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DIRECT TELEVISION from ALEXANDRA PALACE

by Arthur Dungate

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The 1939 Closedown

Are they wrong?

When the Second World War was imminent in 1939 the Government decided that television would have to close down since (together with other reasons) the only tv transmitter at Alexandra Palace would form a guidance to enemy aircraft.

Books which have been written about television history relate the story that the last words spoken on the Television Service just before it closed at noon on Friday 1st September 1939 were from Mickey Mouse. Even Edward Pawley in his excellent book BBC Engineering 1922-1972 says: "The last words broadcast before the break of 6¾ years were from Mickey Mouse: ‘I tink I go home’".

I have not found any Mickey Mouse cartoon with those words in it. However, at the end of the 1933 black & white Disney cartoon Mickey's Gala Premier a cartoon character depicting Greta Garbo says to Mickey "You're vonderful, vonderful, marvellous. I tink I keess you now".

In the early days of BBC Television, just as after the war, colour film transmission was poor from the Mechau/Emitron telecine and so only black & white films would have been used, thus eliminating any of the later colour cartoons (which would have been 35mm Technicolor prints).

Further, in some of the material of this period from the BBC is an excerpt from the end of Mickey's Gala Premier....

It is my contention that this is what actually happened instead of the myth as perpetrated by the various history books. Unless you know differently....

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