Turning 95 today if measured by the date of its broadcast, November 14, the British Broadcasting Corporation is the oldest national broadcasting organisation, and the largest in terms of employees, in the world. Even in the era of the proliferation of news channels on television, the Beeb, as it’s fondly called in the UK, is a trusted name in most corners of the world, a goal towards which it started working from its inception in 1922.
Of course, life began as a radio service. The British Broadcasting Company, as the BBC was originally called, was formed on October 18, 1922, by a group of wireless manufacturers in London. It ran its first-ever radio broadcast from 2LO, a famous London studio, on November 14 that year.
The first words uttered on air by a BBC announcer at 5.33 PM on November 14, 1922 – the man who had that honour was Arthur Burrows – as the video above reveals, were: “2LO, Marconi House, London, calling.” as you can hear in the video above. A song titled 2LO Calling and “a snapshot of those airwaves” were broadcast on all BBC radio stations to commemorate their 90th anniversary.
In the 1920s, the BBC grew manifold, introducing The Radio Times, the world’s first broadcast listing magazine and the legendary “pips” which even now mark the precise start of every hour on BBC Radio. You can hear some excerpts from their 1920s radio shows below:
By 1929, John Logie Baird had started to experiment with television broadcasting, which he tried out using BBC frequencies in London. The television was born in the 1930s, though it was nothing like the high-definition television we know today. The broadcast was severely undefined, though it got much better by the time BBC began, for the first time, a regularly scheduled “high-definition” TV service in 1936. You can watch some of the first programme below, and get an idea of what TV looked like in the 1930s as well:
This was also the time the BBC made its first live television broadcast from outside the studio: