Did Anglians Dream of Electric Screens?

Working with the people of Norfolk to write a history of Television in Norfolk.

Tag: BBC

Talking TV on the Radio

Once again Radio Norfolk have been absolutely fantastic to me, this time they invited me, or alternatively I asked really, really politely if they’d let me,  (I’ll let you decide which explanation is more believable!) on to the Stephen Bumfrey show on Tuesday 8th April, 2014.

Not only did I get to talk  about my project, which is always fun, but I also got to talk about the history of television in Norfolk a little more generally. That’s an unexpected bonus, particularly when the host has an interest in the topic too and is pushing you to come up with some good answers to his questions! It’s occasions like this when I hope people get a glimpse into how passionate I am about the project. There is an incredibly interesting, nuanced and complex story to be told about how television arrived in Norfolk and what it might have meant and it’s a genuine privilege to be involved in helping to record it.

There are obviously going to be a lot of similarities with the experiences of other parts of Britain, but there are also some important differences. Differences that I believe may have had significant consequences and that we really should give close consideration to. Hopefully by involving the people of Norfolk in the project I can begin to unpick some of these variations and peculiarities, ultimately creating a rather intriguing narrative that will be of interest to academics and the people helping me to tell it!

Anyway… I should probably just post the iPlayer link so you can all have a listen. It should be available until the 15th April 2014, after which it will be available on the Media Coverage page. My interview starts at the 3hr 5 minute mark, just after the Coldplay song (I like to think that Coldplay opened for me and that I was the headline act!)

I’ll end by saying a massive thank you to everyone at BBC Radio Norfolk, and in particular to Stephen Bumfrey and Thordis Fridriksson, as well as to Paul Hayes and Matthew Gudgin, for all their help and for responding so positively to myself and the project: they really have been brilliant!

Did you find the interview interesting? Can you remember BBC 2 arriving in the region? Did you have a colourising screen in front of your black and white TV? If so then please get involved in the ‘Did Anglians Dream of Electric Screens?’ project!

The Launch of the BBC Norfolk Television Studios

What better way to start off this website than by having a look at some of the earliest broadcasts and promotional materials from when the broadcasters first began regularly broadcasting from the region!

Anyone who listened to my original radio appeal on BBC Radio Norfolk will recognise the audio from this footage held by EAFA (click to watch), which was created to promote the imminent opening of the new television studio at St. Catherine’s Close, and which would have been broadcast to the region by the Tacolneston transmitter (remember that Norfolk was part of the Midlands BBC Region, based in Birmingham, at this point).

I mentioned in my original interview that the BBC and Anglia Television were engaged in a race to be the first to establish a regular broadcast from the region, in fact in May of 1959 the BBC began discussing the need to try and beat Anglia to the punch (the BBC had already begun to provide an East Anglian television news bulletin from London at this point). Rather surprisingly the BBC moved at an astonishing pace on this issue, perhaps recognising the promotional value of being able to claim the title of ‘first on air’ within the region and the need to combat a sense of discontent amongst the people of the region in respect to how they had been historically treated by the BBC. Despite a reputation as a monolithic institution, that deliberated for an age over strategic decisions, approval for accelerating the building of the Norwich television studios by the BBC Board of Management only took 1 week from the initial memo at the beginning of June, and by the 23rd of June final authority had been given for the necessary expenditure!

Ultimately the BBC did manage to beat Anglia Television to air by around 3 weeks, whether it actually mattered in the long term is something that I’ll be keen to explore as my research progresses. So can you remember the first broadcasts from the BBC Norwich Studio or does this type of footage inspire some memories? If so then please consider getting involved with the project.