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

Mai Goodness

Curious use of television in The Times small ads. Under the classification “Kennel Farm and Aviary / Dogs”, a Mrs Chivers of Farningham in Kent advertises three bitch puppies. They’re Dalmations, a breed that she describes as “the TV favourite”.

The same newspaper reports some BBC research. This includes a figure for the “television public” – the number of people living in homes where there is a television receiver – which, for the quarter running from July to September is about 13 million, a rise of around 3 million compared to the same quarter last year. The average evening audience for television over the same period is about 4.2 million, up from 3.6 million a year ago. Interestingly, while both figures have risen, the percentage the audience forms of the total has actually fallen. The report suggests that this may be attributed to the weather as the summer of 1955 was an improvement over that of 1954.

A Mr B. Rose writes to the editor of The Times commenting on Mr Hopper’s recent letter. He agrees that television might result in a loss of hotel revenue, but for a different reason. He writes, “My wife and I had occasion to stay at a small hotel last week, which had only one visitors’ lounge, equipped with a television set. We were unable to read or to talk to other visitors but had to suffer a programme which we would gladly have turned off, had it been possible. We have made a resolve that we will never again willingly stay at any hotel, unless we can be assured that there is an adequate lounge where we will not be compelled to watch television.”

Under the headline “Rival TV in battle over a bullfight”, a Daily Mirror reporter writes, “A battle over a bullfight raged behind the scenes in Commercial TV last night. The bullfight is in an Orson Welles film scheduled to be shown tonight. Scenes show a bull being killed and a matador being gored.” Someone who worked on the film is quoted as saying, “Viewers will see the kill, but not in close-up”. A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “We have protested to the Independent Television Authority about the film.” Mr Edmund T. MacMichael of the Animal Defence League had also protested apparently and claimed that the film is illegal under an act of 1847 and against the public interest, “Especially if it so expurgated to make it relatively ungory and therefore calculated to deceive the unwary.”

In the Express, Cyril Aynsley writes about The Star Without A Name, last night’s television play starring Mai Zetterling. He describes the play as “a daring choice for this fine actress – a flimsy French fantasy.” In it, “A woman of the world, dressed in a tight-fitting dressing gown, is put off a train at a remote French town because she attempts to pay her fare in Monte Carlo gambling chips.” The plot develops thus: “For a few hours she plays out an odd little love affair with a humble schoolmaster. Her dream ends at dawn when her lover arrives to claim her.” Cyril’s verdict: “This could have been sickening nonsense. But Mai Zetterling’s delicacy and tenderness brought tears to the eyes”. You old softie.

Sir Thomas Beecham is quoted at length in The Guardian, following a press conference at which “he outlined his plans for a series of musical programmes which the Granada group on commercial television has engaged him to do.” The piece notes that “Starting in the late summer next year he will do a series of twelve programmes, giving his own selections and arrangements from opera, orchestral, theatrical, and ballet music, both ancient and modern, and particularly, he says, the rarer things.”

There will also be “encounters with Sir Thomas at home where, with his wife, he will vent his views on the contemporary music scene ‘and,’ he threatens, ‘any other current events of consequences.’ He will be seen at rehearsals which he describes, a little drily, as ‘usually joyous occasions.'”

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