Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Fantasy Bob supposes that there are many points in history at which the future can be considered as beginning. One of those was fifty years ago today when the first relays of TV signals were made by the satellite Telstar which had been launched the previous day on 10 July 1962.

Not that it was a particularly gripping transmission being a picture of a flag outside Andover Earth Station in Maine. However 2 weeks later there was a bit more action when the first publicly available live transatlantic signal was transmitted. It featured Walter Cronkite and Chet Huntley in New York, and the BBC's Richard Dimbleby in Brussels. The first pictures were the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. The first broadcast was to have been remarks by John F. Kennedy, but the signal was acquired before the president was ready, so the lead-in time was filled with a short segment of a televised major league baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Peter Parfitt

FB is quite shocked by this piece of cultural imperialism, but notes that the attempt forcibly to interest the European audience in baseball largely failed. There was a perfectly good cricket match which could have been transmitted at this time and it is a great failure that the British authorities did not insist on it being used. On the day of the broadcast, Middlesex were playing Pakistan at Lords. the match was drawn but featured two centuries by Peter Parfitt and an innings of 191 by Hanif Mohammad. Three days later the pair crossed swords again in the fourth test at Trent Bridge. Parfitt kept the momentum scoring another century, unbeaten, in England's first innings. Hanif was not successful with scores of 0 and 3, falling to Fred Trueman in both innings. The match was drawn. This was the high point of Parfitt's 37 match test career - he averaged 113.33 in the series with 3 centuries.

It was not until 1990 that the first live TV broadcast of a Text match was made. The match was W Indies v England in Jamaica when the visitors won their first match against the W Indies for over 16 years. Later that year, British Satellite Broadcasting provided the first non-terrestrial coverage of a major county match, the Benson & Hedges Cup final, before their merger with Sky later that year. In 1994 Sky bought the rights for home one-day internationals and county cricket, with the BBC retaining Test matches and the premier knockout trophy. In 1998, the BBC lost their uninterrupted television rights to Sky and Channel 4. And now there is only Sky. All this could have been foreseen from Telstar's fist shaky transmission.

But at the time FB was not thinking of these tragedies yet to come. He was more interested in the instrumental record of that year Telstar by The Tornados. This remains the biggest selling instrumental in the history of pop music in the UK and it was also the first UK record to hit the number 1 spot in the US charts. More than a year before The Beatles. Test Match Quality.


  1. All of which reminds me of the commentator at the Montreal Olympics who said "... and the next event is the pole vault over the satellite". It was one of the original "Colemanballs" though the offending commentator was actually Ron Pickering.

    1. And Colemanballs keep coming although now sadly renamed Commentatorballs.