June 25, 1967 on WORLD TV: Our World

Our_World-1967Our World was the first live, international, satellite television production, which was broadcast on 25 June 1967. Creative artists, including The Beatles, opera singer Maria Callas, and painter Pablo Picasso—representing nineteen nations—were invited to perform or appear in separate segments featuring their respective countries. The two-and-half-hour event had the largest television audience ever up to that date: an estimated 400 to 700 million people around the globe watched the broadcast. Today, it is most famous for the segment from the United Kingdom starring the Beatles. They performed their song “All You Need Is Love” for the first time to close the broadcast.

The project was conceived by BBC producer Aubrey Singer. It was transferred to theTV-UK-06-25-1967 European Broadcasting Union, but the master control room for the broadcast was still at the BBC in London. The satellites used were Intelsat I (known as “Early Bird”), Intelsat 2-2 (“Lani Bird”), Intelsat 2–3 (“Canary Bird”), and NASA’s ATS-1.

It took ten months to bring everything together. One hitch was the sudden pull-out of the Eastern Bloc countries headed by the Soviet Union in the week leading up to the broadcast. Apparently it was a protest at the Western nations’ response to the Six-Day War.

The ground rules included that no politicians or heads of state could participate in the broadcast. In addition, everything had to be ‘live’, so no use of videotape or film was permitted. Ten thousand technicians, producers, and interpreters took part in this gigantic broadcast. Each country would have its own announcers, due to language issues, and interpreters would voice-over the original sound when not in a country’s native language. In the end 14 countries participated in the production that was transmitted to 24 countries with an estimated audience of between 400 and 700 million people. [Wikipedia]

Watch a feature about the broadcast on the Science Museum YouTube Channel.

June 23, 1966 on UK TV: Adam Adamant Lives!

Adam_Adamant_Lives-1966Adam Adamant Lives! is a British television series which ran from 1966 to 1967 on the BBC, starring Gerald Harper in the title role. Proposing that an adventurer born in 1867 had been revived from hibernation in 1966, the show was a comedy adventure that took a satirical look at life in the 1960s through the eyes of an Edwardian (Adamant vanished in 1902 when Edward VII had been on the throne just one year). [Wikipedia]

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Find out more at www.bbc.co.uk.

June 22, 1989 on UK TV: Traffik

Traffik-1989Traffik is a British television serial about the illegal drugs trade. Its three stories are interwoven, with arcs told from the perspectives of Afghan and Pakistani growers, dealers and manufacturers, German dealers, and British users. It was nominated for six BAFTA Awards, winning three. It also won an International Emmy Award for best drama.

It starred Bill Paterson as Jack Lithgow, a Scottish Home Office minister in the United Kingdom government engaged in combating heroin importation from Pakistan, and Julia Ormond as his drug addicted daughter Caroline.

The six-part serial was produced by Britain’s Channel 4, written by Simon Moore and directed by Alastair Reid. [Wikipedia]

June 21, 1937 on UK TV: Wimbledon first shown on the BBC

TV-UK-06-21-1937The 1937 Wimbledon Championships took place on the outdoor grass courts at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom. The tournament ran from 21 June until 2 July. It was the 57th staging of the Wimbledon Championships, and the third Grand Slam tennis event of 1937. Don Budge and Dorothy Round won the singles title.

This edition marked the first time that the Wimbledon Championships were televised by the BBC. Only matches taking place on Centre Court were transmitted by the BBC for half an hour each day. Two cameras were used, one for a close up view of the match and one for a general view, and the match between Bunny Austin and George Lyttleton Rogers was the first one to be broadcast.

June 21, 1969: Royal Family

TV-UK-06-21-1969Royal Family is a documentary about the family of Queen Elizabeth II, and was aired on 21 June 1969. It was rebroadcast on ITV the following week. The film was commissioned by the Queen to celebrate the investiture of her eldest son, Charles, as Prince of Wales. The script was written by Antony Jay.

The idea was to give the public a chance to see behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace, and show that the royal family were just like everyone else. On its broadcast, it was viewed by around two thirds of the population of the United Kingdom. It has not, however, been shown since, with many believing that the royal family were concerned that they were giving the impression that they were too ordinary. The filming of the documentary, which was the first time that cameras had been allowed to film for television, includes footage of the Queen, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and their children Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

 

June 20, 1977 on UK TV: Alternative 3

TV-UK-06-20-1977Alternative 3 is a television programme, broadcast once only in the United Kingdom in 1977, and later broadcast in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, as a fictional hoax, an heir to Orson Welles‘ radio production of The War of the Worlds. Purporting to be an investigation into the UK’s contemporary “brain drain”, Alternative 3 uncovered a plan to make the Moon and Mars habitable in the event of climate change and a terminal environmental catastrophe on Earth.

