80th Anniversary of TV Service
Friday Night is Music Night – John Humphrys presents a special concert to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the first regular television service.
It began on 2nd November 1936 from a make-shift studio in Alexandra Palace in North London, but it wasn’t a new invention by any means – experiments had been ongoing around the world since the 1850s to broadcast TV pictures. In the UK, the work of John Logie Baird pushed the way forward, and this day was momentous as it marked the start of the world’s first regular television service – it was called BBC Television. This title was to last until the arrival of the BBC’s second television channel in 1964, and this first channel was re-named BBC One.
That first schedule included a variety show featuring singer Adele Dixon, comedians Buck and Bubbles, Chinese jugglers the Lai Founs, and the BBC Television Orchestra, as well as a magazine programme, Picture Page, which featured switchboard girl Joan Miller. The broadcasts ran for just four hours a day for the 15,000 television sets receiving the pictures at the time. Since then, of course, there’s been a media revolution – you can now catch up, download and watch online – and the last 80 years have produced a wealth of comedy, drama, music, documentary, sport, natural history and news programmes.
Tonight, BBC Television’s older sister service, BBC Radio, celebrates 80 years of great TV and musical moments with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Gavin Sutherland. The show includes musical themes from Quatermass, Monitor, Poldark, Mastermind, Vision On, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and Blue Planet. Casting an inquisitive eye and ear over the proceedings, and no doubt adding the occasional pithy comment, is John Humphrys. During the interval the programme revisits Alexandra Palace to discover some more television history.