TV Cream

Bric-a-Brac: S is for...


A giant white ‘SB’ in a black circle in Radio Times was the thing to look for: it meant it was time to start planning how best to re-arrange your front room to appreciate a perennial of the pre-Nicam age. The Old Grey Whistle Test was the first to try a simulcast, inviting viewers to defy common sense by switching on their radio at the same time as the TV. Sight and Sound in Concert followed, bringing many a ropey turn from a provincial corn exchange to serenade Radio One and BBC2 audiences simultaneously. Each time, Radio Times painstakingly guided your bewildered dad through the business of properly arranging breezeblock-size speakers on the correct sides of the telly – or, in the case of BBC in Quad in 1974, ask viewers to sit with their TV inside a ring of four speakers, two each tuned to Radio Two AND Radio Three. More conventional simulcasting found a home on Top of the Pops, which tested the water on its one-thousandth show in 1983 (a dinner jacketed-Richard Skinner greeting viewers from the Radio One studios) then from September 1988 did it every Thursday until 1991, when the Beeb went properly stereo and the age of the true simulcast was over.



  1. Richard Davies

    August 10, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Queen managed to get one of their 1986 concerts simulcasts by Channel 4 & lots of local radio stations, which was a logitical labour of love.

    I remember the Top Of The Pops synching with Radio 1. Didn’t it start to premote Radio 1 going onto FM?

    Omnibus had a radio night sometime in the 1990s.

    With digital TV & radio it’s very hard to keep things in sync.

  2. johnnyboy

    January 19, 2011 at 2:19 am

    indeed, FM radio is live, but Freeview has to be encoded then decoded which takes time; example: if you have a town where competing pubs have one showing live Sky Sports in HD and one just showing on normal Sky (or even worse, on BBC analogue) there are huge time delays, say BBC analogue to SKY HD @ 4 seconds. I’m sure the Beeb dont do the time signals on BBC R4 on digital radio as they are out by @ 1 sec, but that might have changed by now.

  3. John Harvey

    April 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Watched/ listened to “Tommy” about 1981/82. It was actually very good.

  4. Will M

    September 20, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Were signals sync’d in the analogue era?

    The only time I remember the world ‘simulcast’ was the episode of WWF Raw where Vince McMahon announced that he had bought WCW, and was simulcasting on both live shows.

    I remember when ITV had the F1 rights, my dad performing an unofficial simulcast, switching between the ITV and Eurosport TV feeds to avoid adverts, while the radio had the commentary (5live?) but even then everything wasn’t in sync, mostly because Eurosport was via satellite receiver.

  5. Droogie

    December 24, 2020 at 6:00 am

    I remember watching a bizarre rock opera as a kid in the late 70’s called Curriculee Curricula that was shown on BBC2 whilst broadcast in stereo on Radio 4. It starred Chris “‘Out Of Time” Farlowe, Sonja Kristina from Curved Air, with Magnus Magnusson as the narrator (!) and a cameo by Patrick Moore as himself. I thought someone may have uploaded this to YouTube for its prog rock soundtrack, but it’s too obscure even for that.

  6. Richardpd

    December 24, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    A Cliff Richard Concert in the 1970s was a rare Quad simulcast IIRC.

  7. Glenn Aylett

    December 24, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Quadrophonic sound was supposed to be the next big thing in the seventies, but the cost of the equipment and improvements to stereo sound meant it never took off. I do recall a couple of In Concert broadcasts being done in quadrophony in 1977, but not sure who the bands would have been, although the more progressive side of rock was keen to embrace it.

  8. Richardpd

    December 24, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    Quadrophonic seemed to suffer from a lack of standardisation on vinyl, with record labels using a number of different systems.

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