The programme was presented as an edition of an Anglia TV series called Science Report. The intended transmission date was April 1, but it seems that Anglia was unable to obtain an ITV network slot for the programme on that date due to strike action/labour disputes. While its broadcast was delayed until June 20, the credits explicitly date the film to April 1. The script was written by Chris Miles and David Ambrose. Music was supplied by Brian Eno, a portion of his score being released on the album Music for Films (1978). Apart from the presenter Tim Brinton, all the characters in the programme were played by actors who were explicitly credited at the end.

Within minutes of the programme ending, Anglia Television was flooded with telephone calls demanding more information. Callers were told the programme was a hoax. The Times on 21 June reported that “Independent television companies last night received hundreds of protest calls after an Anglia programme, Alternative 3, gave alarming facts about changes in the Earth’s atmosphere. It was a hoax, originally intended for April 1st.” It also pointed out that several of the characters in the programme were played by well known actors. [Wikipedia]

June 20, 1956 on UK TV: Opportunity Knocks

Opportunity Knocks presented by Hughie GreenOpportunity Knocks is a British television and radio talent show originally hosted by Hughie Green, with a late-1980s revival hosted by Bob Monkhouse, and later by previous winner Les Dawson.

The original radio version started on the BBC Light Programme, where it ran from 18 February to 29 September 1949, but moved to Radio Luxembourg in the 1950s. It was shown on ITV from 20 June 1956 to 29 August 1956, produced by Associated Rediffusion. A second run commenced on 11 July 1964 and lasted until 20 March 1978, produced first by ABC and then by Thames. Hughie Green presented a single episode of Opportunity Knocks for RTÉ in 1979. It was revived by the BBC from 21 March 1987 to 2 June 1990, hosted initially by Bob Monkhouse from 1987 to 1989 (under the title Bob Says Opportunity Knocks!) and subsequently by Les Dawson in 1990.

Unlike its rival New Faces, the winning acts on Opportunity Knocks were decided not by a panel of experts but by the viewing public. In the ITV version this took the form of a postal vote, the winner of which was announced the following week. The BBC revival was notable for being the first TV show to decide its winner using the now-standard method of a telephone vote. In both versions the studio audience reaction to each act was measured by a clap-o-meter, but this did not count towards the final result.

The programme was recorded the Friday before transmission, so votes had to be in by Thursday. They also, according to host Hughie Green, largely to ensure fairness, had to be in “your own handwriting”.

Although Opportunity Knocks did produce a number of talented acts, the method of putting the contest to a public vote did sometimes result in victories for novelty acts, in particular those involving children or animals. On one notorious occasion the young Su Pollard was beaten into second place by a singing dog.

For the Monkhouse-fronted revival, the voting system was radically changed, making it the first British TV show to use telephone voting in order to get a more immediate result (although an updated electronic “clap-o-meter-style” on-screen indicator, using stars, was used during the show). The telephone voting system is now common on British TV.

Entertainers who appeared included Freddie Starr and the Delmonts, Su Pollard, Paul Daniels, Darren Day; Pete the Plate Spinning Dog, Los Caracas, later to become Middle of the Road, Mary Hopkin, Bonnie Langford, Les Dawson, Maureen Myers, Barry Cummings, Royston Vasey (later to find fame as Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown), Little and Large, Bobby Crush, Berni Flint, Tony Holland, Millican & Nesbitt, Neil Reid, Peters and Lee, Lena Zavaroni, Frank Carson, Max Boyce, Pam Ayres, Gerry Monroe, Debra Stephenson, Tammy Jones, Paper Lace and Tony Monopoly. Several winners of Opportunity Knocks (notably Tammy Jones, Champagne, Tony Monopoly) later attempted to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, taking part in the A Song for Europe competition. Lee Evans appeared in 1986 but was rejected and did not make it past the initial audition. [Wikipedia]

June 20, 1960 on UK TV: Nan Winton is first woman to read news on BBC TV

TV-UK-06-20-1960Nan Winton is a British broadcaster, best known for being the first female national newsreader on BBC television.

