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

All the Midnight Cowboys

There’s an interesting small-ad in The Times.

Wanted: TV Personalities

Who wants to know, I wonder?

Under the heading “Radio and Television Plays”, The Times carries the words of the BBC heads of drama Val Gielgud (sound) and Michael Barry (television). They are keen to reassure us that television drama will not mean the death of sound drama. Mr Gielgud is quoted as saying, “I think there is going to be a place for the radio play so long as it is handled with imagination and intelligence.” Mr Barry added, “Television is not going to occupy the whole of our time in drama. I think we shall continue for a very long time to find sound drama introducing us to playwrights and workmanship of an infinitely wider range than is possible on television at present.” Both were speaking at “a literary luncheon”.

The Times reports that the number of television licenses, during August, increased from 60,832 to 4,786,415.

In The Daily Express, Cyril Aynsley reports on, and indeed from, a televised party arranged by the BBC’s assistant director of programmes, Cecil Madden, as a “send-off to the BBC’s new afternoon counter-blast to commercial television.” Mr Madden’s intention had been to invite “a few people” but had eventually sent out more than 1,000 invitations and, apparently “eventually 2,500 people arrived at this mad tea party.” Aynsley points out that “there was no champagne” but it’s unclear whether he thinks this means the BBC is being careful with their money, or stingy. In the event, £30 was set aside for tea, cakes and sandwiches. Aynsley’s piece is accompanied by no fewer than 17 photographs. Among those featured in the pictures are Gilbert Harding, Petula Clark, Sally Ann Howes, the Beverly Sisters, Sabrina, Terry-Thomas, Hermione Gingold, Edmundo Ros and Fred Emney. Name-dropped but not pictured were writer Talbot Rothwell, David Nixon, Carole Carr and Robertson Hare.

Under the headline “Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea”, The Guardian’s Radio Critic (RC) ponders on the acceptability of televising the event and suggests that, “It has yet to be proved that the sight of 800 people meeting, talking and dancing is an enjoyable one for viewers.” Describing the programme as “a monster ordeal” RC notes that “As the hundreds of well-known guests filed in and shook by the hand Mr Cecil Madden… we had a splendid view of their backs, a superb piece of ineptitude. It was not for a full half-hour that someone had the bright idea of reversing the order and letting us see their faces and Mr Madden’s back instead.”

The Daily Mirror’s Jack Bell writes rather more briefly on the subject of the Television Tea Party, but notes that none of the studios were big enough to take the number of people attending and so it was held in the scenery dock.

The same paper’s Clifford Davis writes about Associated-Rediffusion’s Fashions from Paris, describing it as “a new way of presenting a fashion show”. Actor Kenneth McLeod, a novice at such things, joined expert Ailsa Garland, the woman’s editor of the Daily Mirror, to have things explained to him. Davis claims to be as ignorant as McLeod but says that “his girl Friday’s reactions consisted of nothing but wistful ‘O-O-Ohs’ and approving ‘A-A-Ahs’.”

Davis found Double Your Money “a better-than-most quiz show, capably compèred by Hughie Green” but declared puzzlement over The Granville Melodramas saying that he didn’t know just whom this series is supposed to interest.

So, no pictures from the Tea Party in the Mirror, but there is a picture, seemingly direct from the television screen, of “Italian Albert” Dimes, the bookmaker who was acquitted of wounding rival bookmaker Jack “Spot” Comer in a Soho knife fight. Dimes appeared on the 10pm ITV news in a filmed interview with Kenneth Allsop. +60

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