The ‘Marcus Games’ discs: 1932-35

A collection of domestic direct-cut aluminium recordings has been found to contain several privately-recorded segments of 30-line television. These are owned by Jon Weller. They are thought to have been recorded by Marcus Games in East London. Once again, Eliot Levin of Symposium Records took great care and reviewed all the discs, identifying and transcribing eleven separate track recordings of video signal onto DAT for me to process and restore.

The quality is vastly superior to the Silvatone “Looking In” recording of April 1933 yet still marred by surface noise and speed variation. This is due largely to better phase response of the original disc recorder. Although individual frames are poor in quality, the subject movement preserves an astonishing amount of detail.

Eleven New Video Recordings

The discs were all recorded at between 100 and 120rpm using apparatus similar to that shown below. The recordings were short with sometimes two recordings to a disc.


There is no information on recording date on the discs. Drawing conclusions from the content,

  • The recordings show professional performances using a broadcast quality mirror-drum camera system operated by experienced professionals. It is highly likely that these are off-air recordings of transmissions by the BBC in the period 1932-35.
  • There are three female singers and one male singer. One of the female singers is Betty Bolton. The male singer is less clear but collar, tie, jacket and lapels, hair parting are all very clear.
  • Two of the recordings are of what might be a puppet show.
  • The medium shots all appear to have a photocell (recall that this is flying spot imaging and photocell is equivalent to a light) just below the camera. This brings out detail on the man’s jacket, allowing us to see the lapels, collar and tie and handkerchief in his top jacket pocket.
  • The performers all exit stage left (to the right as we see it). (This is consistent with the BBC studios at Portland Place, where, immediately stage right, there was a heavy curtain. This was used to block off the light from the orchestra)