I was watching TV the other day when an advert appeared for a bed with a built in TV set, with the use of a remote control the top of the footboard opened up and a 40inch plasma TV screen came up out of it. I remember thinking “OMG what will they think of next.
It’s along way from the beginning of television as I have seen it in my life time. The first broadcast that ordinary men and woman were able to see in Britain was in 1949 when the Sutton Coalfield Transmitting station transmitted the first broadcast outside of London. I watched the event the other day on Youtube and it’s pretty dour to watch with a panel of stuffy dignitaries making speeches it’s a wonder TV ever got off the ground. The first TV set I can remember seeing was in one of my Aunts houses during the morning on the Coronation in 1953, a group of neighbours had gathered around the small screen to watch the event with us kids playing in the background and getting more excited over the prospect of the planned afternoon street party. My grandparents were the next I remember to get a set and at the weekend I would go round and sit very quietly through programmes like Muffin the Mule and the Saturday afternoon Adventures of Flash Gordon. I remember the first TV set we had in our house, I think it was a bush make with a 12 inch screen, we didn’t have a proper outside Ariel at first we had to do with an set top one that you often had to move about in order to get a reasonable picture. Those early TV sets were made up of valves and once you had turned the set on it took ages to warm up before you got a picture and often even when you did get one it looked as though it was snowing inside the set, often a good remedy for this was to give the set a sharp bang on the top or side of the set. Of course there were no remote controls in those days so whenever you wanted to change channels or any other adjustments it meant a journey for one us kids across the room to do it whilst the grownups issued the instructions loll.
At one time I remember we had a slot TV set. It had a meter fixed to the side of the set and you deposited shillings into the set when you wanted to view it, it was most annoying when the set switched off due to your time running out, usually this happened in the middle of a exciting action packed programme and every one scurried about to find a shilling to feed the meter before you missed the plot. Daytime TV didn’t really take off till much later, I remember they showed mainly test broadcasts in the morning of old news items, of bridge collapsing or England winning the ashes or of a speeded up train journey from London to Brighton that only took 5 minutes, amazingly at the conclusion of this test piece you would see someone throw a brick through the TV screen which would always get laughs from us kids. Certain times of the day their would be no broadcasts at all like on a Sunday evening between 6 and 7 broadcasts ceased because it was feared that people would not go to church if there was the alternative of the TV. We couldn’t afford one of the new colour sets at first and I remember we devised our own method of watching colour. By attaching the wrapping of a lucasade bottle to the front of the screen we would get a yellowy picture instead of the plain black and white. No matter what the colour of the screen there were some really good TV programmes in the early days. I was really into the adventures of The Lone Ranger or Robin Hood or William Tell and I distinctly remember staying up to watch Quatermass from the safety of the back of the settee, boy was that scary back then. Thanks to the wonder of Youtube you can relive most of these bygone shows of the 50s and 60s and you can see all the old TV theme tunes and opening credits, I spend many a happy hour reliving my childhood through some of these great shows. The TQM movie chanel on sky are showing all the Gunsmoke, High chaperal and Mavericks at the moment and they are still great to watch.
In those days our TV listings were not packed with cooking programmes or the selling and buying of homes and then giving them make over’s but what we did have was lots of variety shows and drama’s.
To Watch the story of television http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A7MN4TjC2Q&NR=1
More on those early years http://www.retrowow.co.uk/television/television.html