A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1937.

You will have noticed over the past few weeks I've begun to include a section towards the bottom of these posts for "BBC Programmes".  As I was looking through the various external digital archives and the more obscure parts of the BBC website, I kept bumping into complete or near complete programmes which certainly aren't available through the iPlayer and I don't even know for sure if the BBC itself has copy.  

To offer examples of programmes broadcast in each year would seem to be as important as describing how they were made so here they are.  You'll notice I've modified the format slightly so that it reflects the Radio Times details which will make more sense as the weeks (years) pass-by.  The only other rule I'm following is that it has to be from an official or organisational source such as museum, archive or digital content agency (especially if its hosted on YouTube).

Television Update

"A survey of BBC television production during the first six months since its official launch in 1936. Introduced by Leslie Mitchell, Jasmine Bligh and Elizabeth Cowell." 
[BBC Archive]

"The very earliest extant moving images of a work by Moore appear in a 1937 documentary titled BBC Television Demonstration Film. The BBC had begun a regular high definition television service from two studios at Alexandra Palace in north London in November 1936, and this documentary was a ‘survey of television production during the first six months of operation’, intended for viewing primarily by set manufacturers and engineers."

"This page contains examples of the various tuning signals and test cards used on BBC Television since the 1930s. The feature remains a work-in-progress and we’d be delighted to hear from anyone who has any additional information about any of the items covered here."
[Clean Feed]

"One of the myths about pre-war television is that it no longer exists. Before the advent of videotape in the 1950s, everything was live and therefore ephemeral – so the story goes."
[Sheldon Times]

"Henry Hall's final television show (bandleader) (pictured above)."

"Researching pre-war adaptations of specific theatre productions of Shakespeare, I was intrigued to discover a 1937 review of scenes from Macbeth with Laurence Olivier."
[Screen Plays]

"Fifty years ago this year, Westminster Abbey played host to a remarkable occasion, a memorial service for a mere journalist and broadcaster. The Abbey was packed. Hundreds of members of the public stood outside in the cold and wet to pay their respects to someone they saw as a trusted friend, Richard Dimbleby."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

The Monarchy

"King George VI speech to the Nation following his Coronation in 1937."

"The Coronation was the first major outside broadcast and the most elaborate and complicated ever undertaken by the BBC, even though the television cameras were not allowed into the Abbey.  This was the culmination of months of planning and organization by the Outside Broadcasts Department and the Engineering Division."
[Archive of Recorded Church Music]

This is the complete audio of the service, with contemporary commentary as released subsequently on 15 78rpm records.
[Klaus Dr. Amann]

This was the first use of the outside broadcast unit.
[BBC Clips]

"From its founding in 1937 to today, Mass-Observation has recorded people’s experiences, thoughts, and opinions of royal events."
[BBC Rewind]

"Steve Hocking is both a doctoral student at Oxford University researching broadcasting in the 1930s and a television producer working on BBC coverage of state occasions, including the Coronation of King Charles III."
[BBC Rewind]


First broadcast: Sun 18th Jul 1937, 20:00 on Regional Programme London
(Roman Catholic) from St. Edmund's College Chapel, Ware
[Archive of Recorded Church Music][BBC Programme Index]

Behind The Scenes

"The Governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation present here with their report for the year ending 3lst December 1937."

"This Handbook records the notable events and developments in the fifteenth year of the British Broadcasting service."
[World Radio History]

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1936.

New year, new media.  Television!  We're here!  It's strange to think that in 2036 BBC Television will be celebrating its hundredth birthday of the moment Elizabeth Cowell (pictured) appeared on screen for the first time and we've no idea what form it'll take then.  Surely we have to assume in fourteen years the entire landscape will have changed again.  Will individual linear channels exist?  Will there be a variety of streaming services?  Or will all providers produce programmes for a single service or group of services offering the same content?  Will the BBC still exist as an entity capable of commemorating the start of its televisual existence?


"In 1936, the BBC launched its new TV service – and changed British broadcasting at a stroke. In part ten of our 13-part series on the history of the BBC, David Hendy charts the technological innovations that produced the so-called “magic rays” – and explores the delights they offered the viewing public."
[History Extra]

"BBC press releases from October and November 1936."

"Baird Television transmission announcement during the experimental period leading up to the launch of television from the BBC Studios at Alexandra Palace."
[Alexandra Palace]

"An insight into pre-war television. First broadcast Monday 2nd Nov 1936, 21:05, BBC TV."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"On 2nd November 1936 the BBC launched the world's first high-definition television service from studios at Alexandra Palace. Two companies raced to bring one of the greatest revolutions in entertainment and communication to the world."
This is a Google Arts & Culture exhibit.
[Alexandra Palace]

"On 2 November 1936, the BBC began regular TV broadcasts. Initially, two different broadcasting systems were tested on alternate weeks. John Logie Baird's 240-line mechanical system was deemed inferior and was dropped after just 3 months, leaving the 405-line Marconi-EMI format as the permanent system."
[BBC News]

"The first regular television service broadcast by the BBC on the 2nd November 1936, ushered in a new era."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"Leslie Mitchell announced the official opening of the first high-definition public television service in the world an 2 November 1936. Forty years later, from the same studio at Alexandra Palace, he traced the origins of television from the beginning of the 20th century to the first outside broadcast - the Coronation of George VI in May 1937."
Documentary from the 40th anniversary of the service in 1976.
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

Thorough history of television broadcasts including blueprints and studio plans.
[TV Studio History]

"BBC press releases from October and November 1936."

