ALEXANDRA PALACE AND BBC TO CELEBRATE 75 YEARS OF TELEVISION TOGETHER
Alexandra Palace – the iconic North London entertainment venue and birthplace of the world’s first regular high-definition public television broadcast – will join forces with the BBC to celebrate 75 years of TV.
On Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 November 2011 a series of free activities for the public will be staged at ‘Ally Pally’ to encourage the public to explore the past and discover the future of television. Not least, they will be given the rare opportunity of taking a tour of the famous BBC Studios where history was made on 2 November 1936 – and worldwide communication and entertainment was transformed beyond recognition.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The 75th anniversary of the world’s first television broadcast service by the BBC from Alexandra Palace is a fantastic opportunity to reflect on London’s role as a pioneer and innovator. With master-planning underway to regenerate the iconic Alexandra Palace site for future generations to enjoy, it is a chance to celebrate the great achievements of public service broadcasting and also discover how world-renowned colleges like Ravensbourne are helping to shape the future of television and digital media.”
As visitors explore and delve into TV’s colourful past through a series of interactive and immersive audio visual displays featuring rarely-seen BBC footage, the words “This is direct from Alexandra Palace” – made famous by one of the first television presenters Elizabeth Cowell – will be heard once more from within the BBC studios.
Matt Cooke, Chair of Alexandra Park & Palace Trust, said: “The BBC’s place in the history of Alexandra Palace was sealed when the first public service broadcast in the world was made from the building in 1936. Not only did the event pave the way for a new kind of social entertainment, but it also prompted technological advances in the way we communicate with each other which still impact on us today.
“The Trustees are delighted to be co-hosting a weekend of interactive and futuristic activities with the BBC to mark 75 years since this important milestone in UK and world history.”
Head of BBC History, Robert Seatter, added: “On this momentous 75th anniversary, we are delighted to be working with Alexandra Palace to open up these unique studios where television really began. We hope that this exciting open weekend will help visitors to celebrate television in all its diversity – old and new, technical and aesthetic, serious and fun.”
When the BBC leased the studios at Alexandra Palace from 1935 – 1981, it was afforded incredible reception capabilities and broadcasting opportunities. The building, standing at over 306ft above sea level, provides outstanding views across the city and – crucially – guaranteed BBC production staff at the time close proximity to Broadcasting House – the corporation’s headquarters in central London.
Withstanding the Second World War years – when television equipment was commandeered for defence purposes and the Alexandra Palace transmitter was re-tuned to defend London from Nazi bombers – the studios became the corporation’s primary production centre for television broadcasts until the 1950s. Over the years landmark programmes such as Muffin the Mule, The Grove Family – the nation’s first television ‘soap opera’ – and historic events including the 1953 Coronation, the News and Open University television were made there, entertaining growing numbers of families in Britain.
Visitors to Alexandra Palace on the weekend of 5 and 6 November will be able to take centre stage and prepare to go ‘on air’, made up in authentic 1930s TV style (with blue lips and eyes and white pancake facepaint)! They will also be able to share their memories of the BBC and ‘Ally Pally’ in front of the cameras and sample 1930s inspired food from the ‘BBC canteen’.
For those who are more interested in what television has to offer in the future, students of the world-renowned digital media and design college Ravensbourne will be on site to provide demonstrations of the latest innovations in 3D TV. Members of the public will also have the opportunity of recording the news for the cameras and later watching their performances back on YouTube.