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

Can We Talk?

There are a pair of intriguing small ads in The Times today:

1955-10-03 Mayflower and Ball

A Reuters piece in the same paper records that Moscow’s Tass agency has reported that “selections of film recordings from about 4000 concert numbers by Russian musicians are being sent to British television firms, who have expressed a wish to exchange programmes with the Soviet Union.”


A Mrs I. J. Gibbins of Ruislip writes to the Daily Mirror to report that, “A television dealer asked £14 to convert our set to receive ITV. But my brother, with the small knowledge of radio he got in the army, converted the set and aerial for only £6 10s.”

Lloyds Bank, advertising in the same paper, have an interesting line. “If you have a T.V. set, it’s time you had a cheque book,” they say. Continuing, “Following world events on television keeps you up-to-date. Have you ever reflected that you too modern a person *not* to have a banking account?”

As if that weren’t enough, TV also crops up in the Mirror’s sport section. Bill Holden writes, “Television is still the big, bad, bogey man of football. Clubs view it with suspicion and fear its effect on their gates. They are apprehensive about each step it takes forward in trying to bring Soccer to the screen.” The point of this introduction is to let us know that, “West Bromwich Albion held a board meeting before deciding that their centre half, Joe Kennedy, could safely be permitted to tell the BBC’s Sports Special audience how he scored the goal that saved his side.” Eventually the word came back, “Yes, it will be all right this time. You can go on.” Of course there was no such restriction about Joe talking to the press, and the board were quite happy for him to talk about his goal to Bill Holden while they debated the dreaded television in the boardroom.

Cyril Aynsley’s, in the Daily Express, writes on the BBC’s Sunday drama which began with Shaw’s Dark Lady of the Sonnets and was followed by a visit, for the first time, to the Stratford Memorial Theatre for part 2 of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Cyril find this “adventurous on the part of the BBC or just plain stupid, according to taste.”

The Shakespeare play was introduced with a series of pictures of Stratford-on-Avon where, “Mr Alan Dent acted as a guide, making it sound like a lantern lecture in a dusty hall. He discussed the play, and then Shakespeare took over.” “Immediately,” he continued, “things began to hum. The screen was filled with gay and boisterous nonsense, the rumbustious Falstaff emerging as the pitiful and kindly man-mountain in camera close-ups. And farce, farce, farce was joyfully battered out of every line and situation.” His verdict: “Only those completely allergic to Shakespeare would condemn the BBC for last night’s effort.”

Aynsley’s colleague, Robert Cannell, had fewer kind things to say about Sunday Night at the London Palladium. He concentrated on Johnnie Ray who he described as “the only novelty” in the programme. Unfortunately, writes Cannell, “Johnnie Ray proved that TV is not his line. His violent grimaces and gestures became almost repulsive in close-up – as unpleasant to watch as his raucous voice was distressing to a musical ear.”

Elsewhere, the newspaper reports that “a fault at the transmitter” caused a breakdown during the broadcast of yesterday’s edition of The Adventures of Robin Hood. “So many viewers complained,” it says, “it is to be repeated next Saturday morning.”

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