Archery (lost early televised toxophily; 1937-1938)

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Jasmine Bligh being coached on archery.

Status: Lost

On 18th March 1937, a television program concerning archery was broadcast on BBC Television Service. This, alongside another broadcast on 13th July 1938, are some of the earliest instances of televised toxophily.


Televising of archery was conceptualised during the early days of BBC Television Service, which was looking to broadcast a variety of sports like darts, ju-jitsu, and snooker.[1] Indeed, this was during a time period when archery was becoming more popular in England.[2]

Thus, on 18th March 1937, a 15-minute segment known simply as "Archery" was broadcast.[3][4] It involved Captain M. G. Hogg demonstrating toxophily in the grounds of Alexandra Palace, with the range being approximately 27 yards.[3][4] Captain Hogg had clear credentials for this sport; aside from being a member of the Royal Toxophilite Society, he also captained England's archery team during the 1936 World Archery Championships,[3][4] with the team ultimately finishing fifth.[5] Issue 702 of Radio Times also stated an archery match in progress would be shown at the Palace.[4] It has not been confirmed by any official sources on whether this broadcast was the first instance of televised archery, although it has a high likelihood considering the televised 1936 Summer Olympics lacked any archery events.[6] The broadcast also attracted a crowd at Alexandra Palace itself.[1] Indeed, a producer noted during the transmission that one individual remarked "Yes, I do understand the television cameras all right, but how do they get the films to travel along that cable?".[1]

At least one other instance of televised archery occurred prior to the Second World War. According to Science & Society, a BBC broadcast occurred on 13th July 1938, featuring television announcer Jasmine Bligh being coached in archery.[7] However, issue 771 of Radio Times, which covered broadcasts from 8th-16th July 1938, claims that a showcase of archery occurred on the 16th instead.[8] It is perhaps possible that the BBC made the decision to film the occasion earlier than expected, especially since it relied upon Roehampton Club,[7][8] who for whatever reason might have been unable to fulfil the 16th July obligation.[8] Regardless, the broadcast did occur during July 1938, with transmission relying on an Emitron television camera being situated on a three-wheeled trolley.[7]


Like all early television transmissions, the archery demonstrations were televised live and there were limited viable means of recording television prior to the Second World War, with recording seldom having occurred until video tape was perfected in the late-1950s.[9] Thus, all footage from both demonstrations is likely permanently missing. Nevertheless, a photo of Bligh's demonstration,[7] as well as Radio Times issues,[4][8] helped to document the broadcasts.



See Also

Early BBC Sports Television

Early BBC Television

Early Sports Television Media