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On this day... a QI almanac

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crissdee
1299004.  Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:10 pm Reply with quote

Strawberry wrote:
P. G. Wodehouse was born on this day in 1884.


As detailed elsewhere. Born in an age of gas lighting and horse-drawn cabs, lived to see man walk on the moon. And one of the funniest writers ever to put pen to paper.

 
GuyBarry
1301303.  Thu Nov 01, 2018 6:43 am Reply with quote

25 years ago today the Maastricht Treaty came into effect - and so, love it or loathe it, it's happy birthday to the European Union!

 
Strawberry
1301465.  Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:42 am Reply with quote

Channel 4 began transmission on this day in 1982.

 
Bondee
1301612.  Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:44 pm Reply with quote

The opening minutes of Channel 4.

I remember this like it was yesterday. The classical music stopping suddenly then the now famous 4 note jingle, but I soon got bored with the bobbins that followed and wandered away until Countdown started.

 
suze
1301620.  Fri Nov 02, 2018 6:17 pm Reply with quote

It's fairly well known that the first show broadcast on Channel 4 on 2 Nov 1982 was Countdown, but I wondered what was the first show on the other major British networks.

BBC Television began broadcasting on 2 Nov 1936, and the first broadcast was what we would now call an infomercial, entitled Opening of the BBC Television Service. It was followed by the news.

When ITV began operations on 22 Sep 1955, it initially operated only in the London area. The holder of the first London franchise was Associated-Rediffusion, which was a joint venture between British Electric Traction (whose core activity at the time was buses) and Associated Newspapers (whose main product was the Daily Mail). The first show was a soap called Round the Redways, which concerned a married couple who ran a hardware store.

BBC2 began broadcasting on 21 Apr 1964. That was a day later than planned because of a power outage, and the first show officially broadcast was Play School. Unfortunately, that first episode no longer exists and it appears not to be known who the presenters were that day.

Channel 5 began broadcasting on 30 Mar 1997 with a pre-recorded performance by the Spice Girls. That was followed by some trails, and then the soap Family Affairs.

 
GuyBarry
1301633.  Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:21 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:

BBC2 began broadcasting on 21 Apr 1964. That was a day later than planned because of a power outage, and the first show officially broadcast was Play School.


Not strictly true. BBC2 did actually come on air for a few minutes on its planned launch date of 20 April 1964, with a news bulletin read by Gerald Priestland. Apparently there was no sound for the first few minutes. When the sound did come on, there was a state of apparent chaos with Priestland being continually interrupted by phones ringing. A video survives:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10784421/The-first-ever-BBC-2-broadcast.html

They were planning to continue but I think they went off air after that. The first evening's programmes were rescheduled for the following day.

 
GuyBarry
1301713.  Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:17 am Reply with quote

For anyone interested, I've now managed to track down the unedited tape (in two instalments) of BBC2's first night, complete with the initial two-and-a-half minutes without sound, and various "BBC2 will start shortly" caption cards. At the end it also includes the celebrated footage of Denis Tuohy blowing out a candle at the beginning of the actual launch night the following day:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pWsFamLgjU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HrMPxZVQkk

As a result, I now know that almost the first words to be broadcast on BBC2 were "stinking wogs" :-)

 
AlmondFacialBar
1301719.  Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:50 am Reply with quote

Charming... Meanwhile (that is on New Year's Eve 1961) in Dublin a mission critical button lost its clasp minutes before the inaugural broadcast of Telefís Éireann was supposed to begin and was therefore held down by a member of staff for the entire 4 1/2 hours of programming, sans bog breaks or anything. Who'd want to start a television service without things going wrong anyway?

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
suze
1301727.  Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:49 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
For anyone interested, I've now managed to track down the unedited tape (in two instalments) of BBC2's first night, complete with the initial two-and-a-half minutes without sound, and various "BBC2 will start shortly" caption cards. At the end it also includes the celebrated footage of Denis Tuohy blowing out a candle at the beginning of the actual launch night the following day:


Thanks for those, Guy. That news summary is comically badly done. Is that just how the BBC News was in those days, with the presenter having to break off to answer the telephone?

And why isn't Mr Newsreader wearing a jacket? Was it the BBC's idea that for BBC2 he should be Down With The Yoof and wear a V-neck jumper instead?

 
GuyBarry
1301733.  Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:42 pm Reply with quote

It wasn't exactly a normal situation! Thirty-five minutes before BBC2 was due to go on air, the whole of West London was blacked out by a power cut caused by a fire at Battersea Power station. It was impossible to broadcast anything from Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush, but at the time BBC News was still based at Alexandra Palace in north London, so Gerald Priestland - who was meant to be giving a brief news summary before handing over to Television Centre - had to hold the fort for the entire channel. I think he did an incredible job under the circumstances.

Presenters didn't have earpieces in those days, so the only way that producers could communicate with them was by phone. There's more about the opening night here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-27033129

As for his dress sense, I can't comment. Probably the earliest BBC2 newsreader who I remember was Peter Woods, who always wore a jacket and tie as I recall - but I have no real memory of the pre-colour era.

 
AlmondFacialBar
1301735.  Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:49 pm Reply with quote

Could it be that the original plan was for him to do voice over that night?

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
GuyBarry
1301736.  Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:59 pm Reply with quote

I wouldn't have thought so - BBC newsreaders were routinely seen in-vision from the mid-50s onwards. (The first was Kenneth Kendall.)

Another thought though: it could be that the news summary wasn't due to be read by him at all, but by one of the presenters based in Television Centre. The Radio Times billing simply says "Line-Up for Opening Night with John Stone, Denis Tuohy and the latest news":

https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbctwo/england/1964-04-20

So my best guess is that he wasn't even expecting to be broadcasting at all that evening, and was dragged in at very short notice. I shall make further enquiries if I can...

 
suze
1301765.  Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:46 pm Reply with quote

Lord Reith would have been horrified. I was going to say that he would have turned in his grave, but in fact he didn't die until 1971 and so he wouldn't have had to.

It is often claimed that he required the newsreaders on BBC Wireless Four - or whatever it was called in his day - to wear evening dress. I rather suspect that this is an urban myth, but no jacket would have been beyond the pale.

Whatever next? Open necked shirts and regional accents? Ladies reading the news?

 
AlmondFacialBar
1301768.  Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:25 pm Reply with quote

Radio 4 actually used to be the Home Service.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
GuyBarry
1301807.  Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:26 am Reply with quote

AlmondFacialBar wrote:
Radio 4 actually used to be the Home Service.


There was no Home Service in Lord Reith's day. During the 1930s there were two services, the National Programme and the Regional Programme. They were merged into the Home Service on the outbreak of war in 1939 (Reith left in 1938), which was eventually renamed Radio 4 in 1967.

 

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