AN engineer who helped pioneer the early days of television celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday.

Andy Andrews worked alongside TV inventor John Logie Baird.

Mr Andrews was present at both the first public television service broadcast in 1932 and the night the inventor’s laboratories burned down at Crystal Palace four years later.

Mr Andrews said: “He was a great man. He was my hero.

“He had a great sense of humour and was a very nice man to be working with.

“There was a real sense of excitement and pride about what we were doing.

“We often thought about the impact it would have, but we all hoped it would have a great cultural value.”

However, Mr Andrews says he is not sure his colleague would have been impressed with today’s television.

He said: “I think if Baird was alive now he would be disappointed.

“He would not have liked the rubbish that is on nowadays.

“He wanted it to help expand our minds – which I can’t say a lot of the programmes on now do.”

Mr Andrews, who was born in Middlesex on August 15, 1932, celebrated his birthday with a party at the Henry Cornish Care Centre in Chipping Norton yesterday.

He has lived in the town for the last 14 years.

Baird was credited with transmitting the first television picture, a greyscale image of a dummy, in October 1925.

Mr Andrews added: “We would use a ginger ventriloquist’s dummy on a rope and try to capture the image of it moving.

“We worked such long hours but we didn’t mind.

“We knew it was a marvellous invention and we were just proud to be part of it.”

Mr Andrews worked at Baird’s company until 1939, when the Second World War broke out.

He worked in communications during the war and was the co-inventor of the world’s smallest microphone, which was installed in the helmets of pilots.

The Americans later claimed the invention was theirs – a claim he shrugged off, saying “inventions have many fathers”.

He married his late wife, Winnifred Gair, in 1939, and had one daughter, Valerie.

Mr Andrews said she was his “best friend” and the reason behind his long and happy life.

He said: “The secret to a long life is marrying a nice lady and also cod liver oil.

“I’ve had some every day since and I’m still here.

“My sister Doris did too and she’s 102.”

He added: “Often my mind wanders back to those early days, they were happy hours spent in those labs.

“We worked tremendously hard.”


John Logie Baird was born in Helensburgh, Scotland, in August 1888.

 An inventor and businessman, he is credited with being the first person in the world to produce a live, moving, television image in 1925. Baird repeated the transmission in 1926 for members of the Royal Institution.

He demonstrated the world’s first colour transmission in 1928 and went on to become the first person in Britain to demonstrate ultra-short wave transmission in 1932.

The BBC stopped using his system to broadcast after the Crystal Palace fire, which caused more than £100,000 worth of damage. Baird died in Bexhill in June, 1946, after suffering a stroke. He was 57.