BBC chiefs today paid tribute to Peter Dimmock, the first presenter of Grandstand, Sportsview and the Sports Personality of the Year awards, who has died aged 94.
Mr Dimmock joined the BBC as head of outside broadcasts in 1946, and brought the Queen’s Coronation to the nation’s screens in 1953.
He had cut his journalistic teeth on the racing desk at the Press Association.
BBC director-general Tony Hall said: “Peter Dimmock was a true pioneer of broadcasting. A man of many firsts - the first host of Grandstand and the first host of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
“As the man who oversaw coverage of the Queen’s Coronation he was also responsible for a seminal moment in British broadcasting history.
“Peter’s broadcasting mirrored the man - charming, warm, and authoritative. He is a much-admired figure who will be deeply missed.”
Former BBC One Controller Sir Paul Fox said: “Peter Dimmock led BBC Sports to some of its greatest successes.
“It was his driving force that brought viewers at home events that changed the history of sport. He was also the producer responsible for televising the Coronation of the Queen.
“It was Peter Dimmock who introduced the British public to television.
“He persuaded the people who mattered that the Coronation Service of the Queen should be televised, thereby ensuring the arrival of television in this country.
“More than 20 million watched the Coronation, the majority outside their homes. Within 12 months television licences had doubled.”
Barbara Slater, the director of BBC Sport, said: “Peter was one of the great broadcasting pioneers.
“From Grandstand to Sports Personality of the Year, he made an extraordinary contribution not just to sport broadcasting but the whole of the industry.
“He was hugely admired by both the audience and those that worked with him. He will be sadly missed.”
Dimmock, a former Royal Air Force flight lieutenant, worked for the BBC for 31 years.
He organised the corporation’s coverage of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral in 1965, but told the Press Association earlier this year how the finest memory of his career was arranging coverage of the Coronation in 1953, when he is credited with persuading the authorities to allow the cameras into Westminster Abbey.
He said: “The Duke of Norfolk and I had long discussions about it, and momentum built up in the country so that in the end it happened.”
Churchill is supposed to have said: “Why should the public get a better view than me?”
Mr Dimmock said: “I don’t know whether he said that, but if he did it would have been as a joke. I met him seven or eight times and he was a charming man.”
Of Churchill’s funeral, he said: “I will never ever forget it. It was the most moving and wonderful day.
“I was in the discussions about whether the cranes (near the Thames) should dip or not. It was fascinating because some people, much to my surprise, in Cabinet, said no, but the majority view was that they should dip when his coffin was put on the barge.”