2020-06-30 4 By David Taylor


In 1959 Richard Cawson produced this great documentary showing 24 hours of the BBC. It features BBC Radio in Broadcasting House, BBC World Service at Bush House and BBC TV at Lime Grove and both radio and TV at a couple of the the BBC ‘regional outposts’. Television Centre didn’t get finished until 1960.
It’s a great look back at a time when all BBC announcer’s spoke in distinct ‘Received Pronounciation English” and although the ‘live dialogue’ in the film is decidedly ‘well rehearsed before hand’…and pretty stilted, you do get to see the wide range of programmes being made across the vast span of the BBC.

Do watch it full screen, but even then the picture aspect ratio is off, and it needs stretching sideways a bit….still you do get use to it!

These were the days when every mic in a BBC Radio studio seemed to be a ‘PGS’ – the STC 4038, and the BBC Radio desks still looked like this:

The ‘Today’ control room in 1959 -when it was still the BBC Home Service.

In the studio in this picture is the wonderful ‘Today’ presenter Jack DeManio, who always sounded very relaxed but also ‘specialised’, you may remember, in getting the time checks wrong. The simplicity of that sound console, pushed hard up against that window, shows how few inputs a radio programme like ‘Today’ required in the early days. No ‘phone-in’ contributions, just perhaps a guest in the ‘Radio Car’………that wonderful Black London Taxi, with a radio transmitter that parked outside a politician’s house when they couldn’t come to the studio.

I love the Quad 22 ‘Hi-Fi’ control unit sitting on the left side of the upstand and that both the Producer and the Studio Manager (mixer) are on the phone of course.

“The reason for the QUAD 22 is simply that it provided some ‘tone control’ as those BBC Type-B desks were not fitted with any RSAs (Response Selection Amplifiers) to boost or Cut the response of what was routed through it.
Given the time indicated on the Cubicle clock, the SM would probably be liaising with Continuity via the EMX phone as to the identity of the weather presenter.”