Daily television news bulletins started on 5 July 1954, with the News and Newsreel. It began with a summary of the news, illustrated with maps and stills. Newsreaders Richard Baker and John Snagge were out of vision as it was thought their appearance would be a distraction and possibly even betray their opinions. The top story was on peace talks in Indo-China, followed by one on the French in Tunisia. The second part of the bulletin was given over to newsreel films, ending with a report on the end of rationing.
Television news was challenged to illustrate the stories it put on air, an issue that caused unfavourable comparisons with radio. Director of News Tahu Hole wrote in the Radio Times about the problems of getting news film, dependent as it often was on planes and customs restrictions. He looked forward to a time when film would be available almost instantly.
Television news grew from its shaky start. By 1955 it had twice as much airtime and with the introduction of newsreaders in vision it became increasingly popular. It really proved its worth in 1956, bringing footage of the crises in Suez and Hungary into people’s living rooms. Today the main bulletins on BBC One are augmented by the News Channel, which offers breaking news around the clock, as well as news streams available via online, mobile and tablet.
Also in July...
Investiture of Prince of Wales 1 July 1969
The Investiture of the Prince of Wales - when Prince Charles was formally presented to the Welsh people as their Prince - was broadcast live on 1 July 1969. The BBC brought all the pomp and pageantry to viewers and listeners in one of the biggest and most complex outside broadcasts since the Coronation. In the ceremony at Caernarfon Castle the Queen gave Charles the symbols that marked him as Prince of Wales; the sword, coronet, ring, rod and mantle. In addition to the 4000 guestspresent in the castle, 19 million saw it at home and another 500 million watched around the world.
Television coverage of the Investiture began on BBC One at 10:30am and continued until 4:30pm. At the same time it was broadcast in colour on BBC Two. The Investiture was a great demonstration of the benefits of the new medium and the number of colour sets in use doubled during the year. There was bilingual commentary on Radio 4 Wales with the main radio broadcast on Radio 3.
The BBC remains the first broadcaster audiences turn to for major national events, particularly those involving the Royal Family. The events surrounding the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 saw extensive coverage as did – more recently - the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Toytown first transmitted 19 July 1929
The radio programme Children's Hour was greatly loved by generations of children and adults alike, to the extent that when it eventually ended 60 MPs signed a parliamentary motion in protest. Most popular and enduring of all the sections of the programme was Toytown, which was first broadcast on 19 July 1929 and outlasted its host programme, continuing to 1963.
Toytown was narrated by Uncle Mac, Derek McCulloch, who also voiced Larry the Lamb. Larry's mischievous companion was Dennis the Dachsund, played by Ernest Jay. The other characters were The Mayor, Ernest the Policeman, Mr Growser, The Inventor, The Magician, Dennis the Artist, Captain Higgins, Mrs Goose and Letitia Lamb.
The inhabitants of Toytown were created by S.G. Hulme Beaman, inspired by wooden figures he modelled. Hulme Beaman wrote and illustrated 6 stories in the book 'Tales from Toytown', which were spotted by "Elizabeth" from Children's Hour, (the name given to presenter, May Jenkins). She it was who saw their potential as radio material. Following their success the BBC asked for more, and over the next couple of years Hulme Beaman produced another 24 stories for Children's Hour. The supply ended when he died in February 1932, aged only 45. Toytown proved so popular that it was repeated many times over the next decades.
Pot Black first transmitted 23 July 1969
Pot Black was a startling demonstration of the benefits of the new BBC Two colour service, and became an immediate success following its launch on 23 July 1969. The game of snooker was ideal for colour television; cameras mounted directly above the table allowed viewers a clear view of the action and enabled them to see the coloured balls potted in the correct order.
In the first programme the rules of the game were explained and some of the player's skills were demonstrated. In the subsequent seven weeks of the series a knockout competition was played between the top eight players in the world: Gary Owen, Jack Rea, John Pulman, Ray Reardon, Fred Davis, Rex Williams, Kingsley Kennerley and John Spencer. The eventual winner was Welsh amateur champion Ray Reardon, who won the Pot Black Trophy and £1000. The presenters were Ted Lowe, who devised the programme, and Alan Weeks.
Pot Black ran until 1986, by which time it had become a victim of its own success, overshadowed by the coverage of professional snooker on television. It was revived from 1991 to 1993 and again in 2005. It also spawned Junior Pot Black and made an appearance on Sport Relief.