BBC starts to broadcast in colour

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BBC starts to broadcast in colour

Shepherds Bush, London The 3rd of March 1966 AD

On March 3 1966 Tony Benn , in his capacity as Postmaster General, announced to Parliament that BBC2 would shortly begin broadcasting in colour - for all of four hours per week! The then young turk David Attenborough , Controller of BBC2, was to act as midwife for the new-fangled system.
The slow introduction of what was self-evidently a superior technology and service makes a fascinating contrast to the rush to introduce new products and services in current times. Our American cousins had enjoyed colour TV for some time already. They worked on the NTSC system, but Europe showed its independence (and maybe slowed the introduction as a result) by opting for PAL, which offered higher resolution.
In fact BBC2 had begun 'trade test transmissions' in colour in November 1965 to enable those handling the technology - in shops as well as the studios - to become accustomed to it. Thus such delights as A Journey into the Weald of Kent , and Song of the Clouds, just two of the 17 short colour films used for trial purposes, were broadcast in the last two months of 1962 when normal programming was off the air (yes, in those days there was no morning and little or no daytime TV). Trade tests continued even beyond the introduction of colour programming, as black and white programmes still dominated the schedule in the early days.
The first 'official' colour broadcast for public consumption was made on July 1 1967, when BBC2 showed some play at Wimbledon in all its glory - though as players then were restricted to white clothing it was rather more a white and green broadcast than colour.
With a colour TV costing about 250, a considerable sum in those days, the initial take-up was not rapid, only about a quarter of a million early-adopters (and show-offs) buying or renting sets and paying the increased licence fee.

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Comment

From J Rowbotham on 14th November 2012
Interesting info and right up there on the Google rankings. But do note that BBC2 didn't exist until 1964 so couldn't do tests in colour in 1962.

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Start of the Easter Uprising - 1916, Glorious Glosters Stand at Imjin River - 1951, Official opening of the Pennine Way - 1965, Bishopsgate Bombing - 1993
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