Entertainment played an important part during the war in keeping everyone happy, hopeful and informed.
During the war, although television had been invented, very few people had one and people relied much more on the cinema for entertainment. Cinema audiences grew from 20 million to 32 million making 'going to the pictures' the most popular form of entertainment during the war
Most cinemas showed children's films as well as films for adults.
In between showing the films, people watched the Pathe news at the cinema to help them keep informed, or possibly misinformed, on how the war was going. Information films were also shown at the cinema to show people how to behave and act during war.
What was the importance of the wireless during the war?
The radio kept people informed with what was happening in the war.
As most homes didn't have a television set until the 1950s and 60s, the radio was the main form of home communication and entertainment during the
war. Eight out every ten families in Britain owned a radio.
Besides news and information, there were music programmes, talks and comedy shows. The famous singer Vera Lynn had her own programme. The radio was an important way to keep cheerful during the war.
Regular TV broadcasts, (Only the BBCin those days), began in 1936 from Alexandra Palace in north London. Only a small area in the south-east of England was able to receive broadcasts and therefore there were very few TV sets. They belonged only to well off people as they were very expensive. The screens were tiny in comparison with today's sets, and could only receive and transmit in black and white. Programmes were only broadcast for a short time each day.
All TV broadcasts stopped completely on 1st September 1939 at the outbreak of war and did not resume again until June 1946. The Government was worried the transmitter would help enemy aircraft home in on London for bombing raids.
"We did not have a TV set, needless to say, but one of my mother's friends did. She lived in a big expensive house and I visited her once. I saw the strange piece of furniture in the corner of the room and wanted to know what it was. I was astonished to learn what its purpose was and was disappointed to learn it didn't work! I wondered why they had kept it. They must have paid a lot of money for it though, and I suppose lived in hope that the programmes would resume after the war - which of course they did." Barbara Carver - a visitor to our website
Dancing was one of the most popular hobbies during the war. Ballrooms and church halls were always packed with people dancing.
Due to a shortage of men, sometimes girls would dance with other girls.
In the 1930s, big bands and swing music were popular.
One of the most popular singers of this time was Vera Lynn who sang songs like "We'll meet again" and "There'll be blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover".
When war broke out, most familiar sporting events were stopped.
Children did not play computer games. Instead they played board games.