The War of the War of the Worlds

RadioLab make the most beautiful, compelling programmes. They recently broadcast a truly excellent edition on the War of the Worlds radio dramatisation, which has sparked mass panics, not once, not twice, but three times, over a period of more than two decades.

The most famous adaptation of H.G. Well’s novel was created by Orson Wells in 1938 and the RadioLab team do a fantastic job of taking us through the original radio play and putting exactly in context how it was broadcast and what buttons it pushed in the society of the time to explain exactly why it had such an immediate impact.

One of the most interesting bits is where they read out transcripts of listener interviews where some claim to gave actually seen or smelt the smoke from the battle with aliens, or even seen the alien spaceships themselves. One fascinating bit suggests some listeners thought they were being invaded by Germans.

The stunt was repeated twice, each causing listeners to panic to different degrees. One broadcast in Ecuador caused mass rioting and several deaths.

It’s a completely gripping programme and wonderfully produced, so take some time, listen on some headphones or good speakers, sit back and enjoy.

Apparently a new RadioLab series starts in two weeks, and we’ll keep you updated when it hits the wires.

Link to RadioLab on War of the Worlds.

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