‘A Bit of a Scratch’, a radio drama about the battle against Venereal Disease during the First World War

‘A Bit of a Scratch’ explores the first recorded prosecution under the Venereal Diseases Act 1917. The legislation was introduced due to the large numbers, roughly 5%, of UK troops returning from the First World War with venereal diseases and to ensure that treatment was undertaken by qualified medical professionals. The last century has seen remarkable developments in sexual health, however with rising numbers of sexually transmitted infections and the emergence of antimicrobial resistant disease, the provision of high quality sexual health services are more important than ever.

This podcast was produced jointly with the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH). More information on the issues contained within this podcast can be found on the BASHH website and @BASHH_UK.

By: Debbie Manship

Cast (in order of appearance):

  • Narrator: Stephen McGann
  • Billy: Louis Cardona
  • Edie: Lowri Amies
  • Chemist: David Jarvis
  • Doctor: Peter Wickham
  • All other parts were played by members of the cast.
  • Composer: Chris Madin
  • Studio Engineer: Holly Parris
  • Director: Paul Dawson

Produced by Role Call and iD Audio in association with M & F Health Communications”The British Army’s fight against Venereal Disease in the ‘Heroic Age of Prostitution'” by Richard Marshall is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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Medieval treason and magic

In this podcast, two of our records specialists tell us about treason and necromancy in The National Archives’ medieval records.

The first part, narrated by Paul Dryburgh, tells the story of a band of men from Coventry who planned to kill King Edward II and his supporters, the Despencers, with a plot that involved wax effigies and pins. In the second part, Sean Cunningham discusses one of the earliest English language statements in legal history; a tale involving a mole catcher and a magical dismembered hand.

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‘Dadland’: the father who was also an undercover guerrilla agent

Keggie Carew discusses her book ‘Dadland’, a story about a madcap English childhood, the poignant breakdown of a family, and dementia. The novel centres upon her father Tom Carew, an enigmatic, unorthodox character, who was an undercover guerrilla agent during the Second World War.

‘Dadland’ is the winner of the Costa Biography Award 2016 and a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller.

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Black British politics and the anti-apartheid struggle

In 1948, from the introduction of apartheid in South Africa, racial discrimination galvanized the international community into protest. British people and black communities in particular attempted to lead the global opposition against apartheid.

Historian Dr Elizabeth Williams (Goldsmiths, University of London) will discuss aspects of the documents she looked at while writing her book ‘The Politics of Race in Britain and South Africa: Black British Solidarity and the Apartheid Struggle’ (2015).

Please note, due to a technical error this recording ended a few minutes prior to the end of the talk.

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From the Somme to Arras

Andrew Lock discusses the progress made by the British Expeditionary Forces between the battles of the Somme (1916) and Arras (1917). Although lessons were learned during the Somme campaign, Arras clearly exposed command and preparation deficiencies, leading to setbacks and the highest casualty rate of any British offensive in the war.

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Bureau-cats: A short history of Whitehall’s official felines

Public interest in the cats of Whitehall began long before Larry, Palmerston and Gladstone graced our front pages and Twitter feeds.

In this podcast, records specialist Christopher Day reveals his favourite anecdotes from the ‘Home Office Cat’ files, including the story behind the naming of Nelson, Winston Churchill’s favourite cat; the controversy surrounding the behaviour of Peta, the first ‘Chief Mouser’ gifted to the UK government; and the verses exchanged between staff regarding the cats’ upkeep.

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Tracy Borman on ‘The Private Lives of the Tudors’

Tracy Borman reveals how the Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers, even in their most private moments. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed.

Dr Tracy Borman is a historian, author and joint Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces. Her books include the highly acclaimed ‘Elizabeth’s Women: the Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen’; ‘Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror’; and ‘Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction’. Her latest book is ‘The Private Lives of the Tudors’, published by Hodder & Stoughton.

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Talks from the National LGBT History Festival: E-J Scott on collecting for the Museum of Transology

On the 11 February 2017, The National Archives hosted a range of talks for ‘OUTing the Past: the National LGBT History Festival’ on topics including the role of lesbians in the fight for Votes for Women, the lives of trans veterans of the British Armed Forces and collecting trans narratives.

In this talk recorded from the festival, curator E-J Scott discusses the process of collecting trans artefacts for the Museum of Transology. The exhibition is on display at Fashion Space Gallery in London until 22 April 2017.

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Talks from the National LGBT History Festival: Emma Vickers on trans veterans of the British Armed Forces

On the 11 February 2017, The National Archives hosted a range of talks for ‘OUTing the Past: the National LGBT History Festival’ on topics including the role of lesbians in the fight for Votes for Women, the lives of trans veterans of the British Armed Forces and collecting trans narratives.

In this talk recorded from the festival, Emma Vickers discusses the lives of trans veterans of the British Armed Forces.

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Talks from the National LGBT History Festival: Hilary McCollum on ‘Sapphic Suffragettes’

On the 11 February 2017, The National Archives hosted a range of talks for ‘OUTing the Past: the National LGBT History Festival’ on topics including the role of lesbians in the fight for Votes for Women, the lives of trans veterans of the British Armed Forces and collecting trans narratives.

In this talk recorded from the festival, Hilary McCollum discusses her research into the roles lesbian women played in the suffragette movement.

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