Monday, 30 November -0001

Television Reviews: 25 May

Go live with the Queen and revel in our glorious TV heritage

Written by Michael Moran
Michael-Moran1At 3pm on 7 June 1946, British TV started in earnest, not halfway through a Mickey Mouse cartoon as legend has it, but with the words 'Good afternoon everybody. How are you? Do you remember me, Jasmine Bligh?'

Still, a television set was a rare luxury. If TV was to reach the masses in a country that seems always to have been called Austerity Britain, it needed a show that everyone wanted to watch. And in June 1953, we got it. No, not Panorama or Quatermass or Robin Hood – although all those venerable titles made their debuts that year. The event that changed the way we spend our leisure time forever was the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Sales of TV sets rose sharply before the live broadcast, helped by Rab Butler's tax-cutting April budget, and the coronation attracted an audience of over 20 million, surpassing the biggest radio audience for the fi rst time. For those without a TV, a small number of cinemas screened the event live – a broadcasting fi rst.

Both the major channels are devoting ample airtime to the events, but only a time-travelling Doctor Who could say what they'll be like. ITV is pulling out all the stops. The Royal Wedding dream team of Julie Etchingham and Phillip Schofield reunites to host coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee procession on Tuesday 5 June, from a special studio at Buckingham Palace.

The jewel in the BBC's crown will be a live BBC One/Radio 2 simulcast of the Diamond Jubilee Concert on 4 June, featuring Shirley Bassey, Alfi e Boe, Elton John, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney and Cliff Richard. And if you are one of those rare individuals who don't care much for our Royal Family, remember it's also a celebration of our long friendship with the telly. And everybody loves that.

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