Little Bits of History

We Interrupt This Program

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2014
Program interrupted

Program interrupted

November 26, 1977: The Southern Television broadcast is interrupted. The Hannington transmitter was part of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) in the United Kingdom. The video programming remained intact while there was an override in the sound system. A disguised voice which was accompanied by a deep buzzing broke through the local ITV station and took over the UHF audio signal. The voice said its name was “Vrillon” or “Gillon” while others thought it called itself “Asteron”. Beginning at 5.10 PM local time, the voice took control for six minutes. The speaker claimed to be a representative of an “Intergalactic Association” and insisted on peace.

The broadcast ended after the statement from Vrillon had been delivered and a Looney Tunes cartoon, which had been the video playing at the time, was still in progress. Later in the evening, Southern Television apologized for “a breakthrough in sound” for some of the viewing public. ITN’s broadcast was interrupted while Andrew Gardner had been reading the news and they, too, mentioned the disruption in their own late-evening Saturday bulletin.

The Hannington UHF transmitter was unusual since it was one of a few transmitters which rebroadcast an off-air signal received from another transmitter located on the Isle of Wight. That was also owned by Southern Television. Most transmitters at the time were fed directly by landline. Because of this technology, it was possible for even a low-powered transmission placed very close to the receiver to overwhelm the reception and hijack the signal. Then their own signal would be amplified and rebroadcast over a wider area. Even so, it was thought that such a hijacking would take a considerable amount of technical knowhow. The perpetrator’s method was deduced, but the culprit was never located.

The incident made a local stir and was reported widely in the next day’s newspapers. Being a Sunday, the news was given a wide range of readers and the story spread to a worldwide audience. The UPI press agency picked up the story and from there it spread to many American papers. The IBA immediately declared the message a hoax but it still became part of ufology’s alien broadcast. Someone wrote to the Times and wanted to know how the IBA could be so sure it was a hoax and what if it was real. By late 1985, the story had entered urban folklore.

This is the voice of Asteron. I am an authorised representative of the Intergalactic Mission, and I have a message for the planet Earth. We are beginning to enter the period of Aquarius and there are many corrections which have to be made by Earth people.

All your weapons of evil must be destroyed. You have only a short time to learn to live together in peace. You must live in peace… or leave the galaxy. – transcript of the message

Inexplicably the News Of The World and D. Mail call the owner of the voice ‘Gillon, of the Ashdown Galactic Command’ and that he said: “Unless the weapons of Earth are laid down, destruction from outer space invasion will quickly follow.”

I hope their regular news reportage is more accurate than that, for the indication is that they’ve simply invented a more shocking message. – all from Fortean Times, Winter 1977

Also on this day: Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
Puck You – In 1917, the National Hockey League was founded.
KV62 – In 1922, Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb.
Water – In 1805, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct opened.