Annual Lectures


5 Dec 1935, Royal Institution, John Logie Baird 'The Kerr Cell and its use in Television'
19 May 1937, Royal Institution, Prof J.T. MacGregor Morris 'The History and development of the Cathode Ray Tube'
21 Mar 1938, Institute of Electrical Engineers, Leonard Levy and Donald D. West 'Luminescence and its application to Television'
19 Apr 1939, Institute of Electrical Engineers, L.M. Myers 'Electron Optics'


Ambrose Fleming, the son of a Congregational minister, was born in Lancaster. He subsidised his education by working as a stock-broker, obtaining a first in his B.Sc from University College.

He entered St John's College, Cambridge gaining further awards while working in the Cavendish Laboratory and attending the lectures of James Maxwell Clerk. He later became a Fellow of St John's and in 1885 he was made Professor at University College where he had a high reputation as a lecturer. His flair for linking together the mathematical bases of little-understood phenonema with their practical effects drew many eminent engineers to his lectures.

During his distinguished career, Fleming contributed over a hundred papers to the 'Proceedings' of learned societies.

In 1882 Fleming became electrician to the Edison Light Company, for whom he made the first direct reading potentiometer, set to read current and voltage in amperes and volts. However, he is most widely known for the development of the Thermionic Valve, a device by which radio signals could be detected, and could also measure their intensity. He obtained his first patent for this in1904.

His paper 'On the Conversion of Electric Oscillations into Continuous Currents by means of a Vacuum Valve' was read to the Royal Society in 1905, and gives the earliest scientific account of the Fleming Valve.

Fleming was the founder of radio communication, which was to have revolutionary repercussions on the next generation of engineers. He strongly supported John Logie Baird in his pioneering work, and he became a founder member of the Television Society in 1927 at the age of seventy-seven. It is to his credit that he remained adaptable to the rapidly changing scientific environment. A quality recognised by the Council of the Society when he was invited to become President in 1928. A post he held up to his death in 1945.

The Fleming Memorial Lectures were instituted in 1945 to commemorate his death. A list of these annual lectures follows.

3 Apr 1946, J.T. MacGregor-Morris 'Sir Ambrose Fleming'
30 Apr 1947, Dr J.A. Crowther 'The Dawn of the Electronic Age'
29 Sept 1948, Arthur Blok 'Some personal recollections of Sir Ambrose Fleming'
21 Oct 1949, J.T. Mould 'The Scientist and the Law'
20 Mar 1952, H.E.M. Barlow 'Guided Waves' (Held at UCL)
10 and 24 Feb 1954, G.G. Gouriet 'Colour Television'
19 Jan 1955, Prof W.D. Wright 'The Perception of Colour'
19 Jan 1956, Prof J.D. McGee 'Non-entertainment aspects of Television'
24 Jan 1957, H.G. Jenkins 'Luminescence'
23 Jan 1958, T.R. Scott 'Crystal Valves'
22 Jan 1959, G.H. Cook 'Modern Optics in Relation to Television'
21 Jan 1960, Prof R. King, 'Crystal Imperfections'
26 Jan 1961, Prof D.M. McKay 'Behind the Eye'
11 Jan 1962, Prof Colin Cherry 'Bandwidth compression of Television'
17 Jan 1963, Prof J.D.E. Ingram 'Television Signals - from Transmission to Receiver'
31 Oct 1964, Prof J.D. McGee 'Television in Space Research'
29 Apr 1965, R.D.A. Maurice 'The Specification of an Adequate Television Signal'
21 Apr 1966, Prof W.D. Wright 'The Implications for Television of Modern Thinking on the Visual Process'
21 Apr 1967, Dr R.W.G. Hunt 'The Strange Journey from Retina to Brain'
18 Apr 1968, A.V. Lord 'Digital Methods in Television'
17 Apr 1969, Prof Walter Perry 'The Open University'
23 Apr 1970, F.H. Steele 'The Impact of Automation on Television Transmission'
29 Apr 1971, Huw Wheldon 'Perspectives in Television'
13 Apr 1972 Dr G.B. Townsend 'A Television Service fit for Artists'
12 Apr 1973, Denis Forman 'TV: The Mysteries of the Organism'
18 Apr 1974, C.B.B. Wood 'The Status of British Broadcasting'
10 Apr 1975, Norman Collins 'Television: Parliament and the People'
22 Apr 1976, Lady Plowden 'How Can Television Help Society?'
28 Apr 1977, Lord Annan 'Lord Annan answers his Critics'
13 Apr 1978, Lord Windlesham 'Television in a Free Society'
5 Apr 1979, Lord Briggs 'The Open University: The First Ten Years'
9 Apr 1980, Sir Michael Swann 'Financing the Concept of Public Service Broadcasting'
2 Apr 1981, Shaun Sutton 'The Largest Theatre in the World'
15 Apr 1982, Paul Fox 'The Competitive Face of British Television'
20 Apr 1983, Phil Sidey 'Television at the End of its Tether'
18 Apr 1984, Peter Laister 'The Technology of Entertainment, its opportunities and risks'
10 Apr 1985, Rt Hon Lord Thomson of Montifieth 'Thirty Years of Independent Broadcasting'
9 Apr 1986, Alasdair Milne 'The Messenger and the Message'
8 Apr 1987, Albert Scharf 'The Future of Public Service Broadcasting'
6 Apr 1988, John Birt 'Decent Media'
5 Apr 1989, Richard Attenborough 'Pandora's Box? Will the Nineties bring forth Feast or Famine?'
4 Apr 1990, Howard Stringer 'Free Market Fairytales and the Pursuit of Quality Television'
4 Apr 1991, Kenji Aoki 'Direct Broadcasting, Satellite, HDTV and the Software Innovation'
2 Apr 1992, George Russell 'British Television, Act, Business or Shambles?'
30 Mar 1993, John Birt 'The BBC' (Banqueting House)
19 Apr 1994, Michael Green 'Broadcasting and Business: A Creative Partnership'
13 May 1995, Tom Gutteridge '57 Channels and Nothing On; the Future of British Production'
11 Apr 1996, Bruce Bond ‘The Big Idea’
11 June 1997, Sir Christopher Bland, ‘The BBC: Public Service Past, Public Service Future’ (BAFTA)
1 June 1998, Trevor Phillips, ‘Are there colour bars in a digital universe?’ (BAFTA)
17 June 1999, Barclay Knapp, ‘Walking on the Wild Side’ (BAFTA)
10 May 2000, Michael Jackson ‘From Southfork to South Park’
10 May 2001, Rupert Gavin ‘The Eureka State: the challenges facing British creativity in a digital’
5 March 2002, Patricia Hodgson ‘Freedom to Flourish: The Future of Communications’
11 Oct 2004, Lord Currie ‘Television and the Digital Future’
25 April 2006, Mark Thompson ‘Creative futures – The BBC’s programmes and content in an on-demand World’
1 Nov 2007, Sir Michael Lyons ‘What is the BBC For?’
25 June 2008, Samir Shah 'Equal Opportunity-itis: a suitable case for treatment'.
11 November 2010, Stewart Purvis - 'Calling Time on Analogue Regulation - an agenda for the next Communications Act'.
6 July 2011, Lord Patten ‘The BBC – Old Values, new technologies’




Shoenberg was born in Pinsk, in North West Russia. He graduated in engineering at Kiev University. From 1905-14 Shoenberg was Chief engineer of Marconi, the Russian Wireless and Telegraph Company in St Petersburg. Here he was responnsible for the design and installation of the earliest radio stations in Russia. In July 1914 he emigrated with his family to Britain where he joined the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company.

In 1928 he joined the Columbia Graphaphone Company as manager of the Patents Department. It was not long before Alan Dower Blumlein was also recruited to the Company, and under Shoenberg's leadership, Blumlein developed an electrical recording system.

During the recession Columbia merged with HMV to form EMI, and Shoenberg became director of the Research and Patents department. In 1931 attention focussed on television, and the Company aimed at developing an effective cathode-ray-tube picture receiver. They realised that the mechanical methods employed by Baird were limiting, but as yet the physical basis for electronic television did not exist.

Shoenberg, with Blumlein leading the research team, persuaded the Board of EMI to invest large sums of money into the research. The problem was how to generate television signals, and with RCA across the Atlantic focussing on the same subject it was a race against time to be first with each patent. McGee and Tedham were the first to develop the first TV camera pick-up tube for EMI, then Vladimir Zworykin, for RCA developed the Iconoscope in 1933. Shoenberg then appointed J.D. McGee to lead the team that were to develop the Emitron tube. The first television signals produced by the tube were very crude and inferior to the mechanical system, but undaunted Shoenberg invested more staff and resources in the project, and the tube soon enabled the Company to achieve higher definition pictures than could be obtained with the mechanical method In 1936 the Marconi-EMI TV station for the BBC was established at Alexandra Palace and in 1937 they developed EMI's Super-Emitron camera, and mobile broadcast equipment which was used to televise Coronation Day in 1937.

