The BBC Story

The BBC Story

June anniversaries

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1 June 1959

Juke Box Jury was chaired by David Jacobs. Each week he played a selection of 7� singles on a large juke box to a panel of four celebrities. As the music played the camera moved over the faces of the panellists and the audience so the viewer could gauge their reaction. The panellists then gave their opinion of the discs and voted them a hit or a miss. If there was a tie a jury of teenagers drawn from the audience would have the deciding vote. Each week a mystery performer was revealed after the panel had voted on his or her disc, to the joy or embarrassment of the panel.

 

Juke Box Jury audience
The Juke Box Jury audience decides

Celebrity jury members including the Beatles and all five Rolling Stones helped the programme achieve Saturday night audiences over 12 million. People of all ages watched, the Radio Times described them as "the fans and the frankly fascinated". As it exposed this varied audience to pop music so Juke Box Jury made it an acceptable part of the light entertainment mainstream.

 

The original series ended in 1967, but the format was revived in 1979 with Noel Edmonds in charge, and again in 1989, with Jools Holland.

 

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The speakers are; Alan Bullock, historian, and author, Asa Briggs, former BBC historian, and Donald McLachlan, biographer, and former leader writer with the Sunday Times.

Audio accompanying the De Gaulle slideshow, remixed from, BBC Radio 4 programme The War of Words, first broadcast 29.10.1970.

 

De Gaulle's first broadcast to France 18 June 1940

At 10pm on 18 June 1940, General Charles de Gaulle broadcast to German occupied France, and rallied the French Resistance to him in London. With Petain's government about to sign an armistice with Germany, de Gaulle refused to accept that the fight for his country was over; "Quoi qu'il arrive, la flamme de la résistance française ne doit pas s'éteindre et ne s'éteindra pas".

 

De Gaulle announced his intention to broadcast again the following evening. He was furious to discover that his historic broadcast had not been recorded, as BBC engineers with limited equipment had failed to recognise the importance of the speaker or of his speech. On the 22nd de Gaulle broadcast again, and repeated his message in a speech that was heard much more widely. This time it was recorded. De Gaulle was recognised by Churchill as "the leader of all Free Frenchmen, wherever they may be" and made many more broadcasts to France.

 

The Free French were given 5 minutes every day in which to broadcast to France, organising the resistance from afar. In addition the BBC French Service broadcast the news in French as a counterbalance to Nazi propaganda. De Gaulle returned to France when it was liberated in 1944 and later became President of the Republic.

 

Nan Winton
Nan Winton

 

First female newsreader in vision 20 June 1960

Nan Winton became the first woman to appear in vision while reading the BBC news on 20 June 1960. The news of this event, unremarkable today, was reported in the national press the following day and generated much discussion over the following months. The decision to place a female newsreader on screen was made partly in response to the challenge of commercial television, but was announced as an experiment.

 

Winton, who read three news summaries on her first day in front of the camera, was an experienced journalist who had worked on Panorama and Town and Around. She was thought to be serious enough to overcome the prejudice voiced in the media that said women were too frivolous to be the bearers of grave news. However, according to BBC Audience Research, viewers thought that a woman reading the late news was "not acceptable". By October, when the initial experiment ended, Winton had read the late bulletins seven times.

 

The first female newsreader to gain acceptance on the BBC was Angela Rippon, who became a regular presenter of the Nine O'clock News in 1975. Winton went on to work for ITV.

 

Royal Family
 

Royal Family first transmitted 21 June 1969

The documentary Royal Family, first broadcast on 21st June 1969, gave audiences an unprecedented view of a year in the private and public life of the Queen and her family. The 110 minute film was shown with a two minute tea break interval, and watched by 23 million people. A co-production with ITV, it was sold around the world and seen by an estimated audience of 350 million.
Camera crews accompanied the Queen on tours of Chile and Brazil, and Prince Charles to Malta and Cambridge. They also shot more than 40 hours of film in Sandringham, Balmoral, Buckingham Palace, Windsor and Holyrood, as well as on the Royal Yacht, the Royal Train and aircraft of the Queens Flight. The Queen was filmed performing official duties such as receiving the new American ambassador and at her regular meeting with Prime Minister Harold Wilson. She was also shown holidaying at Sandringham and enjoying Christmas with her family. Producer Richard Cawston said "until we made this film, I really believe that none of them had ever spoken into a microphone anything which had not been carefully prepared."

 

The film reinforced the popularity of the Royal Family, even as it showed that they did mundane things such as watching television. In revealing their private lives, the programme spurred ever increasing media interest in what went on behind the formal facade.

 

Princess Margaret in The Archers

 

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Princess Margaret makes a guest appearance on The Archers
22 June 1984

In 1984 for the first time a member of the royal family took part in a BBC drama when Princess Margaret played herself in an episode of the long running soap opera The Archers. The brief scene featured the princess as a surprise guest at a fundraising fashion show held in Ambridge.

 

The fictional fundraiser was in aid of the NSPCC, and the original plan was for the Duke of Westminster to appear in his capacity as chairman of the charity, at the invitation of Caroline Bone, who was a relation in the fiction. However, when Princess Margaret was informed she asked to take part too, in her role as NSPCC president.

 

Rather than travel to Birmingham for the recording the library at Kensington Palace stood in for Grey Gables. Producer William Smethurst said the Princess quickly mastered the microphone techniques required for radio drama.

 

The Princess's appearance cemented The Archers reputation and position in the soap opera firmament. Although the first member of the royal family to take part in The Archers, she was not the only real person to appear as themselves, and over the years other guests included Gilbert Harding, John Peel, Britt Ekland, Alan Titchmarsh and Humphrey Lyttelton.

 

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Opening of Television Centre 29 June 1960

Television Centre, the world's first purpose built television production complex - described as the Hollywood of the Television Industry - was officially opened on 29 June 1960. The opening was marked by a special variety programme called First Night, broadcast from studio TC3, presented by David Nixon and featuring performers including Arthur Askey and Richard Hearne.

 

The building was conceived in 1949 when the BBC acquired a 13 acre site in White City, West London. Architect Graham Dawbarn designed a ring of studios radiating from a central courtyard, with a service road running around the outside to supply scenery and equipment. In 1960 only four studios of the eventual eight were complete. The famous question mark floor plan wasn't realised until the spur was added in 1966, housing the news centre. The building has been extended further over the years and its gradual development means it has kept pace with technological developments.

 

The list of programmes made at Television Centre is enormous, including Doctor Who, I Claudius, Blue Peter and Top of the Pops. Despite changes in television production methods Television Centre is still much in demand today, with live audience shows such as Strictly Come Dancing made there and official tours of the building very popular.

 

Watch some insightful staff stories from Television Centre's history

 

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