A two-hour programme was broadcast live from Calais in northern France to mark the centenary of the first message sent by submarine telegraph cable from England to France.

British viewers were able to watch the town of Calais "en fete", with a torchlight procession, dancing and a firework display all taking place in the Place de l'Hotel de Ville.

Presenters Richard Dimbleby and Alan Adair gave commentaries on the festivities and interviewed local personalities in front of the cameras.

Technical difficulties

The historic transmission, which has taken more than two months to plan, was made possible largely because of recent developments in portable television radio links.

In the past the working range for outside broadcast units was just 25 miles (40 km).

Five portable radio-link stations, designed to receive and send microwave signals, were set up temporarily along the 95-mile (153 km) route from Calais to London.

The first was installed at the top of the Hotel de Ville in Calais.

The microwave links work on wave-lengths of a few centimetres and concentrate the radio energy into sharp beams.

The idea is to direct as much energy as possible towards the next receiving station, which in this case was situated high above Dover at the Air Ministry Radar Station at Swingate.

There were initial teething problems when it was found that the strength of the signal fluctuated greatly according to the weather, the tide and shipping in the Channel.

Technical adjustments were required and the broadcast signals were eventually received by equipment situated at the top of London University's 200-ft (61m) Senate House, having passed through the towns of Lenham and Harvel in Kent.

From there the pictures were transmitted via cable to Alexandra Palace and onto Sutton Coldfield by the GPO radio-link from where they were beamed to the nation.

(Source: BBC.CO.UK)


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