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

Labour Win… and Lose

Today, The Times reports the BBC’s viewing figures for the election broadcasts in May. The largest audience (16%) was for the final Labour Party election broadcast in which Mr Herbert Morrison appeared. The Conservative equivalent, with Sir Anthony Eden, attracted 15%. Television broadcasts drew an average audience of 5,250,000 adults compared to 5,500,000 for sound. The report notes that in 1951, when the previous election was held, the audience for radio broadcasts averaged 13 million. It speculates that the reason for the decline in sound audiences was partly due to the effect of television and partly because May audiences are generally lower than in October, when the ’51 election took place.

Elsewhere in the paper, it is noted that the combined television and radio audience amounted to a maximum of 29% of the electorate (assuming no overlap between the two audiences) compared to 36% in 1951 and more than 50%, for Winston Churchill, in 1945 and 1950. No-one posits that the real reason for the apathy may be down to it being the third election in five years or that many felt the result a foregone conclusion. The number of votes cast in 1955 was more than 6% fewer than in 1951.

Meanwhile, in a letter to the editor, a Grenville Jones of SW7 laments that a “friend of [his] is interested in a small company which has just embarked on a modest [press] advertising campaign.” He notes that there appears to be no possibility of his advertising on commercial television despite the fact that some weeks earlier, “a statement was published by the Programme Contractors” that they had already made provision to help the smaller advertiser.”

The Guardian has some bad news with regard to the sales of television sets – the numbers are falling. The number of sets sold each month from February to May (in thousands) were: 98, 85, 75 and 64. Partly to blame, perhaps, were new restrictions on hire purchasing which came into force in February.

Clifford Davis in the Daily Mirror approved of Sylvia Syms’ performance in last night’s play, writing, “Twenty-one-year-old Sylvia Syms, of Croydon, last night set the television screen alive with youth, beauty and, above all, enthusiasm for romance.”

Some unusual scheduling on the BBC where the The International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen forms part of children’s television (for an unspecified portion of their 5-5.55pm allocation) as well as part of adult viewing (from 9-9.30pm).

Elsewhere, William Simons is “Leaving for Home” in Bobby in France, Peter Butterworth is afflicted by “Peter’s Troubles” and voice-artists Peter Hawkins and Ivan Owen are kept busy by Billy Bean and his Funny Machine. News aside, the evening is rounded off by the last of J. B. Priestley’s You Know What People Are.

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