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

Doing the Lambeth Talk

One F. Platt of Bolton writes to the editor of The Observer. It would be unfair for me to précis this, so it follows in full:

Sir, I have ordered a television set, somewhat against my better judgment, and am now concerned as to how my two daughters, aged twelve and seven years, shall be allowed to use it.

I have, of course, views of my own on the subject, but as many readers must already have faced this problem, I would be grateful for other ideas.

If there are replies, I shall report back.

Meanwhile, Maurice Richardson suggests that “a real piece of television history was made at Lambeth Palace last Wednesday, when the Archbishop of Canterbury was interviewed by Richard Dimbleby for the BBC, and answered questions about his and the Church’s connection with Princess Margaret’s decision not to marry Group Captain Townsend.”

“And what an interview, considered purely televisually, it was!” writes Richardson, “The Archbishop is one of Nature’s Headmasters. Dimbleby is one of Nature’s Head Prefects; he was a splendid feed throughout and kept his subject moving nicely.”

With the possible exception of the Murphy-Howard boxing match on Tuesday – so gripping that it kept Richardson away from Britain’s Teenagers on the BBC which included “a real live cosh boy” – the evening in Lambeth seems to have been Richardson’s highlight of the week. The Star Without A Name, despite being a “whispy, demi-fantasy”, gripped while another “praiseworthy attempt” was ITV’s documentary of The City.

There’s a shed-load of information on The Stage’s TV Page. For starters: A young repertory actress, Ann Castle, has been cast in the lead in the drama Area Nine, to be broadcast on 24 November; Kenneth Carter, A-R’s head of LE will present his first comedy show for the company on 17 November. It will be titled Here We Go and “will star three up-and-coming comedians, Billy Dainty, Bruce Forsyth and Johnny Dallas.”

Elsewhere on the page:

  • A-R are using the Rank Organisation studio at the State Cinema, Kilburn for live shows. Apparently, “The picture is beamed from the State tower by microwave transmission, the signal being picked up at Television House, Kingsway.”
    Paul Hansard has devised a weekly puppet show for commercial television, featuring the “yellow-haired Johnny and his favourite toy rabbit, Flonny”. A giraffe called Grizelda also appears.
  • Patricia Dahl who was the first “Miss Anonymous” in Reg Dixon’s Confidentially, has been given a contract with A-R.
  • The profits from the first night of Independent Television are being donated to charity. The recipients are: The Actors’ Benevolent Fund; The British Actors’ Equity Benevolent Fund; The Musicians’ Union Benevolent Fund; The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; National Television Fund; National Society for Cancer Relief; The Horder Centres for Arthritics; The Linen and Woollen Drapers’ Institution and Cottage Homes; The National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children; The National Spastics Society; The Royal Hospital and Home for Incurables, Putney; United Appeal for the Blind.

A.R. in The Stage, reviews Round The Bend and notes the “The over-all timing went badly wrong and the show was faded out in the middle of an act. And then the announcer told viewers that due to over-running at rehearsals Forbes Robinson and Hans Soffer could not appear to the next show. This news was all the more illogical when one thinks of the time wasted introducing a most unfunny ‘foreign Duchess’ as the commère.”

A.R. liked the opening, though: “Jon Pertwee is seen jumping out of bed, tearing into his clothes and rushing to the Television Theatre on a motor scooter and water skis, his initial dash in person on to the stage matching in with the filmed shots.” Thereafter, “he worked like a Trojan to make the show a success.”

M.E. writes that Liberace “certainly has something” and that his “superb showmanship never falters”. “But it is not Liberace’s charm alone… His touch is light, his technique faultless and, whether playing classical pieces or lighter variations, he displays a praiseworthy scrupulousness about the quality of his work.”

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