Cultural events; TV and radio programmes
Page last modified 11/1/2021
For cinema films, broadcasting technology, actors, theatre and opera, see Media and Communications
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None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
‘He who prides himself on giving what he thinks the public wants is often creating a fictitious demand for lower standards which he himself will then satisfy' Sir John Reith, first Director General of the BBC, 1924
TV programmes (see below for Radio programmes) 1, Children’s TV, Cookery shows, Current Affairs, Gardening shows, Quiz shows, Soap operas, Sports programmes,
30/7/2006, Top of the Pops was broadcast for the last time. It first aired 1/1/1964.
2003, The BBC series Tomorrow’s World was axed (first broadcast 1965).
18/7/2000, The TV series Big Brother began in the UK.
8/8/1999, ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ was first screened; contestants could win up to US$1,000,000.
14/5/1998, The US sitcom Seinfeld was first broadcast.
1990, The BBC series Troubleshooter began. It involved the presenter, Sir John Harvey-Jones (born 1924) parachuting into a troubled business and telling the managers what they were doing wrong.
12/6/1989. Live TV broadcasts from the House of Commons began, after MPs voted 293 to 69 in favour. Live radio broadcasts began on 9/6/1975.
1988, The soap series Neighbours began on BBC TV
4/4/1988. The Midlands-based TV soap opera ‘Crossroads’ ended on episode 4,510. The first episode was broadcast in November 1964. Set in a motel in the Midlands, it began with 5 episodes a week, reduced to 4 and then 3.
1986, BBC began broadcasting the series Casualty.
18/3/1985. Australian Seven Network TV launched a new soap, Neighbours.
19/2/1985, The BBC began broadcasting Eastenders. 13 million people watched the first episode, in which the pensioner Reg Cox died in his Albert Square home.
1984, Thames TV began showing The Bill twice weekly. A third weekly episode was added from 1993.
1984, The TV series Threads began, about the probable effects of a nuclear explosion over the city of Sheffield.
16/9/1984, Miami Vice was first broadcast on NBC TV.
1983, The comedy show Spitting Image began.
17/1/1983. The start of Breakfast TV on BBC with Frank Bough and Selina Scott.
1/11/1982. The TV show Countdown was launched.
1979, The BBC comedy Not The Nine O Clock News began broadcasting. It ran until 1982.
1979, Thames TV began broadcasting the comedy series Minder, with Arthur Daly as main cockney character.
27/9/1979. BBC’s Question Time was broadcast for the first time, with Robin Day in the chair. He stayed with the show for 10 years. It was the radio equivcalent of Any Questions; leading politicians appeared, and discussed major national issues.
18/2/1979, The BBC screened the first episode of The Antiques Roadshow, hosted by Bruce Parker, Arthur Negus and Angela Rippon.
1978, The 667th and final episode of Z Cars was broadcast on BBC. The series first screened in 1960
2/4/1978, The first episode of Dallas was broadcast in the USA.
8/2/1978, BBC showed the first episode of the school drama Grange Hill.
28/3/1977, British Breakfast TV began as an experiment on Yorkshire TV, hosted by Bob Warman.
27/11/1975. Devolution was discussed on the TV programme Newsday. TV programmes ceased at 12.25 am with What did you learn at School Today? on ITV.
19/9/1975. The first episode of Fawlty Towers was broadcast by the BBC. There were just 13 30-minute episodes ever made, 6 in 1975 and 7 in 1979.
1974, Thames TV began broadcasting the police drama The Sweeney. It ran until 1978.
1974, New TV series included Porridge (broadcast until 1977) and Rising Damp.
5/12/1974, The last episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus was broadcast by the BBC.
29/11/1974. Ironside was on TV.
30/9/1974. The TV show Some mothers do ‘ave ‘em was showing.
21/6/1974. TV showed The Wombles.
19/6/1974. The Pink Panther Show entertained the young on TV, whilst later on, grown ups had The Two Ronnies. The Best of Les Dawson provided relief after seven hours of World Cup Grandstand.
