28th August, 1936 : Nearly 7,000 queued at Olympia to see the first-ever talking pictures on television. They were transmitted from the BBC’s new studios ten miles away at Alexandra Palace. Hitherto the BBC has been able to produce only silent pictures. Leslie Mitchell, the BBC’s only male announcer, made his television debut. Although he is a confident broadcaster, he seemed ill at ease in head and shoulder view. He was staring into space and the perspiration on his face from the heat in the studio was all too evident. The make-up artist had done her best but to the viewers he appeared to have a black eye.

Excerpts from new films were shown. There was a superb rendering by Paul Robeson of Ol’ Man River from Showboat, and a moving scenes from Rembrandt starring Charles Laughton and Gertrude Lawrence.

Several of the new sets, which are expected to cost about 100 guineas, were on view in all shapes and sizes. The biggest one was 22 by 18 inches but most were ten by eight inches. Most depend on a cathode ray tube, shaped like a flask, which faces the viewer. In one HMV model the tube is vertical and the image is projected through a mirror.

[ Some do it with mirrors … ]

About Avadoro Worden

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