Sixties City Television
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British Television
up to the end of the Sixties


Television Industry Events from BBC 1929 to ITA 1956

Television Stations and Services 1955 to 1969

Miscellaneous 60s Television Events & Trivia

Independent Television Studios             Some classic 'missing' series and episodes

Sixties City Television
Television Industry Events from BBC 1929 to ITA 1955

John Logie Baird was allowed to use one of BBC radio's main transmitters to make a demonstration transmission for BBC engineers

Experimental programmes were transmitted using a 30-line system

22nd August 1932
The BBC decided to set up its own TV studio in Broadcasting House

January 1935
A government committee recommended the immediate introduction of a public television service

26th August to 5th September 1936
Closed circuit transmissions were demonstrated at the Radiolympia exhibition using the Baird 240-line and Marconi EMI 405-line systems. The Baird system was subsequently destroyed by fire which ultimately led the Postmaster General to later opt for the Marconi EMI system, using 50 frames/second

2nd November 1936
The BBC, the world's first high-definition transmission service, was officially launched from a small studio at Alexandra Palace although only 300 receivers were available to pick up transmissions

The BBC acquired its first mobile unit for outside broadcasts. Three cameras were used to film King George VI's coronation

28th March 1938
BBC TV's principle of Sunday night television drama was established by Cecil Madden. The first programme featured Pirandello's Henry IV

November 1938
Freak weather conditions allowed British television signals to be received in New York, the first transatlantic TV transmission, albeit unplanned

Friday 1st September 1939
BBC transmissions were halted for security reasons. 11,000 receivers were now available to view the last programme, Disney's 'Mickey's Gala Premiere'

Friday 7th June 1946
The Earl of Listowel, Postmaster General, re-opened the BBC TV service at 3p.m. One of the programmes shown was the cartoon that was interrupted in 1939. The transmission range was about a 40-mile radius from Alexandra Palace using 405-lines, 50 frames/second interlaced. One of the most successful pre-war and early post-war programmes was 'Picture Page', a one-hour programme twice weekly, covering various subjects with studio guests, presented by 'The Switchboard Girl', ( see picture ) Canadian Joan Miller, and later Joan Gilbert

15th September 1946
The first televised church service was broadcast from St.George's Chapel, Windsor

At the start of the year TV licences issued had risen to 54,000, to reach 61,000 by August and over 90,000 by late 1949

The BBC established a Broadcasting Centre in the building that had been the Palace of Arts in the 1924 British Empire exhibition in order to be closer to the Olympic Games at Wembley and a special television cable was laid to the stadium

The standardisation of the 405-line system was announced by the Postmaster General

The BBC bought Lime Grove studios from Gaumont-British

The LCC approved plans for a new Television Centre at White City

In the Autumn the first regional transmitter opened in Sutton Coldfield to service Midlands viewers

March 1952
Combined sound and television licence issues had risen to 1,457,000 and was to top 2.1 million twelve months later as many Brits purchased televisions in anticipation of the Coronation. It is estimated that 56% of the adult population watched the Coronation on television. A 14" Bush television set sold for about 84 gns.

May 1952
The BBC carried out tests on the feasibility of a schools television service

8th July 1952
Television programmes from France were transmitted by the BBC, the first time TV standards had been converted for use from another country

The first broadcast was made from a ship at sea

The BBC decided to replace the Alexandra Palace transmitter with a more powerful unit sited at Crystal Palace

Part of the White City complex began to be used

Early in the year the Conservative government introduced a bill to allow the introduction of independent television companies which led to the formation of the National Television Council and the Popular Television Association, the NTC being opposed to commercial television broadcasts

15th June 1954
Thorn Electrical and Sylvania Electric Products Inc announced plans to set up a UK company to develop colour television

5th July 1954
The BBC news was first broadcast at 7:30p.m. presented off-screen by Richard Baker. Also during the month the Television Bill became law

In 1955 Somerset Plantagenet Fry,
an Oxford postgraduate, became the first contestant on the quiz show Double Your Money's 'Treasure Trail'

22nd September 1955
The ITA started an inaugural service from Norwood. ITV officially opened at 7:15 p.m. when a dinner to celebrate the occasion was televised from The Guildhall, London. The transmission also included the first TV commercial - for Gibbs SR toothpaste - at 8:12 p.m. and the first TV news at 10 p.m. read by Chris Chataway

