History Book

NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, the 70th anniversary of a ground-breaking television show.

Plus 20 years ago, al-Qaeda’s first major attack on the West.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, the 100th anniversary of a series of Allied victories that led to the end of the Great War.

Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: On August 8th, 1918, Canadian, British, French, and Australian forces engage German troops in northern France at the Battle of Amiens—beginning an almost unbroken string of Allied victories that last for 100 days.

For weeks before the battle, the Allies feigned a dramatic thinning of troops along the Western Front, to make the Germans believe preparations were underway for an attack elsewhere.

In the early morning hours of August 8th, RAF pilots laid a dense smoke screen under the protection of heavy fog. 9-hundred Allied field guns then opened fire as infantry headed toward the enemy lines. The Germans were completely unprepared and quickly surrendered.

The Hundred Days Offensive forced the Germans out of France and to the bargaining table. On November 11th, the Germans and Allies signed the armistice ending the war. The number of Allied and German casualties during the last three months of World War 1 are estimated at more than 1-point-5 million.

Next, August 10th, 1948 – the television debut of Candid Camera.

AUDIO: Candid Camera theme song

The program features hidden camera footage of everyday people caught in surprising situations. It began a year earlier on radio, known as Candid Microphone:

AUDIO: On a bright sunny afternoon last week, a window shopping lady walked into a curio shop to browse, or maybe to buy. She didn’t know what she was really walking into…

Moving to television in 1948, the show’s host Allen Funt designed elaborate scenarios that captured the quirky reactions of everyday people when brought face-to-face with the unexpected: the average ploy lasted about five minutes.

AUDIO: Bowling Excerpt

During the first 20 years of the program, it aired on all three major networks: first ABC, then NBC, and finally on CBS.

AUDIO: CBS Introduction to the program

A British version of Candid Camera began in 1960: Jonathan Routh was the program’s co-host:

CANDID CAMERA: My enjoyment from it all was just the bafflement this was causing other people…I would say the American stuff was going for a belly laugh, mine was more whimsical, more of a subtle titter, I think…

The program soon spread to other countries and began an international wave of hidden-camera prank shows, as well as home-video programs. It is considered the father of “reality TV.”

And finally, August 7th, 1998:

AUDIO: Sound after bombings

Coordinated attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa kill more than 200 people. The nearly simultaneous truck bomb detonations occur in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.

For most Americans, the attacks were the first introduction to Osama bin Laden…

AUDIO: News clip mentioning Bin Laden

After the investigation, the FBI placed bin Laden on its Ten Most Wanted list. The bombings occurred on the eighth anniversary of American troops arriving in Saudi Arabia for the Persian Gulf War, but many conflicting explanations exist as to the actual motivation for the attacks.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Candid Camera)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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