History of the BBC

History of the BBC

Radio Times pre-war television supplements

TV number 1936


Official BBC Television Services started in 1936 and the Radio Times was keen to feature and promote the service from the beginning. There was a special edition of the magazine, the Television Number, complete with a highly collectable cover designed by Eric Fraser, and in a fraction of the London area editions, a free Television Supplement was included.

Complete sets of these are quite rare, especially in good condition, so a project was devised to source and digitise all 28 pre-war Television Supplements, the Television launch edition, and articles and schedule listings from the Radio Times itself until the service closed down at the outbreak of World War II.

To search the pdfs, open the files with the Adobe Acrobat reader and use the search box (ctrl-f).

Issue 1

January 8, 1937 - The launch issue

Television is still in its infancy with people more likely to watch in a public viewing room than the comfort of their own home.

Despite restricted airtime, there are several films and news reports during the week, and Outside Broadcasting is featured in the supplement.

Issue 2

January 15, 1937 - Joan Miller from 'Picture Page'

Includes a feature on television and the films. TV cooks are nothing new, and on Thursday Marcel Boulestin demonstrates how to cook and omelete.

Saturday sees the arrival of The White Coons Concert Party to TV. This show had been hugely popular for several years at seaside resorts and on radio and, in this edition, Tommy Handley succeeds Stanley Holloway as schoolmaster.

Issue 3

January 22, 1937 - Olympic Ice Hockey Team

Transmissions alternated between rival systems, and those using the Baird system were able to have Ice Hockey explained to them by some fo the British Olympic team.

There was light relief from two comedians, Billy Malony and Leslie Watson on Tuesday.

Issue 4

January 29, 1937 - Power at Alexandra Palace

A few months old, and the staff are grumbling? Not quite, but Leslie Mitchell tells you of his difficulties as a Television Announcer.

Dance has always been popular, and viewers were treated to a commentary on the English Style in Dancing on Wednesday. To get you in the right physical shape, the Women's League for Health adn Beauty returned to give a demonstration the day before, and if this wasn't enough, another form of dance, ballet, took the centre spread.

Issue 5

February 5, 1937 - The Day of the Dog

Crufts comes to television, and A Croxton smoth explains the points of a dog to viewers.

It's not Gok, but on Tuesday Dress Parade offers a display of dresses for the day-time (and a bathe in the morning) at 3pm, and at 9pm, it looks at evening wear. For the technically minded this weeks centre spread gives and artists impression of a recording at the Marconi-Emi studio.

Issue 6

February 12, 1937 - Jasmine Bligh shown on a TV screen

A sporty start to the week with a demonstration of Horse Riding, and an exhibitions re-play of the finals of the Men's English Table Tennis Open Championship.

Andy Pandy and Muffin the Mule were a long way off, but puppets appeared on television right at the start courtesy of John Carr's Jacquard Puppets.

Later, Patricia Hilliard appears as Titania opposite D Hay Petrie's Bottom in Scenes from Shakespeare.

Issue 7

February 19, 1937 - Helping Henry Hall

There always seems to be someone on television exploring some remote part of the planet, and this week Edward Shackleton tells the story of the Oxford University Expedition to Ellesmere Land, illustrated by his own photographs and films.

The centre spread gives an insight into how 'Ally Pally', the home of British Television, was run, and at the end of the week you can learn to play the drums with Gilbert Webster or listen to Henry Hall at the piano.

Issue 8

February 26, 1937 - How Do The Wheels Go Round?

Every boys dream - a demonstration steam train pulls into Alexandra Palace Station ready for Saturday's feature programme, accompanied by a full page article.

St. David's Day is celebrated by Clara Novello-Davies's Royal Welsh Ladies Choir on Monday, and the same day sees famous Golf professionals demonstrating shots on miniature links at Alexandra Park.

Fashion is back (with the centre spread) as is TV cookery.

Issue 9

March 5, 1937 - Cabaret

Monday's programme Architecture Today where Professor Walter Gropius is interviewed by E Maxwell Fry is accompanied by an in-dpeth articel on the centre pages of this issue.

The arts are further represented in the latest in a series of talks on pictures, sculpture, etc., currently on exhibition at galleries in London and the full second act of the ballet 'Casse-Noisette'.

Issue 10

March 12, 1937 - Henry Hall Looks Back

Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra look back on five years of broadcasting in the television programme on Friday night.

St. Patricks day is celebrated in Wednesday with a programme of Irish Dance, and later in Cook's Night Out, Marcel Boulestin demonstrates how to prepare Crepe Flambee.

Issue 11

March 19, 1937 - News For Televiewers

Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra look back on five years of broadcasting in the television programme on Friday night.

St. Patricks day is celebrated in Wednesday with a programme of Irish Dance, and later in Cook's Night Out, Marcel Boulestin demonstrates how to prepare Crepe Flambee.

Issue 12

March 26, 1937 - Breaking Through The Pack

A programme commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of Captain Scott's death in the Antarctic will be presented on Tuesday.

Golfing and Ballroom Dancing both return this week, and the popular radio comedian Stanelli, known principally for his noisy Bachelor Parties and his even noisier 'hornchestra' comes to television.

Issue 13

April 2, 1937 - News For Televiewers

Bob Gregory demonstrates Ju-Jitsu in Weaponless Self-Defence on Monday, and 'Tommy' Glover will describe the life of a film unit on location, their difficulties and adventures, and will show sequences of the devil dance that he shot in Sierra Leone for a recent film starring Paul Robeson.

