George Orwell at the BBC

Friday 10 November 2017

On Tuesday 7th November a statue of George Orwell was unveiled in the piazza of the BBC’s New Broadcasting House by Baroness Whitaker and Orwell’s son, Richard Blair. The statue, which is the work of sculptor Martin Jennings, was commissioned and paid for by the George Orwell Memorial Fund.

George Orwell worked for the BBC in 1941-1943 as a Talks Producer on what was then the ‘Eastern Service’, writing and programming what was essentially propaganda for broadcast to the Indian subcontinent at a crucial time during the war. As Orwell was known for being a staunch anti-imperialist, he gave the service a degree of political credibility in the region. After leaving the BBC in 1943, Orwell – whose real name was Eric Blair – wrote his most famous works, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four. 

Director of The Orwell Foundation Professor Jean Seaton spoke after the unveiling of the statue alongside Orwell Fellow Andrew Marr. Professor Seaton said:

Everything Orwell ever wrote is an extended polemic of seeing the truth, however ugly, in ourselves. Perhaps this was a product also of the war. But it seems to me a mark of democratic principle. For Orwell, the breaking down of the barriers between people and nations depended on a shared reality, and that is surely the object of the BBC.

You can read Professor Seaton’s full speech here.