Difference between revisions of "1931 Epsom Derby (lost televised footage of horse racing event; 1931)"

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While normal proceedings for the Epsom Derby itself transpired, the event was set to mark a few critical moments in television history. John Logie Baird, one of the pioneers of television, had been making progress with his inventions since the late-1920s, including establishing Baird Television Development Company Ltd in 1927, and in 1928 where he successfully had his mechanical televisions produce images outside a studio.<ref>[https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/baird_logie.shtml ''BBC'' providing a history of John Logie Baird's television experiments.] Retrieved 28 Oct '21</ref> In May 1931, Baird continued his experiments, including inserting a scanner inside an old caravan for which it would be parked in the streets of London to allow for BBC programming, for which Baird had struck a deal with to produce occasional programming. As he watched horses being directed from Long Acre towards Covent Garden market, he began to evaluate the idea of televising the Epsom Derby.<ref>[http://www.bbceng.info/additions/2016/first-scanner-prospero-2010a.pdf March 2010 issue of ''Prospero'' detailing the history of Baird's broadcasts, and his inspiration for televising the Epsom Derby.] Retrieved 28 Oct '21</ref>  
 
While normal proceedings for the Epsom Derby itself transpired, the event was set to mark a few critical moments in television history. John Logie Baird, one of the pioneers of television, had been making progress with his inventions since the late-1920s, including establishing Baird Television Development Company Ltd in 1927, and in 1928 where he successfully had his mechanical televisions produce images outside a studio.<ref>[https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/baird_logie.shtml ''BBC'' providing a history of John Logie Baird's television experiments.] Retrieved 28 Oct '21</ref> In May 1931, Baird continued his experiments, including inserting a scanner inside an old caravan for which it would be parked in the streets of London to allow for BBC programming, for which Baird had struck a deal with to produce occasional programming. As he watched horses being directed from Long Acre towards Covent Garden market, he began to evaluate the idea of televising the Epsom Derby.<ref>[http://www.bbceng.info/additions/2016/first-scanner-prospero-2010a.pdf March 2010 issue of ''Prospero'' detailing the history of Baird's broadcasts, and his inspiration for televising the Epsom Derby.] Retrieved 28 Oct '21</ref>  
  
After showing the street scene during a small press conference on 8th May, 1931, Braid announced his company would broadcast the Derby, and claimed that 'that the fact that one was able to pick up the street scene showed that the idea of televising the Derby or cricketers at Lord’s was not so fantastic as some imagined'. Despite media scepticism concerning Braid's claim, progress had already been made two days earlier, with an agreement made with the Epsom Derby organisers to add a television transmitter on the course. On 19th May, Sydney Moseley, Braid's business manager and publicist, wrote to the BBC asking for the provision of transmitters on Derby day for Braid Television to utilise. The BBC accepted this, providing that commentary from Moseley was on a separate telephone line from the BBC and that said commentary would not cause any interference with the BBC's own radio commentary.<ref>[https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=7v7FTnT1wE4C&pg=PA191#v=onepage&q&f=false ''British Television: The Formative Years'' detailing how the coverage of the Epsom Derby was announced, and the successful negotiations Sydney Moseley made with the BBC over broadcasting the event.] Retrieved 28 Oct '21</ref>
+
Thus, during a small press conference on 8th May, 1931, Braid announced his company would broadcast the Derby, and claimed that 'that the fact that one was able to pick up the street scene showed that the idea of televising the Derby or cricketers at Lord’s was not so fantastic as some imagined'. Despite media scepticism concerning Braid's claim, progress had already been made two days earlier, with an agreement made with the Epsom Derby organisers to add a television transmitter on the course. On 19th May, Sydney Moseley, Braid's business manager and publicist, wrote to the BBC asking for the provision of transmitters on Derby day for Braid Television to utilise. The BBC accepted this, providing that commentary from Moseley was on a separate telephone line from the BBC and that said commentary would not cause any interference with the BBC's own radio commentary.<ref>[https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=7v7FTnT1wE4C&pg=PA191#v=onepage&q&f=false ''British Television: The Formative Years'' detailing how the coverage of the Epsom Derby was announced, and the successful negotiations Sydney Moseley made with the BBC over broadcasting the event.] Retrieved 28 Oct '21</ref>
  
 
Considering the fact that no remote outside television broadcast had ever previously been achieved, Braid conducted a test broadcast the day prior to the Derby, showcasing one of the minor races.<ref>Issue 4,772 of the ''Daily Herald'' reporting on the test broadcast and promoting the Epsom Derby coverage. Retrieved 28 Oct '21</ref> Four televisions at Long Acre did successfully receive the picture that was obtained from fifteen miles, but it was blurry. Hence, there was concern leading up to the broadcast that the picture quality would not satisfy viewers on race day.
 