She was a BBC TV continuity announcer from 1958 to 1961 and also an experienced journalist, who had worked on Panorama and Town and Around. She was given the job of reading the 6pm news and weekend bulletins on Sunday evenings, in response to rivals ITN, who had a female newscaster, Barbara Mandell, since its launch in 1955.

She began on 19 June 1960, but BBC Audience research concluded that viewers thought a woman reading the late news was “not acceptable” and she was removed from the role in March 1961. She remained the only woman to have read the national news on BBC TV until 1975, when Angela Rippon began a much longer spell as a newsreader.

After stepping down from reading the news, Winton remained a TV and radio news reporter and interviewer. She was also a regular panellist on the radio panel game Treble Chance. She was formerly married to actor Charles Stapley who had appeared as Ted Hope in Crossroads.

June 19, 1971 on UK TV: Parkinson

TV-UK-06-19-1971Parkinson is a British television chat show that was presented by Michael Parkinson. It was first shown on BBC1 from 19 June 1971 to 8 May 2004 then on ITV from 4 September 2004 to 22 December 2007.

Parkinson began when the host was offered a series of eight shows by the BBC’s Head of Light Entertainment, Bill Cotton. It was to be transmitted during the “summer lull” in a late-night slot on Saturdays (which continued throughout its run), plus from 1979 a second mid-week edition when the series was on air.

Initially, Bill Cotton was keen on a format more akin to the USA’s Ed Sullivan Show, featuring entertainment and chat. However, Parkinson and his producer, Richard Drewett (who had worked on Late Night Line-Up), envisioned a combination of guests whose celebrity had been achieved in different fields. Their plan was that the final section of each show would become a conversation rather than a formal interview. The pair wanted to move the style as far as possible from the American prototype, even down to the removal of the host’s desk, which Parkinson viewed as the “biggest obstacle to a proper interview”.

A typical programme included three interviews, each lasting around 15 minutes. It was customary for the first two guests to remain after their own chats to observe and occasionally participate in those that followed. There was usually a musical interlude at some point, featuring a current recording star. If a solo singer, he/she was accompanied by the show’s musicians, who also provided the walk-on music for each guest. In the 1970s, the group was led by organist Harry Stoneham, who composed the show’s distinctive theme tune. The role was undertaken by Laurie Holloway in the relaunched show.

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Parkinson was once asked if there was anyone that he regretted never having interviewed. He replied, “Sinatra was the one that got away. Otherwise, I’ve met everyone I have ever wanted to meet.” [Wikipedia]

June 19, 1988 on UK TV: A Very British Coup

TV-UK-06-19-1988A Very British Coup is a 1982 novel by British politician Chris Mullin. The novel has twice been adapted for television. The first version, also titled A Very British Coup, was adapted in 1988 by screenwriter Alan Plater and director Mick Jackson. Starring Ray McAnally, the series was first screened on Channel 4 and won Bafta and Emmy awards, and was syndicated to more than 30 countries.

Harry Perkins, an unassuming, working class, very left-wing Leader of the Labour Party and Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central, becomes Prime Minister in March 1991. The priorities of the Perkins Government include dissolving all newspaper monopolies, withdrawal from NATO, removing all American military bases on UK soil, unilateral nuclear disarmament, and true open government. Newspaper magnate Sir George Fison, with allies within British political and civil service circles, moves immediately to discredit him, with the United States the key, but covert, conspirator. The most effective of the Prime Minister’s domestic enemies is the aristocratic Sir Percy Browne, Head of MI5, whose ancestors “unto the Middle Ages” have exercised subtle power behind the scenes. However Harry finds support in Joan Cook, a loyal Member of Parliament (MP) and Home Secretary; and Thompson, Perkins’ Press Secretary; Inspector Page, his Head of Security and Sir Montague Kowalski, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser. It provides an intimate view of the machinations of a particularly British political conspiracy.

The series is set in 1991 and 1992, which was then the near future from when it was made (1988), with a King as the British monarch (the royal cypher on one of the Prime Minister’s red boxes is shown as “C III R,” suggesting that the monarch is Charles III, the current Prince of Wales), multiple cable and satellite television channels, and other similar details. The 1991 and 1992 dates can be clearly seen on several newspapers and car tax discs shown on screen. [Wikipedia]