First televised badminton

Badminton made its debut on television in 1948. Starting at 8.30 and lasting half an hour it was described in the TV listings as a visit to the Seymour Hall, London W.1 to see matches between international and county players. This is the first time Badminton has been televised and viewers see the speed and energy required for the game. The players include: D.C. Hume, G.J. Fish, N.B. Radford and H.J. Wingfield, Mrs H.S. Uber, Miss Q.M. Allen, Miss A. Blathwayt and Mrs V. E. Duringer.   Commentary by K.G. Livingstone.

R.S.L. used the occasion to promote their shuttles in an advert in Badminton Gazette, February 1948 claiming History in the Making, First B.B.C. Television of Badminton – On the 4th February the B.B.C. will be televising Badminton for the first time in history, the event being the exhibition matches arranged by the Middlesex County Badminton Association at the Seymour Hall, St. Marylebone, W.I., when a number of the best known stars will be playing. R.S.L. Shuttles will be used.

A detailed report appeared in Badminton Gazette, March 1948 and is copied here as it seems a pity to detract from that colourful description of the event.

We understand that the B.B.C. was highly satisfied with this first experiment. But it caused some rather startling innovations to be introduced into the game which we sincerely trust will not take on. They concerned the accoutrements of the different players. In order to comply with a request from the television authorities all the six players who were to be viewed on the screen wore very distinctive garb. Thus, while N.B. Radford appeared in spotless white, we saw his opponent , H.J. Wingfield, running around in brown trousers and a shirt which might have belonged to any of Mussolini’s fascist gang.

Donald Hume

Donald Hume in traditional badminton whites and all england winners blazer

This was mild, however, in comparison to the mixed match which followed between D.C. Hume and Mrs. Uber against G.J.Fish and Miss Q.M. Allen. In grey flannels and a grey-blue shirt, Hume looked ready for the enjoyment of an afternoon’s punting on the river, while Fish, in grey trousers and a heavy dark blue sweater, was the very picture of a heavyweight boxer going for a training run to get his weight down. Brightness, however, was well introduced by the ladies. We saw Mrs Uber in a pink blouse, black skirt and a bright red belt, and Miss Allen in a yellow blouse over a sea-green skirt.

Fish was the undoubted success of the evening, all of the several hundreds present thoroughly enjoying his close-quarter net play in which he so often added the comedian’s touch of not seeming to know what it was all about anyway, and yet returning the shuttle with perfect drops and close-drops so continually that his opponents conceded as many points as not by laughter sapping their energies.

The April Badminton Gazette 1948 reported that for the first time the final day’s play at the All England Championships was filmed, more than one newsreel photographer being present. The results of their labour, difficult though they were, being unaided by any additional lighting other than that provided for play, and the fog which unfortunately penetrated through the doors of the Arena at Harringay, were really most interesting. The matches featured in the films which the editor saw were the men’s singles and the ladies’ doubles.