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

From the Red Sea to Pontop Pike

ITV, five days to goThe BBC is expanding its VHF sound broadcasting but this will not be at the expense of wider VHS television broadcasts. Pontop Pike is scheduled to be both a television and VHS sound transmitter, and a new television station at Le Platons, Jersey, is to be opened on an experimental basis on 3 October, with tests beginning this coming Monday. All this from The Times.

One thing their expanded network will be able to show will be some new films from the underwater explorers Hans and Lotte Hass. The Guardian reports that they have signed a contract with the BBC “for a series of films to be shown soon.” The couple are leaving immediately “for the Red Sea on a new expedition.”

The Queen, presently on holiday in Balmoral with the Duke of Edinburgh, has given instructions that “all TV receivers in Buckingham Palace must be converted or changed so that they can pick up the new commercial programmes” according to a reporter in the Daily Mirror.

But there’s better stuff elsewhere in the paper, courtesy of Clifford Davis who reports on a test broadcast made from Croydon at 11.15pm last night. Starting with the caption “Wembley” and then “Programme Parade”, the first part of the test broadcast featured Cecil Lewis strolling around the Wembley studios of Associated-Rediffusion. After around fifteen minutes Davis says, “we went over to the Granville Theatre, Waltham Green where Max Adrian, Bernard Hunter and Moira Lister entertained before a studio audience in Laurie(sic) Lister’s Late Night Show.” Davis continues, “There were then fifteen-minute extracts from two commercial programmes: Four Star Playhouse with Charles Boyer, Dick Powell, Ida Lupino and David Niven and The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel with Marius Goring.” Finally, “An excerpt from the American crime series Dragnet closed the transmission and at 12.12am a breezy voice said: ‘Hallo everyone, we have been testing on full power. We hope your late night has been rewarded with clear pictures. Good morning to you all’”.

News of Equity’s agreement with the commercial companies makes the front page of The Stage but has little detail until you reach the TV Page. There’s one interesting point where the piece reports something said by the union’s chairman, Felix Aylmer, in relation to the negotiated level of remuneration for appearing in a filmed commercial. It says, “The chairman also drew members’ attention to the likelihood that actors who worked in commercials were unlike to be offered satisfactory parts in the programmes proper.” I suppose time will tell…

The TV page reports that Equity and the commercial television companies have reached agreements on most things, but not for TV films because the “chief difficulty in making an agreement with producers of TV entertainment films was to find some body representing them all.” However, Equity has issued a contract which most producers have agreed upon. To quote:

(a) for TV films of 30 minutes or less, the minimum fee is £7 a day; three days, £18: a week £30. For 13 films over 13 weeks (12 weeks’ guaranteed work), £25 week. If a producer books an artist for two days with a day in between, the artist must be paid for three days. Thus if booked for Monday and Wednesday, Tuesday must count as a day’s work as well. Rehearsal and shooting is the same thing with same pay. Fee paid allows showing in one half of the world only. Further fee can be negotiated for other half of world, Including America. Contract must state if the film is ro be used only for TV or if cinema exhibition is contemplated as well.
(b) for TV films of an hour or more, the same conditions apply except for different fees when shooting is made on the High Definition system, which calls for two or three weeks intensive rehearsal and three days or so shooting. The minimum fee in this case is to be £15 a week for rehearsals and £30 a week for shooting, with a minimum of £15 if the film is sold in America.

Also from the TV Page: Harry Alan Towers is to be responsible for National Studios in Elstree which Associated Broadcasting bought last week. The Incorporated TV Programme Co Ltd is now making 39 films in The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel series and, on 3 October, a new series The Count of Monte Cristo will commence. A third, Horatio Hornblower is already in production.

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