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Our Earliest Memories of Colour TV

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  • Our Earliest Memories of Colour TV

    A TV viewing milestone for me today. It is the 50th anniversary of the earliest screening I can remember of a colour TV sequence, Alan Price and Georgie Fame performing their hit song Rosetta on Top of the Pops (1st April 1971). Until I found the YouTube video linked below, my sole memory of the episode was this very moment with Georgie nearest camera:

    Click image for larger version

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    When 'catchy tunes' were the norm in popular culture. They looked like they were having a great time.

    This edition of the programme, like most up until 1977, was wiped by the BBC. By an extraordinary stroke of good fortune, the Fame and Price performance was shown on German TV's Disco so I must thank their ZDF channel and the YouTube poster for preserving it and rekindling my memory. The presenter that appears about halfway through the video, in that brief shot with the monitors, can be seen introducing other TOTP performances that only survive as Disco inserts. It has a complete archive, I think.

    Sadly, I don't have many other childhood memories of colour or black and white television. For a long time, I thought the 1973 F.A, Cup Final was the earliest, before somehow being reminded of the song Rosetta and then finding that clip years later. 1972 seems to be a complete blank - ironically, as that's the worst year for lost Top of the Pops episodes.

    However, TV listings from this period may help me to identify programmes or even short documentaries like the film of steel drums being made in the Caribbean (?), repeated several times on BBC2. One that I found the title to is Right Charlie, a Children's show that starred the clown Charlie Cairoli, circa 1973. My father was buiding a fish pond in the back garden when it aired one Friday afternoon.

    I'd be very interested to read your own earliest Colour TV memories.

  • #2
    I'll need to give this some thought. The human brain can be a wondrous thing, it creates memories from scratch and even the raw material is prone to distortion. As you might know, the retina captures images upside-down ad switched left-to-right... then the brain creates the normal orientation for itself. The brain makes it up.
    A lot of comic books were printed in monochrome, with only the front cover being in colour, yet when trying to recall an image, it is usually in full colour.
    so, what did I really see in colour?

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    • #3
      Colour broadcasting began on the main channels (BBC1 and ITV) in Novemebr 1969, but it was the mid seventies before colour licences outnumbered black and white, so for the first half of the seventies most people were watching in black and white. The ITC filmed series that were made in colour from the mid sixties were shown on ITV in black and white (as were the colour Avengers episodes), but it is difficult today to imagine, say, Thunderbirds in black and white although that is how we originally saw it.

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      • tv horror
        tv horror commented
        Editing a comment
        The very first ITV show I watched in colour was Randell and Hopkirk as it was the first show broadcast in Belfast. As we already had a colour tv my favourite show was Star Trek, at first we had rented one from Radio Rentals.

    • #4
      A friend of mine was a TV engineeer and his boss had colour TV. He allowed a few of us the use of his house to watch the 1969 FA Cup final between Manchester City and Leicester City. This took place on 26 April 1969. I wondered if my memory was playing tricks but on checking the Radio Times I see it was indeed broadcast in colour on BBC2. Made a change from our old rented B & W set.

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      • #5
        A neighbour came in to see our new colour television and (the original) STAR TREK was on. She was amazed that Scotty and the security boys had red sweaters. Little did she know those red sweaters usually meant a nasty demise for the wearers!

        Our first set, which had a huge back to it, had the nasty habit of buzzing like mad and distorting the picture as soon as any credits came up.

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        • tv horror
          tv horror commented
          Editing a comment
          Maybe it didn't want the programme to end and was in a huff, it wasn't called Edna by any chance?

      • #6
        I seem to have a memory of going to a friends house and watching man land on the moon which I think was my first adventure into colour TV, and thereafter going round to another friends house on a Monday night just to watch High Chaparral in colour on BBC2.

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        • #7
          Originally posted by cassidy View Post
          I seem to have a memory of going to a friends house and watching man land on the moon which I think was my first adventure into colour TV, and thereafter going round to another friends house on a Monday night just to watch High Chaparral in colour on BBC2.
          If you are talking about the July 1969 Moon landing, it was most definitely in black and white!

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          • narabdela
            narabdela commented
            Editing a comment
            Agreed. They were fairly primitive B&W pictures transmitted from the moon. Colour film was shot, but that obviously was only available to be seen at a later date after it had been processed. I believe that some of the later moon landings may have had colour tv transmitted in real time.

        • #8
          I believe the transmission from the Moon to Australia was in colour but the broadcasts and many of the copies made by the tv companies were B&W.

          I think the colour version was found in Australia several years ago.


          Edit
          I'm wrong. It was B&W but better quality.

          https://blog.csiro.au/space-on-a-scr...-moon-landing/
          Last edited by ps68060; 5 April 2021, 03:24 PM.

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          • #9
            My greatest delight was to see wildlife documentaries in colour. I looked forward to that for a long time!

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            • tv horror
              tv horror commented
              Editing a comment
              I was delighted to watch cartoons in colour especially Tex Avery and Scooby Doo.

          • #10
            The first generation of colour Telly’s became available around 1969/1970. Very expensive sets. Around 7 or 8 hundred dollars. The colours were not that good. If you had good reception, or an antenna on the roof of your house. You usually got a better picture. Those who had indoor antenna, the type that would sit on top of the TV sets. were not much use. Weather played an important factor in obtaining a clear picture. Quite often you would have ghost or snow on your screen. Multi vision / cable tv did not exist in those years.

            ​​​​​​

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            • #11
              A very belated thanks for your replies. The High Chaparral was indeed shown on Monday nights, at the regular time of 8.00pm between 1969-71. It originally aired here on Thursdays from 1967-68.

              Of particular interest were the posts on the 1969 F.A. Cup Final (colour was so vibrant in the second half of the 60s) and, less happily, distorted memories. My most notorious is a late night screening of the final episode of Gerry Anderson's UFO (The Long Sleep, 27th March 1975) with the still-convincing mental image of a blood-red screen and hippies in 'Trafalgar Square'. I couldn't believe how wrong I was when I watched the show on DVD 40 years later. For those who missed my illustrated description at the old forum, I'll add it to this thread in a future post.

              "Distorted memory" seems to have played a part in my decision not to have The New Dick Van Dyke Show represented here. The title sequences from Series 1, 2 and 3 do not tally with my recollection of Dick in front of a fence possibly riding a bicycle. Maybe this occured in an episode, or a still or highlight shown during the end credits (which sometimes happens)?

              There has also been a setback with Cribbins, Bernard's 1969-70 series,. It was all on YouTube last year, giving me my first opportunity in about 50 years to see his animated figure rowing a boat across the Thames ident and falling in the river. Yes, the complete series is on DVD but I'm waiting for the price to drop again.


              One rekindled memory I can illustrate for you is this moment from the opening titles of Budgie
              (1971-72) - Adam Faith attempting to retrieve pound notes that have flown out of a briefcase:

              Click image for larger version  Name:	Opening titles from Budgie ft. Adam Faith.jpg Views:	0 Size:	242.4 KB ID:	100059

              But did I originally see this sequence in colour or black and white? From the episode The Jump Boys.
              Last edited by cornershop15; 12 April 2021, 11:16 PM.

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