The Launch of B.B.C. Television
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the launch of the official service of BBC television from Alexandra Palace in London. The Isle of Wight Times gave a report on how things were progressing in April 1937 after 240 hours of television had been broadcast.
240 Hours of Television
Almost 900 television programme items covering a period of 240 hours have already been transmitted by the B.B.C. since the official service was opened in November. A wide range of subjects has been covered and viewers are again asked to pass judgement on the programmes, so that the Alexandra Palace staff may be further guided in the selection and distribution of subjects.
Apart from the increasing sales of home sets, public interest in this latest radio development is evidenced by the vast numbers of people who are daily attending demonstrations. Up to the week ended March 20th more than 65,000 visitors had viewed programmes in the showrooms of the G.E.C. and their dealers alone since the B.B.C. service began. At Magnet House, London, where daily shows are given, more than 5,000 persons have attended. Very keen interest is shown by women visitors, but it is noteworthy that although the demonstrations occur during business hours 90 per cent. of the visitors are men.
Of the items transmitted, variety, drama, ballet and other stage entertainment cover 103 hours or 43 per cent. of the total. Next, 25 percent., were talks including show exhibits and personalities. There were 302 film items representing 22 per cent. of the total time.
(Isle of Wight Times 1 April 1937)
Television was still a long way off for the majority of the general public. Many people regard the coronation of our present Queen Elizabeth in 1953 as the first major television broadcast to be viewed by the masses, with a lot of families purchasing their first set for the occasion. However in May 1937, just a month after the above Times report, the first major outside broadcast, the coronation procession of George VI, was transmitted by the B.B.C. and a month after that there was coverage of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. September 1937 saw the first live broadcast of a football match, a specially arranged local match derby fixture between Arsenal and Arsenal reserves.
By the 1960s buying or renting your own television, or going round to someone’s house to view theirs, was a reality of life. Ryde had several shops which provided this new ‘must have’ item for the home. Clarks, Youngs and Teagues regularly advertised in the local press.
Sources: Blue plaque image & background information from Wikipedia
Sources Adverts: Clarks – Isle of Wight Times 8 November 1962; Youngs – Isle of Wight County Press 31 July 1965; Teagues – Isle of Wight Times 28 November 1968