Considering the fact that no remote outside television broadcast had ever previously been achieved, Braid conducted a test broadcast the day prior to the Derby, showcasing one of the minor races.<ref>Issue 4,772 of the ''Daily Herald'' reporting on the test broadcast and promoting the Epsom Derby coverage. Retrieved 28 Oct '21</ref> Four televisions at Long Acre did successfully receive the picture that was obtained from fifteen miles, but it was blurry. Hence, there was concern leading up to the broadcast that the picture quality would not satisfy viewers on race day.
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==See Also (Early BBC Television Media)==
+
==See Also==
 +
===Early BBC Sports Television===
 +
*[[1937 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1937)]]
 +
*[[1937 International Imperial Trophy Race (lost footage of motor race; 1937)]]
 +
*[[1937 Wimbledon Championships (partially found footage of tennis tournament; 1937)]]
 +
*[[1938 Ashes Series (partially found footage of international test cricket match; 1938)]]
 +
*[[1938 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1938)]]
 +
*[[1939 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1939)]]
 +
*[[1947 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1947)]]
 +
*[[1953 British Grand Prix (partially found footage of Formula One race; 1953)]]
 +
*[[1955 Scottish Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1955)]]
 +
*[[Archery (lost early televised toxophily; 1937-1938)]]
 +
*[[Arsenal 7-1 Hibernian (lost footage of charity football match; 1952)]]
 +
*[[Arsenal vs Arsenal Reserves (lost footage of early BBC televised football match; 1937)]]
 +
*[[Barnet 3-2 Wealdstone (lost footage of Athenian League football match; 1946)]]
 +
*[[The Boat Race 1938 (partially found footage of rowing race; 1938)]]
 +
*[[Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling (lost early BBC televised professional wrestling matches; 1938-1939; 1946-1947)]]
 +
*[[Charlton Athletic 1-0 Blackburn Rovers (lost footage of FA Cup match; 1947)]]
 +
*[[Darts and Shove Ha'penny (lost early BBC televised darts matches; 1936-1939)]]
 +
*[[England 0-1 Scotland (partially found international football match; 1938)]]
 +
*[[England 1-1 Scotland (partially found footage of international football match; 1947)]]
 +
*[[England 16-21 Scotland (partially found footage of rugby match; 1938)]]
 +
*[[England 3-0 France (partially found footage of international football match; 1947)]]
 +
*[[England 3-0 Rest of Europe (partially found footage of international football match; 1938)]]
 +
*[[Falkirk 3-2 Newcastle United (lost footage of football match; 1953)]]
 +
*[[Horace Lindrum vs Willie Smith (lost footage of televised snooker; 1937)]]
 +
*[[Scottish Universities 1-1 English Universities (lost footage of international football match; 1952)]]
 +
*[[Woods and Jack (lost early televised lawn bowls; 1937; 1946)]]
 +
 
 +
===Early BBC Television===
 +
*[[Alexandra Palace's wartime television demonstrations (lost footage of private television transmissions; 1943, 1945)]]
 +
*[[An Inspector Calls (lost television adaptation of play; 1948)]]
 
*[[Ann and Harold (lost early BBC drama television series; 1938)]]
 
*[[Ann and Harold (lost early BBC drama television series; 1938)]]
 +
*[[BBC Election Night (lost coverage of British general elections; 1950-1951)]]
 +
*[[The Care of Your Car (lost early BBC motoring show; 1947)]]
 
*[[Cook's Night Out (lost early BBC cooking show; 1937)]]
 
*[[Cook's Night Out (lost early BBC cooking show; 1937)]]
 +
*[[Craftsmen at Work (lost early BBC documentary show; 1938, 1946)]]
 
*[[Dish of the Month (lost early BBC cooking show; 1937)]]
 
*[[Dish of the Month (lost early BBC cooking show; 1937)]]
 
*[[First Aid (lost early BBC medical show; 1937)]]
 
*[[First Aid (lost early BBC medical show; 1937)]]
 
*[[Foundations of Cookery (lost early BBC cooking show; 1939)]]
 
*[[Foundations of Cookery (lost early BBC cooking show; 1939)]]
 
*[[Marcel Boulestin television shorts (lost early BBC programs; 1937-1939)]]
 
