Investigations into the Emergence of British Television 1926-1936

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This Critical Review discusses the significance of the author’s published works and their impact on the history of the emergence of British television between 1926 and 1936. Although events in television within this period have since been well-documented, the related debates have tended to be specialist in scope and restricted to technology-centric or institution-centric viewpoints.

Within this period of complex, rapid technological change, the author’s published works introduce the principle of embracing multiple disciplines for comparative analysis. The author’s application of that principle opens up long-established views for further debate and provides a re-assessment of early British television within a broader context. The rewards of this approach are a view of events that not only avoids nationalistic bias and restrictions of a single institutional viewpoint, but also tackles the complex inter-dependencies of technology, of service provision and of content creation.

These published works draw attention to the revolutionary improvements that enabled the BBC’s 1936 service and the re-definition of television, yet also emphasise the significance of the previous television broadcast services. The most important innovation within these works has been the author’s discovery and in-depth study of artefacts from that earlier period. His recovery, analysis and presentation of video recordings of historic early television from 1927-1935 is original and remains unique. It has had a significant impact on the field of Media Archaeology, where Ernst considers the book Restoring Baird’s Image as a ‘seminal’ work and the overall restoration project ‘a brilliant case of “Digital Humanities” research’ (Appendix 2). The author’s curation of content from the period 1927-1935 enhances our understanding of a time where previously no direct television footage was thought to exist.

The author extends his forensic-level investigative ‘hands-on’ techniques from this recovery to the analysis of the surviving artefacts from the time of John Logie Baird’s claimed first demonstration of television in 1926. The results clarify not only the functions of the equipment but also the circumstances and validity of the event, and hence its true place in the history of television.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorJamie Medhurst (Supervisor) & Glen Creeber (Supervisor)


  • television
  • history
  • Media Archaeology
  • broadcasting
  • video recording
  • BBC
  • Post Office
  • Baird
  • Phonovision
  • Marconi
  • EMI

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