3rd November 1956
The ITA transmitter at Emley Moor, Huddersfield, opened

In 1958 Granada covered the Rochdale by-election, the first election to be shown on British television



Sixties City Television
Television Stations and Services 1955 to 1969

In 1955 the ITA announced the formation of ITN ( Independent Television News )
to supply news broadcasts for all independent television stations

ATV History






September 22, 1955


Weekdays London

Associated Rediffusion

Broadcast Relay Services and Associated Newspapers

September 24, 1955


Weekends London

Associated Television

Associated Broadcast Development Company

February 17, 1956 


Weekdays Midlands 

Associated Television 

Associated Broadcast Development Company

February 18, 1956


Weekends Midlands

ABC Television

Associated British Picture Corporation

May 3, 1956


Weekdays NorthWest

Granada Television

Granada Theatres Limited

May 5, 1956


Weekends North

ABC Television

Associated British Picture Corporation

August 31, 1957


Central Scotland

Scottish Television


January 14, 1958


South Wales and West

Television Wales and West


August 30, 1958


South of England

Southern Television


January 15, 1959


North East

Tyne Tees Television

News Chronicle, Sidney Box, George and Alfred Black

October 27, 1959


East of England

Anglia Television


October 31, 1959


Northern Ireland

Ulster Television


June 29, 1960



British Broadcasting Corporation

BBC Television Centre opens in West London

April 29, 1961


South West

Westward Television


September 1, 1961


Scottish Borders

Border Television


September 30, 1961


North Scotland

Grampian Television


September 1, 1962


Channel Islands

Channel Television


September 14, 1962


West and North Wales

Wales West And North


April 21, 1964


London Area

British Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcasting on 625 lines, BBC became BBC1 

March 26, 1965


Isle of Man

Westward Television


June 6, 1961 (Tuesday) In the United Kingdom, the commercial television franchise for north and west Wales was awarded to Teledu Cymru, the Wales Television Association, and would go on the air on September 14, 1962. It failed in less than three years.

During 1966, in order to make division of the London franchise area more equal, the weekend franchise company was permitted to take over transmissions at 7p.m. on Friday evenings instead of the previously contracted Saturday mornings.

In Spring/Summer 1967 the ITA invited applications for new 6-year contracts to be awarded to independent stations
starting in July 1968. There were a total of 36 applications from 16 new groups and the 14 current holders.
ITA chairman Lord Hill announced the winners in June after which he was controversially moved to the chairmanship
of the BBC by Prime Minister Harold Wilson. He was succeeded at the ITA by Lord Aylestone.

December 2, 1967



British Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcasting in colour - official start date.
Limited transmission since 1st July

March 4, 1968


South Wales and West

Harlech Television

Harlech consortium took over contract from TWW

July 29, 1968


North Central England

Yorkshire Television

Telefusion Yorkshire took over contract from ABC

July 29, 1968


Weekdays London

Thames Television

Amalgamation of Associated Rediffusion and ABC

July 29, 1968


Full Week Midlands

Associated Television

Took over contract from ABC

August 2, 1968


Weekends London

London Weekend Television

London Television Consortium took over contract from ATV

Sixties City Television
Miscellaneous Sixties Television Events

'Television Trivia'


Ampex shared VTR patents with Sony, who reciprocated with information on transistorised circuitry

7th March 1960
The first rules governing violence on British television were issued to the BBC by Controller of Programmes Kenneth Adam.
ITV introduced their 'Code of Violence' in December 1964

12th August 1960
NASA launched the first successful communications satellite, Echo 1, a 100ft tall silver balloon

September 1960
The maximum time for commercials in any one hour was reduced to seven and a half minutes in September, and seven minutes on Christmas Eve.
The number of internal breaks was also reduced - previously an hour long programme had three breaks, now only two were permitted. The television companies
made sure they didn't lose out as they raised the price of their ad time slots to compensate.

9th December 1960
The first episode of Coronation Street was broadcast. Writer Tony Warren originally called it 'Florizel Street' and it almost became 'Jubilee Street'.


