Outside Broadcasts

When it happens… as it happens. The BBC Television outside broadcast camera brought a new dimension into life – the ability to see events as they took place, perhaps hundreds of miles away. Today, the outside broadcast camera ranges across the whole of our national life and activity. In the ten years since 1946, the BBC Outside Broadcast Department has taken the viewer into ships at sea, under the earth, up in the air, and under the sea. But in all the vast procession of events, perhaps one stands out as offering television its greatest challenge. On 2 June 1953, BBC cameras televised the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen.

Up in the Air. In August 1955, BBC Television cameras took wings. One was mounted in the bomb-aimer’s position in a Varsity to bring dramatic pictures of the take-off and landing.

Into Ships at Sea… A month earlier, in July 1955, BBC Outside Broadcast cameras went aboard the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Bulwalk, which was at sea. This meant providing a link between the ship and the shore. So a combined power, transmitter, and aerial vehicle is hoisted on board the carrier.

… and under the sea. In June 1956, after months of experiment, the BBC television cameras went down in a submarine.

A BBC camera points at a cricket match
The tranquil pleasure of the cricket field is relayed by the BBC camera to the home. The great sporting events, as in this fifth Test Match between England and South Africa, are now part of the service for BBC viewers. In the summer – visits to the Oval or Lord's and Wimbledon. In the winter – visits to Wembley or Twickenham. Television has brought a renewed interest in all kinds of sport.

Not all outside broadcasts take place outside. Sometimes the cameras go indoors – to see the show-places of Britain or to meet celebrities At Home. But, indoors or out, the operation is the same. Cameras have to be transported, cables laid, and the interviews prepared. Early in 1955 the BBC cameras went to meet Lady Barnett at her Leicestershire home. The cables, like so much spaghetti, have to be manœuvred through the window of the dining-room, and (right) the view that Lady Barnett got of the cables coming in. The men are used to such work. There are no breakages.

A chest of drawers is moved by two men
Little furniture is moved, so that the room shall be seen in its usual state. But in this case space had to be found for a light.
Barnett and Edgar look at a camera script
A few hours to go before the broadcast. Producer Barrie Edgar discusses on or two points with Lady Barnett.
Lady Barnett poses behind a BBC camera
A camera is installed in the corner of a room. Lady Barnett tries it out.

As the viewer saw Lady Barnett and her husband.

TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM