Important in a profession's identity is the knowledge of past events and how they help shape the present. This article traces the socio-political aspects of one significant aspect of radiographic history, the origins, demise and revival of plain film reporting from the beginning of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century. Extensive use has been made of archive material at the Society of Radiographers, the British Institute of Radiology and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. Radiographer reporting was at the centre of an ongoing conflict with the medical profession in the formative years of radiography. In just over the 100 years of X-rays, two periods take prominence, the early part of the 20th century until 1925, and the 1990s. The year 1925 saw the culmination of the long-running dispute between radiographers and radiologists over the division of labour. The decision, forced upon the Society of Radiographers to change its articles of association, prevented its non-medical members from reporting, thus determining the occupational boundaries of radiography and the direction of radiographic practice for 70 years. In the last decade of the 20th century, matters came full circle with the re-emergence of radiographer reporting, although the process of re-appraisal had begun some 20 years earlier. However, the 1990s, with rapid advancement of technology, increase in work loads, financial imperatives within the National Health Service and the aspirations of radiographers together with the support of many radiologists, contributed to the re-emergence of radiographers in reporting.