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'...And We Can Now Cross Live To New York.'

The scene is a hushed Sotheby's auction house - the auctioneer, gavel in hand, efficiently taking bids on ornithological engravings by Audubon and later a Degas - but in the corner something is stirring.

Panorama presenter Richard Dimbleby, tucked away in one corner of the auction house, speaking in expectant tones into a huge BBC microphone about what's about to unfold.

And what was about to unfold? Well, a Sotheby's auction of course. Nothing more? Well no and yes.

Panorama was simply giving its audience a glimpse of what happens during a Sotheby's auction.

The raison d'etre was that this was an auction happening at Sotheby's in London and New York. Live.

The programme was being broadcast live via the Intelsat 1 satellite, the world's first commercial communications satellite launched on 6 April 1965. This edition of Panorama was broadcast some 6 weeks later, 45 years ago this week, on 24 May.

The Early Bird satellite, as it was nicknamed, was a revolution in communications and Panorama made frequent use of it, bringing live events, often from New York, into British homes.

Early Bird had its place in history cemented as one of the satellites used in the world's first global link up programme 'Our World' - most famous for the Beatles flower-strewn performance of 'All You Need Is Love'.

Indeed so revolutionary was the technology that Panorama was able to broadcast a 20 minute item solely on what happens inside an auction room, simply because it was happening simultaneously in London and New York.

And strangely fascinating it is too.

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Regular readers of this blog will be aware how we like to try and draw out some of the parallels with what Panorama has reported on in the past and the present.

As you can imagine, drawing any parallels from this film is difficult.

In a world where air travel had not yet spread to the masses, Panorama had always prided itself on being a 'window on the world' for its audience from its earliest days.

It was often enough to simply show. Not necessarily explain or investigate but simply show.

Items like this perhaps marked the beginning of the end of Panorama's early purpose. That window would remain open of course but global events of the 1960s
dictated the view and with them came a harsher tone. Editorial decisions were made less on the allure of new technology and increasingly on rigorous, investigative journalism


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