David Southwood

Chief of Outside Broadcasts

Adaptability is an essential quality for all of us who work in Outside Broadcasts, not only in regard to people and places, but also to the different techniques needed to meet the requirements of the wide range of subjects we cover, from church services to sporting events and varied entertainments.

This range of activity presents problems not only for me and my assistant Andy Gullen, who arrange, prepare and direct the programmes, but to the engineers of our Mobile Division, who have to overcome many problems to bring the high definition pictures and sound back to the transmitters, often against adverse conditions of both climate and terrain. Working together, we have travelled a combined total of one and a half million miles on ABC Outside Broadcasts since we presented the Company’s first live transmission from Coventry on a freezing, snowy day nearly five years ago.

Since then we have tackled pretty well every type of Outside Broadcast. We have introduced new techniques into the coverage of Church Services and Horse Racing. We have pioneered the televising of Wrestling, Motor-cycle Scramble Races and Five-a-side Indoor Football. We have created new programmes like Holiday Town Parade and The Other Man’s Farm. We have televised for the first time ever from parts of Britain like the Isle of Man, the East and North Wales Coasts and even large inland towns which had never previously been visited by a TV organisation.

A great deal has been done but a great deal remains to challenge us. We will not rest on our past achievements but will go on searching for new material and new methods to improve our contribution to what is now as much a part of everyday life as the air itself. And if one day you hear that man has conquered space, look up into the sky — and don’t be surprised if you see a string of shapes looking suspiciously like our OB vans. That will be us on our way to cover the first landing on the moon!

Summer at the seaside

Summer time at ABC means Holiday Town Parade. This popular annual show takes David Southwood and his Outside Broadcast team every summer round the seaside resorts on the East and West coasts of the North and Midlands, building up a fund of local goodwill through the interest aroused by its contests for the TV Bathing Beauty Queen, the TV Fashion Queen and the TV Adonis of Great Britain.

Errol Flynn, Boris Karloff and John Gregson have helped to crown the Beauty Queen, while Pierre Balmain and Norman Hartnell are among those who have bestowed the Fashion accolade.

McDonald Hobley is the programme’s host, and Joe Loss and his Orchestra were a popular backbone of the show until they were claimed by the Hammersmith Palais

Bedford Studios

▼ Summer for ABC’s Drama Department meant Armchair Mystery Theatre, whose resident host was one of Britain’s busiest actors, Donal Pleasence, taking time off to make his introduction and to star in one of the plays, Machinal, between performances of Harold Pinter’s stage success, The Caretaker

John Timbers

Diana Wynyard gave a remarkable performance as a paralysed woman, using only her eyes and recorded thoughts, in the opening play, Eye Witness, specially written by Leslie Sands and directed by Charles Jarrott

John Timbers

John Gregson was another star visitor to the series, mocking the traditional Secret Service man in Flight from Treason, a spy thriller by schoolmaster James Mitchell, directed by Dennis Vance

1960 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM