Telly Years

In this section, we take a look back at sample BBC television and radio schedules from years gone by, with listings from the BBC Genome Project.

We also have timelines of key dates in broadcasting for each decade.

On this page we look at the 1940s. On other pages: 1920s, 1930s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. For 2000 and 2010s we have broadcasting dates only.


BBC Genome schedule for Friday 7 June 1946
BBC Genome schedule for Saturday 8 June 1946

The BBC Television Service resumed on 7th June 1946, after a near-seven year break. At 3.00pm BBC announcer Jasmine Bligh walked towards the camera on the terrace of Alexandra Park and smiled, "Do you remember me?"

Following another opening ceremony, which included a dance by Margot Fonteyn, programmes resumed with Mickey's Gala Premiere, the same Mickey Mouse cartoon that was 'so rudely interrupted', in the words of announcer Leslie Mitchell, in September 1939. This was followed by another item postponed for seven years, a concert featuring Mantovani's orchestra. Television's first day back was also marked by two plays, George Bernard Shaw's The Dark Lady of the Sonnets and The Silence of the Sea.

The next day marked the first anniversary of VE Day, and the BBC provided television coverage of the Victory Parade held along the Mall. Richard Dimbleby and Frederick Grisewood were on hand to provide commentary on the event. However coverage of the evening celebrations was to be limited to fifteen minutes of the crowd assembling. Then television had to break away for an hour of 'cabaret cartoons' (whatever they are) and a guide on how to choose a hat.

When it returned in 1946, television was still a relatively modest affair; the service was still only available to viewers living within at least 40 miles of the Alexandra Palace transmitter, and programmes were only broadcast for around a total of three hours a day. However there was plenty to look forward to - the pre-war magazine Picture Page was revived, and a month after the resumption of television, the first regular children's programme, For the Children, was shown. Favourites such as Muffin the Mule and Richard Hearne also made their debuts this year.

But the television service was hit again in February 1947 when a fuel crisis during the harsh winter cut programming hours back to evenings only; the Home, Light and Third radio services suffered a similar fate. The full service was resumed on 28th April 1947, but it would take until the end of the decade for television to finally break out of London.

1940s Timeline

07/01/40 The Forces Programme begins in the evenings only
18/02/40 The Forces Programme extends to 12 hours a day
11/05/40 The BBC starts a news service in Hindi
16/06/40 The Forces Programme extends to an all-day schedule
15/10/40 Broadcasting House is bombed
??/??/41 The BBC European Service moves to Bush House in Central London
06/07/41 London Calling Europe begins
29/01/42 First edition of Desert Island Discs
??/11/42 The BBC launches a service for forces in the Middle East
10/01/43 BBC service for forces in the Middle East becomes the BBC Overseas Forces Programme
13/06/43 BBC Overseas Forces Programme renamed the BBC General Overseas Service and extends its range. BBC Empire Service becomes the Overseas Service (foreign language services)
27/02/44 General Forces Programme replaces the Forces Programme and General Overseas Service
29/07/45 BBC Light Programme succeeds the General Forces Programme on LW in the UK; overseas broadcasts continue
29/07/45 Regional broadcasts resumed in the Home Service
07/06/46 BBC Television Service resumed
07/07/46 First children's television programme - For the Children
29/09/46 Launch of the BBC Third Programme at 6.00pm
07/10/46 First edition of Woman's Hour on the Light Programme
29/11/46 The first television sitcom begins, Pinwright's Progress
01/01/47 BBC General Overseas Service replaces the General Forces Programme
10/02/47 Due to the fuel crisis, the BBC Home Service and BBC Light Programme are combined, and the BBC Television Service and BBC Third Programme are suspended
26/02/47 BBC Third Programme resumed
11/03/47 BBC Television Service resumed
09/04/47 First edition of How Does Your Garden Grow? (later Gardeners' Question Time)
28/04/47 Full television and daytime radio programmes resumed
13/09/47 Last Night of the Proms televised for the first time
02/10/47 The ITU International Radio and Telecommunications Conferences at Atlantic City agree plans for VHF frequency allocations and assigns 87.5-100 MHz for sound broadcasting in Europe
09/11/47 First use of telerecording of an outside broadcast: The Service of Remembrance from the Cenotaph is televised live, and a telerecording shown that evening
20/11/47 The wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh is televised
05/01/48 First edition of Television Newsreel
29/07/48 London Olympic Games televised
14/08/48 The ITU European Broadcasting Conference at Copenhagen agrees a new plan for MW/LW broadcasting
01/10/48 Radio Luxembourg launches the first radio chart show
12/10/48 First edition of Any Questions?
??/??/49 BBC Overseas Service renamed BBC Overseas (External) Services; later renamed BBC External Services
??/??/49 Experimental AM broadcasts of the Third Programme on VHF from Wrotham
29/07/49 First weather forecast on the BBC Television Service
17/12/49 BBC Television extended to the Midlands with the opening of the Sutton Coldfield transmitter

Next page: 1950s
Previous page: 1930s


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