|Pantopuck the Puppet Man|
History (or Wikipedia) will usually tell you the BBC television service started in 1936, but my dad appeared back in 1932, in a transmission using the old Baird mechanical scanning disk technology.
Looking at the radio listings in The Times (see below, listed as A.R. Philpott), you may notice that the sound went out through one channel (261.3m), and the picture on a different wavelength (398.9m)!
I have no idea how many people in the UK had receivers at that time.
In an article in The Stage Nov 28 1957, Charles Trentham writes:
Pantopuck tells me that in August 1932 he wrote to the BBC Productions Department suggesting a try-out, enclosing photos. His puppets were auditioned in September and Producer Robb then asked if he could perform on October 19 1932, for 10 or 15 minutes.
They rehearsed in the morning and went on the screen at 11 p.m., other items being a lady palmist, a lightning sketch artist and a Babylonian dancer, from the old basement studio at Broadcasting House. The puppets had all been repainted black and white, with costumes to match, and Pantopuck made a special stage to suit the camera range: the usual lively movements of the puppets had to be slowed down somewhat. There was a large team of ‘sound effects’ men.
BBC begins two-year Baird-EMI competition, broadcasting from Alexandra Palace. It is hailed as the "world's first, public, regular, high-definition TV station".
February -- BBC declares EMI the victor in competition.
From then on the ‘modern’ electronic television service, with 343 scanning lines, etc – was adopted.
Early Television Museum – Mechanical Broadcasting
An early televisor (tiny image, the size of a postage stamp!)
Television History - The First 75 Years
Panto on Wikipedia
Some more details on Toby's old website