1938 in television

The year 1938 in television involved some significant events. Below is a list of television-related events during 1938.

List of years in television (table)
In radio


  • February 11 – BBC Television in England broadcasts the first ever television science-fiction, a 35-minute adaptation of a segment of the play R.U.R. by the Czech playwright Karel Čapek.
  • March 12 – First news bulletin aired by BBC television, in sound only. Previously, the service has broadcast British Movietone News cinema newsreels.
  • April 1 – The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race is first televised by the BBC.
  • April 19 – The first televised association football match, England vs. Scotland, shown by the BBC.
  • April 30 – The FA Cup Final is televised for the first time by the BBC.[1]
  • May 12 – W2XBS telecasts the 1937 film Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel. The staff projectionist accidentally plays the last reel out of order, ending the film 20 minutes early. NBC is unable to obtain the rights to first run movies for many years to follow.
  • May 14 – The first quiz show, Spelling Bee, is televised by the BBC.
  • May – Communicating Systems, Inc. of New York introduces the first electronic television sets available to the general public in the U.S. Model with 3-inch (76 mm) tube is $125–$150, 5-inch tube is $195–$250. Image only; sound apparatus is $15 more. Sets become available in department stores in June.
  • June – DuMont, an electronics company, introduces television sets in the US, receiving both pictures and sound. $650 for a 10 by 8-in. screen, $395 for 8¼ by 6½ in.
  • June 7 – An excerpt from Susan and God is the first Broadway play with its original cast to be broadcast on television. Station W2XBS uses exact replicas of the stage sets, with Nancy Coleman, Gertrude Lawrence and Paul McGrath appearing on the broadcast.[2]
  • June 24 – Test Match Cricket is broadcast for the first time by the BBC, with coverage of the second test of The Ashes series between England and the Australian team, live from Lord's Cricket Ground.
  • September 29 – License for W9XAT Minneapolis, Minnesota, granted in 1929, expires. Television does not resume in the area for a decade.
  • October 26 – The first televised ice hockey match, Harringay Racers vs. Streatham Redskins, shown by the BBC.
  • November – Due to freak atmospheric conditions, a BBC TV broadcast from London is received in New York City. A film camera was used to record the silent images which included the performance of a play, a cartoon, and other matter. A four-minute excerpt from this filmed recording survives and is, as of 2014, considered the only surviving example of a pre-war BBC television transmission.[3]
  • November 12
    • NBC's W2XBS broadcasts what is the first telecast of an unscheduled event, a fire on Wards Island near Manhattan.
    • John Logie Baird gives the world's first public demonstration of a colour television broadcast (previous demonstrations of colour television in the UK and US have been via closed circuit). The 120-line image is projected at the Dominion Theatre, London on a 12 by 9 feet (3.7 by 2.7 m) screen in front of an audience of 3,000 people.
  • December 12 – Start of daily television broadcasting in Moscow (USSR).
  • December 31 – 9,315 television sets are sold in England.

Television showsEdit

Series Debut Ended
Picture Page (UK) October 8, 1936 1939
1946 1952
Starlight (UK) November 3, 1936 1939
1946 1949
Theatre Parade (UK) 1936 1938
The Disorderly Room (UK) April 17, 1937 August 20, 1939
For The Children (UK) April 24, 1937 1939
July 7, 1946 1950
Sports Review (UK) April 30, 1937 1939
Telecrime (UK) August 10, 1938 July 25, 1939
October 22, 1946 November 25, 1946


  • August 10 – Telecrime (UK), the first television crime series, debuts on the BBC (1938–1939; 1946).
  • December 31 – the first television adaption of Romeo and Juliet is broadcast

Programs ending during 1938Edit

Date Show Debut
Unknown Theatre Parade (UK) 1936



  1. ^ "The FA Cup Final first televised".
  2. ^ Kane, Joseph N. (January 3, 1940). "Some Television 'Firsts'". Variety. p. 88. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  3. ^ Alexandra Palace Television Society. "BBC Television received in New York - November 1938". Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  4. ^ Lipton, Mike; Lynch, Jason (2005). "Peter Jennings: 1938-2005". People. Vol. 64, no. 8. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Bernstein, Adam. "Dawn Wells, wholesome castaway on 'Gilligan's Island,' dies of covid-19 at 82". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 2, 2021.