Architect and Designer: Wells Coates, o.b.e.Theme: Malcolm Baker Smith


How it became possible to send moving pictures by radio is shown in the Communications Section of the “Transport” Pavilion. Here we are concerned with television as a new medium of entertainment — a medium that took scientists, engineers and producers, most of them British, a very short time to create.

Fifteen years ago, in 1936, the BBC installed the equipment that made television a practical medium of entertainment. Britain then became the first country in the world to operate a regular high-definition programme service.

The next stage was for the producers to evolve suitable techniques for production in this medium. This they did by drawing to a certain extent on the existing technique of the film, the stage and sound broadcasting, and developing some features that are peculiarly their own.

In the later 1930’s, five main patterns of television had begun to design themselves: news; documentary and education; drama; light entertainment; and outside broadcasts. The BBC mobile outside-broadcast vans brought drama and spectacle to the television audience, beginning in 1937 with the transmission of the Coronation procession of His Majesty the King. Then the war came; and 20,000 television screens went blank.

The BBC television service was formally reopened in June 1946. Now, in 1951, television is one of our well-established media of public entertainment and information. As such it will be playing a full part in the Festival of Britain, not only through its own studio performances but by vastly widening the audience for events arranged elsewhere.


Architect: Wells Coates, o.b.e.Programme and Presentation: J. D. Ralph and R J Spottiswoode


The Telecinema is the first cinema in the world to be specially designed and built for the showing of both films and television.

The introduction of television into the cinema, and other technical innovations — such as three-dimensional sound pictures — present new problems to the cinema architect. This building, which seats 400 people, illustrates how these problems can be overcome. The film and television projection equipment and the special stereophonic sound apparatus is of the latest British design. Taken together with the kind of programmes that are being shown, these innovations point the way in which the cinema of the future may develop.

One thing which may particularly strike the spectator is the attempt to introduce a heightened sense of realism. This is done by special technical effects which involve the audiences more closely in the proceedings. Among these devices are the “borderless screen” and the use of films with multiple sound tracks, whose sound is reproduced through a series of loudspeakers behind the screen and in the auditorium itself. This makes it possible to “attach” the sound directly to the characters on the screen and move it with them — even above and behind the audience — whenever this would make the action in the film more realistic. This new use of the sound track is called Stereophonic Sound.

In the past, television has been designed primarily for home viewing. Now, for the first time, it has been included as a regular entertainment feature in a cinema programme. While special events televised by the BBC can be received by aerial and relayed by cable to the cinema, the greater part of the programmes, which are based on things happening on the South Bank Exhibition site, come to the cinema direct by cable from the television camera on the spot.

Included in the programme, also, are a number of documentary films specially produced for the Festival of 1951. Britain has led the world in the development of the documentary; and the films that are being shown throw further light on this country’s achievements in industry and the arts.

The projection booth of the cinema has been specially designed so that all the film and television operating equipment can be viewed by the public through a glass screen in the foyer of the building.