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


The idea for Zero Minus Sixty came to me on my fiftieth birthday. On that day, I watched a TV play which had originally been broadcast on the day I was born and I thought, “If I could repeat this, for other programmes of a similar age, it might make an interesting blog.”

But aside from its particular significance to me, the date of my birthday is of little import elsewhere and of no specific relevance in the history of British TV. It meant that I’d be skipping the first few years of ITV as well as the earliest-surviving BBC productions. I considered making it a 55-year look-back, which would have taken me back to 1954, but that seemed like a really poor idea. Then I thought of a nice title for a 60-year blog, and waited.

While my thumbs twiddled, someone else came up with a similar idea, and very good it is too. So if you’re not already familiar with it, do keep an eye on Ivan Kirby’s look at “This week’s TV, fifty years ago” too.

Starting in the 1960s Ivan has one advantage – quite a few programmes actually exist! So, a high proportion of the bloggery here, particularly early on, will be looking at the TV-related happenings off-screen as well as on, and in particular at the coverage the medium receives in the national newspapers and some parts of the trade press.

Knowing at least some of what’s happened since then, I’m bound to bring something of a jaundiced eye to the goings on, but I shall do my best to look at the coverage without the benefit of 60 years worth of hindsight and will try to restrict any observations which could only come from the 21st century to popups which can be read by clicking on a +60 like this one: +60.

Oh, and “Zero Minus Sixty” (sometimes written as “Zero Minus 60”) comes from the title of a piece of library music composed by the great Robert Farnon. It’s turned up in various places, certainly as far back as the Quatermass serials and at least as late as The Singing Detective. The Prisoner also used it.


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