The Bits in Between...

The Bits in Between...

An interview with Andrew Martin a BBC preservation expert

Andrew Martin, an expert from the BBC's archives, tells us why the bits in between television programmes aren't just the times you can nip out and make a cup of tea.


Demonstration Films

Demonstration films are programmes which were put out usually during the morning when there wasn't really any proper programming going out. The hours of television were quite restricted in those days. The idea was, I mean in some ways, just for the benefit of TV retailers, you know, they had to have something to show on the screen rather than just a test card. One of the earliest of these films was one called 'Television Comes to London', which basically just tells you the story of the beginning of television in this country. It has shots of the television mast at Alexandra Palace being put up.
(film clip)
It shows you preparation for the early television broadcast. It has some footage of the opening song that went out, 'Magic Rays of Light'. I think always one of the purposes of demonstration films was to, in a way, get you to buy a TV set. It was something there was an awful lot of investment in and as with all technological innovations, you have to really persuade people that it's a good thing and they will be excited by it. Of course, one of the disadvantages of television in those days was there was only one transmitter, at Alexandra Palace on Muswell Hill in London, and if you didn't live within the areas surrounding there, which basically covered most of London, you couldn't get television. There was no television in the rest of the country.

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