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Context

1949. A family rejoices in their new television set.

In this clip a family rejoices in the entertainment offered by their new television set. A modern day viewer might struggle to understand what all the fuss was about!

The typical television – like the Bush TV 22 from 1950 that begins this clip - had a 9 inch (22.5 cm) screen in a circular shape and a very dim picture that was subject to all sorts of interference.

The programmes on offer would also seem very strange to a modern day viewer. The listings for Sunday 9 July 1950 for the solitary TV channel provided by the BBC reads:

  • 5pm: For the Children - Annette in Fairyland
  • 5.30pm: Children's Newsreel
  • 5.45pm - 6pm: Scenes from the Royal Military Tournament
  • 8pm: Sunday Serenade with Vanessa Lee
  • 8.15pm: Nancy Price in The Orange Orchard, a Devonshire comedy. The action takes place in the Devon village of Tavybridge and a solicitor's office in London
  • 9.45pm - 10pm: News (sound only)

As the family in clip observe, with the pictures now in the home there was a reduced desire to find entertainment outside the home and cinemas, in particular, entered a period of decline.

The images show a Bush TV 22 television set from the early 1950s and a family pictured in 1947.

Transcript

MAN:

It's a marvellous achievement, absolutely marvellous, and anybody that's never seen it couldn't believe how wonderful it is. I'm that pleased, I really can't say much about it. It's magnificent.

INTERVIEWER:

Has it come up to your expectations?

MAN:

Oh definitely, yes. I'm more than pleased, as I said before. And the reason I ordered a television was that, when I get out of my shop and I get in my armchair, I don't feel like going to the pictures at all, and my wife wants to go and I don't want to go, so I said, well, we'll bring the pictures to the home, and that's what it is - it's a really miniature cinema and theatre in your own home. It's absolutely wonderful.

WOMAN:

You know, not long ago our theatre was burned down, and I do think that television here now is going to help to replace it wonderfully - oh, much more than people will ever know of.

INTERVIEWER:

You're not worried about the cost of the set?

WOMAN:

And, you know, when my husband told me that he'd invested in one of these wonderful things - and it is wonderful - I was really afraid, because we'd worked very, very hard for this money to buy this piece of furniture, because it is a lovely piece of furniture - and now, after tonight, I'm more than sorry for the unkind things I said when it was delivered to my home.

INTERVIEWER:

Well, they're all at home tonight. We'll have a quick word from Geoffrey.

GEOFFREY:

I think it's smashing!

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