Keep The Home Fires Burning

Vanessa Rosenthal explores the 20th century through real correspondence.



Many people know of the Ivor Novello Awards but not the fascinating story of the man himself and the song that made his name. Keep The Home Fires Burning marks the centenary of a song that became popular both in the trenches and on the home front, and continued to be sung by soldiers in conflicts well into the 1950s. The programme features the best Ivor Novello tunes, some extraordinary Imperial War Museum archive and explores how music was used as a morale booster in the First World War. Keep The Home Fires Burning made Novello a fortune and launched a career that saw him become the leading composer of musical theatre of the 1930s and 1940s.


The diaries of South Kensington housewife Ada Reece and Lloyd George's secretary Frances Stevenson see Britain on the brink of the First World War.


Ada's husband is called up, the Dardanelles crisis flares up and Lloyd George becomes Minister of Munitions.


Ada experiences teenager tantrums while Lloyd George's political star remains on the rise.


Frances supports Lloyd George through difficult times.

As news of losses in the trenches comes through, Ada finds life on the home front increasingly taxing.

05 LAST*20080307

World War I is over.

Ada and her family reflect on the terrible loss of life while Lloyd George debates the Treaty of Versailles.