The world of British television off and on the screen, as it was sixty years ago.

Coming To You Live

Maurice Richardson, writing in The Observer, notes that, “This is the thirty-ninth day of commercial television”. On such an august October day he appears to feel that it is time to make some judgements on the new service.

Clearly Richardson finds ITV’s output more infantile than the BBC’s: “From the angle of a the reasonable adult viewer, with a mental age of not less than fifteen, the BBC is, at the moment, clearly in the lead.” Only Free Speech and Orson Welles’ series are “intrinsically interesting” while the film serials (sic) I Love Lucy, Dragnet and Robin Hood “maintain a reasonable level.” Even “Their organ, TV Times” is “not even slick.”

Richardson, having felt he had the measure of ITV, was wrong-footed by the “conspicuously gallant” adaptation The Aspern Papers which featured “an extraordinary fine nervous performance by Rosalie Crutchley.”

An equally believable turn came from Mr Butler, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was interviewed about his budget on the BBC. Richardson posits, “I can only say that Mr Butler is either an actor of genius who can fox the soul-searching, multiple eye [of television] or else that he was absolutely satisfied with his Budget.”

The Stage’s TV Page once again spills onto a second page. It reports that the “filming of the latest 90-minute International Theatre series, “The Green Years”, has gone into production at Shepperton. It names producer John Clements, unsurprisingly, and also Robert Harmer as director – does it mean Robert Hamer? Anna Massey, daughter of Raymond, and Adrianne Allen are in the lead and John Merival and Perlita Neilson co-star. This week’s play in the same strand, “The Pay Off”, was – according to reviewer A.G – “tense, well-written and acted drama, spoiled by too abrupt an ending.”

Recently completed for ATV are the plays The Last Reunion, with Eric Portman, A Question of Fact, with Dame Edith Evans, and Frolic Wind, with Roger Livesey. Dame Edith is shortly to start on The Old Ladies while Livesey is “this week” making Quay South. All five of these were made at Highbury Studios.

The TV Playhouse play “The Concert”, written by Joseph Schull, “came to live on-screen with throat-catching intensity under skilful and careful direction.” It’s path to the screen is described thus: “directed by Dennis Vance, produced by H. M. Tennent Ltd, for the Incorporated Television Programme Co. Ltd., and related through ATV”. The premise of the play is that, “A young nurse, blinded during the war, seeks independence in a flat of her own.” It continues, “In the grounds of the flat she meets a young man each evening… they chat and the friendship gradually ripens. It is not until the last few moments of the play that it is revealed that the young man is coloured.” Vance’s production ensured that “The viewer was not allowed to see one of the principals in the play – the coloured man, Jennings – but like the blind nurse heard only his voice.” The conspicuously white Bernard Braden spoke the part of Jennings while Barbara Kelly played the nurse. All this information courtesy of M.E.’s review.

The Stage confirms Bernard Levin’s comment on Thursday’s London Playhouse being the first of the series to be performed live. Another first of the week was a commercial for Horlicks. This was broadcast on Tuesday from Television House, Kingsway, and was the first live advertisement on ITV.

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