1st June 1946. What’s on the TV?

Today in 1946 to coincide with the resumption of TV, post-war, the first TV licences (combined with radio), of £2, were issued by the General Post Office (GPO) then the communications regulator for the monochrome, one channel service.(1)

TV grew in popularity with the 1953 Coronation when two million licences had been issued and ‘H’ aerials sprouted on chimneys.

In September 1926 the BBC after a series of tests, rejected the idea of a trial TV service, but by 1929 decided that it had a future, and after standing aloof from the Baird, used it in conjunction with the Marconi-EMI System.

In 1931 the Baird Company was to televise the Derby, the first ‘location’ programme to be transmitted by the BBC, and in 1935 transmitted a boxing match at the Crystal Palace, the same year the company demonstrated a cathode ray television receiver for the home. Nearly 7,000 people queued at Olympia to see the new phenomenon.

The BBC was not to start regular, high definition 405 lines television broadcasts, until November 2nd 1936 from its HQ Alexandra Palace, the same year as sound was added, initially sound and picture were not synchronised.

One of the early presenters was Leslie Mitchell at a time when there were about 100 sets in the UK, when the Baird and the Marconi system were alternated at Alexandra Palace.

Baird’s mechanical 240 line system was not adopted by the BBC and was to be superseded by the Marconi electronic system in 1937, a system still in use today.

The first actual outside broadcast was George VI’s coronation procession in 1937 and by 1938 output was 1½ hours on weekday evenings with one hour at weekends, the same year when the first cricket was televised for the second Test against Australia at Lords.

The coronation in 1953, watched by 20 million, was televised in its entirety, but only after objections from the Palace, the Earl Marshal and Archbishop of Canterbury, who regarded the Abbey scenes as intrusive, had been overcome.

Richard Dimbleby was the ‘anchor’ for TV with the ‘old-school’ John Snagge for the radio, and for the BBC, (no ITV then), it constituted the biggest TV operation so far, with ninety five sound commentary positions (seventeen in 1937) and twenty one cameras (three in 1937).

One today,as yesterday, is encouraged to pay by instalments.

Sylvia Peters, epitomising the twee announcers then, opened the proceedings at 10.15 in the morning: ‘Today is the Coronation Day of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II’.

When the first transmitter reached Newcastle in April 1953 the Sunday Sun summoned the, ‘new viewers, ( the term ‘lookers-in’ was soon discarded), to take stock of the family you’re joining…you will probably find yourself regulating your meal time to suit TV’. How prescient was that!

1952 Detector Van.

Since 2002 a company called Capita have taken over monitoring and collecting TV licences with reports of bullying.

(1) If the licence had risen in line with current (2017) retail prices it would be c£75.


theguardian.com. 11.10.2005/article.

googleimages/pic of aerials


dailymail/news.5.10.2013.Guy Adams/Pic of van.




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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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