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

Jack Shit

One of the first casualties of the new commercial television schedule is Jack Jackson – he’s leaving his eponymous Saturday evening show after just two weeks, apparently he asked to be removed. Ron Randell will take over the show after Jackson has hosted one more edition, according to Cyril Aynsley in the Daily Express.

Aynsley notes that Jackson often seemed ill at ease on the show and Jackson mentions that he is used to writing his own scripts for the shows he compères and found it difficult working to one which others had written. That doesn’t altogether explain some of the more basic mistakes Jackson made including introducing Simone Silva as “Silver Simone” and Teasey-Weasey Raymond as “Teenie-Weenie”. Jackson won’t be entirely lost to ITV, he will take over a new record programme on Sunday afternoons.

The Independent Television Authority’s announcement of the formation of a Children’s Advisory Committee is carried by The Times which reports that the headmaster of Westminster School, Mr W. Hamilton, will be the chairman and there will be 11 other members.

By coincidence, Bernard Levin chooses today to turn the attention of his Guardian review column to the subject of children’s television on ITV. Mr Levin is scornful of the umbrella title under which the weekday offerings shelter – “Tea-V Time” – but is generally impressed by the programmes themselves. He records that the visitors on Sunday’s A.B.C. TV Club were a policeman and policewoman. He describes the pair: “the two representatives of the force were a credit to it, speaking by turns gravely or gaily as the occasion or the members questions demanded, and sensibly throughout.”

The Adventures of Noddy gets the thumbs up, perhaps surprisingly, and indeed Mr Levin finds that, “For good-humoured fantasy and intelligent use of imagination the BBC has nothing to touch this for the younger children” and “Certainly Noddy can show The Flowerpot Men a thing or two.” The dialogue surprises Levin, containing “a crispness I confess I had not hitherto associated with Miss Blyton.” By way of example he cites, “When the policeman, for instance, is questioning Noddy to find out whether he is a toy or perhaps only a china ornament he asks: ‘Have you ever been stood on mantelpieces?'”

If Levin has an issue with programmes for the young it’s already been hinted at in his reference to The Flowerpot Men – language. As Noddy is followed by The Roy Rogers Show Levin wonders, “is it unduly priggish of me to wish that young English ears were treated to so much American?” A similar concern arises from the following programme, The Emperors’s New Clothes where “too many of the voices spoke in a kind of pidgin-Scandinavian”

And then the commercials. Levin says that he expected lots of the “tell your mother to buy one” approach, and hasn’t disappointed. But far more often, he adds, “the advertising which breaks or frames these programmes is perfectly straightforward stuff for grown-ups” and, as proof, he mentions “a long and exquisitely dull advertisement for curtain rings which [he] saw the other day in the middle of Tea-V Time”.

The Guardian’s Radio Critic (RC) was keeping an eye on the BBC and today’s column took as its main topic last night’s Special Inquiry into Contaminated Food. RC found the programme “hard-hitting” and Robert Reid’s introduction and summing up “excellent” particularly enjoying and approving of Reid’s comment that “for most of us there are plenty of hazards in life without having to eat them.”

Last night’s Zoo Quest was “a most exciting programme which pictures of the giant ant-eater and the capture of a large crocodile”. The National Fabric Fair had its moments “but television fails dismally to show the texture and of course the colour of materials”. The Horse of the Year Show “suffered a long breakdown in vision, which was disappointing, but everyone forgives a technical failure and it was not necessary for the BBC to apologise incessantly both during and after the breakdown.”

The Times trails the BBC production of “the most ambitious of… television operas so far” in La Traviata which will be produced by George R. Foa on 10 and 13 October. Film sequences will be recorded of Mr Robert Harris as the Armand Duval of 25 years later and these will be shown at the start and end of the opera and between the acts, thus framing the rest of the story which will, in effect, be told in flashback.

The BBC’s transmitter at Meldrum opens next Wednesday and this should help the Corporation’s broadcasts reach 90% of the population of Scotland according to a News Brief in The Times. Wales also gets attention – it’s the 50th anniversary of Cardiff gaining city status and BBC television will assist the celebrations by broadcasting Looking at Cardiff on 27 October.

In London the BBC began their colour transmission tests a couple of days early, yesterday evening, and reports suggest that the broadcasts were clear on black-and-white sets.

Colour also figures in Marius Goring’s current series The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel. In this case, it’s the colour of Goring’s eyes which is at issue. According to Clifford Davis of the Daily Mirror, the blue of Goring’s eyes is so blue that his eyes are very distinctive even on black-and-white film. And so Goring has been wearing dark-tinted contact lenses while filming the series so that his eyes don’t stand out and his disguises work more successfully.

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