Concept

Tele-snaps

Summary
Tele-snaps (often known as telesnaps) were off-screen photographs of British television broadcasts, taken and sold commercially by John Cura (born Alberto Giovanni Cura in Clapham, South London, England; 9 April 1902 – 21 April 1969). From 1947 until 1968, Cura ran a business selling the 250,000-plus tele-snaps he took. The photographs were snapped in half of a normal frame of 35mm film, at an exposure of 1/25th of a second. Generally around 70–80 tele-snaps were taken of each programme. They were mostly purchased by actors and directors to use as records and examples of their work before the prevalence of videocassette recorders. For many early programmes tele-snaps are the only surviving record of their appearance. From the 1990s onwards, tele-snaps have often been used by groups of fans to recreate lost Doctor Who episodes, creating "reconstructions" by marrying the images to fan-recorded off-air soundtracks of the episodes. From an early age, Cura had been interested in electronics and photography, developing a reputation among his family as a "Heath Robinson inventor". In June 1946, the BBC resumed its television service following the hiatus imposed by the Second World War. Cura, recently demobilised from the RAF, combined his twin passions of photography and electronics and began to experiment with developing a camera that could take pictures from a television screen. He eventually came up with a mechanism that took half-frame 18×24 mm images on 35 mm film (i.e. the same format as in 35 mm motion picture cameras), at a speed of 1/25th of a second. Once satisfied with his process, Cura wrote to the BBC on 11 September 1947 enclosing samples of his work and requesting permission to exploit the images commercially. Cura's request caused considerable consternation in the BBC's legal department who were concerned about copyright.
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