30 October

The first star of reality television requires a bribe to appear on screen.

October 30, 2009 · 2 min read

Fifteen-year-old office boy William Taynton became the first person to appear on television on this day on 1925, when John Logie Baird successfully transmitted his image from one room to another.

‘I was vastly excited and ran downstairs to obtain a living object. The first person to appear was the office boy from the floor below, a youth named William Taynton, and he, rather reluctantly, consented to subject himself to the experiment.

‘I placed him in front of the transmitter and went into the next room to see what the screen would show. The screen was completely blank, and no effort of tuning would produce any result.

‘Puzzled, and very disappointed, I went back to the transmitter, and there the cause of the failure became at once evident. The boy, scared by the intense white light, had backed away from the transmitter. In the excitement of the moment I gave him half a crown, and this time he kept his head in the right position. Going again into the next room I saw his head on the screen quite clearly.

‘It is curious to consider that the first person in the world to be seen by television should have required a bribe to accept that distinction!’


Review – Asylum for Sale: profit and protest in the migration industry

Siobhán McGuirk and Adienne Pine's edited volume is a powerful indictment of the modern migration complex writes Nico Vaccari

End SARS and Fanon’s mission

The uprisings against police brutality that swept across Nigeria must be contextualised within the country’s colonial history, argues Kehinde Alonge

In the shadow of student rent strikes

Outside the media fanfare surrounding the recent wave of university-based militancy, one community's fight against developers goes on. Robert Firth reports


The conspiracy election

Conspiracy theories aren’t the preserve of a minority – they lie at the heart of US politics, argues Thomas Konda

Review – National Theatre Connections 2020: Plays for young people

From climate change to the perils of the information era, the collection powerfully explores the struggles facing contemporary teenagers, writes Jordana Belaiche

The convivial, practical road to socialism: a tribute to Leo Panitch

Hilary Wainwright remembers friend and mentor to many, Leo Panitch, who died on December 19, 2020