Issue 14

April 9, 1937 - Starlight

Monday has a nautical theme starting with a seasonable parade of clothes for sea travel in Fashions for Cruising, followed by Cabaret Cruise with A B Campbell.

The first television demonstration of snooker is broadcast on Wednesday and features the expert professionals Horace Lindrum and Willie Smith.

Issue 15

April 16, 1937 - Anona Winn

The planting of a tree in Alexandra Park in commemoration of the Coronation starts the week, and the Future of Television is discussed: Men and women eminent in various walks of life will be brought on the screen and asked to give their opinions on the future of television. A very great diversity of views will probably be put forward, and it is hoped that pictures both practical and imaginative will be drawn.

Issue 16

April 23, 1937 - News For Televiewers

Not to be missed on Monday is Kuda Bux 'The Man with X-Ray Eyes', the same day that The Proposal, Tchekov's play, will be televised again with the same cast as before.

Alice In Wonderland is specially adapted for television, with Ursula Hanray as Alice, on Thursday, and Picture Page celebrates its 50th edition this week, complete with centre page feature.

Issue 17

April 30, 1937 - The Western Brothers

With the Coronation looming, there is a special page of news for televiewers and The Future of Television is discussed, once again, as eminent men and women will be invited to give their views on the future of television.

Regular programmes on fashion, health, dancing, and variety are joined by a demonstration of Billiards.

Issue 18

May 7, 1937 - Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

The Coronation dominates this weeks programming and this edition and the procession itself was televised from the North and South faces of the main arch of Apsley Gate, Hyde Park Corner.

The week ends with A Tour Of The London Television Station where television cameras will be used to give viewers an idea of what goes on behind the scenes at Alexandra Palace.

Issue 19

May 14, 1937 - News For Televiewers

The week after the Coronation and the supplement is down to 4 pages for the first time - a sure sign that its days are numbered.

Programming has long been settled and regular shows can be found. This week sees the return of 'The White Coons', The Future of Television, Fashion Parade, Architecture, and Starlight featuring Gracie Fields.

Issue 20

May 21, 1937 - News For Televiewers

In conjunction with the Camping Club of Britain and Ireland, the highlight of the week has to be Canvas To Cover Us - An outdoor demonstration of camping equipment and practice for all who contemplate a camping holiday, whether by car, by bicycle, or on foot.

The magazine programme Picture Page reaches its 58th edition, and Mr. Gillie Potter is back with Punch and Judex - his Joyous Judicial Joke.

Issue 21

May 28, 1937 - Margot Fonteyn

Ivy St. Helier, makes her television debut in Queue For Song alongside Cyril Fletcher and The Charlot Startlets (an early Pan's people). There is a review written by Hans Kafka, and an opera, Polly, by John Gay.

On Wednesday The Derby makes its debut - almost. Viewers will hear the National Programme broadcast accompanied by still photographs of scenes connected with the race.

Issue 22

June 4, 1937 - Greer Garson in School For Scandal

Greer Garson, cover feature, can be seen in Theare Parade's scenes from Hassan. The story of Hassan of Bagdad and how he came to make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

Poppy Wingate, the only woman golf professional in England, will demonstrate some shots on Monday afternoon.

Issue 23

Jun2 11, 1937 - Playing for Television – BBC Television Orchestra at Alexandra Palace

Hercule Poirot will come to life at Alexandra Palace in a hitherto unpublished and unperformed play by Agatha Christie entitled The Wasps' Nest and Argentinita, the Celebrated Spanish Dancer appears in Starlight with her pianist and guitarist.

Issue 24

June 18, 1937 - Percy Cornish and a Giant Stage Drum

Two dozen editions in and the supplement is now bereft of advertising, and simply contains a page of news and 3 pages of schedules.

The schedules are looking brighter than the future of the supplement as summer is on its way and The Royal Horticultural Society Cactus Show is televised and C H Middleton talks, both in and out of the studio, about summer gardening.

Issue 25

June 25, 1937 - Televising The Centre Court

The experiment of televising play on the Centre Court at Wimbledon by means of the radio link will be continued this week. Transmissions will take place every day during the afternoon programmes or after 4.0 with commentaries by F H Grisewood and John Snagge.

Issue 26

July 2, 1937 - From Baghdad to Kensington

Greer Garson and D A Clarke-Smith recently seen in Hassan, return to the screen in How He Lied To Her Husband by George Bernard Shaw.

Summer Gardening continues, and this week you are given handy hints on laying crazy paving.

Issue 27

July 9, 1937 - News For Televiewers

This week the highlights include a behind the scenes demonstration of The Waxworks by Bernard Tussaud, Freddie Dosh, the clever impersonator, and the first outside television broadcast of animals, providing the weather is good, in Friends From The Zoo.

Issue 28

July 16, 1937 - INTERIM

In order that an overhaul and certain internal adjustments may be carried out at Alexandra Palace, transmissions will be suspended for three weeks, beginning on Monday, July 26. There will, however, be television transmissions from Wimbledon of the Davis Cup on July 26 and Tuesday, July 27, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., with an extension until 4.30 p.m. if necessary.

A useful excuse, and the axe falls on the Television Supplement.

Radio Times pre-war supplements
Royal Television SocietyA grant was made by the Shiers Trust to carry out the work, and the results from the project are around 600 digitised pages in PDF form, with the original text embedded for easy searching.

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