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

Keeping It Dry

Jo Grimond, the Liberal MP for Orkney and Shetland congratulates The Observer on publishing Dingle Foot’s article about the restrictions facing the BBC and independent television companies. He says, “There are difficulties about political broadcasting, but they are not very hard to meet.” He continues, “It endangers free speech and makes Parliament ridiculous.” He concludes, “What gives a final touch of farce to the whole proceeding is that the mouthpiece for the ban is a very popular broadcaster who still likes to be called some sort of Liberal. I can’t believe he relishes his role.”

Same paper’s television critic Alan Brien bemoans his lot in that television demands “coroners rather than critics, post-mortems instead of reviews”. He says, “Too often, then, the critic can only return a verdict of wilful murder by person or persons well-known. And his praise is even more pointless than his spleen. The vision has faded and the commentator is left with the tiresome role of that man who keeps on saying, ‘But you ought to have seen Bolonsky dance Belushka in September, 1910.”

Thus it is to the critics’ benefit that the BBC system that the BBC ensures the same people continue to appear in the same series. Brien fears that it is too late to “congratulate Michael Barsley on the intelligence and integrity of his final edition of Panorama…. And it is hardly worth complaining of the ineptitude which permitted Muggeridge to leave Lord Russell in the middle of a sentence and creep away in full view of the camera so that the eminent philosopher remained glaring at us in indignant astonishment like a thoroughbred racehorse which sees the winning post being dismantled just as it turns into the straight.”

Brien notes changes ahead in Panorama when “instead of the boyish bonhomie of Max Robertson we shall have the middle-aged mateyness of Richard Dimbleby.” Brien notes that their different approach can be epitomised by the way the talk to the man in the street: “Robertson calls then ‘chaps’ and they call him ‘sir’. Dimbleby calls them ‘sir’ and they call him ‘Richard'”.

The repeat does, of course, temper the critics’ problems mentioned by Brien earlier and thus he finds that The Confidential Clerk “had matured well”. Similarly, multiple productions by the same producer allow one “to generalise about his methods.” Unfortunately, while Brien was taken with Tony Richardson’s work on It Should Happen to a Dog he was underwhelmed by the same producer’s work on The Apollo of Bellac.

Brien quite liked The Powder Magazine but finishes by declaring, “On the other hand, anyone who missed The Woman on the Beach might as well just thank the lucky stars and keep quiet about it.”

The Stage‘s TV Page reports on the activities of Associated Broadcasting’s Harry Alan Towers who has been busy negotiating with a variety of American companies for British screenings of I Love LucyFord TheatreLassie and a series starring Liberace. Mr Towers has also arranged with CBS for the American distribution of a new filmed TV series African Rifles which will be made in London starring Michael Rennie from 1 September, and is in discussions with NBC over a new colour adventure series entitled Captain Horatio Hornblower. His Associated Broadcasting colleague, Lew Grade, say on his return, “I believe that in a few years’ time we shall be doing about $5,000,000 worth of business with America every year.”

Under the strident heading THEY WILL ENTERTAIN THE WOMEN, the TV Page introduces “two personalities that should be come very well known to viewers when [Commercial Television] starts in September are Stephen Black and Kenneth MacLeod, who have been engaged by AR to act as hosts, on alternate weeks, for ‘Morning Magazine’, the entertainment especially devised to start the day for women.

The TV Page’s reviewer F.G.B. rather liked the play The Powder Magazine although he too felt that there was too much melodrama. FGB thought that, “A word of praise should also go to [producer Alan Bromly] for the interval screening of a printing machine, for this maintained atmosphere in a way that has not been achieved on TV before.”


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