Aldridge, Mark Peter Alfred
British television, 1925 – 1936: attitudes and expectations.
University of Southampton, School of Humanities,
This thesis assesses attitudes towards, and expectations of, British television between 1925 and 1936. This covers the period from the first public demonstration of an early form of the technology until the official launch of a full high-definition BBC service. The assessment is achieved via an analysis of four key factors. Chapter One covers the first of these, the private individuals working on television, with an emphasis on the publicity-hungry efforts of John Logie Baird. The second chapter investigates the public institutions, most particularly the BBC and the Post Office, which would eventually be of great importance to television’s ongoing development. Chapter Three covers the reporting of the developments in television by the popular press, allowing us to gain an insight into broader attitudes towards television. The final chapter considers the content of the first official broadcasts, which demonstrate how television was ultimately implemented.
The study argues that television’s development was not pre-determined, and that its placement under the control of the BBC as a part of its public service broadcasts was not inevitable. This forms part of the wider question of what was expected from television, and how people’s attitudes toward it changed. This is answered through use of new empirical research, based on original documentation and an extensive survey of press reports. The findings of this research question many presumptions about early television’s development and the subsequent pre-war service. This study’s conclusions demonstrate how fluid the medium was in its early years, and that pre-war programming requires close analysis so as to more clearly demonstrate that television as seen in this period was distinct from later eras that have been more heavily researched and assessed.
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