4/1/1974. On TV, whilst Holiday ’74 compared the rival delights of Blackpool and Benidorm, Dad’s Army also entertained viewers.
1973, The BBC comedy series That’s Life began broadcasting., presented by Esther Rantzen (born 1940). It ran until 1994.
4/9/1973. BBC2 was still broadcasting for less than 7 hours a day, including the antique –lover’s show Collector’s World. ITV began at 11.15 am with Galloping Gourmet. Other programmes of the day included A TUC Special, Crossroads, and the sitcom Up The Workers. Emmerdale Farm was also on, and schedules closed at 12.15 am after The Evangelists.
1972, The TV series Colditz was first broadcast.
27/11/1972, In the first episode of the fourth season of Sesame Street, the character of "The Count" (officially Count von Count) was introduced. True to his name, the friendly children's show puppet vampire (performed by Jerry Nelson) helped children count.
16/10/1972. BBC1’s daytime TV included Pebble Mill At One and The Magic Roundabout as well as Blue Peter. Soaps included Crossroads, filmed in a Birmingham warehouse. Z Cars and Mastermind were also on the TV schedules. ITV was offering Opportunity Knocks and Coronation Street.
11/9/1972. The BBC quiz Mastermind was first broadcast. It was hosted by Magnus Magnusson (born 1929).
1971, The Two Ronnies comedy series began on BBC TV. Using much naughty innuendo, it ran until 1986.
1971, New TV series included The Onedin Line, The Old Grey Whistle Test and Upstairs Downstairs (ran until 1975, period drama based on class divisions in the early 20th C in the Bellamy household).
15/11/1971. TV viewers were entertained by Steptoe and Son.
18/10/1971. TV shows Blue Peter and The Magic Roundabout entertained the children.
19/6/1971. Opportunity Knocks was the UK’s most popular TV programme.
19/8/1970. Coronation Street showed its 1,000th episode.
2/7/1970. The BBC ran a late night programme called Decimal shops: preparing for decimal money.
1969, Pot Black, TV snooker programme, began broadcasting. It ran until 1986.
1969, Civilisation, a 13-part documentary on Western Art from the early Middle Ages to the 19th century, was broadcast, presented by Kenneth Clark. Series like this were only now possible with the advent of colour TV.
5/10/1969, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was first screened. It was broadcast until 1974.
22/2/1969. On TV a wheelchair bound detective called Ironside battled San Francisco’s crooks.
5/2/1969. On BBC1 All Gas and Gaiters was a comedy about a young Church of England priest, Derek Nimmo.
1968, the BBC antiques quiz show Going for a Song began broadcasting. It ran until 1977.
4/12/1968. On TV Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men still entertained children 16 years after their initial appearance. The weak willed pair still lived in fear of the gardener and were mercilessly bullied by Weed.
12/11/1968. On TV Z Cars patrolled Merseyside whilst Trumpton kept watch at the Fire Station.
8/1968, The TV series Dad’s Army was first broadcast.
17/5/1968. TV viewers could watch The Saint, Danger Man, or The Avengers.
11/1/1968. Children were entertained on TV by The Magic Roundabout and Blue Peter.
23/11/1967. TV shows included a debate on The Roman Catholic Church has no place in the 20th Century and The Man from UNCLE.
30/10/1967. TV showed Bewitched, Dr Finlays Casebook, The Saint, and Z Cars.
15/10/1967. TV viewers saw Steptoe and Son, whilst Patrick McGoohan was unable to accept his lot in North Wales as The Prisoner (ran for 17 episodes). Ironside the wheelchair bound detective propelled himself around the streets of San Francisco.
3/7/1967, In Britain, ITV launched News at Ten.
29/6/1967. The Magic Roundabout continued on TV, as did The Man from UNCLE as he battled with the evil THRUSH organisation.
25/6/1967, The first worldwide TV show was broadcast; via satellite link it reached 26 countries. The programme, Our World, had an estimated audience of 400 million. It concluded with a live Beatles performance of All You Need is Love.
