A note on ‘Music While You Work’ 

13 April 2017 tbs.pm/11669


Cover of the BBC Yearbook for 1945

From the BBC Yearbook for 1945

On 23 June, 1940, the BBC began an experimental series of programmes called ‘Music while you work’. In those critical days of 1940 the whole country was roused to further efforts of production. As Mr. Bevin, Minister of Labour, wrote: ‘Britain’s army of war workers, an army which is growing daily greater, is untiring in its efforts, but no man or woman can toil unceasingly without relaxation. The BBC’s first step in this direction was “Music while you work”, a daily ration of music during the morning and afternoon which made the hours pass more quickly and resulted in greatly increased production.’

A survey of the past five years shows what an important part ‘Music while you work’ has played in the working life of the community. Hundreds of factories have been visited to study reception conditions and to learn the opinions of the ‘men on the job’. To quote from a few factory reports, ‘The music exhilarates the workers without acting as a harmful distraction. When the set was shut down for a week there was a 20 per cent drop in output’. ‘There was a production increase of 22.1 per cent in the fuse shop over a period of one year after the introduction of “Music while you work”.’ ‘I have been asked by the workers to pass onto you a word of thanks. “Music while you work” is a wonderful tonic that cheers us up every day. It gives us a break though we continue to work, and helps us to carry on afresh.’

Since 1940 factory installations have increased at the rate of over one thousand a year and now over eight thousand factories, covering more than four and a half million workers, receive the programmes daily.

The regular announcement which introduces ‘Music while you work’ in the General Forces Programme is aptly symbolic of the link between the worker and the fighting soldier — ‘Calling all Forces overseas and workers at home’.



Courtesy of Nuclear Vault


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