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

Big Day

ITV starts todayThe Times carries a preview of what we’re to expect tonight on commercial television, but there’s nothing in there that we haven’t been told already or which we couldn’t learn from TV Times. Interestingly, the paper also carries some news of a programme that Granada Television will be making – and news about that company has been quite thin on the ground.

Under the heading “Sir Thomas Beecham’s New Outlet” The Times says that, “Sir Thomas Beecham is to use the commercial television screen to further his views upon music and musicals and to illustrate in a series of at least 21 programmes for the Granada network the attractions of the kind of music, new and old, which has always aroused his enthusiasm.” Only three will “apparently be of conventional orchestral concerts.” The Guardian also reports on this topic and reminds us that “Not very long ago [Sir Thomas] made one of the most ferocious attacks on commercial television that has ever been recorded” but now he is to be in charge of orchestral music for the Granada Company.

The Times carries the announcement that the Football League and the BBC have come to an agreement with regard to the broadcast of telerecordings of league matches. However, it is stipulated that “each recording must not exceed five minutes or be televised before the 10pm ‘Sports Special’ on Saturday evenings.” The football clubs have been told that “every facility must be given to the BBC” for which they will receive a five guinea facility fee. The Football League are not divulging how much they’re trousering. The Guardian sneaks an additional snippet of soccer news in: Mr Walley Barnes, the former Arsenal and Wales left-back and captain is to join the BBC as soccer adviser.

There’s expansion of a different kind for the BBC too, according to The Times. A new permanent television transmitting station at Meldrum 20 miles north-west of Aberdeen, is to be opened on 12 October, with tests beginning next Wednesday. Once in operation, ninety-percent of the population of Scotland should be able to receive BBC television.

The Times carries a letter from Mr Randolph Churchill, someone how has generally opposed the introduction of commercial television. Although he wishes it well, he seems particularly concerned that “a considerable part of the new television coverage [has] fallen into the hands of the press.” He asks, “from to-morrow, who can expect to find objective criticism of the BBC or of the Monday to Friday programmes of the London commercial station in the Daily Mail, the Evening News, the Weekend Mail, the Daily Sketch, the Sunday Dispatch or any of Lord Rothermere’s chain of provincial newspapers? For they own 40 per cent of the shares of the programme company.”

Harry Alan Towers of the Incorporated Television Programme Company surfaces in The Guardian to announce that ten one-hour plays and three 90-minute plays have already been filmed at a cost of around £200,000.

Another of Associated Broadcasting’s, err, associates, the H. M. Tennent Company has made Hippo Dancing with Robert Morley, Lady Windermere’s Fan “and some shows with Ruth Draper”. “It is planning to film Jonathan Miller, the Cambridge comedian, for showing on Sunday afternoons.”

Finally, from the papers, some hogwash in court, courtesy of The Times Law Report which concerns itself on the ABC v ABC injunction. His Lordship, Mr Justice Ashworth, instead of an injunction, made an order for a speedy trial. Speaking for the plaintiffs, Mr M. M. Wheeler claimed that the use of the ABC name by Associated Broadcasting “had given rise to acute confusion… in the press”. Utter rubbish, I’ve been studying the press for the last three months and have not seen a single sign of it. Does that mean it’s never happened? Of course not. But acute confusion? What tosh. I see that the solicitors acting for Associated are Coward, Chance and Co. No relation, as far as I’m aware.

So what’s on, then?

7.00pm News
7.15pm Ceremony at Guildhall
7.20pm Highlight
7.30pm Disneyland: The Donald Duck Story
8.00pm Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? Channel Nine (variety)
8.30pm The Hole in the Wall (play)
8.40pm Drama: The Importance of Being Earnest (excerpt), Baker’s Dozen and Private Lives (excerpt).
9.10pm Professional Boxing
10.00pm La Tour Eiffel News and Newsreel
10.15pm Gala Night at the Mayfair
10.30pm Star Cabaret
10.45pm Newsreel
10.50pm Preview
11.00pm National Anthem and Close Down

In truth, the newcomer’s schedule doesn’t look too different in style to the BBC’s. And the BBC have clearly decided that it’s business as usual, which makes sense given that most of the country haven’t yet any alternative and, in London and the South East, the chances are that anyone with a set capable of receiving both stations will look in on ITV just for the novelty, regardless of what’s on the other side.

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