Our World (TV special)
|Genre||Satellite TV special|
|Created by||Aubrey Singer|
|Country of origin||Various|
|Running time||2.5 hours|
|Picture format||B/W 4:3 SD|
|Original release||25 June 1967|
Our World was the first live, international, satellite television production, which was broadcast on 25 June 1967. Creative artists, including the Beatles, opera singer Maria Callas, and painter Pablo Picasso – representing nineteen nations – were invited to perform or appear in separate segments featuring their respective countries. The two-and-a-half-hour event had the largest television audience ever up to that date: an estimated 400 to 700 million people around the globe watched the broadcast. Today, it is most famous for the segment from the United Kingdom starring the Beatles. They performed their song "All You Need Is Love" for the first time to close the broadcast.
The project was conceived by BBC producer Aubrey Singer. It was transferred to the European Broadcasting Union, but the master control room for the broadcast was still at the BBC in London. The satellites used were Intelsat I (known as "Early Bird"), Intelsat 2-2 ("Lani Bird"), Intelsat 2–3 ("Canary Bird"), and NASA's ATS-1.
It took ten months to bring everything together. One hitch was the sudden pull-out of the Eastern Bloc countries headed by the Soviet Union in the week leading up to the broadcast. Apparently it was a protest at the Western nations' response to the Six-Day War.
The ground rules included that no politicians or heads of state could participate in the broadcast. In addition, everything had to be "live", so no use of videotape or film was permitted. Ten thousand technicians, producers and interpreters took part in the broadcast. Each country had its own announcers, due to language issues, and interpreters voiced over the original sound when not in a country's native language. Fourteen countries participated in the production, which was transmitted to 24 countries, with an estimated audience of between 400 and 700 million people.
Canada's CBC Television had Marshall McLuhan being interviewed in a Toronto television control room. At 7:17 pm GMT, the show switched to the United States' segment about the Glassboro, New Jersey conference between American president Lyndon Johnson and Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin; since Our World insisted that no politicians be shown, only the house where the conference was being held was televised. National Educational Television's (NET) Dick McCutcheon ended up talking about the impact of the new television technology on a global scale.
The show switched back to Canada at 7:18 pm GMT. Segments that were beamed worldwide were from a Ghost Lake, Alberta ranch, showing a rancher, and his cutting horse, cutting out a herd of cattle. The last Canadian segment was from Kitsilano Beach, located in Vancouver's Point Grey district at 7:19 pm GMT.
The equator was crossed for the first time in the program when it switched to the Australian contributions, which was at 5:22 a.m. Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). This was the most technically complicated point in the broadcast, as both the Japanese and Australian satellite ground stations had to reverse their actions: Tokyo had to go from transmit mode to receive mode, while Melbourne had to switch from receive to transmit mode. The first segment dealt with trams leaving the South Melbourne tram depot with Australian Broadcasting Commission's Brian King explaining that sunrise was many hours away as it was winter there. Two scientific segments, later on in the broadcast, were also included; one, presented from Canberra by the ABC's Eric Hunter showed experiments being carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to extend the frequency of cereal crop cycles, while the second dealt with the Parkes Observatory tracking a deep space object.
The Beatles' sequence
The broadcast took place at the height of the Vietnam War. The Beatles were asked to write a song with a positive message. At 8:54 GMT the Beatles topped the event with their debut performance of "All You Need Is Love". The Beatles invited many of their friends to the event to create a festive atmosphere and to join in on the song's chorus. Among the friends were members of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Moon and Graham Nash.
Although the program was originally recorded and transmitted in black-and-white, for its use in the 1995 TV special The Beatles Anthology, the Beatles' performance on the 1967 program was colourised, using colour photographs taken at the event as a reference. The sequence opens in its original monochromatic format and rapidly morphs into full colour, conveying the brightly coloured flower power and psychedelic-style clothing worn by the Beatles and their guests that was popular during what was subsequently dubbed the "Summer of Love".
In popular culture
In the novel The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, the global media empire run by Hiram Patterson is called OurWorld, the name chosen after the character saw the program as a child and was inspired to change the world.
References and notes
- Burke, Stanley (25 June 1967). "Our World – Five continents linked via satellite". CBC Archives. Toronto: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2007.
- Huntington, Tom. "The Whole World's Watching". Air and Space Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. 10 (April/May 1996). Archived from the original on 25 February 1999. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- Harrington, Richard (24 November 2002). "His Musical Notes Have Become TV Landmarks". The Washington Post. p. Y06. Archived from the original on 21 April 2004. Retrieved 4 June 2007.
- "The Beatles on Our World: All You Need Is Love". The Beatles Bible. Cardiff, Wales, UK. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- "1967 – Our World – the first live, international, satellite television production". Internet History Library. 4 April 2012. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- McKellar, Colin. "Cooby Creek – Our World". A Tribute to Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station. Australia. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- Flowers, Brian (4 July 2007). "The Technical History of Eurovision" (PDF). EBU Technical Review. European Broadcasting Union. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2007.
- Rowsthorn, Peter (4 May 2007). "Moment in Time Episode 12: First Satellite Broadcast". Can We Help?. Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2007.
- Sheppard, John (3 June 1987). "It was 20 Years Ago Today". Granada TV. Retrieved 4 June 2007. Granada TV documentary shows the Beatles' Our World broadcast segment.
- Sella, Tom (1996). "Anthology Home Video". Beatles Reference Library. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
Laserdisc 7, Side 1, Chapter 1
- Clarke, Arthur C.; Baxter, Stephen (2001-01-15). The Light of Other Days. Tor Books. p. 15. ISBN 0-312-87199-6.