2020-09-03 4 By David Taylor
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Part One: An in-depth look at how this worldwide live programme was put together, and with lots of video excerpts, will hopefully explain the finished programme.

Part Two: How both the recording teams that worked with the Beatles and
the television crew that set up in EMI Studio 1 all together made something unique and further helped place pop music into our ‘arts culture’.

If it’s only The Beatles sequence that interests you…can jump to PART TWO – HERE

In my lifetime there haven’t actually been that many times when I can remember the actual moment of sitting in front of a television set and watching a specific TV programme being transmitted. One I do remember however took place on my 20th birthday, 25th June in 1967 and was the 2 hour transmission of ‘Our World’, the first global link up seen in 24 nations at one time by the use of satellites. And perhaps like everyone else, the truly memorable bit for me was the Beatles ‘All You Need Is Love’ which came towards the end of the programme.
At that time, it was still a ‘small world’; in the UK we could see live horse racing from Sandown and we could sometimes see something live from ‘Eurovision’ but could not see a live Test Match from India. Photos from the Vietnam War would take a week to be published in Life or The Times, so to realise that the images in this broadcast were happening live from the US, Japan and Australia all at the same time made it a significant event.


Lots has already been written about ‘Our World’, and I’d like to concentrate on my particular interest, the ‘television’ side of the broadcast. The available reference sources are obviously spread around, mainly on the internet but also in the BBC’s Written Archives and some other US academic archives. However the video resources available currently for someone like me are unfortunately only on YouTube and Vimeo, so thanks to those who have uploaded videos of parts the programme, although non is totally complete.
It was assumed that the BBC had lost their 2″ video recording years ago and that the only intact UK version was the rather grim looking ‘tele-recorded’ copy. However Norwegian Television came up trumps when they located an original video copy. This they gave to the BBC, who were able to replace the Norwegian language voice-overs with sound from the BBC film copy and remake a complete version. The BFI showed this videotape at one of their annual ‘Missing Believed Wiped’ screenings on the Southbank in December 2014…sadly I missed that.[1]

And alas that ‘high-quality’, well off a 2″ QUAD recording copy, has not been uploaded anywhere.


The Telstar 1 satellite had been launched in July 1962, but only gave 20 minutes of coverage in every 2.5 hour period over the Atlantic for transmitting a single TV signal between the US and Europe. It wasn’t until 1965 when Intelsat 1 ‘Early Bird’ went into a ‘geo-stationary’ orbit that TV coverage became possible when ever it was wanted and 2 weeks after it went up a broadcast with CBS’s Walter Cronkite and NBC’s Chet Huntley in New York, with the BBC’s Richard Dimbleby in Brussels, made the live TV broadcast at anytime between the continents of America and Europe a reality. This was just as the author Arthur C.Clarke had proposed in 1945 when he wrote that geo-stationary satellites could provide worldwide ‘radio coverage’.


Aubrey Singer, BBC Head of Features and Science had been promoting the idea of a ‘Round The World’ project since 1965 and in 1966 members from eighteen countries met in Geneva, although the major US Networks weren’t present, agreeing to undertake such a programme and decided that there would be no political content and it would all be live.
However it was the launching of Intelsat 2 ‘Lani Bird’ in January 1967 and Intelsat 3 ‘Canary Bird’ in March 1967 that made the idea of a really big TV linkup possible.


It was going to be a big undertaking, so it was passed over to EBU to organise but the main programme development and linking was to remain with the BBC in London.
19 countries agreed to doing contributions, but the Soviet Block countries pulled out a few days before the event which still left 14 – Australia (ABC), Austria (ORF), Canada (CBC), Denmark (DZR), France (ORTF), Italy (RAI), Japan (NHK), Mexico (TS Mexicana), Spain (TVE), Sweden (SRT), Tunisia (RTT), United Kingdom (BBC), USA (NET) and West Germany (ARD) and the programme was also shown in a further 10 – Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland.
Along with ‘Early Bird’ positioned over the North Atlantic,
‘Canary Bird’ over the South Atlantic, ‘Lani Bird’ over the North Pacific, the NASA ATS-1 satellite was involved as it was able to cover the South Pacific. The ‘up and down linking’ required to distribute each countries ‘in and out’ feeds, would further require thousands of miles ground cables, micro-wave links and numerous delay circuits.
There would also have to be lots of standards conversion of the picture as the US and Japan had a 525 line TV services, with much of the rest of the world operating in 625 lines and although the UK’s black and white TV service was still 405 lines, the BBC did have studios operating in 625 at their new Television Centre

Dick McCarthy pointed out some of the standards conversion difficulties facing BBC Engineering:
“The BBC’s Design’s Department had built two simple converters, known as DD1 and DD2. These were three bays of equipment each, and converted in one direction only. DD1 did 525 NTSC to 625 PAL, and DD2 did 625 PAL to 525 NTSC. These two converters, however, had two drawbacks. When converting from 525 to 625, a 525 line picture was fitted into a 625 line raster, and with a corrected aspect ratio, it appeared as a smaller picture bordered like a postage stamp, although nothing was lost.”
“The other problem with these DD Converters was that two PAL or NTSC outputs existed. One with the right colour subcarrier frequency, but not locked to line syncs, and one with the wrong colour sub carrier frequency, but locked to line syncs. The former was referred to as the Transmission output, and the latter, as the Record output. It came about because 525 NTSC field frequency was not 60Hz, but 59.94 Hz.”
“The Record output was suitable for later transmission, once recorded, as on a VT replay locked to station pulses, the standard frequencies were produced.”[13]