15/6/1967. The Guardian TV critic complained that ‘with the basically green and white Wimbledon being followed by Late Night Line Up with everyone wearing basically black and white’ people paying nearly £2 a week to rent the colour sets should be getting ‘the occasional dazzle’. Whickers World and Till Death do us Part formed part of the TV schedules.
14/6/1967. On TV, ‘Games without Frontiers’ was on. It’s a Knockout and The Likely Lads was also on.
1966, BBC broadcast the documentaruy play Cathy Come Home, about a homeless young mother, highlighting the issue nof homelessness
5/1/1967, The BBc TV show Gardener’s World was firs broadcast.
23/9/1966. On TV Emergency Ward Ten was on as Patrick Mc Goohan’s Danger Man was about to give way to The Prisoner.
8/9/1966. Star Trek was first broadcast.
16/7/1966. Doctor Who continued to entertain on TV, and scare kids into hiding behind the sofa so the Daleks wouldn’t get them.
6/6/1966, On British TV the first episode of Til Death Us Do Part was showing, with Warren Mitchell as Alf Garnett. The series ran until 1975, and briefly returned 1985-6.
21/4/1966, The opening of the UK Parliament was televised for the first time.
19/2/1966. TV shows included Bewitched and Dixon of Dock Green. Thunderbirds was on at 6pm, and The Morecambe and Wise Show at 9.20 pm.
1965, The BBC series Tomorrow’s World was first broadcast (axed 2003).
28/12/1965. On TV, Phil Silvers starred in Sergeant Bilko.
30/9/1965, The first episode of Thunderbirds was broadcast in the UK. The series ran until 1966.
30/7/1965, Coronation Street was the top TV show
2/11/1964. First showing of the TV serial Crossroads.
6/10/1964, The first episode of Stingray aired in UK TV. The puppet caste included Captain Troy, Tempest, Phones, and the green-haired Marina, aboard their atomic-powered submarine.
22/8/1964, BBC2 first broadcast Match of the Day; Arsenal played Liverpool at their Anfield ground, watched by a TV audience of 20,000 in black and white. Over 40,000 actually attended the ground. In 2014 BBC1’s Match of the Day had a TV audience of 3.6 million. In 1964 each of the Football League Clubs made £136 from the TV programme; in 2014 each Club made £3 million from the show.
21/4/1964. BBC2 began transmission. The first programme was Play School.
17/1/1964, The top UK TV programme was Steptoe and Son. It was broadcast 1964-73.
1/1/1964. The first Top of the Pops was broadcast, with Jimmy Savile as its presenter. It lasted until 30/7/2006.
1963, Granada TV hroadcast the first World in Action current affairs programme. The investigative journalism programme had an established slot at 8.30 pm Mondays.
23/11/1963. The BBC screened the first episode of Dr Who. The doctor was played by William Hartnell.
22/1/1963. TV showed The Flintstones at the prime slot of 7pm. TV closed down around midnight.
1962, The BBC satirical comedy series That Was The Week That Was began broadcasting. It ran until 1963.
4/10/1962, The TV Series, The Saint, starring Roger Moore as Simon Templar, first broadcast this day.
21/9/1962, The British TV quiz programme University Challenge was first transmitted on Granada TV. It ran until 1987, and was hosted by Bamber Gascoigne (born 1935).
9/9/1962. TV showed another episode of Steptoe and Son, and The Morecambe and Wise Show.
11/5/1962. TV showed Emergency Ward Ten.
21/1/1962 On TV, new, were Steptoe and Son and Z Cars.
1961, New TV shows included The Morecambe and Wise Show (broadcast until 1978) and Songs of Praise.
7/1/1961, The first episode of The Avengers was broadcast.
1960, Anglia TV began broadcasting Survival, a series of 30 minute documentaries on wildlife.
9/12/1960. Coronation Street first televised. The series was expected to last just 13 weeks.
11/9/1960, The first episode of Danger Man, starring Patrick McGoohan, was broadcast on UK TV.
10/9/1960, The first English Football league match to be televised was broadcast today. Blackpool played Bolton Wanderers.
1959, The Twilight Zone was first broadcast in the US, in a Cold War world of spies and innovative secret military technology.
1959, New TV shows in the UK included Juke Box Jury and Whicker’s World, presented by Alan Whicker.
1958, New TV shows in the UK included The Black and Whute Minstrels
28/10/1958. In Britain, the State Opening of Parliament was televised for the first time.
27/10/1958. The first edition of the BBC programme Blue Peter was broadcast.
11/10/1958. The BBC sports programme Grandstand was first transmitted. It was the idea of Paul Fox.
1957, New TV series this year included Emergency Ward Ten (broadcast until 1967), a soap opera set in a hospital, and The Sky at Night, presented by Patrick Moore.
25/12/1957. The Queen made her first Christmas Day broadcast on British TV.
3/3/1957, The UK competed in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time. The British entry, All, sung by Hull-born Patricia Bredin, came seventh out of ten in Frankfurt Am Main, Germnay.
22/10/1957. The children’s TV show, Captain Pugwash, was first broadcast.
1956, The ITV series This Week began broadcasting. It ran until 1978, and again from 1986-92. Topics highlighted included the UK’s role in the Ethiopian 1973 famine (Richard Dimbleby, presenter), also Death on the Rock. The series was cut at the beginning of 1993, when Carlton TV took over from Thames TV the franchise for commercial TV in the London region.
5/11/1956. The weekly British TV programme What the Papers Say was first transmitted on Granada TV. In the 1980s it was transferred to Channel 4 and then to BBC2. The programme reviewed a selection of cuttings from the week’s newspapers.
24/5/1956 The first Eurovision song contest was held. Europe was just recovering from the Second World War but the Cold War was in full swing. There was a need to unite the countries of western Europe. An Italian radio manager had an idea for a European music festival similar to the popular Italian San Remo Festival. The first Eurovision song contest was held in Switzerland with seven countries participating, each with two songs/performances. These were West Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Belgium, the same countries that took the initiative to form the European Union. Switzerland won the first contest with the song ‘Refrain’. Since then 37 different countries have participated, 800 different singers have performed 900 new songs, and the show attracted 100 million viewers in 2002.
28/1/1956, Elvis Presley made his first appearance on TV, on The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show. He sang Shake Rattle and Roll.
17/2/1956, The first episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood was broadcast, with Richard Greene playing the hero. The famous signature tune entered the top 20, and the series ran to 143 episodes.
1955, The TV series This Is Your Life began. An unsuspecting victim was ambiushed by a reportr and persuaded to come to a TV studio for interview, where they would be unexpectedly confronted with people from their distant past, producing a mix of sentiment and embarrassment.
1955, In the UK, Independent Television News (ITN) was set up as a non-profit organisation to provide the news programmes. ITN was jointly owned and funded by the independent TV companies. The Broadcasting Act 1990 changed its status to an independent entetrprise, which contracts with the TV companies to provide news services.
22/9/1955. With the start of commercial television in Britain came the first TV advertisement. It was for Gibbs SR toothpaste. Programmes from the two commercial programme makers, Associated Rediffusion and the Associated Broadcasting Company, included the annual Guildhall banquet, Britain’s first-ever cash prize quiz show, a variety show and a boxing match from Shoreditch. Popular ITV shows included Sunday Night at the London Palladium and Coronation Street. By ITV’s annual advertising revenue increased from an initial £2 million in 1956 to £100 million in 1960. The BBC competed by having Grace Archer, a leading character in their radio drama The Archers, killed off in a fire.
7/7/1955, Dixon of Dock Green began on BBC TV with Jack Warner as George Dixon. It was to run for 21 years and 367 episodes.
1953, On British TV, The Quatermass Experiment was broadcast. The vareity programme, The Good Old Days, began; it lasted until 1983.
11/11/1953. The BBC programme Panorama was first transmitted, headed by Patrick Murphy.
