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15420.  Thu Feb 17, 2005 7:16 am Reply with quote

Did the widely-believed story of Dennis the Dachshund (aka actor Norman Shelley) broadcasting Winston Churchill's wartime speeches for him ever get nailed down, one way or the other?

Many top historians believed it, as can be read in this article (which has to biased in favour of Churchill, given its provenance), and it has been repeated by innumerable credible sources since. It seems such an improbable decision by the BBC that it could just be true - otherwise we have to accept that specialists who are usually scrupulous about their research have taken an utter canard at face value - and if they can do it in this case, where else have they made such an error of judgment?

15422.  Thu Feb 17, 2005 8:11 am Reply with quote

That's a cracking article, though I can't make out who it's written by. I've only occasionally encountered this notion that an actor delivered the speeches myself, so - focus group: is it very widely known, do we think? We have a recurring problem about attacking "well-known" canards that the panel turn out never to have never heard of (maybe they just don't like ducks).

15424.  Thu Feb 17, 2005 8:56 am Reply with quote

I'd like to be the first to throw my hat in, and admit I'd never come across this story before. (could be on account of my age as I’d never heard of Dennis the Dachshund either!)

What I found interesting was that they did find a recording which was irrefutably Shelley reading the "fight them on the beaches" speech. Since then, the pro-Churchill camps have said, "well yes, he did record that one, but it was for an American audience, and was never broadcast".

I have read a number of articles from the above website, and they are quiet vociferous in their defence of Churchill, and vitriolic in their attack of David Irving (who originally broke the story). But then I have also been on Irving’s website, which neatly has a whole section telling of his numerous court appearances, and it also allows you to contribute to his legal funds!

Unfortunately, it seems there is no evidence to back-up Irving’s claims, except for his interview with Shelley, and the aforementioned recording. Meanwhile the pro-Churchill camp seem to have a pretty good argument, with witnesses who were actually there when Churchill broadcast the speeches. IMHO Irving does seem to have had a history of Controversy for Controversy's sake, esp when it comes to Hitler and Churchill.

Finally, here’s a few quotes I have lifted from an article about one of Irving’s court appearances: (he was giving testamony in a case where a man was being accused of saying the holocaust never happened).

And do you remember, asked Pearson, saying that you had no qualifications whatsoever and you were proud of the fact that you had no qualifications whatsoever?
"I think my precise words would be to say that the only examination I...failed at school is O-level history which is the most elementary level of history you can fail," said Irving.
You were proud to say you flunked history?, asked Pearson.
"I have started off from such humble beginnings...I have no academic qualifications whatsoever."
Right, said Pearson, you make your living writing and publishing controversial books about history.
"I make my living publishing books about history, yes...Many of them are controversial. I don't create the controversy, the media do...I'm a controversial historian."

15426.  Thu Feb 17, 2005 9:47 am Reply with quote

You can only admire the rigour of the man's approach:
This document was signed in a ball- point pen and was clearly a forgery. I had the man prosecuted for criminal fraud and he avoided the consequences by dying, or by purporting to have died. At any rate, he submitted a death certificate which I was prepared to accept as genuine.

15427.  Thu Feb 17, 2005 9:54 am Reply with quote

Reminds me of a friend of mine who was in court.

Barrister: “Mr X, can you tell me in your own words what happened”

My Mate: “Well my friend was on lying on the floor and Mr Y was kicking him in the head, so I jumped in to help… after a few minutes they had stopped the attack”

Barrister: “How can you be so sure they had stopped kicking him”

My Mate: “Cos they were kicking me”

15428.  Thu Feb 17, 2005 10:00 am Reply with quote

I'd heard the story about an actor recording Churchill's speeches, but didn't know the name of the actor.

15470.  Fri Feb 18, 2005 11:13 am Reply with quote

I had also heard that. It seems the smart thing to do - get someone in who knows exactly how to get the message across with the maximum impact.

15471.  Fri Feb 18, 2005 11:15 am Reply with quote

High risk, though - a PR disaster if it got out.

15492.  Sat Feb 19, 2005 5:40 am Reply with quote

Compared to the PR disaster that some leaders manage to attract by merely opening their mouths without a script in front of them...

I wonder whether people would have minded that much, back then during the war if it had got out. And would the media have done that, knowing that it could only drain the country's morale? I expect there was very tight control in place at the time.

16145.  Wed Mar 16, 2005 5:37 am Reply with quote

For many of us who don't remember Dennis the Dachsund (hmmm ... sounds like a damned German name to me ...), Norman Shelley will always be the Colonel from "The Archers."


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