A meeting of the Eurovision working group planning “Our World” in April 1967 left to right: Alexandre Tarta amd Luca Di Schiena, Eurovision Executive Producers; Eddi Ploman, EBU Project Manager; Aubrey Singer, EBU Project Editor; Eric Griffiths, EBU Project Engineer; Norman Taylor, Supervising Engineer, BBC Master Control.
Image: BBC

As the transmission dates approached, Aubrey Singer was involved in meetings to draw together the complex planning details. On the 4th of June a large planning meeting was hosted in one of the BBC Television Centre’s studios.

This is the overall planning meeting for the co-ordination of the links, held on 4th June in a BBC Television Centre studio.
As a soundman…I can see that the front desk is ‘miked up’ and I love the 2 Fisher booms, which obviously are ‘in operation’ covering all the side tables and the slung column PA speakers. Looks like the right hand boom’s mic has been dropped down to cover a speaker on the far right.

photo: BBC


Norman Taylor’s copy of the Our World vision circuits, which shows 3 satellites, plus the Russian ‘Molniya’ satellite, that would link the Soviet Far East. I can’t see Interstel-3 ‘Canary Bird’ though on this drawing. It was dated 9th June 1967. [14]

The ex-BBC engineer Eric Griffith’s picked up the job of discovering what was…and what was not possible in ‘linking the world’ by satellites. In January ’67 he started by visiting NASA asking questions about their involvement, particularly to find out about the ATS-2 satellite which was still to launch in April. Although the US, Canada, Japan and Mexico were all 525 line, Australia wasn’t and NASA weren’t happy about handling any 625 line signals. NASA however agreed to use ATS-1 although it was scheduled to be doing VHF aircraft transmission tests during the ‘Our World’ broadcast period. The producers wanted a picture of the whole world from space, but although ATS-1 could produce one it took 20 minutes of scanning to complete the 4″x 5″ high definition (2000 lines) image and the satellite couldn’t be used for TV signals during that time, so a recorded image would have to suffice.
Griffiths then went on to COMSAT, who operated the ‘Early Bird’, ‘Canary Bird’ and ‘Lani Bird’ HS303A satellites.These were required…at considerable cost and were being used for telephone communications much of the time.
National Educational TV were to be the US broadcaster, the big US Networks having not seen any financial gain in taking part but NET would have to rent the CBS Switching Centre in New York. The other broadcaster on the North American continent, CBC in Canada would have to use both Toronto for the English Network and Montreal for the French one.
To jump the Pacific the little Japanese ‘research’ ground station of Kashima was required, but it was manned by only 5 people, 2 of whom were very junior and it only had ‘one way at a time’ equipment to link it to just one of the 2 transponders on NASA’s ATS-1, thus considerably complicating obtaining pictures to and from Australia.


Having decided that BBC TV Centre would be ‘The World Hub’, a set of Control Centres were to do the routing:

1: WEST ZONE – The CBS Switching Centre in New York would handle the contributions from Canada, the US, Mexico, Australia and Japan. All these would be operating in 525 Lines and New York would feed them as 525 Lines to London.
2: EBU ZONE – The EBU in Brussels would handle the contributions from Spain, France, Tunisia, Italy, Austria, Germany and Sweden.
All these would be operating in 625 Lines, including France where they would have converted their 819 Lines to 625. London was to convert the 625 Lines to 525 for the US etc.
3: OIRT 1 ZONE – The Control Centre in Prague would handle contributions from Poland, Hungary, Czecheslovakia and East Germany. These would be in 625 Lines.
4: OIRT 2 ZONE – The Control Centre in Moscow would handle all USSR contributions and these also would be in 625 Lines.


Four days before the transmission date the Soviet Block countries decided to withdraw completely from the broadcast. They cited the ‘Abab-Israeli War’ as the reason, stating the the West, particularly the US were supporting the Israeli war against Egypt, Syria and Jordan.
Well it was hard to prove that there was any other reason but it was a great pity that the ‘Our World’ link-up was now only going to be a ‘partial world’ after all.
It would have be a wonderful change for the West to see ‘behind the Iron-Curtain’ and likewise for the Soviet controlled states to see more than they usually ever did of ‘The Western’ world.
Here’s the ‘final’ amended routing plan after the Soviet pull-out:

1: This version of the final ‘lines drawing’, shows the state at ‘transmission’ on the 25th June, with the 4 ‘geo-stationary satellites’ plus thousands of miles of ground links with New York operating as a sub-switching centre with connections that extended to Tokyo and Sydney. The the Soviet Block section has now been omitted.
Image: BBC [2]

The ‘lines drawing’ above shows how the four satellites were fed by a web of ‘in and out’ lines which required the use of 43 control rooms.

