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

Empire Re-made

As mentioned here, just a few days ago, Sunday, 17 July, 1955 sees a production of Philip Mackie‘s The Whole Truth starring Griffith Jones and Sarah Lawson as Lewis and Brenda Paulton, Arnold Bell as Det. Insp. Brett with the cast also including Ellen Blueth as the Dutch maid, Deenie.

Writing in the Radio Times, Peter Currie, suggests that “[a] murder mystery such as this is a four-cornered battle of wits between the murder, the law, the author, and the audience.” He mentions that the character Lewis Paulton is a film producer and that he and his wife live in Hampstead. He, quite reasonably, refrains from revealing too much about the plot, but finishes by saying that “in the matter of solving it, viewers may test for themselves whether they are as observant as the Paultons’ Dutch maid, Deenie.”

The Stage‘s TV Page includes a report on the Associated Broadcasting Company’s plans for transforming the Wood Green Empire into “the most up-to-date TV theatre in Europe” which are well under way. The alterations being made will provide 16 dressing rooms, comprehensive wardrobe and make-up facilities and the latest type of lighting installation. The seats in the circle and upper circle have been left in place so that they can be used by the audiences who come to see shows made here, but the stalls seats have been removed and the stage extended so that it now covers 6,000 sq. feet (just over 550 sq. m). The orchestra pit will accommodate 40 musicians.

Brick-supported runways are being built for the cameras, and the dress circle will contain a large glass-fronted viewing room “for visiting personalities and VIPs.” After all the modifications, seating will be available for over 500, though members of the public are asked not to apply for seats until the ticket allocation system is announced at a later date.

Associated-Rediffusion has snaffled a radio quiz – and its presenter – for television. It’s not a BBC show, though, this is Radio Luxembourg‘s Take Your Pick, hosted by Michael Miles which has, according to a Listener Research poll, “been playing to a British listening audience of 7,500,000, a record in the field of commercial radio.” The short piece finishes by saying, “The entire programme is spontaneous and unrehearsed and the competitors are selected from the studio audience a few moments before this show goes on the air.”

The Stage‘s reviewer (hereafter SR) was not as enamoured of the BBC play The Sacred Flame as some of the newspaper reviewers has been. SR finds that “the magic of the play was lost” and that the people in it and their emotions were “impossibly unreal.”  SR’s greatest praise for the production came with the comment that “the honours went without any doubt to the crippled young man’s wife, played with exquisite poise and sensitivity by Anne Crawford” but at the same time thought that “Irene Worth was not helped by the camera”, that “Marie Ney was too sweet-natured” and that “The men were even less successful.”

Under the sub-heading “Gay Show Afloat” SR expresses more approval for Lower the Gangway, which was previously mentioned here. Eric Barker was “an excellent choice as compère”, the Toppers “have rarely had a more enthusiastic audience”, Jill Day “was whistled on and off” and David Berglas “puts over his mysteries with intriguing nonchalance”.

Berglas’s illusion required one member of the audience to pick a book and another to pick a newspaper and get both to hit upon the same word, one in the book and the other in a given column on a certain page in the newspaper. SR describes it as “A bit complicated but very effective.”

Praise is also given to Fred Emney who:

put a lot into his turn, aided by a girl singer and a male ‘heckler’. His debonair chatter, his gigantic size and his placid nature, despite so many irritations during his act, make him always a funny man to watch. And his face slapping gag never fails.

Curiously, though, at no point in the lengthy review is the programme’s title mentioned even once.

Finally, SR’s sights are set on Dave King, under the heading “King Clown”. His singing had “a pleasantness about it that came over well on TV” while topical sketches set at Wimbledon “were funny throughout.” The Gay Bachelors take-off of The Beverley Sisters gets the thumbs up too, though Colin Paul “needs more experience on TV.” Dudley’s Billy Dainty, on the other hand, “seemed to be happy with the medium at once” and his eccentric dancing “one of the highlights.”

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