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Old 9th Jun 2019, 8:33 pm   #1
dave walsh
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Default Dial B For Britain (TV programme)

This excellent BBC4 Documentary about the history of our phone network is being repeated now-Victoria Cohen narrates! There's even one or two radios shown! Suitable for mixed viewing as women were the main workforce on the boards. On I-Player after 9pm. !

Dave W
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Old 10th Jun 2019, 10:44 am   #2
Pellseinydd
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Default 'Dial B for Britain'

Interesting that the origin of the code '999' wasn't exactly known!

It was explained that "they couldn't use '1' because of possibility of overhead wires touching in high winds and '111' being 'dialled'. So '9' was chosen. But why 911 wasn't chosen I don't know" was said

'999' was chosen as the number had to able to be dialled without inserting money from kiosks. The operator could already be called by dialling '0' without inserting coins. This was achieved by using a special dial (GPO Dial No 9 or 11 in the early days of A/B coinboxes) which had a little screw on a cam on the rear of the dial which allowed the 'free' call.

By the simple addition of a similar screw in the position of the digit '9' , it allowed a '9' to be dialled without inserting coins (the screw had to be the next digit to the '0'). There was little likelihood of a subscriber being dialled as there were virtually no numbers that consisted purely of 9's and 0's - except for perhaps possibly 'WOOlwich 9000' .

Thus in 1937 the 999 service started in London - some twenty years before the 911 service was introduced across North America!

It took some years for the '999' service to be rolled out across the UK network. The last exchanges to acquire the 999 service were in 1976! The Aberdeen Telephone Area still had 24 exchanges without a 999 service at the end of March 1976 but all had the service a year later.

Some exchanges with two digit numbering (UAX5 - Unit Auto eXchange No 5) got a '99' service as the number had never been allocated to 'subscribers'. It was the number used for testing to see if there was an alarm present on the exchange. Previously these exchanges had been told to dial '01' (for the operator) 'In case of Emergency' .

There was another error given in the programme but can't remember what it was - much watch it again if I get a minute.
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Old 10th Jun 2019, 11:52 am   #3
rambo1152
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Smile Re: Dial B For Britain (TV programme)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dave walsh View Post
Victoria Cohen narrates!
It's Victoria Coren Mitchell, but I hasn't heard of her either.
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Old 10th Jun 2019, 2:14 pm   #4
dave walsh
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Default Re: Dial B For Britain (TV programme)

Victoria is an International Poker Player [big wins] and the intellectual daughter of Alan Coren [yes a typo on my part a popular journalist and commentator, sadly now deceased. She presents a very complex quiz program on BBC2 that I can't follow at all and is married to the comedian, journalist and commentator David Mitchell. I think she is much funnier eg look how she reads the "perhaps unfortunately named 'STD' system" line in the program

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Old 14th Jun 2019, 8:47 am   #5
GlenTyan
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Default Re: Dial B For Britain (TV programme)

Yes, the programme was a trip down memory lane for many. The surprise for me was the clip showing the Magnetic Drums of which Glasgow Clyde had nine, six on one floor and three on another. The Drums ran for many many years without stopping with oiled bearings produced by Sperry's. The valves used were wire ended and when you think each bi-stable were nearly the size of a bag of sugar it shows how far we have come now. The training course for that kit was split into two, a four and then a six week'r if I recall correctly at Stone of course... and a great time was had by all.

Graham.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 11:27 am   #6
'LIVEWIRE?'
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Default Re: Dial B For Britain (TV programme)

The program in question, Graham, as I'm sure you know, is 'Only Connect', which V.C.M., nee Victoria Coren, has been presenting since it first aired some years ago on BBC4, transferring to BBC2 a few years ago. Many of the questions on 'OC' are fiendishly difficult as, to me, are those in the column she writes in Radio Times. I haven't yet watched 'Dial B for Britain', but may do so soon.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 3:26 pm   #7
GlenTyan
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Default Re: Dial B For Britain (TV programme)

I've had to look again at this and I'm confused, I'm looking at Timeshift, Series 17:3, Dial "B" for Britain: The Story of the Landline and the kit I refer to appears at 0:35:27.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episod...f-the-landline

If this is a different programme it's definitely worth watching.

Graham.
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Old 14th Jun 2019, 4:53 pm   #8
dave walsh
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Default Re: Dial B For Britain (TV programme)

You've got the right phone number there Graham. It is one of a series of programs in the Time Shift series but the only Telephone based Documentary.

Live Wire is referring to the Quiz Program "Only Connect" that Victoria Coren presents [as per my comments in post4*]. You have to make connections between ideas there, not audio signals but I can see the similarity. It's extremely difficult [for the likes of me] as he suggests. I hope that clears up the confusion

Dave

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