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

All the Journalists, from Aynsley to Zec

The Daily Express‘s reviewers have varying opinions about the different programmes they watched last night. Cyril Aynsley thought that Irene Worth “gave a brilliant, searing performance as the nurse in list night’s television version of Somerset Maugham’s play, The Sacred Flame“. He goes on to describe the tale as a “terribly intimate story [which] tells of a young man crippled in a plane crash, his wife’s deepening affection for his brother, his nurse’s unspoken love for him [and] his mother’s compassion which could lead her to a mercy killing.” “Grim, stuff… but brilliantly, brilliantly done,” is his verdict.

His colleague, Robert Cannell, is rather less enamoured of yesterday’s One of the Family, and backs it up with the statistic that only 17 minutes out of the 30 is spent on the quiz, the remainder disappeared in “casual chit-chat by Franklin Engelmann.”

Meanwhile, worries reported only a few days ago, that sales of TV sets were slowing, are rebuffed by the Daily Mirror with the front page news that the number of sets bought in April were almost double the number purchased in the same month in 1954. Apparently, this year 146,800 sets worth £5,731,000 (average cost a tad over £39) were bought in that month but last year people parted with their hard-earned for a mere 83,900 sets worth £2,962,000 (£35.30). With inflation running at around 3.4% the sets are getting more expensive in real terms – but that doesn’t seem to be deterring the buyers, unless you prefer to believe the previous report on the matter.

Yesterday it was a submarine, today it’s an aeroplane. Apparently, two businessmen watched the BBC’s coverage of the Old Trafford test match Saturday while sitting in a plane 1½ miles up. This was a test by radio engineer Arthur Parkes, 35, of Dudley, Worcestershire who conducted this experiment in a Miles Messenger single-engined aircraft piloted by old school friend Allan Poulton, company director, of nearby Tipton, Staffordshire. Thanks to the Daily Mirror for this story too.

Donald Zec of the same paper’s “Star Turn” column visits BBC announcer-turned-actor Donald Gray expecting to find him living in the lap of luxury – but Gray lives with his wife in a modest flat. While his weekly earnings as a BBC announcer, at £18, are above the average wage (the mean for a full-time worker is a little under £11) the difference is hardly enough to afford a mansion.

The evening’s viewing on the BBC provides something for everyone. From 7.45pm until 8.30pm, Peter O’Sullevan commentates on Racing from Birmingham, after which the outside broadcast cameras of Buried Treasure visit West Kennet Long Barrow where Edinburgh University‘s Professor Stuart Piggott and Professor Richard Atkinson show their finds to Glyn Daniel. Dave King then gets a 45-minute Showcase in which his guests are Barbara Law, The Gay Bachelors, The Treble Tones and Billy Dainty. The remainder of the hour is taken up with a fifteen-minute record of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s recent visit to Scotland, and the evening’s entertainment is rounded off with a repeat broadcast of Paris 1900 – a film recreation of Paris in the era before 1914.

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