Arqiva and Alexandra Palace to mark 80 years of television with mast illumination

Arqiva, the communications infrastructure and media services company, has announced a partnership with Alexandra Palace that will see it illuminate the mast which broadcast the first ever regular high definition public television transmission in 1936.

Picture shows Helen McKay performing at Alexandra Palace

Picture shows Helen McKay performing at Alexandra Palace

This November 2nd marks the 80-year anniversary of the day the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) launched the world’s first high definition television service and the occasion will be marked with the illumination of the Alexandra Palace mast.

From 1936 until the early 1950s, Alexandra Palace became the major production centre for BBC Television, broadcasting landmark programming and coverage of historical events including the 1953 coronation. Converting former dining rooms and unused spaces to create two experimental TV studios, The BBC Studios became known globally as ‘the birthplace of television’.

“We feel incredibly privileged to be able to support the 80th anniversary celebrations at Alexandra Palace, and help deliver what will be an amazing public spectacle befitting of this historic location.

“When you look back on all the incredible things that the television industry has achieved – from the broadcasting of the coronation to the introduction of colour TV – it’s important to acknowledge just how much of the work that was done inside the Alexandra Palace studios all those years ago.

“With the mast standing at 65.5 metres high and continuing to provide TV and radio services to the surrounding area, there’s no doubt its illumination will be the perfect tribute.”

“The BBC led the world with the development of television, and the first broadcasts made at Alexandra Palace exemplify a culmination of collaborative invention, pioneered by John Logie Baird, but ultimately carried forward by the Marconi-EMI system.

“It is fitting that we are able to work with Arqiva to the light the iconic mast as part of our celebration of this ground breaking moment in broadcasting history, in the very spaces in which the first opening night of television actually happened.”

Alongside the mast illumination, Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust (APPCT) is marking the anniversary by inviting the public to an evening of talks and comedy in the Palace Suite, with the critically acclaimed comedy troupe ‘Do Not Adjust Your Stage’ as the lead attraction.

Ticket proceeds will be going towards the restoration of the Alexandra Palace studios as a visitor centre and museum capturing the history of television broadcasting in the UK. The Trust has committed to raising £1 million to complete the project, and restore and open the historic studios to the public for the first time in 2018. 

For more information about and ticket purchases for the 80th anniversary event, please visit:

Further details on the Palace’s fundraising and restoration efforts can also be found here:


Notes to Editors

About Arqiva:

Arqiva is a leading UK communications infrastructure and media services provider dedicated to connecting people wherever they are through the delivery of TV, radio, mobile, WiFi and the Internet of Things (IoT). We are an independent provider of telecom towers, with over 8,000 sites across Great Britain, and are also the only supplier of national terrestrial television and radio broadcasting services in the UK. Our advanced networks support the exponential growth of connected devices and the ever-increasing demand for data from smartphones to tablets, connected TVs, smart meters, cars and medical devices.

Customers include major UK and international broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, Sky Plc., Turner Broadcasting, the independent radio groups, major telco providers – including the UK's four mobile network operators – and retail, leisure, energy and water companies.

About Alexandra Palace:

History and Heritage – Alexandra Park opened in 1863 as a pioneering Victorian leisure Park. The original 220 acres of parkland purchased from the Tottenham Wood Farm and was designed by Alexandra McKenzie to provide botanical and wildlife lovers with beautiful and interesting green spaces for outdoor exploration. The Park was also intended to be a centre for education and entertainment.

Alexandra Palace is one of London and the UK’s most iconic buildings. Built as the People’s Palace in 1873, the remarkable seven-acre Grade II listed historic entertainment destination is surrounded by 196 acres of North London parkland and offers unprecedented views of the city.

The Palace and Park were created in the enterprising Victorian era to provide the people of North London with a magnificent cultural and recreational centre. Since then, Alexandra Palace has become globally recognised as the birthplace of the world’s first high-definition television broadcast and has been home to the BBC Television Service, a horse racing track, cricket, football club and ice rink – as well as staging many legendary rock and pop concerts.

Alexandra Park and Palace Today – Alexandra Park and Palace maintains its original enterprising spirit by continuing to host an eclectic mix of live music, sport, cultural, leisure and corporate events.  Combined with 196 acres of Park open all year, we are able to host an array of outdoor activity and an extensive amount of high profile events. Alexandra Palace is the number one visitor destination in North London.

East Wing Restoration Project – In March 2015 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £18.6million of funding towards the East Wing restoration project, which focusses on restoring the Palace’s most significant historic spaces to their former glory and securing the Palace‘s future as one of London’s leading heritage destinations.

Under the plans, the eastern end of the Palace, comprising the BBC Studios and the Victorian Theatre will be repaired and refurbished, together with the glazed East Court in which a new and more welcoming public entrance hall will be created.

The award of £18.6million from the HLF contributes towards the total project cost of £26.7m, with Haringey Council having pledged £6.8m; the Charitable Trust is working hard to raise the rest so that the project can go ahead as planned – to find out how you can get involved and support the project please visit