8/12/1952, Queen Elizabeth II gave permission for next year’s Coronation (1/6/1953) to be televised.
1/1/1952, In Britain, the single TV channel, BBC, broadcast for just a few hours a day. Programmes ran from 3pm to 6pm, including Children’s Hour. There was then a 2-hour break, the so-called Toddler Truce, to enable mothers to get their small children to bed. Programmes then ran for 2 hours or so from 8pm. News coverage was patchy and sports coverage and light entertainment virtually absent.
15/10/1951, Britain’s first party political broadcast on the BBC, by Lord Samuel for the Liberal Party.
1950, The BBC began a current affairs discussion programme, In The News, with Robert Boothby, W J Brown, Michael Foot and A J P Taylor. The programme ran until 1956.
29/9/1950, The first ever episode of Come Dancing aired on TV.
11/7/1950. The BBC transmitted its first children’s programme, Watch with Mother, featuring Andy Pandy. The programme ran until 1980.
11/7/1949. The first film made specifically for television, ‘A Dinner date With Death’ was shot at Marylebone Studios between 11 and 14 July 1949.
26/4/1947. The English FA Cup Final, between Charlton Athletic and Burnley, televised in its entirety for the first time.
20/10/1946. Muffin the Mule, a wooden puppet, first appeared on BBC TV.
31/5/1938, The first TV panel game, Spelling Bee, was broadcast.
30/4/1938, In Britain, the FA Cup Final was televised for the first time.
25/11/1937, The first British quiz programme, an inter-regional spelling competition, was broadcast.
21/6/1937, Lawn tennis at Wimbledon was televised for the first time.
21/1/1937, Marcel Boulestin appeared on TV on Cook’s Night Out, demonstrating how to cook an omelette; he thereby became the first TV chef.
21/11/1936. The first gardening programme was broadcast by the BBC. It was called “In your garden with Mr Middleton”.
15/5/1935, The world’s first TV quiz programme was broadcast, in Canada.
3/6/1931, In Britain the Derby horserace was televised for the first time. Only a limited number of wealthy people had TV sets, and a few other enthusiasts had built their own receivers in garden sheds.
11/9/1928, In New York the world’s first television drama was broadcast. It was a 40 minute two-character play called The Queen’s Messenger.
2011, John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme began broadcasting.
2009, Mark Steele’s in Town began broadcasting.
2008, Cabin Pressure began broadcasting. It ran until 2014.
1997, Blue Jam began broadcasting. It ran until 1999.
24/1/1997, The Archers celebrated its 12,000th episode. The Radio 4 series drew an average of 4.5 million listeners each week.
1991, On The Hour began broadcasting. It ran until 1992.
30/5/1985, The death of Roy Plomley, who created the long running radio series Desert Island Discs in 1941.
1978, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy began broadcasting. It ran until 1980.
3/4/1978, Regular BBC radio broadcasts of British Parliamentary proceedings began.
9/6/1975, Live radio broadcasting from the House of Commons began. On 12/6/1989, TV broadcasts from the House of Commons began.
1972, The radio comedy show I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue began broadcasting. In 2020 it aired its 73rd series.
1970, The radio show Start the Week began. It went out on Radio 4 after the 9am news every Monday morning, with four guests discussing some current news topic.
1967, The radio show Brain of Britain, with difficult general knowledge questions, began broadcasting.
27/7/1967, Robin Scott, the man in charge of the brand new Radio One, announced that should pop music prove to be a passing fad, he would devote the station’s output to ‘sweet music’.
1965, Round the Horne began broadcasting. It ran until 1968.
1965, The BBC Radio Four lunchtime programme World at One began broadcasting. It discussed current news stories, and was presented by William Hardcastle for the first ten years, his successors include Robin Day (1979-88) and James McNaughtie (1983-94).
1957, The Today Programme was first broadcast at breakfast time on Radio 4.
1954, Hancock’s Half Hour began broadcasting, It ran until 1959.
1952, The Goon Show was first broadcast on BBC radio. The comedy series ran until 1960.
