Imagine: And Then There Was Television

Episode 9 Imagine: And Then There Was Television



Television? “It’s a potential social menace of the first magnitude,” said Lord Reith, the BBC’s first director-general, who maintained a lifelong distaste for the “visual frivolity” of the medium. It’s just one of the gems revealed in this lovely celebration, first aired for television’s 70th birthday five years ago and well worth a repeat at 75.

Alan Yentob takes the pioneers of BBC TV — announcer Sylvia Peters, cook Marguerite Patten, newsreader Richard Baker — back to the studio at Alexandra Palace where it all began this day in 1936. There were only 400 TV sets. It was live, blurry, a kind of magic, but by the Coronation in 1953 more than 20 million were tuning in.


Exploring the development of television and the BBC on the 75th anniversary of the first highly defined TV broadcast from Alexandra Palace. Alan Yentob follows pioneering engineers and on-screen talent back to the studios, where they reminisce about those early days, including the famous potter's wheel `interlude' shown when cameras failed.