"The Future States conference, about which I have been writing and which continues online until 17 April, is focussed on illustrated magazines in the interwar period. In Britain, much of the academic work on this topic, at least in relation to popular titles, has considered the mainstream illustrated weeklies from mid-1930s on, and most notably Picture Post. But I have long been fascinated by Radio Times, the BBC’s weekly magazine which enjoyed a monopoly for broadcast listings."

"Plaque erected in 1977 by Greater London Council at Alexandra Palace, Wood Green, London, N22 7AY, London Borough of Haringey."
[English Heritage]

It's December 13th 1936, just over a month since the BBC's television broadcasts began and The Observer is already complaining about the number of repeats.
[The Guardian]

"A clip from the tribute programme documenting the role Ally Pally played in the birth of British television."
[BBC Archive][BBC Programme Index]

"On 2nd November, 1936 Leslie Mitchell announced the beginning of the BBC's new regular television service, in fact it was the first in the world. From a Movietone newsreel of the late 1930's we take a look at part of one of those early television programmes."

""Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the magic of television..."  With those words Leslie Mitchell introduced Britain's first high-definition public television programme from Radiolympia. The date was 26th August 1936."

The First Global Christmas Message

"Following the death of George VI, the reign of Edward VIII gets off to shaky start in this recording (BBC library number 1171A) made on 21 January 1936. It features Sir Gerald Wollaston reading aloud the proclamation of Edward’s accession from a balcony at St James’s Palace"
[London Sound Survey]

"On 11 December 1936 the former King Edward VIII spoke to a stunned nation and announced that he had abdicated the throne in favour of his brother, so as to be free to marry the woman he loved - Mrs Wallis Simpson. The historic broadcast and climax of the constitutional crisis was heard by the whole country, most of whom had been unaware of the royal love affair only a week earlier."
[BBC Sounds]

"King Edward VIII's first address to the nation is broadcast in 1936."

"Various shots of broadcasting equipment, radio masts etc.  M/S of a young woman listening by her radio. L/S of a pylon in background with sign saying BBC in foreground. M/S of bridge and lands (presumably representing Empire). Various shots of Broadcasting House with people stood outside.  Various shots of radio masts and equipment including radio operator on ship."


"This delightful programme, which was made for Northern Ireland radio, features visits to Euston and Paddington stations. It records the comings and goings of staff and passengers ('Is there a ladies-only compartment?') and captures the sounds of star steam engines the Royal Scot and the Silver Jubilee."
[BBC Clips]

Behind The Scenes

Fascinating typed record of a feedback session by female listeners attended by the BBC.
[University of Warwick Digital Collections]

"Imagine a world without polling and audience research - who did the early BBC think it was talking to?"
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"In 1936 W.B. Yeats was invited by the BBC to give its 18th National Lecture, on the subject of ‘Modern Poetry’."
[Poetry Archive]

"The Broadcasting Committee, appointed in 1935, reported in February, 1936. Expressing in their Report their concurrence in " the widespread approval of the broadcasting service in this country," they recommended the extension of the Corporation's Charter for a term of ten years from the 1st of January, 1937."

"For the British Broadcasting service, 1936 has been, from the constitutional point of view, of major importance."
[World Radio History]

Predictions 2022.

That Day We reach the time when I assess how well I predicted the ups and downs of the year and look forward to the next. Here we go again:

The Sugababes release an album of new material.

Well, fucking hell, they did.  If otherwise mostly unheard material recorded about ten years ago counts.  Which it obviously does.  One mark.

More Doctor Who episodes found.

Hell no.  No points.

General election called, Tories lose power.

Ha Ha Ha Ha.  No marks.

Spider-Man film starring Andrew Garfield announced.

It's Sony, what was I expecting?  Zero.

COVID miraculously disappears, everything returns to normal.

Walking around, taking the bus, using public transport, you would think this was the case.  But according to the England dashboard, nearly 37,000 people tested positive in the past week,  just over 508 died and 7000 odd were admitted to hospital.  Which are nowhere near pandemic peak, but still an indication of a lot of misery happening due to the virus.  No points at all.

1/5 which is back to the usual average.

Because I'm in a lazy mood, let's just repeat most of the predictions again.

The Sugababes release an album of new material.

More Doctor Who episodes found.

General election called, Tories lose power.

Spider-Man film starring Andrew Garfield announced.

New old Shakespeare play canonised.

The first four still feel plausible.  

Having caught up on old material the Sugababes could release new material this year.  

It's the 60th anniversary which seems the perfect moment to reveal new finds.  

The Tories have to go this year, surely?  

Sony will probably need an anchor for their version of the Spiderverse and who better and the ever popular Andrew Garfield.  

The other is just a hardy perennial which again feels plausible.  I guess this will be measured if a previously anonymous play is published with Shakespeare's name on the front or performed in one of the great theatres of the world.

Happy New Year!