Web Page No 2450
19th February 2018
First Picture: Peter Dimmock
Second Picture: Peter Dimmock Football Album
Third Picture: Polly Elwes
For anyone who watched sports programmes on the BBC during the 1950s and 1960s Peter Dimmock was a familiar face as he was a sports broadcaster and senior television executive during the formative years of the television in the 1950s. He was the first host of the BBC's long-running Grandstand and of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
He was born in London on 10th December 1920 and attended Dulwich College and then a finishing establishment in France. At the outbreak of the war he joined the Royal Army Service Corps, a territorial unit. He was called up only two months later to serve in France during the retreat from Dunkirk. In March 1941 he was allowed to transfer into the Royal Air Force and qualified as a Pilot Officer. Then in 1943 he became a flying instructor on Tiger Moth and Miles Magister trainers with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. In February 1944 he was appointed as a staff officer at the Air Ministry. After he was demobilised he joined the Press Association and later the BBC in March 1946, around the time the television service was revived, as the head of the service's outside broadcasts.
He organised the 70 hours of outside coverage of the 1948 London Olympics and the following year he was the commentator on the University Boat Race. As head of outside broadcasts, Peter Dimmock was in charge of events such as the Queen's Coronation. But the broadcast had nearly not happened at all, for when the BBC first formally applied to the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, for permission to cover the Coronation on live television, the answer was a flat no. Churchill, then prime minister, asked why the public should not have as good a view as he would. At 32, it was Peter Dimmock who won the authorities over with a technical demonstration inside Westminster Abbey. He showed how unobtrusive coverage could be, with lighting at an acceptable level and the television cameras inside the Abbey virtually invisible.
He was also in charge of the first televised Grand National in 1960. He continued to be Head of Outside Broadcasts until leaving the BBC in 1972.
In a parallel career to radio, Dimmock launched a televisual coverage from April 1954 in front of the cameras as the host of a new sport news programme Sportsview (which became Sportsnight in 1968), with what would be a long-running Speedway series. In its first year the series featured Roger Bannister's record breaking four-minute mile run. The BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award also started in 1954 – with Peter Dimmock again taking the presenter role, which he was to continue for over a decade.
Having presented Sportsview for over four years, he fronted the first two shows of Grandstand in October 1958 before handing over to David Coleman. He presented his final Sportsview in 1964 and took up several other roles within the BBC until he left in 1977.
He married BBC continuity announcer and panellist Polly Elwes in March 1960; she died on 15th July 1987 from bone cancer.- They had three daughters, Amanda, Christina and Freya. In 1962 their home in Campden Hill Gardens, Kensington, west London, was featured in an article in Homes & Gardens magazine
Polly Elwes, was born Mary Freya Elwes on 29th February 1928 and she was a BBC Television in-vision announcer from 1957 to 1960. She had attended the Central School of Speech and Drama, which is now a part of the University of London. She was a reporter on the BBC news programme Tonight from 1959 to 1962. She was also a panellist on BBC TV's What's My Line? from 1959 to 1960 and Face the Music from 1971 to 1974. She was also a contributor to the BBC TV programme What's New? in 1962–63.
On 8th June 1990 Peter Dimmok married Christabel Rosamund Bagge. He died on 20th November 2015 at the age of 94.
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News and Views:
ON THIS DAY 19th February 1960-1965
On 19/02/1960 the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was not listed and the box office smash was Some Like It Hot. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was EMI's last coarse-groove 78 rpm record was issued
On 19/02/1961 the number one single was Are you Lonesome Tonight? - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 19/02/1962 the number one single was The Young Ones - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Unknown Sean Connery cast as 007 in Dr No
On 19/02/1963 the number one single was Diamonds - Jet Harris & Tony Meehan and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Liz Taylor films Cleopatra
On 19/02/1964 the number one single was Diane - Bachelors and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Steptoe & Son (BBC) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Malcolm X visits Cassius Clay's training camp
On 19/02/1965 the number one single was Tired of Waiting For You - The Kinks and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.