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

New Faces, Old Hands

The Times’ “News in Brief” section comes up trumps for the second day running. This time, it reports that The League of Empire Loyalists have challenged the BBC to arrange a broadcast debate between one of their spokesmen and Gilbert Harding on the subject of Britain’s colonial record. The LoEL claimed that during the programme Who Said That? Mr Harding make “an outspoken attack on the British Empire.”

Also in brief, but not in the NiB section, is the news that the BBC and General Teleradio Incorporated have signed an agreement which allows the showing on US television the BBC film series War in the Air.

Sales of television sets and radio receivers have increased in July according to figures from the British Radio Equipment Manufacturers’ Associate which were published in The Guardian. Television sales increased to 61,000 (a rise of approximately 5%) while radio sales rose by 14% to 84,000, though the latter figure includes portable transistor radios as well as those intended for the home. Radiogram sales were steady at 13,000.

The Guardian’s “own reporter” writes that the main factor which decides the precise date on which commercial television will start in the north west is… the weather. Eddie Pola, the director of Light Entertainment for Granada Theatres Ltd said that “the company expected to start on May 1, though it would be ready in March or April. Everything, however, depended on when the new transmitting mast on Winter Hill, near Chorley, was completed. Bad weather could delay its erection.” So presumably could be peat fires, which I mentioned a few days ago, though Mr Pola did not mention those as a threat.

The company’s studios in Quay Street, Manchester are expected to be ready for occupation by the end of the year with a further two months needed for the installation and testing of their equipment.

Staying tight-lipped on the subject, Mr Pola minced his words when asked about the new station’s schedules which, he claimed, “we not yet decided in detail”. He did state that there would be a daily programme “controlled by a Northerner” and “a comedy programme with a Lancashire lead.”

The BBC are also going to be busy in Manchester as their new Sunday afternoon schedules will feature four concerts by the BBC Northern Orchestra broadcast from Milton Hall, Manchester. These will be televised on 9 and 23 October and 6 and 20 November. John Hopkins and Vilem Tausky will each conduct two of the concerts and the presenter is to be Antony Hopkins.

The Express’s Robert Cannell writes under the headline “Is the TV Announcer Finished?” and reports that the “day of the formal TV announcer, sober-faced and precise is nearly done.” “The old-style announcer will disappear,” he says, “except at the beginning and end of the television day.” The familiar announcers – Sylvia Peters, Mary Malcolm and McDonald Hobley – will not vanish altogether but will be seen “within the framework of programmes” as compères (or, presumably, commères) or hosts. The official reason being given is that “programmes run more smoothly without formal breaks for announcements.”

As if trying to confuse us, the Daily Mirror carries a photograph of “Four new faces on your TV” and suggests that we will soon get to know the “four pretty faces” who belong to four young women who have “been signed as new announcers for BBC television”. The four are Cherry Hunter, 21, from Jamaica; Vera McKechnie, 26, of Sevenoaks; Pauline Tooth, 22, of Bayswater; and Anne Valery, 28, of Regents Park. So – are we going to see them, or aren’t we?

The BBC are all over the shop tonight. From the National Radio Show, Starlight features Adelaide Hall and the tricks of the trade in sport and industry are revealed in tonight’s Arenascope presentation “It’s Easy When You Know How”. Also from the NRS is a special edition of Emney Enterprises. Away from there, we have a report from the Annual Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Bristol. From Blackpool comes the National Swimming and Diving Championships, and in most of the country, there’s the City of Birmingham Show from Handsworth Park.

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