Marconi Books

Picture of New Street Works

Two Emma Toc, Writtle

Author: Tim Wander
Production: Dennis Rookard
Narrator: Full Cast Production
Publisher: Hosiprog
Time: 1 hour 3 minutes
Type: Dramatizations - Drama

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In early February 1922, from a small ex-army hut in a field just outside the Essex village of Writtle near Chelmsford a small team or pioneering wireless engineers working for the Marconi company established Britain's first regular radio broadcasting station. In its short year long history, the station using the call sign of 2MT, or as it soon became known to its many fans - Two Emma Toc quickly became a broadcasting legend.

Led by Captain P.P. Eckersley, the world's first DJ, wireless comic and the power behind the microphone 2MT at Writtle defined the ground rules for broadcasting as we know it today. The first fan club, children's section, wireless play, comedian, guest artists, competitions and madcap antics at 2MT have been described as being the forerunner of the Goon shows nearly 40 years later.

It's small wonder that apart from one engineer who stayed with the Marconi Company at Writtle all others went on to join and help establish the British Broadcasting Company.

There are no recordings of Writtle broadcasts known to exists, apart for some recreations made by Peter Eckersley for the tenth anniversary of the BBC.

Tim Wander's radio play made with the BBC faithfully recreates the Writtle broadcasts from the original scripts and archive files and allows Two Emma Toc to take to the airwaves again.

Cast List:

  • Peter Eckersley... John Glasscock
  • Noel Ashbridge... Steve Hales
  • Kirke... Tony Rolls
  • T.B. Wynn... Keith Flack
  • Basil Maclarty... Andy Morton
  • Edward Trump... Maik
  • Elizabeth Beeson... Angela Neville
  • Narrator... David
  • Other parts played by Ben Williamson & Edmund
  • Production, Direction and Audio Realisation by Dennis

The theme music is taken in part from the work, Fisher's Boarding House by Percy Grainger and performed by the BBC Philharmonic and available on Chandos CD CHAN 9493

The Wireless Sings by Tim Wander

On 15 June 1920, the Marconi Company broadcast the world’s first live recital by a professional musician - the legendary Australian diva, Dame Nellie Melba. In a makeshift studio in the company’s factory at Chelmsford, using a microphone created with a telephone mouthpiece and wood from a cigar-box, she opened her half-hour programme with “Home Sweet Home”, and after other popular favourites and several encores, closed with the National Anthem. Her voice, carried from an aerial with towering masts, was heard as away far as Iran and Newfoundland, and it was reported that the signal at the Eiffel Tower in Paris was so strong that gramophone records were made from it.

Tim's new play starts in the stalemate of trench warfare during World War One and take the listener on a journey through to the Marconi New Street Works and recreates Dame Nellie's first concerts and the events that lead up to 2MT Writtle and the Birth of British Broadcasting.

In 1986 the BBC Essex radio studio in Chelmsford was officially opened by Guglielmo Marconi’s widow, Marchesa Maria Cristina Marconi.

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I Completed a new film for the isle of wight - in part HLF funded -
I wrote a lump of it and we filmed it over the past months -
(We have been asked to do another one for Bembridge and St Helens and Seaview - ) a link here?

Sandown - Growing up in the Bay - The War Years

The War Years is part of the Growing up in the Bay series and documents how the the bay has played in defending both the shores of the Isle of Wight and of England, from when the Romans invaded in AD43, up to the dangers super tankers have played in the story of the Bay. The film features historians Tim wander and Derek Poole, with contributions from those who remember the bay in WW2. Its narrated by Jay White and made by IOW Film Club.

Both my stage plays are now online.

Sadly part three is written but delayed until at least next March.

The June 2020 Melba Centenary Play

The Power Behind the Microphone

In 1920, Chelmsford was the location of a series of radio experiments that would change the world, giving rise to the BBC and the very idea of home entertainment. Brilliant engineers and inventors at The Marconi Company carried out high power speech transmission tests in the town, which led to a number of extraordinary broadcasts. ‘The Power Behind the Microphone’ by Tim Wander and Felicity Fair Tompson was originally a 2 hour stage play that told the story of that remarkable year. Dame Nellie Melba, the most famous opera singer in the world, would come to the the Marconi New Street works and lend her star power and ethereal voice to a live radio entertainment broadcast. It was a terrific coup for the pioneering firm and the Dail Mail newsppaer who sponsored it and it showed what the technology was capable of. But Dame Melba wasn’t the first woman to sing live on the radio; that honour went to a young local woman called Winifred Sayer, who took part in series of recitals that paved the way for the Melba concert. In 2020, as the C19 pandemic closed everything down, Tim and the Chelmsford Theatre team were determined to do "something" to mark the centenary - no audiences were allowed in the 600 seat theatre so Tim rewrote the whole thing - 'One Night Only' became a 45 minute radio play (with social distancing and no movement) streamed live on the internet and carried on local radio stations. There was no time for rehearsal. But in the true spirit of those early experiments the show did go on, for one night only. In fact on 15th June 2020 Chelmsford Theatre was the only theatre in the western world to have something on stage. Exactly one hundred years on, international opera star Anna Steiger and an amazing cast recreated the concert given by Melba. ‘The Power Behind the Microphone’ transported listeners back to the start of this entertainment revolution, as speech and music first crackled over the airwaves and into the homes of the nation.