16th July 1956

BBC made its first ever Channel Islands broadcast

Television was still monochrome, comparatively low resolution, and decidedly primitive in 1956. Yet the BBC wasn’t going to be put off as it made plans for its first ever live broadcast from the Channel Islands on 16 July that year.

If anything, it highlighted the relative isolation of the islands in an age where broadcasters couldn’t rely on high-speed internet and satellite connections. The fact that the Corporation had decided to broadcast from Herm, rather than Guernsey or Jersey likely made things even more complex.

An ambitious attempt

In the end, the signal took a very round-about route to get back to the mainland, but only after the BBC had shipped a considerable amount of equipment to the island. In the words of the Aberdeen Evening Express of 14 July, “the whole of the West region’s mobile television gear will go to Herm by motor launch as well as two motor generators and a portable transmitter”.

According to a report published in The Guardian the previous week,

…some complicated arrangements will be necessary. The West Region’s mobile unit is making the transmissions, and the signals are to be picked up by a West Region receiving unit on the Cherbourg peninsula, and go by links in the French television service to Paris, whence they will return on the Eurovision link to London and the BBC’s own transmitters.

The programme was to be broadcast live and feature interviews with Peter Wood, the tenant of Herm, and several other residents.

Success… and a little disappointment

In the event, despite the round-about route the signal was forced to take, the broadcast went without a hitch. However, The Guardian later found it “off that there were no pictures of the long stretch of dazzling white shell beach or a better general view of the topography of the island”.

Nonetheless, with that programme safely in the bag, the BBC was able to proceed with its plans for an episode of “Saturday Night Out”, which would be broadcast from Guernsey on 21 July.


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Other events that occured in July

Guernseyman Edward Tupper killed by cannibals 1st
Alderney is occupied by German forces 2nd
Seigneur of Sark, Michael Beaumont, dies aged 88 3rd
Guernsey hosted the Island Games 2003 closing ceremony 4th
New coins are minted for Guernsey 5th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Museum opens 6th
Victor Hugo statue is unveiled in Candie Gardens 7th
First Commando raid of the Second World War 8th
Birth of Sark-based writer Mervyn Peake 9th
Guernsey nurses go on hunger strike 10th
ITV broadcasts first episode of Island at War 11th
A Guernsey man posted himself to Sark 12th
Murderer Peter Robin sentenced to death 13th
Victor Hugo plants his United States of Europe oak 14th
Point Law runs aground off Alderney 15th
Racing yacht Westward is blown up off Guernsey
BBC made its first ever Channel Islands broadcast 16th
The Star received some “grave” news 17th
The Guernsey Martyrs were burned at the stake 18th
Prince Charles and Camilla visit Guernsey 19th
President Garcia is re-floated in Saints Bay 20th
Typhoid suspect holidaymaker flies home 21st
Guernsey Controlling Committee’s Sir John Leale died 22nd
Alderney to Guernsey radio connection established 23rd
Val des Terres was first opened for traffic 24th
The BBC broadcasts from Sark for the first time 25th
Guernsey court escapee was caught again 26th
Braye du Valle was gifted by the crown 27th
Murderer sentenced to death in three hours 28th
Guernsey bought Herm from the mainland 29th
Albert Lamy appointed Guernsey Police Chief Officer 30th
Guernsey to Jersey plane crashed into the sea 31st