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  #1  
Old 01 March 2011, 07:33 PM
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Reporter Winston Churchill's speeches

Comment: An urban myth I have seen doing the rounds on the internet is
that Winston Churchill's famous "We shall fight them on the beaches"
speech on the radio was not in fact delivered by Churchill but by a voice
impersonator.

Although I've seen a few sites claim this myth, I have seen others which
claim it to be totally untrue.
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  #2  
Old 01 March 2011, 08:02 PM
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I've heard that as well, and have seen it on programs on The History Channel (a title which grows more and more ironic as time goes on). However, http://www.winstonchurchill.org says "that he did it, and no one else did it for him." It attributes the origin of the myth to David Irving in his Churchill's War, Volume I, published in 1987, p. 313. From the site:

Quote:
The actor who claimed to have read the speech was Norman Shelley. Irving's sole authority was Shelley himself, although, as it will be seen, under curious circumstances. It was a very dramatic allegation, particularly from that source, and intrinsically deeply suspect, but somehow it became an established fact, accepted unthinkingly by later biographers and historians, including John Charmley, Clive Ponting and, astonishingly, even Philip Ziegler, who is in an entirely different league.
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  #3  
Old 01 March 2011, 08:56 PM
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The speech was given in parliament. Was there some one underneath the dispatch box voice projecting perhaps?
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  #4  
Old 01 March 2011, 09:34 PM
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It wasn't broadcast live from Parliament, even according to the debunking link that bufungla posted. At the time, apparently, newsreaders only read out parts of the speech after the event. Churchill himself recorded it after the war for Decca records.

It seems that the actor did record a version of the "fight them on the beaches" speech and some others (although it's not clear when - possibly 1942) but a few years after the speech itself, and not for radio broadcast. It doesn't seem that they were broadcast at the time, although the article does mention somewhat confusingly that the version the actor recorded is occasionally mistaken for the version that Churchill himself recorded after the war, and broadcast as though it was Churchill's voice.

The article isn't as clear as it might be, but it seems to be a "partly true" to me. Although if the researchers have done their job properly then the version that you hear claiming to be Churchill should actually be Churchill, it wasn't recorded until after the war, and there's quite possibly an earlier recording of the actor reading it.
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Old 01 March 2011, 10:29 PM
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Ah I completely misunderstood what the Commentator was trying to say.

And I'd always assumed that it was broadcast from parliament. That kind of kills the excitement for me in a way. Listening to the recording I always envisioned Churchill thumping the despatch box, defiant before the Germans, when really he was probably thinking about how his begonias needed taking back.

And strangely the Roy Jenkins biography only seems to further the idea that the recording went out live, saying that his dictating fluency was an "inspiration to the nation... raising spirits...."
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  #6  
Old 02 March 2011, 07:20 AM
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Yeah, certainly the "standard image" is of the family gathered around the wireless, being inspired as Churchill says "we shall fight on the beaches". (Actually, doesn't he usually say "we shall fight them on the beaches" in films and TV programmes? That seems to be a misquote too).

The real myth seems to be that Churchill's speeches were broadcast (in his voice) on the radio at all - at least, at the time they were made. I'm quite surprised that they weren't too. I suppose just having them read by newsreaders would have a similar effect, but I've never seen it portrayed in the way that bufungla's link says is accurate.
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Old 04 March 2011, 06:34 PM
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It obviously wasn't Churchill - it was teh ebil Wormtail! Did no one see "The King's Speech"?!
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  #8  
Old 04 March 2011, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
The real myth seems to be that Churchill's speeches were broadcast (in his voice) on the radio at all - at least, at the time they were made. I'm quite surprised that they weren't too. I suppose just having them read by newsreaders would have a similar effect, but I've never seen it portrayed in the way that bufungla's link says is accurate.
Some of them were. In the evening after making the speeches in Parliament he sometimes went into a BBC studio and recorded them for broadcast. However, the We will fight on the beaches... speech was not one of them.

Incidentally, the BBC Archive Collection has a collection about Churchill. The amount of material collected there is amazing - as is the whole of the BBC Archive. A wonderful resource of historical programmes on just about any subject.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/churchill/?page=1
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Old 04 March 2011, 08:41 PM
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You know, if there is anyone whose name I respect when it comes to history, it's David "Holohoax" Irving.
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Old 04 March 2011, 11:04 PM
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I've just been doing a bit of ferreting on the BBC website and on its history website there is an excellent collection of material on The Battle of Britain. The item on the link below has extracts from some of Churchill's speeches as it highlights his role in the battle. One of the extracts is from his We shall fight on the beaches... speech.

Maybe it was recorded by the BBC - or was this the 1946 recording?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/battle_of_britain#p009cmyn
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  #11  
Old 05 March 2011, 10:17 PM
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I caught the tail end of Melvyn Bragg's "The Adventure of English" last night, and he discussed that speech. Almost every word in it had been in English for over a thousand years, and he made comparisons to Queen Elizabeth the First's famous prebattle speech. Not sure if it was deliberate or coincidental, but an interesting point.
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  #12  
Old 06 March 2011, 01:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bufungla View Post
I've heard that as well, and have seen it on programs on The History Channel (a title which grows more and more ironic as time goes on).
Sing it. The channel is currently running an Ancient Aliens marathon. I don't know whether that's better or worse than the Cake Boss marathons The Learning Channel runs every few weeks. Or the fact that American Movie Classics is playing Crocodile Dundee later this week.
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Old 06 March 2011, 04:18 AM
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Crocodile Dundee is 25 years old.
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  #14  
Old 06 March 2011, 04:53 AM
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Its age wasn't really the part of "American Movie Classics" I was challenging, but I don't think at any rate that movies other stations run all the time count either. The Terminator is 27 years old, and one of the last great examples of stop-motion (Jurassic Park came out just 9 years later), but AMC runs it a lot, and so do other stations.

AMC used to run things like The Awful Truth, Sylvia Scarlet, Queen Christina, King Kong, A Streetcar Named Desire...at least Comcast in my new city has TCM. I just saw Grand Hotel. Recently, I've seen Streetcar, The Awful Truth, Ninotchka, Sunrise, Mutiny on the Bounty, the freaking list goes on.
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  #15  
Old 07 March 2011, 12:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
I don't know whether that's better or worse than the Cake Boss marathons The Learning Channel runs every few weeks.
Cake Boss marathon on right now. Who watches that show? I mean, even though I wouldn't have watched, I can see how it could have been a pretty interesting one-off. But a series? It's a guy decorating cakes. I don't care how cool something is the first time you see it, it gets old. Remember how cool break-dancing used to be? Or how someone who could solve a Rubik's cube was considered a genius? Cake decorating is no Rubik's cube, as far as I'm concerned.
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