In the week of the broadcast TV Times had a rare colour front page and inside Hugh Greene, the BBC Director General in 1967, wrote:

“Our World is an audacious experiment in international communications. It is nothing less than an attempt to circumnavigate the globe by television. In spite of many satellite broadcasts in recent years Our World is unique and important because it is the first global collaboration in the making of a programme instead of in the relaying of an event.” [3]


Aubrey Singer pulled together a team to work on ‘Our World’ that included Noble Wilson directing the overall ‘World’ coverage in a ‘Master Control Room’ and Darrol Blake directing the BBC studio packages.
Darrol Blake had been a Production Designer at the BBC and had moved into directing with the topical comedy show ‘BBC3’. His obvious talent for ‘coping’ had been noticed, as Darrol recalled in a 2011 interview:

“It was the most extraordinary programme and it was a story in itself. That happened because a Head of Science Features, Aubrey Singer, got this idea, went around the world twice. The first time nobody would talk to him, but in between he got The Beatles on board and then the whole world wanted to join in at that point and they were fighting to contribute to the programme. And so apparently while he was pulling the programme together he went to Michael Peacock and said, “Who’s your best studio director?” Michael Peacock told me, “I didn’t know what he meant. What does he mean? Who’s used to chaos? Ah yes, Darrol”.

It would have taken a while to put together the archive film and graphics material and the Greek sculptures and collected items used as props in the TC1 studio.

“I did three months on it and I was the director of all the bits in between the inserts from all of the other countries. There was a marvellous man called Noble Wilson who was directing in TC1 Gallery, I was in TC2 Gallery directing the TC1 floor, which had Bleriot’s plane and graphics and all sorts of things


Television Centre was to run the show and therefore the big Production Gallery of the Studio TC1 became the Master Control hub. As the ‘Studio Floor’ of TC1 was also the biggest, but it’s Production Control Room was to be taken over for ‘World Control’, the cameras from the adjacent TC2 were moved to be operated on the floor of the larger TC1, along with TC2 Production Control Room adding captions and the housing the necessary ‘translation commentaries’.
All rather complicated.. so here’s a sketch of the layout used:

Plan of the ‘local connections’ between TC1 and TC2. ICR is the International Control Room.
Image: Science Museum Exhibition 2015 via Mike Jordan

In the above you can see that the cameras from TC2, black and white Marconi MkIV’s were operating on the floor of TC1, along with 2 of TC1’s cameras, probably by now EMI 2001’s. The programme used a lot of ‘back projection’ onto screens to create a moving backdrop and ‘Eido’ in the drawing indicates that an Eidophor projector was being used for this, plus there was a ‘caption scanner’, shown as being in the TC1 gallery. The dear old manually operated ‘caption stands’ placed in front of suitable studio TV cameras were also in use.


A show like this required considerable rigging to set up the communications and organise the control rooms and studio floors.
The cameras of studio TC2 were therefore cabled through to the studio floor of the adjacent TC1, and a really big ‘Transatlantic’ crane was brought in as a very large area of ‘studio cyc’ was to be used as a screen for the back projection images.


The Main Vision Mixer in TC1 would carry the 3 separate Euopean Inputs and the ‘Sub Control’ that had the two UK OB’s. It would also carry the 2 Cameras (5&6) that were shooting in the Production Control Room itself.
Finally the ‘Spare’ input with either the ’emergency’ VTR or Standards Converter.
This Main Mixer Output was ‘Clean’ of any ‘West Zone’ contributions and was thus the Output going to the ‘West Zone’ in New York.

The was also an Auxiliary Mixer mounted to the right of the Main Mixer. It took the Main Mixer Output and also the 625 line conversion of the 525 pictures incoming from the West Zone, and therefore carried both European and US (West Zone) contributions.
The Output of this Aux Mixer was thus the composite programme for all European Users.

Top row:
On the left-‘Guide’-This was a closed circuit ‘sequence indicator’ that illustrated the programme running order. It showed the current sequence and the succeeding one, so that any breakdowns or changes could be notified to all as quickly as possible.
On the right- TC1 cameras 1 and 2: These were showing captions and were inputs into the ‘Black Edge Selector’ and the last was the TC1 Caption Scanner-also feeding into the ‘Black Edge’.
Middle Row:
1: Labelled ‘Spare’ it could be switched between a VTR, only to be used in ’emergency’ if TC2 Studio Links were ‘lost’ or the Standard Conversion output, so that if the Genlock should fail captions could still be superimposed on ‘outside sources’.
2: Studio 2 Output. Although operating on the floor of TC1, the linking sequences were coming in of course from the TC2 CR.
3: Final ‘Transmission’ Output.
4: The ‘West Zone’ Input- the overall US input. From the CBS Switching Centre that NET had hired, coming in via Goonhilly and UK International Control Room.
5: The New York ‘Transmission’ feed. A monitor only feed of the US final transmission, which should of course have all the contrubutions on it.
6: ‘Black Edge Generator’- Output of all captions.
Bottom Row:
1, 2 and 3: The 3 separate Inputs from the EBU switching centre via the International Control Room , designated Europe X. Y and XY.
4: Sub Control-the two UK Outside Broadcasts
5 + 6: TC1 Cameras 5 and 6 – Cameras in this TC1 Production Control Room, being cut into various explanatory sequences
, showing ‘the director and his team’ at work, with one camera is set for a view across ‘Production’ and the other looking from behind the Director at the monitor stack beyond.

