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The first televised House of Commons debate – archive, 22 November 1989

22 November 1989: TV critic Nancy Banks-Smith goes live to Westminster to see the cameras in action while Andrew Rawnsley forsakes the Commons press gallery for an armchair view of the proceedings

Perched up in the press gallery among, as Dame Edna Everage puts it, a poorer class of person, I had the spookiest impression of having been there before. Perhaps in a previous incarnation as the Duke of Wellington or a woodworm. Then it all came flooding back like a blocked sink. It was a public house.

When I was a child I used to stand at the top of the stairs in my parents’ pub, peering through the bannisters while the same hot, rough ascending roar rose like the head on a pint of Guinness. The same inchoate shout like one voice. The same irritable cry of ‘order, order’.

Related: Bevan makes the case for televising parliament: from the archive, 4 November 1959

Related: 30 years of televised parliament: how Westminster became mainstream entertainment

Related: From the archive, 10 March 1988: MPs say 'yes' to cameras in the Commons

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