It’s Sunday, and there’s finally some time to sit down and read this week’s TV Page in The Stage…
The biggest headlines are reserved for the news that the new European television stations and broadcasters which are opening up are providing many British variety artists with work. Ted Ray has been invited by Margot Hielscher to appear with her on German television while Monty Norman and Diana Coupland are off to the continent for a tour and spots on French and Italian TV.
The paper also reports on a “Variety Battle” between the BBC and the Associated Broadcasting Company. Apparently, on ABC’s first Sunday night, their London Palladium show, presented by impresario Val Parnell and hosted by Bob Hope, will clash with a BBC variety special hosted by Tommy Trinder and starring various members of The Crazy Gang, Max Bygraves, Norman Evans and, perhaps, Charlie Chaplin.
And why is the BBC planning to put a variety bill on that Sunday night instead of their usual play? Because they’re celebrating the birthday of Fred Russell, the father of Val Parnell. For them to do this it must be a special birthday, right? Wrong – the venerable Fred will be 93.
A number of regulars of the BBC’s In The News programme have signed contracts with the Associated Broadcasting Company to appear in a similar show on ITV. Names mentioned by the TV Page include Viscount Hailsham, Sir Robert Boothby, Michael Foot and A. J. P. Taylor. Edgar Lustgarten and John Irwin, both of whom had been associated with the BBC series in the past, will arrange and produce the new series, the title of which has yet to be determined. Interestingly, it seems that ABC themselves aren’t going to broadcast the programme themselves: it will be shown during Associated-Rediffusion’s airtime, the first on Friday, 23 September.
Lord Hailsham, who had opposed commercial television in the House of Lords is quoted as saying, “I did not approve of the nationalisation of the railways, but it doesn’t stop me travelling by train.”
Radio Times informs me that the evening’s entertainment will begin, as it so often seems to, with Franklin Englemann and, this time, One of the Family and will continue with another film in the series Cities of Europe. This week it’s a portrait of Munich, filmed by the Western-German Television Service. The evening’s play, The Sacred Flame, is by W. Somerset Maugham is described as “an example of a modern work offering superb opportunities to three actresses”, these being Anne Crawford, Marie Ney and Irene Worth who between them are wife, mother and nurse to the paralysed Maurice Tabret (Emrys Jones). Hal Burton both produces and designs.