ADAPT Celebrates 50 Years of Colour Television with the BBC

The ADAPT team has been busily working with the BBC on their celebrations of the 50th anniversary of regular colour broadcasting in the UK. Coverage of the project, including highlights of recently edited OB simulation footage, appears on the BBC History website and the team have participated in several radio interviews. As Digital Producer Amanda Murphy notes in her recent blog post:

The talents of early day pioneers are not always recognised or celebrated, and this is arguably the case of the early TV engineers and crew responsible for bringing the first colour programmes to our TV screens back in the late 60s.

A young David Attenborough as Controller of BBC2 in the mid-60s was determined to beat the Germans in the race to fully launch colour television, so he ambitiously promised a colour service starting with Wimbledon on 1st July 1967. It was a great success and history was made even though there were, in fact, only 4 colour cameras in operation at the time! Given that most homes still only had black and white television sets, these cameras had to be able to broadcast in black and white as well as in colour. This all presented a considerable technical challenge for the engineers and cameramen of the day!

ADAPT sets out to better understand television technology and the processes by which it was made in the past. So, in 2016/7 we reunited some of the original cameramen from that historic Wimbledon event, along with other ex-BBC crew from those early heroic years, with much of the original kit, including two of the first- generation colour cameras and a semi-restored ex-BBC outside broadcast truck known as North 3, all from the late 1960s.

The veteran crew, made up of 18 men (and one woman) rather miraculously recreated a live outside sports broadcast to show us how it was done in those early pioneering days. Their efforts were filmed and are currently being edited. All footage will be made available online on the ADAPT YouTube Channel, with highlights being released on the BBC History website for the first time to coincide with the BBC’s 50th anniversary of a regular colour service.

Amanda’s full blog post can be found on the ADAPT website and you can catch up on the radio interviews on BBC iPlayer:

BBC Radio Surrey – Amanda Murphy (ADAPT Digital Producer) – [Listen from 1:52:00]

BBC Radio Shropshire – John Escolme (BBC History Manager) & Ken Osbourn (BBC Cameraman & ADAPT Participant) – [Listen from 2:09:00]

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