The Monitor Stack in TC1 was laid out as in Norman Taylor’s sketch above-with the three incoming ‘Europe’ feeds and the incoming ‘West Zone’ and ‘New York Transmission’ on 2 more monitors, plus the ‘Sub Control’ UK OB’s.
The Production Control Room of Studio 1 during rehearsals.
photo via Norman Taylor [14]

As each OB item would have a local Presenter in their own language, a feed of this Presenter plus any ‘local’ effects’ would
become ‘International Sound’, to go every other country. It would then be ‘voiced over’ by a team of translators in TC2 and these translations will be split into three outputs- English, French and German and these became the 3 ‘Guide Circuits’. Every country could nominate which of the 3 Guide Circuits it wished to receive.

No Lip mics? I actually can’t recall ever seeing ‘commentators headset mics’ before – Corbet Woodall, Meryl O’Keefe and Tim Gudgin doing live language translations in BBC TV Centre studio TC2 during ‘Our World’.

However every country would also have a ‘Narrator’ who could talk in his local language over the International Sound using the ‘Programme Script’ (Anthony Jay’s Script) and this ‘Narrator’ could use the appropriate Guide for information if required.

At this point the ‘Requirements Document’ states: The BBC Narrator will be in TC5!
I assume the BBC Narrator is Cliff Michelmore…surely he’s on the TC1 studio floor…but maybe not!

The TC1 Pye TVT Sound desk would carry the 3 Euopean feeds onto Groups DE with the output going out as a Clean Feed to New York, thus being clean of the ‘West Zone’. The 3 European inputs would also go, along with the incoming West Zone to Group A, thus becoming the European Output, which is what Norman Bennett the Sound Supervisor would normally be monitoring.

Copying a layout used in the recent 1966 Election, two compartments were put into TC1 Production CR. One was for the Project Engineer (Eric Griffiths) and was fitted with picture and waveform monitors plus TC1 Picture Output monitor of the feed going to Brussels and another monitor of the output to New York.
He could monitor sound from Goonhilly (West Zone incoming) plus the 3 European lines and the TC1 Outputs.
He could get across the two Conference Circuits, ‘Production’ or ‘Technical’, and talk to the Project Editor or Project Director and had a phone to ICR as well.

The other compartment in TC1 PCR was made for the Project Editor (Aubrey Singer) and had a TC1 Output picture monitor with a TC1 Sound Output on loudspeaker.
An English Guide commentary plus a feed of BBC1 Off Air.
He had comms to the Project Director and the Project Engineer and three phones to the switchboard.

The previously mentioned Conference Circuits were ‘4 Wire’ circuits and the ‘Production Conference’ provided the Project Director with the ability to talk to New York, and Brussels and would have also linked to Prague and Moscow.
Another similar ‘Technical Conference’ circuit provided a similar link up for the Technical guys.

Just to provide yet even more ‘backup’, a complete telephone switchboard was installed (by the GPO) in the Technical Store attached to TC1, to terminate the Overseas Production Control lines and also Direct Exchange Lines that were specially put for the programme.

Mike Jordan:
“I was in TC1 camera store for the show. I was working in BH lines Dept at the time and we were responsible for sorting out all the control lines and audios from everywhere.”

This shows the relative sizes of the two studios in Television Centre that were involved. [12]
Rehearsals in Television Centre Studio 1 for the Our World broadcast.
The crane in this shot is a ‘normal’ Mole, not the Transatlantic seen below.
Photo via Norman Taylor [14]
The ‘crew photo’ from the ‘Our World’ broadcast, taken after the show.
At the end of this article …please see also a downloadable version of this picture with added ‘numbering’.

If you know someone, please send me details!

The above photo of the assembled crew for the programmes was taken after the show and undoubtedly quite a few would be missed off this picture, taken on the ‘floor’ of TC1. On the large crane are Aubrey Singer and Noble Wilson. Both Darrol Blake and Norman Taylor are in the right hand upper group.
Near the centre on the front row. clutching a script board, is the Floor Manager, Joan Marsden who controlled the studio floor in TC1….known both within the BBC, and to many of the ‘visitors’ who had come under her ‘control’ in the studio…as ‘Mother’.


The EBU had sent the ex-BBC Engineer Eric Griffiths around the world pulling together the complicated threads required to make this all work, and Eric had now become the ‘Project Engineer’ now seated in one of the two ‘compartments’ in the TC1 Production CR. However there were other EBU Engineers working top link the EBU Countries involved and here’s two Brits at work in the EBU Brussels Centre:

EBU engineers Brian Flowers and Bob Mayo working in Eurovision Central Control during Our World.
Image: Brian Flowers [11]

Wikipedia states:
“It took ten months to bring everything together. The Eastern Bloc countries, headed by the Soviet Union, pulled out four days before the broadcast in protest of the Western nations’ response to the Six-Day War.
The ground rules included that no politicians or heads of state could participate in the broadcast. In addition, everything had to be “live”, so no use of videotape or film was permitted. Ten thousand technicians, producers and interpreters took part in the broadcast. Each country had its own announcers, due to language issues, and interpreters voiced over the original sound when not in a country’s native language. Fourteen countries participated in the production, which was transmitted to 24 countries, with an estimated audience of between 400 and 700 million people.”

