BBC man who popularised TV in Britain with coronation dies

As the man who oversaw coverage of the queen's coronation he was also responsible for a seminal moment in British broadcasting history.

London: Peter Dimmock, who played a seminal role in the spread of television in Britain by televising Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953, has died aged 94, the BBC said today.

Dimmock persuaded the necessary powers that for the first time, television cameras should be allowed into Westminster Abbey for the coronation service and thereby ensured an explosion in the popularity of television in Britain.

He also organised the British Broadcasting Corporation's coverage of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965, and was the inaugural presenter of many of the BBC's key sports programmes.

"Peter Dimmock was a true pioneer of broadcasting," said BBC director-general Tony Hall.

"As the man who oversaw coverage of the queen's coronation he was also responsible for a seminal moment in British broadcasting history."

Paul Fox, the former controller of the main BBC One TV channel, said: "It was Peter Dimmock who introduced the British public to television.

"He persuaded the people who mattered that the coronation service of the queen should be televised, thereby ensuring the arrival of television in this country.

"More than 20 million watched the coronation, the majority outside their homes. Within 12 months, television licences had doubled."

Many 60-somethings from the post-World War II baby boom generation recount how their first experience of television was crowding into the home of a rare neighbour who had purchased a TV set to watch the coronation.

"Winston Churchill was against it, several of his government were against it and I don't think the queen was even asked at that stage," Dimmock said.

"We performed every trick in the book because people wanted to see and deserved to see the coronation.

"There was a rule that no camera could be closer than 30 feet (9.15 metres) from the queen," he said.

A demonstration with a five centimetre lens satisfied the authorities that the queen would look "a mile away" on the screens, said Dimmock.

"What they didn't know was that I was going to use a 12-inch lens that would give the best close-up of the queen that there had ever been."

A former Royal Air Force flight lieutenant, Dimmock worked for the BBC for 31 years.

He joined as head of outside broadcasts in 1946, having cut his teeth in journalism as a racing reporter.

Hall said: "Peter's broadcasting mirrored the man: charming, warm, and authoritative. He is a much-admired figure who will be deeply missed."  

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