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

Author Archive: Simon Coward

Alms and the Man

In Hastings, the Director General of the ITA, Sir Robert Fraser, was speaking at a conference of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers according to The Observer. Sir Robert said that he hoped that by September next year the ITA would have in service for commercial television, Croydon on a higher power than present, a midland station at Lichfield, a Lancashire station, and that they would be just putting into service a Yorkshire station. These four transmitters would reach around 30 million people (Croydon: 12 million, Lichfield: 6 million, Lancashire,: 7 million and Yorkshire: 5 million) or 60% of the population. (more…)

Ragbag and Hobnob

The Guardian’s Radio Critic (RC) thinks the BBC Friday evening schedule “very much of a ragbag” but found much to comment. The report from the Conservative Conference “was well-handled and was a great improvement on last year’s programme.” RC adds, “the actual production work was noticeably neat in the dovetailing of commentary with the film and the occasional camera shots of the odd delegate looking entranced, thoughtful, and in one instance, dozing happily.”

Like the conference RC felt the coverage of the Horse of the Year Show “excellent” though did not expand further. Ask Pickles “had its silly moments” but “did not go in for the kind of bathos which can make this sort of programme so unpleasant” while Jeanne Heal’s short programme, “was remarkable, because here is an interviewer who does not ladle out soothing syrup and who is prepared to disagree completely with the ideas of those to whom she is talking.”

Robert Cannell (Daily Express) also writes about Ask Pickles, “TV’s No 1 tear-jerker”, which returned with “all the old familiar ingredients… except the vital spark which used to bring the tears and put Pickles at the top of his trade.” Cannell says the Wilfred and his wife Mabel “worked hard” but “perhaps too hard” and notes that they introduced “11 items in 45 minutes” and as a result were, “giving an impression of being too much in a hurry, with Wilfred hastening the visitors out of camera range in the interests of a rigid timetable.”

And who was being hooshed off-set so swiftly? Well: a schoolgirl wanting to dance the Charleston; an 82-year-old miner playing a tin whistle; a boy trying to cure his asthma by singing; a dog which used to be a ship’s mascot; and the story of a prisoner-of-war camp which raised funds for the children of a man who died there.

Lastly there was this advice for Pisceans in John Naylor’s astrological column in the Daily Mirror: “Check if there are any late TV or radio programmes which you would enjoy.”

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.” (more…)

Population and Precipitation

Mr C. R. Attlee, as he’s named in The Guardian, the Leader of the Opposition, addressed a Labour women’s rally in Bristol yesterday where he commented, “At considerable expense Mr Butler and his friends have set up an organisation called Independent Television with the purpose of bringing into every home high-powered salesmanship so that all day, or as much of it as they can, they are urging you to spend.”

He continued, “Which voice will be heard loudest: Mr Butler speaking in the City of London to the bankers, or Independent Television speaking all day and telling you all the wonderful things you ought to buy? Why was that done? It was done simply to satisfy a small group of people who wanted to make a profit.” The Times reports this too, providing one extra line of Mr Attlee’s: “The best elements of the Conservative Party were against it too.” (more…)

Jack Shit

One of the first casualties of the new commercial television schedule is Jack Jackson – he’s leaving his eponymous Saturday evening show after just two weeks, apparently he asked to be removed. Ron Randell will take over the show after Jackson has hosted one more edition, according to Cyril Aynsley in the Daily Express.

Aynsley notes that Jackson often seemed ill at ease on the show and Jackson mentions that he is used to writing his own scripts for the shows he compères and found it difficult working to one which others had written. That doesn’t altogether explain some of the more basic mistakes Jackson made including introducing Simone Silva as “Silver Simone” and Teasey-Weasey Raymond as “Teenie-Weenie”. Jackson won’t be entirely lost to ITV, he will take over a new record programme on Sunday afternoons. (more…)

Sellers Peter Out

The BBC yesterday opened its experimental television service for the Channel Islands according to The Times. It notes that the signal is received at Guernsey and relayed from there to Jersey and the first reports are that reception is “quite satisfactory”.

Transmissions are also of interest to “Six members of the Soviet broadcasting organisation,” who according to The Times, “who are coming to London this week as guests of the BBC will be enabled to study all aspects of the BBC system including television, domestic sound broadcasting, the external services, and the technical services. They will visit one or more BBC transmitters.” (more…)

One Pair of Eyes

Maurice Richardson, of The Observer, becomes the latest to use the end of the first week as an opportunity to take stock of the new channel’s output and compare it to the BBC. Throughout, Richardson refers to the new service as “The ITA” as though the regulatory authority also has direct control over programme production, casting and so on, all of which is a little concerning in someone whose job, it appears, is to write about television. (more…)

Television Entirely to Blame I

The Times and The Guardian both report the views of Mr Justice Wallington who complained about omissions from a legal document. His Lordship said yesterday that, “people were more concerned with getting to their television sets than with doing their work correctly.” He went on, “In the case of females, they are more concerned with powdering their noses so that they may leave at 5 o’clock precisely that they are in putting such matters right.” (more…)