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AA : America's gift to the world.

  • Kennedy, Alison
  • Audio

About this work


It's eighty years since the organisation AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) was established in the US by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith. This programme uses interesting archival audio of Wilson and Smith talking about their work. Testimony is provided by various members and medical professionals such as Professor Hugh Montgomery, UCL. In the US in the 1930s there were few places where people could 'dry out', an alternative was urgently needed. Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, liver specialist and member of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance is disappointed by the lack of government concern over the impact of alcohol in the UK. Al-Anon is the group which looks after people who are living with an alcoholic; a young woman speaks anonomously about her experience as a child of an alcoholic. Dr Mike McPhilips, psychiatrist, talks about the stigma alcoholic women face whilst caring for children and coping with their illness. Wilson and Smith both came from Vermont in the US and although different in personality, bounced off each other and created AA. From the archive Bill recounts a vision he had whilst drying out. Wilson and Smith developed their strange dynamic and in 1950 AA held its first conference in Cleveland with a membership of 100,000. AA uses a methodology of the '12 steps' making a small amount of money from the sale of various literature. Bob Smith died in 1950 of cancer; Bll Wilson died to 1971.


London : Wellcome Trust, 2015.

Physical description

1 audio disc (28:25 min.) ; 12 cm


Broadcast on 6 April, 2015

Creator/production credits

Produced by Kate Bland. A Cast Iron radio production for BBC Radio 4.
Presented by Alison Kennedy.

Copyright note

BBC Radio 4



  • English

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