Wonderful day when aerial went up

FUZZY black and white pictures on television were accepted as normal in the 1950s and early 60s before the BBC and ITV installed more local transmitters.

David Kindred

FUZZY black and white pictures on television were accepted as normal in the 1950s and early 60s before the BBC and ITV installed more local transmitters.

Schoolchildren would watch in wonder at programmes from America like The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid and Rawhide or home-grown comedy like Mick and Montmorency with Charlie Drake.

Children would gather in any house with a set for Watch with Mother, Muffin the Mule, Andy Pandy, The Woodentops, The Flowerpot Men or Rag Tag and Bobtail.


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Some saw more of Eamon Andrews, who was on several programmes such as What's My Line and Crackerjack, than some of their relatives.

Former Ipswich man John Alborough, who now lives in Syleham near Eye, recalled in a recent Kindred Spirits his disappointment when the cable television service provided by British Relay Wireless did not quite reach his home in All Saints Road, Ipswich in the 1950s.

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The service depended on householders agreeing to have the cable attached to the home. The service was “blocked” to John's home by a resident who would not let the company make the link past her home.

He was envious that his friend just a few doors away was watching cartoons without the “fuzz and snow” his parent's television suffered.

There is a whole generation who will recall having their view of the set blocked by a rear view of their parents as they struggled with the vertical and horizontal hold controls on the set. These were to stop the picture rolling or slipping.

There was often a few “new words” learned by children as mum or dad finally sat down to watch a programme and the picture would start to roll again.

Ipswich man John Sparks recalls the excitement of early television in Ipswich. John said: “I remember BRW when it came 'up Chantry'.

“Before that you had to have a big 'H' aerial on a 30/40ft pole in your back garden. Some people had an 'X' on top of the pole, which I think was for the London transmitter.

“Around 1956, when my parents had ordered their TV set from Radio Rentals, we waited for it to be delivered and the aerial to be erected.

“During that week when it was expected I would very excitedly run home from Chantry Junior School and as I approached, along Hawthorn Drive, to our house in Bunting Road I could see if a new aerial had been erected in someone's back garden. Was it ours? “Yes? No? Then one day as I turned the corner into our road YES, It was! I was too excited to even wait to get into the house; I peered through the front room window and in the corner stood our brand new TV set on its wheeled trolley.

“So, into the house and just sit there and stare at it in wonderment even though there was nothing on as it was too early for broadcasts at that time of day.

“I remember my dad fiddling with the horizontal and vertical controls on the back of the set as he strained around the bulky wooden cabinet to see the screen and try to get the picture to settle as I frustratingly tried to watch the Adventures of Superman from London ITV. Ah, happy days!”

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