Celebrating the monarchy, the BBC and the rise of British TV with Her Majesty’s Coronation.
BBC 100 Queen Elizabeth: the Coronation was screened as part of the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival 2022 but this was written entirely by Cinamore.
Looking into the history of the boom of British TV, it is without question the huge impact Her Majesty’s Coronation had on making TV what it is today.
Originally narrated by Richard Dimbleby, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II live broadcast from Alexandra Palace saw a huge surge of households purchasing television sets, with houses opening their doors to neighbours up and down the country to watch the spectacle of the young 26-year-old ascend the throne.
As the BBC reaches its centennial year, Her Majesty becomes the eldest living monarch in Britain’s history celebrating her Diamond Jubilee in 2022 after 70 years on the throne, as such audiences are invited to look back at the monumental day and reflect on the changes that led to today’s world.
When originally aired, the show became the most-watched programme of its time, as 10.4 million people watched the Coronation in their homes, and 1.5 million watched it in public places like pubs and cinemas.
Worldwide the Coronation had a similar impact, with 85 million people watching recordings of the highlights in the United States, while in countries across Europe all 11 hours of coverage were transmitted.
Reception to the broadcasts was overwhelmingly positive, so with competition from ITV only 3 years away, the BBC established an early lead as the trusted and reliable broadcaster of national events.
The original broadcast of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, transmitted live on 2 June 1953, was expected to achieve great heights, though the BBC could not foresee such huge demand for the monumental event as 20 million people watched the Coronation on television, outnumbering the radio audience for the first time.
Witnessing the pageantry of the ceremony reflects as much on the culture of Britain at the time, but also how privilege and society have shifted drastically since the early 50s.
Comparably, the idea of celebrating the difference between royalty and the working people showcases the generational differences that established the austerity and financial drift between classes.
Picked as part of the BFI Gamechangers curated playlist of 100 pivotal moments that changed and impacted TV, the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 was described by BFI Archive Programmer Dick Fiddy as “a defining moment in the history of broadcasting” and it is unquestionable how much this live broadcast has moulded and shaped television into what we know today.
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