BBC Television Is Welcomed On-Air in 1936 With a Song

A clip from the BBC special Television Comes to London shows actress Adele Dixon singing a warm welcome to the newly formed, “high-definition” BBC Television Service at Alexandra Palace for the very first time in 1936.

The BBC’s – and the world’s – first regular high-definition television service started on Monday the 2nd of November 1936. A German service had begun the year before, but only offered pictures with 180-lines: the BBC had since decided that ‘high-definition’ meant 240-lines or higher, conveniently putting it ahead of all rival claims.

Television Comes to Britain

The song’s lyrics tallied the wonders of television that would be brought to viewers nightly.

A mighty maze of mystic, magic rays
Is all about us in the blue,
And in sight and sound they trace
Living pictures out of space
To bring a new wonder to you

The busy world before you is unfurled –
Its songs, its tears and laughter, too.
One by one they play their parts
In this latest of the Arts
To bring new enchantment to you.

As by your fireside you sit,
The news will flit,
As on the silver screen.
And just for entertaining you
With something new
The stars will then be seen. So…

There’s joy in store
The world is at your door –
It’s here for everyone to view
Conjured up in sound and sight
By the magic rays of light
That bring Television to you.

Here’s a longer clip showing more of what led to the opening night.

via Miss Cellania

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.