Thinking back on how I got interested in this television business, I
think I have to blame it on someone at school who had the ambitious
suggestion in 1949 that we build a tv receiver. Although even before
that, I had developed an interest in broadcasting.
There was a kit available at the time, called the 'View Master'. It used "ex-Government Surplus" valves
(vacuum tubes) type EF50, in metal cans, with thin pins which tended to
make poor contact with the bases.
The school was near Blackpool in Lancashire, and the Holme Moss tv
transmitter hadn't yet started, so we hoped to receive Sutton Coldfield
in the Midlands by constructing a high-gain aerial on a tall mast.
The only signals we got from it were smoke ones..... However, when
the Holme Moss transmitter did come into service, we got what we
thought were quite good pictures on the round-faced black and white
One of my early pranks was making skeleton keys. I had made one for
the school (which I found also opened a function hall in Cleveleys, the
Pier at Fleetwood, and some other places too....). So I would go to
school on a Saturday morning and watch this television set, which was
in the Physics Lab. At that time I had no conscious idea, while
watching the compilation of Television Newsreels, that in a year or so
I would be "at the other end" showing them!
It was about the time that the Holme Moss tv transmitter came on air
that an exhibition devoted to Television and Radio was held in
Manchester and with a friend I went along. What fascinated me was the
telecine demonstration using a Cintel 35mm film scanner belonging to
BREMA. It was the source of several BBC Television short films which
were relayed to the tv sets around the hall. Two I remember were
"Severn Westward" and "I Had a Dream Last Night". When, a few years
later I mentioned this to Vernon Phipps in the Lime Grove Dubbing
Theatre he said of the latter film, "Ah yes, a faint background of
modulation behind high hiss level". Well, it wasn't at all as bad as
that, though I did prefer the other film.
One exhibit there was a radio studio and on duty that day was
Daphne Oxenford with a programme of gramophone records, one of which
was "Bonaventure" on a Boosey & Hawkes mood music disc which a few
years later I bought for my collection.
1951 on a trip to London to see the Festival of Britain, the BBC had an
exhibition in a converted studio in Piccadilly, which included a "see
yourself on the tv screen".
was also a "hear your own voice" using a BTR/1. This interested me so I
had a go, but as I then asked the engineer some technical questions
about the BBC, I didn't hear the playback as he was answering my