A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1953.

"At eight o'clock tonight Noelle Middleton (pictured), dressed in a glorious, jewelled, green and yellow gown will invite views to share in a major experiment in time: to view life in England on November 17, 1596.  They will be asked to make only one assumption: that television and film cameras existed in the sixteenth century.  Within that assumption everything will be authentic - costumes, scenery, actions.  The language will be neither archaic not unintelligible: for its authenticity, Hal Burton has devised a simple text: every word used during the evening will be one that appears in Shakespeare."

So begins the Radio Times entry about one of television's early attempts at a theme night, "An Evening's Diversion", a selection of regular programmes from the time but set within and evoking the Elizabethan era on the anniversary of that monarch's ascent to the throne.  The lineup included "A Chronicle of the Times" was a news bulletin featuring events of the era.  "The Honourable History of Friar Bacon & Friar Bungay" presented scenes from a play by Robert Greene.  "Concerts for your Leisure", a variety show.  "An Exchange of View", a version of the Press Conference strand.

The BBC Genome entry is suitably baroque in detail as it wrestles with the credits as they appear in the Radio Times surrounded by the kind of elaborate illustrations usually reserved for Christmas and New Year.  It's noticeable that in the wake of the coverage of Elizabeth II's coronation, the television listings have migrated from the back to be intermingled with the radio listings.  To envision what it must have been like for viewers to tune in to this early modern English spectacle, one need only refer to the Time Space Visualiser from Doctor Who's The Chase.

The Coronation

"Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation put television on the map. Iain Baird looks at some of the objects in our archive that document that momentous day in TV history."
[Science and Media Museum]

"On the day before the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Berkeley Smith takes a BBC Television van along the processional route.  A fascinating snapshot of 1950s London."
[BBC Archive]

"With plans. This document was digitised as part of The National Archives' celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee in 2022."
This is a free .pdf download after registration which is also free.  It's well worth it if you're interested in this sort of thing.  Includes charts and lists of the press who were in attendance.
[The National Archive]

"See how the BBC organised the transmission of the Coronation."
[BBC News]

"Queen Elizabeth II visits BBC Lime Grove Studios - good shots tv programmes being made."

"In all my experience of State ceremonies – and I have described most of them in the past ten or fifteen years for the BBC – I have never known one go so quickly. I think that this was due to the wonderful colour of the scene in the Abbey and because it was changing all the time. There was always something to watch."

"BBC History selects 10 key broadcast-related objects from its collection to mark the Coronation of The King and The Queen Consort, 2023."
[BBC Rewind]

The Quatermass Experiment

"Doctor Who collaborators Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat, academics Una McCormack and Claire Langhamer and Matthew Kneale join Matthew Sweet to celebrate Nigel Kneale's groundbreaking 1953 BBC TV sci-fi serial The Quatermass Experiment..."
[BBC Sounds]

"f you had to compile a shortlist of British television drama’s most influential figures, Nigel Kneale would undoubtedly figure near the top."
Thorough interview with the creator of Quatermass.
[Off The Telly]

Another interview with Kneale by Andrew Pixley.
[CST online]

Profile of the producer and director of all three Quatermass series.

"Nigel Kneale's Quatermass has often been called "the Grandfather of British Television Sci-Fi" - and not without reason. For although it was not the first home-produced TV SF - adaptations of both 'The Time Machine' and 'R.U.R.' predate it, for example - there is no doubt that it was the three Quatermass serials that etched their mark most deeply into the public psyche. Over half a century later, all three stories are finally getting the release which has long been awaited..."
A page about the restoration of the programmes for the DVD release.
[Doctor Who Restoration Team]

"While there has been a growing acknowledgement of the existence of earlier examples of television science fiction, the typical history of the genre still privileges Nigel Kneale’s The Quatermass Experiment (1953) as foundational. This was a significant production, and an effective piece of television drama, but it was not the first piece of British television science fiction, nor the first British television science fiction serial, nor even the first such serial to have a sequel."
[Humanities Commons]


"To coincide with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations our history learning in Spring 2022 has been all about the 1950's. We have found out so much about the history of Orton Parochial School (as it was called in the 1950's). We even uncovered a set of records with a BBC radio program recorded in Orton School in 1954."
The programme was actually broadcast in 1953, as it says on the link to the radio script.
[Orton C of E School][BBC Programme Index]

"'International Commentary', BBC Hebrew Service, a fortnightly series"
[University of Warwick Digital Collections]

"Presented here is the transcript of a BBC radio broadcast by Elizabeth Anscombe that was recorded in May 1953 – the month when Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations appeared in England for the first time."
[Nordic Wittgenstein Review]


The former Shepherd's Bush Empire which the BBC bought in 1953.  This is a thorough history of the building as a television studio.
[TV Studio History]

"At Clapham, a BBC TV mobile transmitter is prepared for a journey to Brighton. The transmitting equipment will be stored in a temporary building and will improve TV reception. Other mobile transmitters are to go into use throughout the country."
[BBC Rewind]

"When transmissions were about to finish every evening, the BBC would put out a shot of Big Ben using this model in the standby studio (Lime Grove, Studio P). According to a veteran BBC engineer, 'the floor manager would be told when we had two minutes before the clock would go on air."
[Science Museum Group]


"Sixty years ago tonight, on December 2, 1953, if you were living in Great Britain and was among the few who had a television set you would probably turn it on to find a stark new symbol on the only television channel available to you. What was then known as the "BBC Television Service" had adopted Britain's, if now the world's, first moving television symbol which was shown in the spaces between programmes. Officially called the "Television Symbol", it has been nick-named the "bat's wings" for its appearance."
[The Branding Source]

"While (Thomas The Tank Engine and Friends) is certainly the most famous adaptation of the Awdrys' anthropomorphic train tales, it was not the first, having been preceded by a live BBC broadcast in 1953. Unfortunately, the technical difficulties associated with this adaptation would prevent a full series from being commissioned for the intervening thirty years."
[Lost Media Wiki]

"The Sad Story of Henry was the episode of the BBC Children's Television series which was broadcasted on 14th June 1953. It is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, The Three Railway Engines."
[Thomas The Tank Engine Wiki]

"13 January 1953: The Folk Dance and Song Society are to collaborate on a BBC project to make sound recordings throughout the British Isles for a permanent archive."
[The Guardian]


"A new Royal Charter was granted to the Corporation on let July, 1952, to last for ten years."