Thursday, 15 February 2018


The big wait was now on for television programmes to commence from the REM. At home -in preparation and without my parents knowing about it- I made the necessary adjustments to our television set in order to be able to receive the transmission. You have to remember that in a country like Belgium, with two different cultural entities, nothing is as simple as it might be, least of all watching television. In those days programmes in Flemish and Walloon were broadcast according to different television standards.  

TV Noordzee’s intended Channel 11 was free but switched to the 819-line French standard on our television set. That wouldn’t do and meant tweaking the frequency converter through a small hole in the back of the receiver until it clicked to the 625-line setting which was the norm in Flanders, The Netherlands and most other European countries. No big deal really as I was used to messing with the television set, when my parents were out. 

It had been two years since my mother went and bought a fairly expensive Sierra television receiver, which in fact was largely Philips on the inside. The set was duly delivered but the rooftop antenna mast would only be installed two days later. On the screen, without aerial, only black snow could be seen, accompanied by white noise from the speaker. No surprises there, after all it was a black and white receiver! As soon as my mother went out for a loaf of bread however, I couldn’t resist the temptation to try out a few things. When she got back I was watching television! Well to be truthful I was merely gazing at the test card. To get the signal I had firmly jammed the pointed end of a pair of scissors in one of the antenna input sockets. This resulted in near perfect reception of Flemish television on VHF Channel 2; the transmitter being only some 30 km away at Aalter.

Days later, after tweaking Channel 9 and turning the brand new rotary antenna in the direction of Dover, I also managed to pick up ITV’s Southern Television. Unfortunately the 405-line picture was severely mangled, with the right quarter of the newsreader’s head curiously popping up on the left hand side of the screen. The sound was perfect however, but could only be heard on Channel 8. The start of TV Noordzee was only days away now... 

More of AJ's radio- and other anecdotes.

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