7 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
RTÉ Celebrates Forty Years of being ‘On the Box’
08 Jan 2002 :
New Year's Eve 1961 saw the launch of Ireland's own television service, then known as Telefís Éireann. Forty years on, RTE celebrates its anniversary.

Sheila de Courcy, Executive Producer of 40 Years of RTÉ Television said: "For the past 4 decades people have shared their stories with RTE and in doing so enabled RTE collect a rich archive of social history.

RTÉ Television has celebrated its actual birthday with a night of special programmes across RTÉ ONE and Network 2 on New Year's Day, 2002.

Throughout the year RTE will show “On The Box”, a series of nearly two hundred vignettes, each of thirty seconds duration, to be transmitted in between programmes and scattered throughout the schedule during 2002.

Following a media campaign, many hundreds of people from all over Ireland responded to RTÉ’s call for memories and stories relating to television over forty years of broadcasting in Ireland. From these responses RTE has chosen and recorded on camera nearly two hundred stories from twenty-five counties. Contributions include funny, poignant, reflective stories about the impact of television on people’s lives. Cumulatively these vignettes tell the story of the significant changes in Irish life over four decades.

Many stories evoke the feeling of television on its arrival in Ireland in the early 1960s – of families and neighbours huddled in hushed silence and darkened rooms, of great crowds gathered outside television shop windows, and of watching attentively from the test card and the Angelus to the last notes of the national anthem and the fading dot. Childhood responses to television are particularly strong, and many grown-ups recall the thrills and rituals of their childhood viewing, while younger contributors directly express their more current experiences of television.

There are memories of rabbits’ ears and aerials, snow on the screen and money-in-the-slot televisions, as well as remote controls and multi-channel viewing. Some describe the simple pleasure of an advertisement first seen in vivid colour, or the close-up shot of the “twinkle” in the Pope’s eye, or a favourite television theme tune. In other cases television has played an important part in experiences of death or birth, or lives changed.

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