Eurovision

August 1950. On to the television screens in Britain came something different – the first direct pictures from a foreign country. The country was France and BBC cameras were there to televise a Calais fête. The idea had been born of the linking of nations through television. Eighteen months later BBC Television went back to France for a direct relay from Paris. There two programmes convinced the television men on both sides of the Channel that an exchange of programmes could work. And so it was that the word Eurovision came into the language. In June and July of 1954 eight countries combined to present programmes to each other. Today international television is accepted as part of the BBC service.

Eight nations took part in the 1954 week of Eurovision. And the television announcers of those eight nations celebrated with champagne their first week of international television.

This is where the picture started. Peter Dimmock and Max Robertson inspect the camera positions for the Winter Olympics at Cortina, televised in January 1956. From this point the pictures passed over the Italian Alps. through Switzerland and Germany and so on to Britain. The time lag? Less than it takes to blink an eye.

Pope Pius XII reads from a script with two microphones and a camera in front of him
In 1954 viewers in Britain were transported to Rome for the first time. There they toured St. Peter's and the Vatican. And, as a climax to the visit, His Holiness the Pope spoke to the eight nations, each in its own language.
Grace Kelly and Rainier Grimaldi walk down a road as crowds cheer
Eurovision covered the news. The wedding of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace attracted hundreds of newspapermen and photographers. The television cameras were there, too, to bring the scenes to all BBC viewers.
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