Craftsmen at Work (lost early BBC documentary show; 1938, 1946)

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Craftsmenatwork1.jpg

George Burchett tattooing a woman in the first episode.

Status: Lost

Craftsmen at Work is an early BBC documentary television series. Airing in six-parts throughout 1938, and for a short revival in 1946, the show provided practical demonstrations of how crafting jobs were performed, including tattooing and production of cricket bats.

Background[edit | edit source]

The show's presenter was S. P. B. Mais, a prominent British journalist and broadcaster. According to an obituary published in the 24th April 1975 edition of The Times, Mais proved popular for his documentaries and informal style of presentation.[1] Craftsmen at Work's first episode was broadcast on 26th January 1938, where George Burchett was filmed tattooing a woman inside the Alexandra Palace television studio.[2][3][4] As with most shows of the era, this presentation was repeated later in the evening,[3][4] with new episodes airing roughly on a fortnightly basis. The second episode, airing on 7th February 1938, examined the production of country pottery, with W. C. Waller demonstrating this craft.[5][6]

Following this, whisket-making was showcased on 23rd February, with John Brown detailing how he crafted the straw baskets.[7][8] Blacksmith brothers Fred and Stanley Bish were next to appear, presenting the iron work involved in their craft, which was broadcast on 9th March.[9][10] An unknown individual then detailed the production of cricket bats on the 23rd March edition of the show.[11][12] Horace Gooding concluded the series on 6th April by detailing how the ancient craft of slatting Cotswold stone was performed.[13][14]

Despite no additional episodes being aired prior to the start of the Second World War, Craftsmen at Work would actually make a return in 1946.[15][16] The episodes would have different presenters, including A. Miller Jones and J. G. Links.[15][16][17][18][19][20] However, Mais would make an appearance in the first episode, broadcast on 14th August.[15][16] In it, he, alongside Hubert Foss and Rex Wailes, detailed wood working.[15][16] Following this, Links would describe the process of making mink coats on the 9th September edition of the show.[17][18] Craftsmen at Work fully concluded on 5th November 1946, with Thomas E. Griffits demonstrating lithography.[19][20] While the show may have ended, the BBC were still interested in broadcasting additional craft demonstrations. This included a presentation on the production of chairs, broadcast on 27th October 1947 and presented by Jones.[21] The show's spiritual successor was likely Made by Hand, another show demonstrating the practices of various craftsmen, which ran for ten episodes from October 1949 to April 1950.[22]

Availability[edit | edit source]

Like all early television transmissions, all episodes of Craftsmen at Work were televised live and there were limited viable means of recording television prior to and soon after the Second World War, with recording seldom having occurred until video tape was perfected in the late-1950s.[23] Thus, all footage from the demonstrations is likely permanently missing. Nevertheless, a photo of Burchett tattooing a woman inside the studio was taken for the Daily Herald newspaper, and remains publicly viewable.[2] Additionally, Radio Times issues helped to document the broadcasts from both pre- and post-Second World War.[4][6][8][10][12][14][16][18][20]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

Early BBC Television[edit | edit source]

Early BBC Sports Television[edit | edit source]

External Link[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 24th April 1975 edition of The Times providing an obituary of S. P. B. Mais. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  2. 2.0 2.1 Science & Society providing a photo of Craftsmen at Work and a description of it. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  3. 3.0 3.1 BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the tattooing episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Issue 747 of Radio Times listing the tattooing episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  5. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the country pottery episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  6. 6.0 6.1 Issue 749 of Radio Times listing the country pottery episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  7. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the whisket episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  8. 8.0 8.1 Issue 751 of Radio Times listing the whisket episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  9. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the blacksmith episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  10. 10.0 10.1 Issue 753 of Radio Times listing the blacksmith episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  11. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the cricket bat episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  12. 12.0 12.1 Issue 755 of Radio Times listing the cricket bat episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  13. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the slatter episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  14. 14.0 14.1 Issue 757 of Radio Times listing the slatter episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the wood working episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Issue 1193 of Radio Times listing the wood working episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  17. 17.0 17.1 BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the mink coat episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Issue 1197 of Radio Times listing the mink coat episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  19. 19.0 19.1 BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the lithography episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Issue 1205 of Radio Times listing the lithography episode. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  21. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing What's in a Chair?. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  22. BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the stained glass episode of Made by Hand. Retrieved 29th Jan '22
  23. Web Archive article discussing how most early television is missing due to a lack of direct recording of television. Retrieved 29th Jan '22