Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

12 May 1937

The Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937 was the big event of the early television service and the first true outside broadcast, using a mobile control van. The television pictures of the king smiling as his carriage passed by the cameras captured the imagination of the viewers and of the press, who declared it "the supreme triumph of television to date".

The BBC deployed three cameras - half the total number it owned at that point - each side of Apsley Gate. Frederick Grisewood provided commentary as the Royal Procession approached through Hyde Park and passed through the gate. The control van was nearby, with a second van on stand-by with a wireless link to Alexandra Palace, in case any of the cables failed.

A newsreel captures the BBC's television transmission of the Coronation Procession of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

In its first year the mobile outside broadcast unit went on to broadcast OBs as diverse as Wimbledon, The Lord Mayor's Show, The Armistice Day Ceremony, and an Omnibus Pageant at Chiswick, and revealed the great potential of television. The BBC reported that the Coronation of 1937 was watched by over 10,000 people. Today the BBC's expertise in OBs such as the Royal Wedding of 2011 is appreciated by millions, broadcast in hi-definition and carried on all platforms.