Dr Donald McLean

Honorary Appointment

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Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies

Profile

Investigations into the Emergence of British Television 1926-1936

PhD by Published Works
 
Supervisors: Dr Jamie Medhurst, Dr Glen Creeber
 
The scope of the thesis encompasses new discoveries from the period of the emergence of British television between 1926 and 1936. Most prominent has been the author’s analysis and presentation of early 30-line television material as a new resource for study, brought to light by the author’s unique and bespoke restoration. An example can be seen on YouTube 

Extending the techniques from this earlier work, the analysis of the surviving artefacts of John Logie Baird ‘first’ demonstration of television in 1926 clarified not only the functions of the equipment but also the circumstances and validity of the event.
Highlighting limitations in existing histories, the thesis uses a new approach that encompasses the multiple disciplines involved in or having a stake in the emergence of television. For instance, by situating the principal actors within a business and commercial footing, whilst including socio-political and technical factors, issues of controversy associated with the players can be more easily explained. 

The approach has been applied to the 1936 competition for the BBC’s television system as a case study. The result is arguably a more balanced appraisal than expressed elsewhere that mandates the inclusion of developments in Germany and the USA, thereby suppressing the nationalistic bias in existing histories. In the course of research, a new discovery was made settling a persistent controversy surrounding the inter-relationship between EMI and RCA and provides evidence for a strong influence of US system architecture for the BBC’s Television Service.