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

Agony Uncle

There is a further casualty of Jack Jackson’s move from Saturday to Sunday according to Cyril Aynsley in the Daily Express. Mervyn Levy had signed a 13-week contract to appear on Sunday Afternoon and talk about art. However, in order to fit Mr Jackson’s new programme into the Sunday afternoon schedules, ten minutes must be lost from Sunday Afternoon, and Mr Levy is the casualty – or perhaps a casualty. His contract has been paid up, of course, but even so, “This kind of thing just could not have happened with the BBC,” he said.

In The Guardian, Bernard Levin despairs of Godfrey Winn’s “human case-book programme” As Others See Us describing Mr Winn’s manner as “definitely on the sticky side” and his script as making “every concession to sentiment possible.”

The programme’s premise is somewhat like a problem page and its format is thus: “a problem is presented, then a similar story is acted before us, and the moral is pointed by Mr Winn.” Finding that the words used to convey the dramatisation are clichĂ©d Mr Levin asks the “some better players be engaged before the next programme” as at present “many of them are only piling lack of conviction on to unreality.”

Levin describes Godfrey Winn’s manner as “unfortunate” and the programme as “ill-conceived, unoriginal and poorly presented.” He believes “the whole idea of this invasion of the home by a salesman offering potted psychology and penny-in-the-slot philosophy distressing in the extreme. What does Mr Winn think he is doing in flicking the surface of life with his emotion-laden duster? Does he really imagine that the problem of the ‘other woman’ can be dealt with in ten minutes?” Levin concludes, “I think it not inappropriate that the commercial which broke into Mr Winn’s programmes was for rice puddings.”

The documentary Window on the World also disappointed Levin noting that “too openly exhibited bias, even towards something generally agreed to be good, takes the interest off a story.”

Finally, Bernard Levin noticed a different pattern of behaviour by ITV on Wednesday evening following a breakdown which lasted for ten minutes. This, Levin writes, “was not met, as previous lapses have been, by omitting a programme or part of one, but by allowing all the programmes after the hitch to finish ten minutes later. This is a welcome step in the right direction; is it too much to hope that one day an advertisement will be postponed for ten seconds to let an actor finish his sentence?”

There’s a little more Granada news in The Guardian and The Times today. The Zoological Society of London is setting up a resident unit to produce films and television programmes and the resources of the unit are being provided by Granada, although this will not exclude the BBC from being able to broadcast programmes in association with the new unit.

Today’s Guardian contains two separate sections of reviews of children’s books and both provide something worth mentioning here. Brian Redhead has read Roland Pertwee’s Operation Wild Goose (Oxford University Press, 10s 6d). He mentions that Mr Pertwee has been compared, as an author of children’s books, with Arthur Ransome and Mr Redhead also compares the two, unfavourably from Mr Pertwee’s point of view. In his book, he writes that “Mr Pertwee commits one great error in writing for children; he is facetious. [The book] is so smug and patronising that the author succeeds only in making himself look childish (rather like a certain announcer on BBC children’s television).” Who can he mean?

Redhead concludes that Pertwee “has a fund of good plots” but wishes the story was told “more sincerely.”

Mary Crozier’s interest is in books for younger children and The BBC Children’s Annual (Burke, 7s 6d) “is disappointing this year.” Any why should that interest us? According to Ms Crozier, “It used to be better than the average for annuals’ naturally, since the Children’s Hour is very well done. But much of the material this year is from television, and so unfortunately are many of the pictures. Television is visual entertainment and has never produced good writing. The illustrations not taken from television programmes are also poor.”

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