The Birth of TV

100 Voices that made the BBC

From John Logie Baird and his mechanical television experiments to the coming of age of television with the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, this collection brings together the voices of the "fools on the hill" who battled against indifference and technical difficulty to bring television to you. 

  • Invention: Early Experiments 1920-1929

    How John Logie Baird's mechanical television showed the way, but ultimately to a dead end.

  • Invention: The BBC steps in 1929-1935

    After Baird's early experiments, the BBC reluctantly picked up his problematic mechanical television and aimed to make practical television a reality...with an ambitious deadline.

  • Invention: A new service 1935-36

    How the experimental broadcasts to the Radiolympia exhibition helped shape the first television service

  • Opening Night

    Vision and sound were on, the station was ready to go on the air. But were the magic rays of light ready?

  • The First Outside Broadcasts

    The BBC's early experiments with outside broadcasting

  • Resurrection 1946

    After a seven year hiatus, the BBC Television Service returned in June 1946. Would anyone be out there to watch it?

  • Ally Pally

    Why BBC Television made the 'People's Palace' at Alexandra Palace its first home.

  • Two Coronations

    How the pioneering television broadcast of the 1937 Coronation procession led the way for the biggest outside broadcast yet attempted - the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.

  • Programme Parade

    What would early 'lookers in' have seen when the switched on their television sets?

  • Sets and signals

    Who watched early television and how?

  • Watching at home

    What did people make of television in the 1940s, and how did they think it would impact their lives?

  • 1948 London Olympics

    "A planning and operational problem which had never before been encountered in the history of any broadcasting organization in the world."

  • TV and the world

    How the BBC led the way in cross continental broadcasting, ultimately leading to the ultimate global linkup - Eurovision.

  • Picture Galleries

    From dance mime and comedy, to news features and interviews, the output of the early years of BBC Television was as varied in the early years, as it is today, if not quite with the same level of sophistication.

  • Share your memories

    What do you remember about the early day of BBC Television? Did buying your first television set change your life? What are your earliest television memories? Let us know something about your early TV viewing habits.

  • Background to the project

    About the BBC Oral History and the '100 Voices that made the BBC' project

About the material on 100 Voices that Made the BBC – The Birth of TV

The Birth of TV is a collaboration with Dr Alban Webb and Professor David Hendy of the Sussex Humanities Lab, University of Sussex; Dr Jamie Medhurst of the Centre for Media History, Aberystwyth University; Professor Helen Wood and Dr Jilly Boyce Kay of the Department of Media and Communication, University of Leicester; and Dr Elinor Groom of the National Media Museum, Bradford.

The website contains excerpts and programmes from BBC services at various moments in time. The material should be viewed in this context and with the understanding that it reflects the attitudes and standards of its time - not those of today.

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