Jean Seaton is Professor of Media History and the Official Historian of the BBC. She will publish in the Autumn of 2014 the next volume of the Corporations story, Holding the Line: the BBC and the Nation, taking Lord Asa Briggs work forward for Profile Books. This involves everything the BBC did in a tumultuous decade from the conflict in Northern Ireland, to the invasion of the Falklands, to Not the Nine O’Clock News, the Proms, the early music revolution, devolution, Dennis Potter’s greatest plays, Attenborough’s revolutionary series Life on Earth, and Radio 1s most influential moment, as well as the role of women in the Corporation, programmes for children and a tense and complicated relationship with the government. The history was given privileged access to BBC archives, but also gained privileged access to state papers. For the first time the Corporation’s history is seen in the round. It has depended on several hundred interviews, and explores both the programme making decision that go into the making of an iconic Television series like John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but also the high politics around the imposition of the broadcasting ban.
She has been involved in a variety of policy discussion within the BBC – because of her understanding of the historical precedent and shape of concerns. She has also assisted programme makers in formulating problems more accurately as well as appearing on programmes as an expert witness.
She has written widely on the history and role of the media in politics, wars, atrocities, the Holocaust, revolutions, security issues and religion as well as news and journalism and is particularly interested in the impact of the media on children. She has contributed to policy debates and formulation especially concerning public service content and freedom of speech.