19 November 13
Explore our timeline of some of the most memorable moments in British television history.
There are very few things in life that can evoke strong and wide ranging emotions in us: fear, love, anger and compassion – but the television set has been doing exactly that for over eight decades.
In collaboration with Arqiva , the communications infrastructure and media services company, we’re celebrating this humble yet revolutionary household item and the moments in television history that have brought communities together and defined cultures. In this timeline of British TV; we focus not only on a variety of programmes, from HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 Coronation through to recent coverage of the 2012 Olympics, but also on technological landmarks from the inception of broadcasting during the early 20th Century through to Arqiva’s completion of the digital switchover in 2012.
We asked BAFTA members to vote for their favourite moment in British TV history, and they chose the lunar landings of July 1969 as their top moment. Browse the timeline and share with us your thoughts on the most significant moment to you. Tweet your favourite using @BAFTA and #TVmoments to be in with the chance of winning a signed ceremony programme from the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards in 2013. Find out more here.
The Guild of Television Producers and Directors was established in 1954, in which their first set of awards was held in October of that year. Upon merging with the British Film Academy to become the Society of Film and Television Arts in 1958, the film and television awards were born. In 1974, the organisation became the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, where four years later, television craft was recognised alongside film and television. The separation of the film and television awards occurred in 1997, followed by the separation of the television and television craft awards in 2000.
In 1951, the party elections expanded from radio onto the small screens for the first time. Lord Samuel from the Liberal Party was followed by Conservative Anthony Eden and finally Sir Hartley Shawcross for the labour party in political broadcasts which lasted around fifteen minutes each.
The serial broadcast was the first science-fiction production to be dedicated towards an adult television audience, and inspired much of the sci-fi television we know of today. The show acted as an influence for a number of films and television shows, such as Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Doctor Who.
The infamous red book became iconic of the biographical programme which was originally broadcast live. With both celebrity and non-celebrity 'victims' surprised, the show was hosted by Eamonn Andrews, Michael Aspel and then Sir Trevor Mcdonald for a one-off special edition in 2007 where music mogul Simon Cowell was featured.
Emley Moor has been a transmission site since the earliest days of TV. The first permanent transmitter built there was for ITV, covering much of the north of England. The tower is the third antenna support structure to have occupied the site. The original lattice tower was erected in November 1956.
Conjuring much-loved moments including Hilda Ogden’s exit to Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye in 1987 and Reg’s waterbed nightmare in 1993, ITV intended the soap to run for only thirteen weeks when it began. In 1971, the 1,000th episode was broadcast and the show has now been running for 53 years. With 11 BAFTA wins and a further 16 nominations, the soap remains a popular staple in the nation's television schedule.
From its debut in 1963 through to its revitalisation in 2005, Doctor Who has been established as one of Britain’s finest television programmes,having received a plethora of BAFTA award wins and nominations including the BAFTA award for Best Television Drama in 2006. The long-running science fiction show has become a staple of British popular culture, not only receiving recognition for its duration, but also as the most successful series of all time.
Bringing live music to prime time television, the very first episode of Top of the Pops showcased the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield and the Hollies. For 42 years the show offered viewers a weekly cabaret of the nation's favourite tunes. At its peak in the 1990s, the show was aired in nearly 100 countries.
Informing the nation’s youth of the latest global news and current affairs in early evening weekday slots and offering short bulletins throughout the day, Newsround also offers ‘specials’; insights for 6-16 year olds into topics including the 2012 Presidential election, life for British troops in Afghanistan and an exploration into life for children with dyslexia. Originally John Craven's Newsround - who presented from 1972-1989, the programme received a BAFTA Special Award at the 2011 British Academy Children's Awards.
BBC1 introduced two annual charity telethons during the 1980s in the form of Children in Need and Comic Relief, founded in 1980 and 1985 respectively. As of October 2013, both charity telethon events have collectively raised approximately 1.5 billion pounds, with Children in Need raising over 650 million, and Comic Relief raising over 900 million pounds.
While 3,500 took their seats in St Paul’s Cathedral and 600,000 lined the streets, an estimated 750 million watched around the globe as the couple said their vows. In 2011 the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton was estimated to reach a global audience of up to 2 billion, although, in practical terms, this is hard to measure.
With highlights including Queen’s act - voted the greatest live performance in the history of rock music - and David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ dedication to ‘all our children, and the children of the world’, the BBC’s European live feed of the Wembley concert reached roughly 24.5 million Britons and 1.9 billion viewers in 150 countries; the biggest television audience yet. The BBC took an unprecedented move and cleared their schedules for 16 straight hours to allow complete coverage of the shows and Live Aid raised £150 million for poverty relief in Africa. Sir Bob Geldof was consequently knighted and won a BAFTA Television Award for Originality in 1986.
The sci-fi sitcom created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor has spawned ten series, four best-selling novels, a radio version, tie-in books, magazines and other merchandise.
The first 'broadcast' on the internet from ABC World News. 'Internet television' has continued to evolve with YouTube becoming not only the place of home-grown cat videos, but of long-form content produced by brands and broadcasters alike. Since then catch-up TV, Smart TVs, on-demand and streaming services have become the norm.
Who would have thought that when ten people went into a house filled with cameras in the summer of 2000, British television would be revolutionised by reality? We are still enjoying an age where shows including I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, The Only Way is Essex, Made in Chelsea and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding dominate our TV screens.
The early 2000s introduced a new concept of reality television with the launch of Popstars. First aired in January of 2001, the new format became a precursor to shows such as Pop Idol and Fame Academy, which lead to bigger and more highly-acclaimed contests such as The X Factor, and The Voice, respectively.
A significant development in TV history was the conversion of Britain’s analogue terrestrial services into digital television services. The switchover was concluded on the 24th October 2012, in which within that time, new digital channels such as BBC Choice – later BBC Three – ITV3, and E4 were launched. FACT – Arqiva built new masts at five separate locations including the Belmont mast that is 100ft taller than the Eiffel tower in Paris.
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