*[[Marcel Boulestin television shorts (lost early BBC programs; 1937-1939)]]
 +
*[[Masks through the Ages (lost early BBC history talk show; 1937)]]
 +
*[[Opening of the BBC Television Service (partially found coverage of inaugural day of high-definition television service; 1936)]]
 +
*[[The Orchestra and its Instruments (lost early BBC music talk show; 1937)]]
 
*[[RCA recording of BBC Television Service (found footage of pre-Second World War BBC television broadcast; 1938)]]
 
*[[RCA recording of BBC Television Service (found footage of pre-Second World War BBC television broadcast; 1938)]]
 
*[[Sea Stories (lost early BBC talk show; 1936-1937)]]
 
*[[Sea Stories (lost early BBC talk show; 1936-1937)]]
 
*[[Spelling Bee (lost early BBC game show; 1938)]]
 
*[[Spelling Bee (lost early BBC game show; 1938)]]
 
*[[Telecrime (lost early BBC crime drama; 1938-1939; 1946)]]
 
*[[Telecrime (lost early BBC crime drama; 1938-1939; 1946)]]
*[[The Care of Your Car (lost early BBC motoring show; 1947)]]
 
 
*[[The Wasp's Nest (lost early BBC television adaptation of Agatha Christie short story; 1937)]]
 
*[[The Wasp's Nest (lost early BBC television adaptation of Agatha Christie short story; 1937)]]
 +
*[[Weaponless Self-Defence (lost early ju-jitsu television program; 1936-1937)]]
 +
*[[The World of Women (lost early BBC talk show; 1937)]]
  
==See Also (Early Sports Television Media)==
+
===Early Sports Television Media===
 
*[[1934 Philo T. Farnsworth broadcasts (lost early television demonstrations; 1934)]]
 
*[[1934 Philo T. Farnsworth broadcasts (lost early television demonstrations; 1934)]]
 
*[[1936 Summer Olympics (lost television coverage of Berlin Games; 1936)]]
 
*[[1936 Summer Olympics (lost television coverage of Berlin Games; 1936)]]
*[[1937 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1937)]]
 
*[[1937 International Imperial Trophy Race (lost footage of motor race; 1937)]]
 
*[[1937 Wimbledon Championships (partially found footage of tennis tournament; 1937)]]
 
*[[1938 Ashes Series (partially found footage of international test cricket match; 1938)]]
 
*[[1938 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1938)]]
 
 
*[[1938 Pennsylvania Quakers football season (lost early televised college football games; 1938)]]
 
*[[1938 Pennsylvania Quakers football season (lost early televised college football games; 1938)]]
*[[1939 FA Cup Final (partially found footage of football match; 1939)]]
 
*[[1953 British Grand Prix (partially found footage of Formula One race; 1953)]]
 
 
*[[1960 Daytona Races (lost CBS and NBC televised footage of NASCAR prelude events to Daytona 500; 1960)]]
 
*[[1960 Daytona Races (lost CBS and NBC televised footage of NASCAR prelude events to Daytona 500; 1960)]]
*[[Arsenal vs Arsenal Reserves (lost footage of early BBC televised football match; 1937)]]
+
*[[Bill Longson vs Whipper Billy Watson (lost footage of professional wrestling match; 1947)]]
 
*[[Brooklyn Dodgers 2-5 6-1 Cincinnati Reds (lost footage of MLB doubleheader; 1939)]]
 
*[[Brooklyn Dodgers 2-5 6-1 Cincinnati Reds (lost footage of MLB doubleheader; 1939)]]
 
*[[Brooklyn Dodgers 23-14 Philadelphia Eagles (lost footage of NFL game; 1939)]]
 
*[[Brooklyn Dodgers 23-14 Philadelphia Eagles (lost footage of NFL game; 1939)]]
*[[Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling (lost early BBC televised professional wrestling matches; 1938-1939; 1946-1947)]]
 
 
*[[Columbia Lions 1-2 Princeton Tigers (partially found footage of college baseball game; 1939)]]
 
*[[Columbia Lions 1-2 Princeton Tigers (partially found footage of college baseball game; 1939)]]
*[[Darts and Shove Ha'penny (lost early BBC televised darts matches; 1936-1939)]]
 
*[[England 0-1 Scotland (partially found international football match; 1938)]]
 
*[[England 16-21 Scotland (partially found footage of rugby match; 1938)]]
 
 
*[[Fordham Rams 34-7 Waynesburg Yellow Jackets (lost footage of college football game; 1939)]]
 
*[[Fordham Rams 34-7 Waynesburg Yellow Jackets (lost footage of college football game; 1939)]]
 
*[[Indianapolis 500 WFBM-TV Broadcasts (lost racing footage; 1949-1950)]]
 
*[[Indianapolis 500 WFBM-TV Broadcasts (lost racing footage; 1949-1950)]]
*[[The Boat Race 1938 (partially found footage of rowing race; 1938)]]
 
  
 
==External Link==
 
==External Link==

Revision as of 14:43, 19 April 2022

1931epsomderby1.jpg

Illustrated London News on what the television coverage looked like.

