In 1932 the BBC first began broadcasting to the world from a clutch of makeshift huts in Daventry, an endeavour grandly described by John Reith as a "connecting link between the scattered parts of the Empire". Nobody, not even Reith, could have foreseen its development over the next 60 years. Despite constant problems of underfunding and a sometimes uneasy relationship with the governments of the day, the World Service moved slowly from strength to strength as it forged its policy of truthful, accurate and impartial news broadcasting whatever the embarrassments or political costs. In this way it became an effective weapon against the slick anti-British propaganda aimed at the colonies from Germany and Italy. During World War II the voice of the BBC was so respected that Goebbels hit out in exasperation against "this intellectual invasion of the continent by British radio!". The BBC became a symbol of hope to the people of occupied Europe, and continued to be so through the politcal upheavals and tyrannies around the world in the decades that followed. The World Service today broadcasts in 38 languages and claims at least 120 million listeners.
Today the BBC World Service is the most widely-known and best-loved broadcasting service in the world. It has picked up many international awards and was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize - in 1988 and 1990. Andrew Walker tells the story of the BBC World Service from its beginning to 1992, its 60th Anniversary year.