In 1961 a Daily Express poll asked 1450 housewives what they did during commercial breaks:
30% did knitting / sewing / darning, 23% continued watching the TV, 19% did household chores, 13% did cooking, 8% looked after the children, 7% ate during the break

JVC (founded as the American-owned Victor Co. of Japan in 1946 but owned by Matsushita since 1953) demonstrated helical scan colour VTR with 2 heads

Sony marketed helical scan VTR - the PV100 - adopted by American Airlines in 1964 for in-flight movies

18th March 1961
The Avengers were first shown on television starring Ian Hendry and Patrick Macnee. Honor Blackman's Cathy Gale replaced Ian Hendry in 1962.
83 episodes were made, 57 in colour

3rd May 1961
The first fully-networked Coronation Street was shown

27th May 1961
The first Saturday morning of adult further education programmes was transmitted by the BBC

29th May 1961
The first interview of a member of the royal family was shown on BBC1's Panorama in which the Duke of Edinburgh was interviewed by Richard Dimbleby


In 1962, the Pilkington report was highly critical of ITV and suggested the licence to run the third channel should be awarded to the BBC

3rd May 1962
The first transmission via satellite between earth stations was made by the U.S. Air Force, using Echo 1, between California and Massachusetts

30th June 1962
Police 5 began, devised by ATV to fill a five minute gap in programming

11th July 1962
The first transatlantic satellite transmission was made at 1 a.m. when an image of ATT chairman Frederick R.Kappel was sent from Andover, Maine to Pleumeur Bodou, France, via Telstar 1 which could only be used for 18 minutes during each 2.5 hour orbit

23rd July 1962
The first 'live' broadcast was made via Telstar 1

17th October 1962
The Beatles' first TV appearance was on 'People And Places', a Granada regional news magazine programme


' AdMags' such as Jimmy Hanley's 'Jim's Inn' were barred from television. 'Jim's Inn' first appeared in spring 1957 and ran for 300 editions. It relied on a strong and believable story line, recognisable characters and the warm personality of the landlord. Wide ranges of products, from the familiar to the outlandish were skilfully woven together each week.

The first real pop music used in commercials when cartoon Beatles launched Nestle's Jellimallo bar. The Rolling Stones did backing music for Rice Krispies in a cartoon parody of Juke Box Jury and Cliff, Craig Douglas, Acker Bilk and Lonnie Donegan all featured in a 'live action' commercial for Quaker Puffed Wheat - 'A swinging way to start the day' - voiced over by D.J. Brian Matthew

Sony marketed the first home VTR for $995, with an open reel 1/2inch helical scan deck

16th May 1963
The transmission made to cover the launch and recovery of Gordon Cooper's spaceshot was the first to use two satellites simultaneously, Telstar 1 and Telstar 2,
and the Faith 7 craft transmitted the first TV pictures from space

24th June 1963
The first British domestic television recorder, TELCAN, was demonstrated at Alexandra Palace.
Part of the 9 o'clock news programme was recorded and re-transmitted on the same programme

26th July 1963
Syncom was launched, the first geo-synchronous satellite. Syncom 2 was launched later in the year, carrying the first live two-way call between heads of state.
Syncom 3 carried live TV coverage of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games


Sony helical scan open deck VTR PV100 was adopted by American Airlines for in-flight movies

Ampex joined with Toshiba to market U.S.-designed VTRs in Japan

Instant replay was first used by the BBC for The Grand National

Valerie Martin was the first winner of the 'Miss TV Times' competition

1st January 1964
Top Of The Pops began, produced by Johnnie Stewart and featuring Dusty Springfield, The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, The Hollies and The Swinging Blue Jeans

20th April 1964
The Opening Night of BBC2 was wrecked by a power failure that tipped half of London into chaos and took down Television Centre

20th April 1964
The first half-hour news bulletin was shown on a minor channel, BBC2

December 1964
ITV introduced their 'Code of Violence'


Sony introduced the first consumer 1/2inch format helical scan VTR priced under $3000

2nd January 1965
saw the first transmission of 'World Of Sport'

March 24th
Transmission of TV pictures from the moon received as Ranger 9 impacts with the surface

6th April 1965
Early Bird - Intelsat 1 was launched, the first commercial communications satellite. Built by the Hughes Aircraft Company it supported 240 telephone lines or one television channel. Designed for an 18 month lifespan, it lasted for 3.5 years

2nd May 1965
The first transatlantic television programme was transmitted via Early Bird. Called 'Out Of This World' it contained elements supplied by many different countries

17th May 1965
The first transatlantic colour television programme was transmitted via Early Bird, a 30 minute show primarily for U.S. viewers called 'A New Look At Olde England'

30th May - 17th June 1965
The first sport was transmitted via satellite when the BBC showed world championship football from Chile via Telstar

August 1st 1965
All cigarette commercials were banned from television resulting in an 8 million pound loss of revenue for ITV


Ampex sued Sony over the use of helical scan technology

A proposal that TV cameras be experimentally allowed into the House Of Commons was defeated by just one vote. Nevertheless........

