Review: The Dawn of Television Remembered...

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Review: The Dawn of Television Remembered...

Postby Andrew Davie » Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:10 am

I recently purchased "The Dawn of Television Remembered:
the John Logie Baird Years 1923-1936", a double CD produced by Don McLean. See

I have had this for a week or so now, and thought it about time I posted a review. Firstly, the CD set arrived very promptly, and in excellent condition. I am impressed by the evident quality of the production, in every way a professional one.

There are two CDs in the set, the first being an audio documentary of the early years of TV. I have not had much occasion to listen to this yet, other than to say I accidentally loaded an unedited interview with Tony Bridgewater, I think it was, and half an hour passed before I'd realised I was supposed to be doing other things. Very fascinating.

I do hope to get to the documentary soon, but the prime purpose I purchased this CD set was the promised copies of the restored early recordings.

The second CD has a wonderful collection of all extant recordings of the earliest days of television, from Baird's experimental phonovision discs to actual off-air recordings made by "lookers-in". There's not a lot left, of course, but if you want what's available, this release will give it to you. These are presented in the form of MPEG-format videos, with the restored television images inside a small frame denoting copyright and identification.

The restorations are remarkable, and Mr. McLean should be congratulated on his work in this area. I doubt that any sense at all could have been made of these recordings without what is obviously a large amount of expertise and effort.

As it is, though, the quality of what we can see is variable. Given that some of these recordings were made off-air by somebody with a recording gramophone next to a speaker (one would assume), it's amazing that anything at all can be discerned. I had a lot of fun identifying some of the "unknown" clips -- in fact I do believe I have actually managed to explain what is being seen on two of these "unknown" clips. I have also had much fun post-processing some of these videos to try to pull further understanding from them.

The clips are, of course, copyrighted -- and this is quite understandable. They are valuable pieces of television history and have taken a lot of work to restore. Mr. McLean has provided important subsections of some of the videos in the form of animating GIF files, available on the Internet.

I think the quality of the videos on the CD is a big improvement upon the small GIF animations availabe -- and I wouldn't even bother with the RealAudio format 'video' you may find on the 'net. In short, if you want copies of the early TV recordings, buy this CD.

The 'restored' videos also contain a copy of the 1967 remake of 'The Man With the Flower in his Mouth' -- a rather morbid play, indeed. I loved it. It was very interesting, as it gave me a real feeling for what sort of entertainment a television programme from the 1930s could provide. I converted this one and watched it on my televisor.

So, even though I have only begun to explore this fascinating CD set, I can happily recommend it as a must-have for all of us interested in early television.
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Andrew Davie
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Postby ac7zl » Tue Jun 12, 2007 4:45 am

I purchased this product myself some months back. I don't think that anyone with a serious interest in NBTV and its roots should be without a copy.

I rate it as A+

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