Once again Clifford Davis is on the front page of the Mirror. This time it’s to report that the BBC will be spending an extra million pounds during the first six months of commercial television to give viewers “the best programmes it has ever offered.”
The BBC has already ensured that it can’t lose access to the F.A. Cup Final, Ascot, the Boat Race and Wimbledon by agreeing a three-year (two years in the case of Ascot) non-exclusive contract. They are also looking at similar agreements for the Derby, the Grand National and next year’s Test Matches.
The BBC’s “programme chief” Cecil McGivern also promises an end to the glut of panel games, with the exception of What’s My Line, and the end of the line has also been reached for Cafe Continenta, Music Hall and other variety shows. “They will be replaced,” McGivern says, “by shows based around personalities.”
These personalities include Fred Emney, Vic Oliver, Bob Monkhouse, David Nixon, Charlie Chester and Jon Pertwee although only the first two of these are under exclusive contract to the BBC.
The same story only makes page 5 of the Daily Express which quotes Cecil McGivern as saying, “For the first time we are not grumbling about money.” McGivern was, of course, referring to the situation that despite television now attracting a larger audience than radio, it’s the latter which still gets the lion’s share of the license fee.
The Guardian provides a list of some of Light Entertainment’s “twenty eight separate series programmes” planned which include This is Your Life (Eamonn Andrews), Off The Record (Jack Payne), Hit Parade (Petula Clark), Isn’t it Romantic? (Ray Martin), Dancing Club (Victor Sylvester), Top Town, The Grove Family, Puzzle Corner, It’s Magic (David Nixon), Ask Pickles and The Bob Monkhouse Show.
“The main novelty on the drama side,” the Guardian’s piece suggests, “is that the BBC has arranged with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford on Avon to broadcast the second act of The Merry Wives of Windsor on 2 October. “No play has ever been directly broadcast from Stratford before.”
There’s more of the “tube ring” story in today’s Mirror, Guardian and Times where it’s reported that the American firm Sylvanie Electric Products, Inc and Thorn Electrical Industries, Ltd are hoping to join forces to produce a TV tube costing only two-thirds of the price of those offered by members of the British Radio Valve Manufacturers Association. 21″ tubes made by the new venture are expected to cost £19 in comparison with about £28 at present. Pye’s chief Charles Orr Stanley is already trying to wean his company off the Association’s products and has arranged for the manufacture of tubes through his company’s Cathodeon Electronics subsidiary in Southend.
In Parliament, John Rankin MP has been pressing the government to end what he called “the price ring scandal”. The paper says, “He was told by the government that more than 400,000 tubes had been imported into Britain at an average cost of £4.”
On the box itself, the Guardian’s Radio Critic found the BBC’s programme This is Show Business, which was televised from the National Radio Show was not as funny as it should have been.
Television interference has been in the news recently but interference of a different kind is arising from peat fire which has been smouldering since Sunday morning on Winter Hill, just a few hundred yards away from the location of the intended site for the Independent Television Authority’s transmitter on which work has already started. No immediate danger is reported and the ITA’s contractors were expected back at work today.