The design and construction of the Marconi-EMI system was spearheaded by Shoenberg, without his driving enthusiasm and scientific vision the remarkable achievements would not have taken place. He was knighted for his services in 1962, a year before he died.

The Shoenberg Memorial Lectures were inaugurated in 1970 as a tribute to the man who is regarded as "the father of high definition television". They are as follows;

4 Feb 1971, Prof J.D. McGee 'The Life and Work of Sir Isaac Shoenberg'
2 Dec 1971, Dr Walter Bruch 'The Next Decade in Home Entertainment'
7 Dec 1972, Dr G. Brown 'Video in Vacuo - Television's role in the Exploration of Space'
22 Nov 1973, Dr Walter Perry 'The Open University: A progress report and hopes for the future'
5 Dec 1974, R.F. Chinnick 'The Canadian Domestic Communication Satellite System'
11 Dec 1975, Joe Roizen 'The History of Videotape Recording'
6 Dec 1976, Prof W.D. Wright 'Picture Quality - the Continuing Challenge Towards Visual Perfection'
1 Dec 1977, Robin Scott 'Television Production: Can Technology meet the Future Challenge?'
4 Dec 1978, Robert Pfann Kuch 'Twenty-four hour prime time: the choice of Video'
29 Nov 1979, Dr Joseph Polonsky 'The Challenge of High Definition Television: Its Implications for the future of Television and Films'
6 Nov 1980, Andrew F. Inglis 'Satellite and the Expansion of Television Services'
5 Nov 1981, Charles P. Ginsburg 'The Horse or the Cowboy, getting television on tape'
4 Nov 1982, Dr Makoto Kikuchi 'A Physicist in the Electronic Minefield'
3 Nov 1983, Delbert D.Smith 'Space Platforms and Television, shaping the future of the medium'
8 Nov 1984, Prof Henry Mertens 'The Future Evolution of Broadcasting Standards'
18 Nov 1985, C.J. van der Klugt 'New Television Standards - Revolution or Evolution?'
6 Nov 1986, Richard R. Taylor 'Creative digits'
5 Nov 1987, Dr Kerns Powers 'The Treacherous Road to High Definition Television'
3 Nov 1988, Carlos Kennedy 'The Global Standards Dilemma - Agreement or Anarchy?
9 Nov 1989, Henrikas Yushiavitshus 'The Past and Future of Soviet Television'
18 Nov 1990, Jacques Sabatier 'Consumer Electronics in the 1990's'
7 Nov 1991, Dr Pierre Meyrat 'European HDTV - New Opportunities or Risks for Consumers and Broadcasters?'
5 Nov 1992, John Friedline 'Putting Multi Media to Work'
4 Nov 1993, Dr Joseph Flaherty 'How, Why and When?'
10 Nov 1994, Dr Roland Huber 'The Information Society - What are the Limits?'
27 Nov 1995, David Brookes ‘The Future Development of the Television Receiver’
17 Nov 1997, Professor Ulrich Reimers, ‘Going digital: engineering passion or business imperative?’ (BAFTA)
9 Nov 1998, Gary Tonge, ‘Digital TV - Now and Next’ (BAFTA)
8 Nov 1999, Charles Jablonski, ‘A Digital Letter from America’ (BAFTA)
28 Nov , Geoff Walters ‘Developing Digital: Putting Viewers First’
5 Nov 2001, Philip Laven ‘Will the Internet Kill Broadcasting?
4 Nov 2002, Roderick Snell ‘Digital TV – Is it wasted on Broadcasters?’
3 Nov 2003, Robert H. Plummer ‘Now We’re All Digital - What Now?
1 Nov 2004, John Varney ‘Convergence, Collaboration Creativity’
31 October 2005, scheduled but cancelled.
27 Nov 2006, John Ive ‘Technophobia and Digital Divergence, Navigating the Technology Challenges for Television’

SIR HUW WHELDON (1916-1986)

Huw Wheldon was born at Prestatyn, Wales and educated at Friar's School Bangor and the London School of Economics. He was commissioned into the Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1940 and served in the 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions in North-west Europe and the Middle East, with the rank of major. From the end of the war until 1951 he worked for the Arts Council, first as director for Wales, then in charge of all Arts Council activities in connection with the Festival of Britain.