All the ‘outside sources’ (ie countries participating) had their video and audio routed to the BBC Television Centre TC1 ‘Master Control Room’ and then received back the programme for their local transmission. It certainly looks like the picture quality is worst from the most distant contributors. The US say, would have sent a sequence from the OB unit, to the main centre, in New York, before the hop on ‘Early Bird’ to the BBC…and then back again to the US for distribution to the National Education network’s ‘affiliate’ stations. Picture quality would deteriorate on routes like that with an incredible amount of processing going on along the way. In fact, technically, the switch from the Japanese item to the Australian one was probably the most complicated of the programme – the Japanese station at Ibaraki had to go from transmit to receive mode, while Cooby Creek had to switch from receive to transmit mode.[4]

The ‘Our World’ press releases carried lots of ‘hype’ and some of it spilled out into ads like the one from ABC in Australia.


The show started with a ‘pre-amble’, locally delivered in each participating country detailing the complexity of the link up each was to deliver and that in each country a simultaneous language translation was going to be carried over the pictures from the other ‘foreign countries’and then continued with the script by Antony Jay .

“The excitement of actually doing it was extraordinary; babies were born on cue in Mexico and Denmark, people shot rapids, I cued a tram in Melbourne from Television Centre when it was five in the morning there. Nowadays you’d just take it for granted, but getting pictures out of Australia for instance was quite something.”[6]

I do however wonder if it was actually Darrol Blake who did the cueing of the items from around the world as it looks like Noble Wilson, the Director in the ‘TC1 Master Control Room’ would have been the one to do that.
Live shows would usually get the ‘pulse racing’ a bit and in the UK, a typical audience could be in well excess of 15 million viewers. The potential audience for ‘Our World’ was expected to be 170 million ‘TV sets’….so guessing the number of viewers becomes pretty impossible once that many are expected to tune in and certainly enough to ‘concentrate the mind’….400 Million is an oft quoted figure for this audience!

“I was the gram-op in the gallery of TC1. We received the opening music on a 10½” reel of pink backed Agfa ¼” tape. Unfortunately, (for me!) the Russians decided to opt-out of taking part in the show so the sig. tune had to be shortened by several seconds! So there was I, razor blade at the ready, having done a copy of the tape as soon as we got it. The Vienna Phil. isn’t easy to chop but I managed it and it all worked thank goodness! “ [5]

Indeed the whole programme was promoted as being totally live:

“One thing we must make clear – in the next two hours everything will be live – no film or recording”

says Cliff Michelmore in the UK introduction, although in the section from Mexico, they make the excuse of showing off their new large OB truck and then explain that they are making a four minute dance item…which they promptly then show us…apparently off tape…as you’ll see in their item later. Perhaps they are just so excited with their technology now that the Mexico Olympics were almost on them.

Although British Summer time would make it 7pm in the UK, to the rest of the world it was 20.00 GMT when everyone would join up with the output from BBC’s Television Centre for the ‘Our World’ programme.

However each participating country would be running a lead-up introduced by a ‘local presenter’.
In Television Centre’s TC1, they were originating both Cliff Michelmore introduction just for the UK then and all the linking items once that main programme was underway.
To facilitate this, once they had finished this ‘pre-amble’, each countries presenter would read the same Antony Jay script over the TC1 pictures and the ‘clean sound’ -the fx and music.


Let’s dip into the programme in ‘small chunks’…I don’t expect you to want to view all 2 hours, certainly not in one go.
In the UK on Sunday 25th June, ‘Our World’ followed a Rolf Harris Show, starting at 19.55.
Here’s the opening introduction as shown in the UK with the presenter Cliff Michelmore. This is obviously taken from a BBC ‘tele-recorded’ copy, ie a film ‘camera’ photographing a TV screen and (not a 2″ VTR copy) and alas it is extremely contrasty with burnt out white highlights. The sound, particularly when the clip starts is also extremely poor…film modulation noise and ‘crackles and pops’ make it sound like someone’s 8mm film! It does get better though.

Cliff Michelmore’s intro to the UK transmission [7]

Here’s James Dibble in Sydney with the Australian lead-up into the main programme as seen in Australia:

The start of the ‘pre-amble’ as seen in Australia. Although it is a film copy, it’s rather better quality so obviously this is from a 2″ Quad tape at sometime.[8]

Meanwhile in the introduction in Toronto, CBC brought out the ‘heavyweight’ academic Marshall McLuhan, who famously coined the phrase ‘The Medium is the Message’ and predicted that global communications were about to transform how people viewed their world. However today he’s totally absorbed with his ‘lecture’ and refuses to really listen to any of the interviewers questions at all!

Marshall McLuhan talks of the generation gap brought on by ‘the new media’. He was ahead of his time with that prediction for sure...but I think it took the ‘Internet’ to really do it. [9]

Back in Australia they are explaining the satellites bringing them the programme:

How Australia gets the live programme from London. [8]
The whole world needed to be synchronised …..and in Australia, having exhausted their material, they’re stuck with watching the clock…[8]


All around the world they switched from their local introduction and took the feed from London for the opening credits sequence accompanied by the Our World theme sung in different languages by the Vienna Boys Choir which is followed by a ‘menu sequence’ that highlights three of the forthcoming items.