21st April 1966
TV cameras are allowed into the House of Commons for the first time


Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were members of the consortium that started up HTV

LWT acquired the rights to cricket's the Gillette Cup. The MCC was furious when ITV interrupted play for ads and took the sport back to the BBC, prompting an ITV lawsuit

In March, the Ampex HS-100 colour video magnetic disc recorder was used for rapid playback in normal, slow or stop action at the ABC 'World Series of Skating' in Vail, Colorado, heralding the start of 'instant replay' on commercial television

3rd July 1967
News At Ten was introduced by ITN. It was the first news bulletin to feature two newscasters, Alastair Burnet and Andrew Gardiner. It was also the first 30 minute news show on a major TV channel in the UK


CBS introduced EVR using film in a cassette. 20th Century Fox agreed to sell films in EVR but were to face growing competition from VCR formats introduced by RCA, Sony, Ampex and Avco

October 14th
TV pictures transmitted live from inside Apollo 7

November 1968
The Sooty Show ended its run on BBC but was picked up and continued by ITV

21 - 27 December 1968
The first live pictures of the Earth from the moon were transmitted during the Apollo VIII mission


The ITA's transmitter mast at Emley Moor, Huddersfield, collapsed

RCA demonstrated SelectaVision that played pre-recorded cassettes but did not record

Sony introduced the first videocassette, the 3/4inch U-Matic one hour tape, available in the U.S. by 1971.
For the first time, Sony allowed other manufacturers to sell machines that could play the tapes, setting the
first world standard for the 3/4inch videocassette

The last year of the decade saw the revival of an old classic - 'This Is Your Life' - by Thames Television.
The show had previously run from 1953 to 1964 with exactly the same presenter - Eamonn Andrews

21st February 1969
The first time that the interior of Buckingham Palace had been televised

21st February 1969
The first time that the interior of No 10 Downing Street had been televised

20th July 1969
ITV's first major ratings clash with the BBC came when the two organisations went 'head to head' with coverage of the first manned lunar landing.
The tape of ITV's coverage has since been erased so it could be re-used, along with many other programmes of the 1960s

3rd October 1969
Hawaii Five-O first shown on LWT. Starred Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong, Richard Denning, Peggy Ryan and Linda Ryan

15th November 1969
The first colour commercial - Bird's Eye peas - was shown by ATV Midlands at 10:05 a.m. during Thunderbirds.
The same commercial was shown in the London area at 11:00 the same day at the start of their colour television transmissions

25th December 1969
The last live broadcast of The Queen's Christmas message. All subsequent ones have been pre-recorded

Some Classic '
Missing' Programmes:

A for Andromeda (BBC 1961) Only the last five minutes have survived
Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet episode 4 (BBC 1966) The last Hartnell adventure featuring the famous regeneration scene
Out of the Unknown series 3 (BBC 1969) Only one episode has survived
The Likely Lads (1964-66) Many episodes are missing, although some are gradually being discovered
On the Margin (BBC 1966) Alan Bennett's musical comedy
Till Death Us Do Part (1966-75) Many early shows are missing
Juke Box Jury (1959-67) Only two episodes exist from the Sixties, but not the show where the panel of judges were The Beatles.
Thank Your Lucky Stars (ABC 1961-66) Virtually nothing has survived
Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV 1955-65) Very few editions have survived.
Opportunity Knocks (ABC 1956-77) TV Debuts for many top artistes, but hardly any have been preserved.
Moon Landing (July 1969) The live commentary by Patrick Moore and James Burke in the BBC studio
News at Ten (ITN 3rd July 1967) The first ever edition.
A Tale of Two Cities (BBC 1965) Many other Sunday tea-time classics are also missing.
Emergency Ward 10 (ATV 1957-67) Very few have survived.
Jazz Goes to College (1966-67) The entire series is missing
The Crucible (Granada 1959) Starring Sean Connery and Susannah York. This show exists, but minus the last 18 minutes
Armchair Theatre productions:
No Tram to Lime Street (ABC 1959) Written by Alun Owen
A Suitable Case for Treatment (BBC 1962) Written by David Mercer
Madhouse on Castle Street (BBC 1963) featuring Bob Dylan
Message for Posterity (BBC 1967) Dennis Potter play