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Page Last Updated 1 April 2014


World Cup

Media Coverage
England on Television
Post-War (1947-50)

The commentators in italics are probable, but not confirmed.

*Double Summer Time (GMT+2)

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The BBC re-launched its television service in 1946, but outside broadcasts were still limited to London. England games at Wembley and Highbury were transmitted live, although viewers missed out on the Sweden game in November 1947, because the cameras were being used for the following day's Royal Wedding of Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen.

Jimmy Jewell, who had refereed the first FA Cup Final to be televised in its entirety, in 1938, when he famously awarded the penalty that decided the game, in the last minute of extra time, was the BBC's first main football commentator after the war. He had also been manager of Norwich City, when war broke out.

As well as the Cup Finals, Jewell also commentated on the 1948 Olympics and two England games. It may have been three, as they were scheduled to appear against Switzerland at Highbury in December 1948, but the game was postponed for a day because of fog and it is not known whether the cameras remained to broadcast England's six-goal victory on the Thursday afternoon. Pat Landsberg was due to assist him in the commentary.

In 1949, Jewell's understudy took on his commentating duties. This was a 28-year-old ex-RAF fighter pilot, who was to become the voice of football on the BBC for over twenty years. Kenneth Wolstenholme was introduced at the beginning of a boom period for both English football and British television. He would go on to achieve immortality by being behind the microphone when England won the World Cup. Sadly, Jewell died from a heart attack, just three years later.

In the early days, Wolstenholme's opportunities were limited to games in and around the London area. So it was that whilst England were beating Scotland at Hampden Park in 1950, television viewers had to make do with live coverage of Wembley's first schoolboy international. This was an unexpected ten-goal treat, though, with a 15-year-old Johnny Haynes inspiring England to an 8-2 victory against their Scottish counterparts.

The 1950 World Cup in Brazil just came too early for TV pictures of the tournament to be beamed around the world, so stories of England's embarrassing demise at the hands of the United States took a little longer before the reality hit home.

Thanks to Nick Gilbey for his help in identifying the Jimmy Jewell commentaries.



Saturday, 12 April 1947 - England 1 Scotland 1 [0-1]
Empire Stadium, Wembley, London - Kick-off 3.00pm BST
Television (BBC) - 4:05pm - 4:40pm
Jimmy Jewell
(last 35 minutes only)


Saturday, 3 May 1947 - England 3 France 0 [0-0]
Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, London - Kick-off 3.30pm DST*
Television (BBC) - 3:20pm - 5:10pm
Jimmy Jewell


Saturday, 9 April 1949 - England 1 Scotland 3 [0-1]
Empire Stadium, Wembley, London - Kick-off 3.00pm BST
Television (BBC) - 2:45pm - 4:40pm
Kenneth Wolstenholme


Wednesday, 30 November 1949 - England 2 Italy 0 [0-0]
White Hart Lane, Tottenham, London - Kick-off 2.15pm GMT
Television (BBC) - 2:05pm - 3:55pm
Kenneth Wolstenholme
Other England Internationals Saturday 15th April 1950 - Schoolboys
Empire Stadium, Wembley, London
England 8 Scotland 2 - Television (BBC) - 2:45pm - 4:30pm
commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme