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Wartime Entertainment (Hardback)

How Britain Kept Smiling Through the Second World War

P&S History > Social History WWII

By Anton Rippon, Nicola Rippon
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 16 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399034845
Published: 30th September 2024

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It might have ended 80 years ago, but we still have a warm, nostalgic relationship with the Second World War, due in no small part to the love we have for the entertainment from those turbulent times.

Singers like Vera Lynn – the ‘Forces Sweetheart’ – Gracie Fields, Anne Shelton, and the Andrews Sisters, bandleader Glenn Miller whose fate is still a mystery, films like Gone With The Wind, Casablanca, Mrs Miniver, In Which We Serve, Goodbye Mr Chips, and morale-boosting radio programmes like ITMA, Music While You Work and Hi Gang! all helped Britain to stay calm and carry on as it sheltered from the bombs, worked long hours in munitions factories, and prayed that its menfolk fighting on land, sea and in the air to bring about victory would one day return home safely.

Wartime Entertainment: How Britain Kept Smiling Through the Second World War relives the wartime years, looking at the songs and the singers, at the role that the BBC – ‘Auntie’ – played not only in entertaining the nation but also in keeping it informed, at how West End theatre survived the Blitz, and at the bands that played both the big dance venues and the village halls to raise spirits and, for a few hours at least, lighten the mood of those dark and dangerous days.

The book considers the work of the Crown Film Unit that made short information and documentary films as well as longer drama-documentaries and even a few straight drama productions for the public in Britain and abroad, and at ENSA – the Entertainments National Service Association – that provided entertainment for British armed forces personnel both at home and abroad.

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 Anton Rippon

About Anton Rippon

ANTON RIPPON is an award-winning newspaper columnist, journalist and author of over 30 sports books including Gas Masks for Goalposts: Football in Britain During the Second World War and Hitler’s Olympics: The Story of the 1936 Nazi Games. A former Sunday Telegraph football writer, his sports features appeared in The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, and FourFourTwo magazine. Rippon was named Newspaper Columnist of the Year in the 2017 Midlands Media Awards.


About Nicola Rippon

NICOLA RIPPON is an author and newspaper and magazine feature writer. Her book The Plot to Kill Lloyd George: Alice Wheeldon and the Peartree Conspiracy for Pen & Sword was described as ‘a fascinating story, well-researched and expertly told’. She has appeared on a number of BBC television programmes as an expert interviewee.

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