In London Cliff Michelmore has also just linked into the Our World title sequence.the music not destined for the Top Ten after all. [7]

After the title sequence Cliff Michelmore, along with the studio presenters in the countries, goes ‘out of vision’ and therefore they ‘voice over’ their linking items for the rest of the whole programme., all reading Antony Jay’s script.
In Michelmore’s case I imagine he moved off to the side of the set where he could see a TV monitor and was from then on cued by Jean Marsden, the Floor Manager whenever required. Unless of course ‘Narration from TC5’ as per the Tech Req sheet actually happened.

And on the other side of the world, James Dibble is also reading Antony Jay’s script over the same pictures.
(Note the ‘talkback breakthrough’ a few seconds in). [8]

“We were trying to make it something which was a program in its own right, that was about something and yet had to carry with it–and this was the problem–all the different nations, and so we decided to make population growth–which was one of those preoccupations, like global warming is now–a kind of theme of it. We wanted something to try to capture the maximum audience at the beginning, so we thought: Let’s have babies. Typical bit of meretricious television programming, but it gave us a way of getting into it.”
The program would begin by attending the births of various children in hospital delivery rooms around the world, then examine the world into which they had arrived. It would consider population growth and the means of supporting people on the planet, and also delve into the worlds of culture and science.”


And indeed babies are now popping out all over the world…after the boy we have seen in Japan, we get to see a baby girl in Denmark and a ‘still attached’ baby pops out in Mexico City…as seen below (to then be followed from another in Edmonton, Canada).

Timing is everything…and here’s a baby at the very moment of arrival into ‘Our World’… [7]

Good to see Mexico in this ‘worldwide linkup’…obviously with one eye towards the Olympics that were coming their way the next year that would be using the same satellites.

Cliff Michelmore wraps up the ‘menu sequence’ and starts “The Television Journey-that no one has ever taken before” which leads to the first of the main items, the sections based on that unifying theme of ‘population’. The broadcast was split into sections titled, ‘The Hungry World’, ‘The Crowded World’, ‘Physical Excellence’, ‘Artistic Excellence’ and ‘The Worlds Beyond’.

And Darrol Blakes’ animated graphics continue in the studio. Note the large Chapman crane used on the programme.[7]

Alas ‘talking up’ the excitement of producing ‘pig iron’ in Lintz is probably not what the enormous world-wide audience were hoping for!
And that perhaps is the problem with asking TV companies around the world to rise to an event like this…some just can’t rise above your average news clip.

The next insert from Paris also fails to excite…a police helicopter monitoring the returning weekend traffic of Paris…but at least the Tunisian’s try and give us an idea of the old and the new in their capital Tunis.


Live in Tunis in the dark. [7]

With a searchlight on the camera to show the buildings and with lots of carefully choreographed ‘action’ in the ‘souk’ there…but so what… it does show the changing face of North Africa.

Next came a visually flat report from onboard a fishing boat off Huelva, Spain. Clever in 1967 to get a large television camera on a small boat and then linking it ashore…but not at all worthwhile really.
Next we cross the Atlantic, first to the USA. This is how the Canadians saw this section which included two of their own reports:


No politics’ said the programme brief…but with a major US-Russian summit underway, NET couldn’t resist a report from there...and then on to a cattle ranch and…well on to a beach. [7]


A couple of things to point out about the copy you are watching. With the very high cost of 2″ videotape in the 1960’s, programmes like this weren’t kept ‘in the library’ for long; tapes were re-used pretty soon after transmission. TV programmes were shown once or possibly twice and then their life was over, even something as historic as this broadcast…was wiped by the BBC!
So what you are seeing is a scratched, low contrast film ‘tele-recorded copy’.
The ‘cut-off’ heads on all the items; particularly noticeable on the one from Ghost Lake, aren’t due to poor camerawork, but the fact that some of the original image is cropped when the tele-recording takes place. It being no more than a film camera looking at a TV screen with it’s frame rate adjusted to avoid the blanking interval in the video. The BBC’s frame conversion was also ‘lopping a bit off’ I believe. The difference is shown below:

This is the BBC tele-recorded image
And this is the same frame from the 2″ VTR on the CBC version!

As the report from Point Grey on the Pacific coast near Vancouver was .just pictures of a beach on a pleasant Sunday, I left it….so lets jump on…..


To Tokyo and then Melbourne

I thought the scenes of the Japanese workers rather manically hacking away at the rock face under Tokyo were really well done. Moving cameras, going both down and across and then close-ups of the rock cutting. Not something anyone would have seen on TV before surely.
The Melbourne tram item was referred to earlier by Darrol Blake, when he said “I cued a tram in Melbourne from Television Centre when it was five in the morning there.” Although I’d have thought it was the other director, Noble Wilson in the TC1 Master Control who would have done that.


At this point the available video copies on YouTube have differed but I think the UK’s first segment came next, from the new town of Cumbernauld, not far from Glasgow. Doesn’t sound like a thrilling item, but it’s easy to forget that towns like Cumbernauld were going to bring big changes to the lives of many people in what was still a little changed post-war Britain. A town built around a pedestrian shopping precinct and with car free living areas was still a revelation to much of the rest of the world as well.

