Television broadcasts

​​   "Congratulations.  I cannot find words to describe
     this magnificent achievement"
     John Henderson, RSCM Librarian & Author

​​   "Congratulations on a brilliant, utterly brilliant               resource!   Very much appreciated.
     Professor Martin Ashley, Author & Academic                         'Keep boys singing'

Services, Documentaries, Concerts, 
​Recitals & Dramas
The Archive contains a wide ranging selection of television broadcasts with the earliest being from 1953.  These offer a unique insight into choirs & church musicians and are of unparalled historical importance

A video montage illustrating the diversity of
​television broadcasts in the Archive

Before the invention of broadcast quality video tape a process known as Telerecording was used for the recording and re-broadcasting of TV programmes.

The Telerecording process worked by aiming a movie camera at a specially adapted flat television screen and filming the live TV broadcast on 16mm film or occasionally 35mm film.  

The BBC engineers designed their own high quality Telerecording machine and the system was in use from 1947 until the early 1980s.  The later versions of the machine were highly sophisticated and of superior picture quality to broadcast video tape.

Telerecording machine at BBC Lime Grove 
Click to enlarge

Below are some early programmes which have survived only because they were filmed from the on-air broadcast by Telerecording.  The reels of film have been digitised for preservation in the Archive​​
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth
Coronation Choir
directed by Sir William McKie
2 June 1953

Telerecorded onto fourty-two reels of 35mm film this is the earliest television broadcast in the Archive
Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
King's College Cambridge
direced by Boris Ord
24 December 1954

The first ever broadcast of the 1954 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's
'Sunday Special'  
Temple Church
directed by George Thalben Ball
29 June 1958

The only footage of Thalben Ball conducting the choir
The Consecration of Guildford Cathedral
choir directed by Barry Rose
17 May 1961

The first surviving broadcast by an English Cathedral choir
(as opposed to other types of choirs)
'Songs of Praise'
Guildford Cathedral
directed by Barry Rose
23 February 1967

The first surviving broadcast of
​'Songs of Praise'
Video recording
The American company Ampex, named after its founder Alexander M. Poniatoff, was started in 1944 and spearheaded the development of audio tape technology

By 1958 the BBC had reluctantly taken delivery of its first Ampex video recorder due to the fact  that from 1952 the BBC had been working on its own videotape system, called VERA (Vision Electronic Recording Apparatus) which was demonstrated publicly on Panorama on 14 April 1958. 

However VERA used very large reels of narrow tape (Ampex tape was 2” wide with much smaller diameter reels).  and could only record for fifteen minutes – it also had problems of picture stability. 

The proven effectiveness of the Ampex machine meant that VERA’s days were numbered and it never went into regular service.
Ampex video recorder : 1958

​​ Click either photo to enlarge ​​

An early Ampex TV recording on 2" tape
'Solemn High Mass'
Chapel Choir of Ushaw College, Durham
Directed by Fr Lawrence Hollis
ITV 1960

BBC VERA video recorder : 1958

The 1970s
Home video recorders
​​A new era dawned in the preservation of TV broadcasts when home video recorders reached the mass market in the mid 1970s.

People could now record whatever they wished in their own homes.

Sullivan's 'When a merry maiden' 
Choristers of St Paul's Cathedral
directed by Barry Rose 
Paul Phoenix, solo treble.  1978.
​​'A Worcestershire Carol'
St Michael's College, Tenbury
directed by Roger Judd

The 1980s to the present day
From video to digital
The majority of the Archive's collection of TV broadcasts are from the 1980s up to the present day. 

All formats are represented, VHS, Betamax, Philips 2000 and in latter years, HD recordings and digital files.
1985 : Stephen Bird
St Peter's Church, Fleetwood
Winner of 'Opportunity Knocks'

1997 : St John's College,
directed by Christopher Robinson
Mendelssohn,  'Richte mich, Gott'
2015 : King's College
directed by Stephen Cleobury
Adam's 'O Holy Night'

2009 : Truro Cathedral directed by Christopher Gray
'Soul of my saviour'
Documentaries exclusive to the website and not on YouTube
New College Choir, Oxford​
BBC TV : 1 January 1995

To mark Purcell's tercentenary, Nicholas Kenyon investigates the achievements of one of our greatest composers.  Featuring Michael Chance, David Thomas, Mark Padmore, Sir Michael Tippett & Professor Curtis Price.

Ernest Lough
Channel 4 Television,  1993

A documentary on Ernest Lough and his legendary recording of Mendelssohn's 'Hear My Prayer/O for wings of a Dove'

Written and produced by his son, Robin Lough

Broadcasting on television    

Click on a photo to open the slide-show

  1. King's College, Cambridge, 1964
    King's College, Cambridge, 1964
  2. King's College, Cambridge.  2014
    King's College, Cambridge. 2014
  3. Hereford Cathedral.  1986
    Hereford Cathedral. 1986
  4. York Minster, 1965
    York Minster, 1965
  5. King's College, Cambridge.  2015
    King's College, Cambridge. 2015
  6. King's College, Cambridge. 2015
    King's College, Cambridge. 2015
  7. King's College, Cambridge.  2015
    King's College, Cambridge. 2015
  8. St Peter's, Wolverhampton.  1968
    St Peter's, Wolverhampton. 1968
  9. Choristers of Addington Palace Chapel, Croydon, 1958
    Choristers of Addington Palace Chapel, Croydon, 1958
  10. Choristers of Addington Palace Chapel, Croydon, 1958
    Choristers of Addington Palace Chapel, Croydon, 1958
  11. Peterborough Cathedral, 1984
    Peterborough Cathedral, 1984
  12. Chapel Royal, London.  1953
    Chapel Royal, London. 1953
  13. Exeter Cathedral, 1980
    Exeter Cathedral, 1980
  14. King's College, Cambridge. 2015
    King's College, Cambridge. 2015
  15. Coventry Cathedral. 1990
    Coventry Cathedral. 1990
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