Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Pogo The Horse

I'm hoping Gerald Cock gets a mention without too much sniggering in all these pieces celebrating the start of BBC Television, eighty years ago.

Gerald Alfred Cock, son of a barrister, was born in Betchworth in Surrey in 1888. He went to Tonbridge School, then travelled the Americas, gold mining and ranching in British Columbia, Alaska, Utah and Mexico, and working as a Hollywood extra. He came back to the UK in 1915 and served as a captain with the British Expeditionary Forces in France and Belgium. In 1924, he joined the BBC as its first head of (radio) Outside Broadcasts.

In 1935, he was appointed Director of Television, and things moved fast in 1936. He assembled his staff at Broadcasting House on August 17, telling them "I know nothing about television - none of you do, but you've got about four months to think, find out, see what the cameras can do. I suggest you all pile yourselves into cars and go out to see your offices at Alexandra Palace".

The cars were led by Cecil Madden, Cock's number 2, and he arrived at Ally Pally to find his new office phone ringing. It was Cock. "Ah, Cecil. Wash out everything I said earlier. The Radio Show at Olympia has been a great failure - they can't sell stands. They think television can save them, and I'ved agreed. Don't muck about - you're the senior man. Get hold of your staff and ring me back at five o'clock and tell me what you're going to do. This means programmes in about nine days' time".

Here's Cecil Madden recalling what he did, with a budget of £300 to produce a half-hour show beamed live to Olympia twice daily for ten days from August 26 1936.

1 comment:

  1. No Cock-up here:


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