Magnus Magnusson’s report on Cumbernauld new town in Scotland. [7]

I couldn’t decide if that was a totally live item on a nice ‘summers evening in the UK’, with carefully placed TV cameras giving shots of both outside houses and roads plus inside the shopping centre, inside a home and a factory with finally, a ‘trendy hotel’. However shots of children and a working factory had me wondering about ‘live’, and then the audible clunk and lost ‘tail’ on the cut from exterior to Magnus sitting at the bar inside the hotel, really does smack of a physical 2″ videotape cut. The quality of his voice is a fairly good match throughout, plus the bar ‘atmos’ is absent, although the music on the exterior shot does go across that ‘cut’ though.
So is ‘totally live’ another of those TV euphemisms for ‘we didn’t package all this up onto tape, before we transmitted it….just big bits of it’?
However among the TV audience was Kenneth Macdonald, later a BBC Scotland correspondent:

“I saw it go out live”. It was the modern world then”.
“This was Scotland on a Sunday, so they had to open shops especially so people could pretend to buy things. And there were so few cars they too had to be pre-planned and ‘cued’ into shot by the director”.


In later years it was so easy to do impressive wipes and dissolves, but I still think that in 1967, the multiple cross faded sequences, within the context of ‘remaining in the studio’ was a good concept. Just running a film of it with a Cliff’s ‘voice-over’, would really have made it seem like a ‘documentary’ and this presentation must have been Darrol Blake’s idea and then carried out by his designer.
And I was pleased to see that, on viewing the programme again in the BFI 2014 showing, the experienced TV producer John Wyver, on his ‘Illuminations’ company website agreed with that assessment:

” The graphics of the programme, created with screens, projections and models in a huge, wonderfully-lit studio at Television Centre, are one of the glories of the programme, achieving a brilliantly distinctive “look” and facilitating story-telling of great economy. It came as no surprise to see a closing credit to the great television designer Richard Levin.”

I think the multi-layered sequences were good for their day. [7]

Alas Cliff has just led us into, into another ‘damp squib’ of an OB item. This time about 16 year old Olympic swimmer Elaine Tanner trying to capture a speed record. It was in reality a mundane ‘news clip’.
So on to…oh dear; another boring item. At Castello Di Bollate in Italy, we see two horsemen, both brothers doing the jumps in an indoor riding centre as they also train for the Olympics.
I won’t bother showing you those then.


Next is Soderfors in Sweden, when we finally get a female presenter. Good old Sweden, able to get away from the ‘men in suits’ ….so I guess TV wasn’t so male dominated in Scandinavia in the late ’60s. She also manages to brighten up the visuals with a great pair of tinted glasses. This is an item about white water canoeing….and we get to find out that Soderfors…..err…..concentrates on stainless steel!:

Alas all of the first four participants get tipped in….

…definately live, that one.

Next up is an ambitious item from France. Their ‘man in a suit’ gets to go down into the ‘Med’ off Marseilles…in a submersible ‘bathyscape’. The first time, I guess, for a TV reporter with his camera, some lights and a mic.


Man in suit’ in bathyscape

Back to Cliff Michelmore to lead into….

Artistic Excellence

First up in ‘Artistic Excellence’ is Zefferelli, making ‘Romeo and Juliet’. This film, which came out the next year received amazing reviews. Zefferelli though acts like a real ‘ham actor’ to the Italian TV cameras in this sequence.


Zefferelli with Milo O’Shea, Leonard Whiting and Olivier Hussey.

What incredible casting by him though, of the two youngsters.
Now here’s the continuation of the scene, the ‘wedding scene’ …and I don’t think it’s fair to criticise the poor ‘boom op’ as with one big ‘key light’ and three TV cameras working, he stood no chance of keeping his shadow out of the TV coverage, and I’m sure he normally coped with single film camera shots just fine.

The wedding scene is rehearsedand with an audience of say 400 million...
It was released the next year. “Coming shortly to a cinema near you”….

A bit of an aside to show that from the film, but interesting to see how it came out. Taking $38.9 million at the box-office, it won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography (Pasqualino De Santis) and Best Costume Design (Danilo Donati); it was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture. 

Next we go to the stage at Wagner’s opera house at Bayreuth, were Wagner’s grandson Wolfgang is staging Lohengrin.


OK, no unfair jokes about ‘When the Fat Lady sings’….

Wolfgang Wagner is the one strutting about on stage. He took over the Bayreuth Festival around this time and, despite lots of controversy did make Bayreuth very successful. Rudolf Kempe only conducted in 1967 and dropped out in ’68 but made a ‘live’ recording that is available on CD….and in fact it’s available to listen to on YouTube:
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMrUA0BsKT4) .
Try a bit of it…the prelude that starts is really wonderful…and you may get hooked!
That’s Heather Harper singing her heart out in the really terrible costume and that ‘head-dress’.
I wonder if the slight ‘sound sync’ problem was just because the mic was so very far away……yes it can make a difference, but more likely there was a slight delay on the sound when transmitted. Audio always went a separate route to video on OB’s at that time….but was probably more often correctly in sync than it is in this modern digital era!


Now for something different again….well a quick burst, we won’t dwell on it.

Musique-concrete, modern dance and statues…

As you see, I didn’t dwell on it…but in fact ‘modern art’ was big in the late ’60’s. Musique concrete, modern dance and statues by Giacometti, Miro and the American Alexander Calder plus paintings by Kandinsky, Bonnard and Chagall were shown in this clip…but I’ll move on.