In 1952 he joined the BBC in charge of Publicity and Information. In the distinguished career that followed he became director, producer, writer, interviewer, compere, narrator, chairman and commentator. He pioneered such programmes as 'All Your Own' and 'Monitor'. He became Head of Documentary Programmes in 1962 and Head of Music and Documentary Programmes from 1963-65. In 1965 he was made Controller of Programmes and Managing Director, BBC Television 1968-75. His influence was enormous, not least as an inspiration to a whole generation of programme makers.

Huw Wheldon was awarded the RTS Chairman's Gold Medal in 1976, and he was President of the Royal Television Society from
1979-85. He served on a wide range of professional an academic
committees throughout his life. He was widely travelled and spoke
fluent Welsh. He obtained the MC in 1944, the OBE in 1952 and Kt in 1976.

The Huw Wheldon Lecture commemorates his life and work. It is given by and for programme makers. The inaugural lecture was held at the National Museum of Photography Film and Television, Bradford, marking the start of a close collaboration between the Society and the Museum.

The following lectures have been held so far.

The Huw Wheldon Memorial Lectures

27 Apr 1987, David Attenborough 'Unnatural History'
16 May 1988, Jeremy Isaacs 'How to make History'
21 Sep 1989, Bill Cotton 'It was funny when it left me'
5 Sep 1990, David Rose 'Gangsters, Gossip and Grain'
19 Sep 1991, Humphrey Burton 'The Editorial Imperative - Huw Wheldon's Monitor 1958-63'
1 Nov 1992, Sian Phillips 'Fast Rewind'
16 Sep 1993, John Simpson 'Making News'
1 Dec 1994, Andrew Davies 'Prima Donnas and Job Lots'
14 Sep 1995, Paul Fox ‘Sport for All, or Just a Few?’
31 Oct 1996, Will Wyatt, ‘Facing the Public’
18 Sep 1997, Fergal Keane, ‘The Art of the Reporter’
17 Sep 1998, Andy Hamilton ‘Brain Surgeons from Hell’
16 Sep 1999, Mal Young ‘Soft Soaping the Critics’
22 Nov 2000, Michael Cockerell ‘“Trust Me, I’m the Prime Minister” - The TV Premiers 1936-2001’
13 Sep 2001, Peter Bazalgette ‘Big Brother and Beyond’
12 November 2002, Nicholas Shindler ‘Once Upon a Time’
18 Sep 2003, Rageh Omaar ‘Inside Saddam’s City’
17 March 2005, Dawn Airey ‘Golden Age – Myth or Reality?’
15 Sep 2005, Paul Abbott ‘What do you want to watch tomorrow?’
26 Sep 2006, Simon Shama ‘Art and the Art of Television’
13 Sep 2007, Anthony Lilley ‘The Me in Media: participation, interactivity and the rise of the people formerly known as the audience’
19 January 2009, Sue Perkins 'Wit's End? British Comedy at the Crossroads'
16 September 2009, Professor Phil Redmond CBE 'The Future of Children's Television'
2 December 2010, Professor Brian Cox ‘Science – A Challenge to TV Orthodoxy’
14 September 2011, Bettany Hughes ‘TV: Modern Father of History’



1990: (New York) 23 Apr 1990 Robert macNeil ‘The Made for World TV’
1991: (Washington DC) 11 Apr 1991 Jack Valenti, President of the Motion Picture Association of America
1992: (Washington DC) Arthur C Clarke ‘A Letter from Sri Lanka’
1993: (New York) John Chancellor ‘Journey to the Interior: Taste and Politics in the Televisions Age’
1994: (in New York) Robert Hughes ‘Who Wants to Watch it Anyway?’
1996: (in New York) Senator Alan Simpson and Congresswoman Pat Schroeder ‘Television and Politics - After the Election’
1997: Alistair Cooke ‘60 Years.....Behind the Micraphone. Before the Camera.....A Memoir’
1998: Sir David Attenborough ‘Nature, Science and the Camera’