles in October 2014.
Adrian Bell was an English ruralist journalist and farmer, and the first compiler of The Times crossword.
Alan Connor is a British writer, journalist and television presenter. First seen on Channel 4's youth entertainment programme The Word in 1995, he later appeared on The Big Breakfast and BBC Radio Five Live and was a BBC News correspondent, appearing on BBC News 24 and The Daily Politics.
Timothy Eric Parker is an American puzzle editor, games creator, author, and TV producer.
The New York Times crossword puzzle is a daily puzzle published in The New York Times, online at the newspaper's website, syndicated to more than 300 other newspapers and journals, and available on mobile apps.
Jonathan Crowther is a British crossword compiler who has for over 45 years composed the Azed cryptic crossword in The Observer Sunday newspaper. He was voted "best British crossword setter" in a poll of crossword setters conducted by The Sunday Times in 1991 and in the same year was chosen as "the crossword compilers' crossword compiler" in The Observer Magazine "Experts' Expert" feature.
Azed is a crossword which appears every Sunday in The Observer newspaper. Since it first appeared in March 1972, every puzzle has been composed by Jonathan Crowther who also judges the monthly clue-writing competition. The pseudonym Azed is a reversal of Deza, a Spanish inquisitor general. This combines the inquisitorial tradition of Torquemada and Ximenes with the wordplay element of a British cryptic crossword.
Matt Gaffney is a professional crossword puzzle constructor and author who lives in Staunton, Virginia. His puzzles have appeared in Billboard magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Beast, Dell Champion Crossword Puzzles, GAMES magazine, the Los Angeles Times, New York magazine, the New York Times, Newsday, The Onion, Slate magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, The Week, and Wine Spectator.
Hebdomada Aenigmatum is the first magazine of crosswords in Latin.
William Lutwiniak was an American crossword constructor who was also known for his work as a cryptologist with the National Security Agency. He composed a total of 8,413 puzzles; his first five thousand were composed between 1965 and 1985, as a hobby.
Sarah Hayes, usually known as Arachne, is a British cryptic crossword setter. She sets puzzles for The Guardian, The Independent, the Financial Times, the New Statesman, and The Times, and advanced cryptics for The Listener crossword, Enigmatic Variations and the Inquisitor. Hayes's clues are often smutty or political and make frequent use of the generic she.
People Puzzler is an American television game show hosted by Leah Remini and broadcast by Game Show Network. It premiered on January 18, 2021.
[...] all 3,197 issues are to be made available online as part of a major new digitisation project. Initially due to be opened to universities, schools, libraries and research institutions, BBC Worldwide has spent 18 months collaborating with digital archive specialists Cengage Learning to scan and index [...]