Next is Mexico and as I mentioned earlier, the “totally live” rule is obviously flaunted here.

A look at the Mexican 2 inch VTR…the cheeky way to do a live broadcast.

You get the idea…..the commentator tells us that they’re recording a four minute dance sequence…which they then play us! So…..just a few ‘live shots’…..of the presenter, plus people watching a TV and the VTR machine.


Next we jumped back to New York…where the reporter’s intro gets slightly ‘lost’ behind the swelling sound of two pianos as Leonard Bernstein rehearses with Van Cliburn. (Harvey Lavan ‘Van’ Cliburn, Jr…the son of a Texan oilman).

Leonard Bernstein and Van Cliburn…’fighting their corner’…

Both standing up for how they perceive it should be performed. Van Cliburn had become famous when this work was one of the two items that won him the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition, in front of Khruschev in Moscow…so he really knew how he wanted it to be. Pity we don’t see it being rehearsed with the New York Phil I think. The cost of that for National Educational Television was way too much I guess. By the way, Lenny never did give up smoking!

Another sidetrack…but here’s the complete Rachmaninov PC3 if you are at all interested….Van Cliburn with Kondrashin in Moscow in 1958.
via YouTube
. (love the ‘wiping’ of the keyboard at the start!)


Finally (I hear you say) we get to the Beatles segment…..well here’s just a bit of it anyway


Cliff links us into the next section. Hard to realise that the whole world was waiting for that ‘Moon Shot’…which happened 2 years later and was when all the communications satellites were used again.


Kennedy Space Centre gets ready for ‘the moon’…

The next item was from the large radio telescope at Parkes in Australia….getting signals from the furthest known star. So lets jump to the end of that and then join Cliff Michelmore for another eloquently delivered link…the closing of the programme.

The radio telescope at Parkes in Australia receives a signal from the furthest star…and Cliff Michelmore closes the programme

So as Cliff starts, the Sound Supervisor, Norman Bennett, smoothly ‘fades under’ the closing music, ‘pre-faded’ by Gram Op. Dave Mundy, to end ‘on time’ and Director Noble Wilson cuts to shots from participating countries along with some nice camera moves in the studio and the ‘closing roller’ is cued. The roller, or in this case two rollers, were indeed motorised rollers carrying the printed names on either a horizontal or vertically scrolling paper sheet. A studio camera was aimed at this and it was superimposed over the end pictures.

Alas the end of the programme on this video copy suffered from the ‘wobbling frame’ problem that we fairly frequently encountered on TV ‘back in the day’!

Here’s the ‘Our World’ crew photo with numbering, as previously mentioned:

(and right click to copy it)

Key personnel identified include: 10: Joan Marsden -Floor Manager (nicknamed ‘mother’) 50: Aubrey Singer -Executive Producer 51: Noble Wilson – Director in TC1 – the Worldwide contributions 58: Darrol Blake -Director in TC2 (ie.the studio floor of TC1) 61: Norman Taylor-TC1 Supervisory Engineer 62: Bob Wright 8: Jim Stephens -the vision mixer.
Please do send me any more names!


References and credits:

[1] BFI Screening of refurbished videotape-December 2014: https://www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk/what-a-wonder-ful-world/
[2] More details from the BBC History website: https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/anniversaries/june/our-world
[3] BBC details on the great BBC Genome website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/genome/entries/581d6e34-67f3-40e2-a372-12a4947d4c56
[4] Lots of information about the Australian Cooby Creek satellite station: https://www.honeysucklecreek.net/other_stations/cooby_creek/our_world.html
[5] Email from Dave Mundy, BBC Sound Dept…..who helped me a few years after this, when he was looking after a BBC Mk6 scanner.
[6] Darrol Blake interview text: http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/spaces-of-television/2013/06/08/darrol-blake-interview-part-ii-directing-for-the-bbc-and-thames-television-in-the-1960s-and-1970s/
[7] Taken from a YouTube copy of the BBC tele-recorded print – (With thanks to Ryan Baker for uploading): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3LmQFt4pQc
[8] ABC opening sequence- copy of 2″ Quad tape in a YouTube video – (With thanks to watvhistory for uploading): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbWMBiz2z7k
[9] Marshal McLuhan’s CBC interview: https://tripleampersand.org/transcript-of-marshall-mcluhan-on-our-world-global-satellite-broadcast-on-june-24th-1967/
[10] The first part of the Canadian transmission on YouTube (once again thanks to Ryan Baker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGWjEZA_XNY
Many thanks to Mike Jordan for photos at the Science Museum Exhibition 2015.
[11] ‘A Technical history of Eurovision by Brian Flowers’ (EBU Senior Engineer): https://tech.ebu.ch/docs/techreview/trev_311-flowers_eurovision.pdf
[12] Plan of TVC with thanks to Martin Kempton’s superb website ; http://www.tvstudiohistory.co.uk/tv%20centre%20history.htm
[13] BBC Engineer Dick McCarthy: from: http://www.bbceng.info/Operations/studio_ops/reminiscences/tvc/d-mccarthy-tvc.htm

[14] Documents from UK Master Control Supervisory Engineer Norman Taylor, via Simon Vaughan of the Alexandra Palace Television Society.
Thanks also to the Ex-BBC members of the tech ops website.