1951, The Goon Show began broadcasting. It ran until 1960.
7/6/1950, The BBC radio serial The Archers was first broadcast; it was created by Godfrey Basely.
1952, The radio programme Listen With Mother, for under 5-year-olds, began broadcasting on BBC radio. It contained stories, songs and nursery rhymes. Originally it was in the 15-minute slot before Woman’s Hour, and was very popular.
1947, The BBCLight Radio comedy radio series Take It From Here was first broadcast. It featured a comic soap opera, the Glums, with engaged couple Ron and Eth. The series ran until 1958.
1947, The radio comedy series Much Binding in the Marsh first aired. It ran until 1953.
1/11/1947, Sports Report, the BBC radio Saturday afternoon programme, went on the air.
13/1/1947, In Britain, top radio shows included Dick Barton and Radio Forfeits.
1946, Woman’s Hour began on BBC Radio. Serialised books were a regular feature. In 1990 the programme was mobved from the 2pm slot it had held for 44 years to 10.30 am.
4/10/1946, From Our Own Correspondent was first broadcast on UK radio.
24/3/1946, BBC radio began broadcasting Letter from America, a weekly talk by Alistair Cook, on topical matters in the USA.
1/8/1945. Family Favourites record request programme began on the BBC.
3/4/1943, Saturday Night Theatre was first broadcast on UK radio.
29/1/1942, The first broadcast of the BBC radio programme ‘Desert Island Discs’, devised and presented by Roy Plomley. Roy Plomley presented the programme until 11/5/1985; he died 17 days later on 28/5/1965. The first ‘castaway’ was the comedian, Vic Oliver.
6/1940, The radio music show Music while You Work began broadcasting. It was a non-stop mix of popular tunes, designed to boost worker morale at Britain’s lowest point in World War Two. It ran until 1967.
1939, The BBC began broadcasting the weekly radio comedy show ITMA (It’s That Man Again), which ran until the death of its main star, Tommy Handley (1892-1949). The title referred to Hitler.
1939, The term ‘soap opera’ was coined to describe the radio drama that, from the 1930s, had been sponsored by the washing powder manufacturers; ongoing dramas affecting ordinary families, which proved to be addictive to listeners. The first such radio ‘soap opera’ was Betty and Bob and One Man’s Family, broadcast on NBC in the USA in 1932
1/9/1939. The BBC Home Service, later to become Radio 4, began broadcasting.
7/10/1938, BBC Radio began its first soap opera, the English Family Robinson.
25/10/1936 A radio station in Berlin played the first request programme, called ‘You ask – We play’.
25/12/1932. King George V made the first Christmas Day broadcast to the Empire, see 19/12/1932.
6/11/1929, The Week in Westminster was first broadcast on UK radio.
21/10/1929, The BBC began transmitting regional services.
2/1/1928, Daily Service was first broadcast on radio in the UK.
7/7/1927. Christopher Stone became the first disc jockey on British radio when he presented his record round up from Savoy Hill.
14/5/1927. The BBC broadcast its first cricket commentary, from the Essex vs. New Zealand match at Leyton, east London.
2/4/1927, The Oxford and Cambridge boat race was first broadcast.
22/1/1927. The BBC broadcast its first football match; between Arsenal and Sheffield United. The result was a draw, 1-1.
11/10/1926. Children’s Hour started on BBC Radio.
26/1/1926, The Shipping Forecast was first broadcast on radio.
24/1/1926, The Week’s Good Cause was first broadcast on radio.
4/4/1924, The BBC broadcast its first radio programmes for schools.
16/1/1924, The BBC broadcast the first play written specifically for radio, Danger, by Richard Hughes.
2/5/1923, The BBC radio programme ‘Woman’s Hour’ began.
24/12/1922, The first play written for radio, The Truth About Father Christmas, was broadcast by the BBC.
6/9/1920, The first sports radio broadcast in the USA; the Jack Dempsey vs. Billy Miske boxing match.
15/6/1920, Marconi broadcast a concert by opera singer Dame Nellie Melba.