Status: Lost

The 1931 Epsom Derby was a horse racing event that occurred on 3rd June, 1931. The race would be won by Cameronian, with Freddie Fox as his jockey. The event marked three major milestones in television broadcasting; not only was it the first televised horse race, it was also the first televised sporting event. Additionally, it is known as the first remote outside television broadcast.

Background[edit | edit source]

The Epsom Derby has been held since 1780, and is considered the biggest flat horse race of its kind in the United Kingdom, forming one of the five British Classics Races.[1][2] Heading into the 1931 Epsom Derby event, Cameronian, a Thoroughbred sire, was the 7/2 favourite. He had already achieved success earlier in the year, having won the 2,000 Guineas with Jockey Joseph Childs.[3] For the Derby, he would be ridden by Freddie Fox, who was then the reigning Champion Jockey of flat racing and had ridden Diolite to success in the 1930 staging of the 2,000 Guineas event.[4]

While normal proceedings for the Epsom Derby itself transpired, the event was set to mark a few critical moments in television history. John Logie Baird, one of the pioneers of television, had been making progress with his inventions since the late-1920s, including establishing Baird Television Development Company Ltd in 1927, and in 1928 where he successfully had his mechanical televisions produce images outside a studio.[5] In May 1931, Baird continued his experiments, including inserting a scanner inside an old caravan for which it would be parked in the streets of London to allow for BBC programming, for which Baird had struck a deal with to produce occasional programming. As he watched horses being directed from Long Acre towards Covent Garden market, he began to evaluate the idea of televising the Epsom Derby.[6]

Thus, during a small press conference on 8th May, 1931, Braid announced his company would broadcast the Derby, and claimed that 'that the fact that one was able to pick up the street scene showed that the idea of televising the Derby or cricketers at Lord’s was not so fantastic as some imagined'. Despite media scepticism concerning Braid's claim, progress had already been made two days earlier, with an agreement made with the Epsom Derby organisers to add a television transmitter on the course. On 19th May, Sydney Moseley, Braid's business manager and publicist, wrote to the BBC asking for the provision of transmitters on Derby day for Braid Television to utilise. The BBC accepted this, providing that commentary from Moseley was on a separate telephone line from the BBC and that said commentary would not cause any interference with the BBC's own radio commentary.[7]

Considering the fact that no remote outside television broadcast had ever previously been achieved, Braid conducted a test broadcast the day prior to the Derby, showcasing one of the minor races.[8] Four televisions at Long Acre did successfully receive the picture that was obtained from fifteen miles, but it was blurry. Hence, there was concern leading up to the broadcast that the picture quality would not satisfy viewers on race day.

The Broadcast[edit | edit source]

On 3rd June, the Epsom Derby commenced, with spectators witnessing Cameronian win the event in a time of 2:36.6, with a race-winning length distance of three-quarters ahead of the second-placed horse.[9] At the same time, television history was being made, with up to 5,000 people watching the live broadcast. The media were mixed regarding the quality of the broadcast; whereas some did criticise the flickering picture quality, with it only being around a 7:3 portrait aspect ratio that was not really ideal for televising horse racing,[10] others, including The Falkirk Herald, were pleased with the fact a broadcast was achieved in general.

In issue 8,407 of Falkirk Herald, the paper noted that in spite of the occasional quality issues, the broadcast still gave the feeling of attending the event in-person, and noted that viewers from across the country had successfully picked up the feed and were also praising the revolutionary broadcast.[11] Therefore, Braid would continue to develop and present the mechanical television in both the UK and in the United States. He would also begin the work needed to televise the 1932 Epsom Derby.

Availability[edit | edit source]

While some footage of the 1931 Epsom Derby itself remains publicly accessible thanks to surviving newsreel footage, the television coverage was filmed live and was not recorded directly recorded, as there were no means of achieving this prior to the end of the Second World War.[12] Thus, all televised footage of this horse race is now permanently missing. Nevertheless, a few photos, including of the Baird Television Caravan, help to document the broadcast.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

Video[edit | edit source]

British Pathé newsreel of the event.


See Also[edit | edit source]

Early BBC Sports Television[edit | edit source]

Early BBC Television[edit | edit source]

Early Sports Television Media[edit | edit source]

External Link[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]