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

No Marks for TV

The Times notes that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be making a budget broadcast at 9pm next Wednesday, with Mr Gaitskell replying for the Opposition at the same time on Thursday. The piece says that the broadcast will be made simultaneously on the Home Service and on television – but does that mean just BBC Television? Or will those in London and the Home Counties have a choice? We will see.

Of a tangential interest here is the news that the Board of Trade hopes to start publication of what The Times calls “the first of the proposed index numbers of the trade” by the end of the year. Thereafter index fixtures for hire purchase sales and hire purchase debt should be published monthly thereafter. This sounds straightforward but for the comment that after some time “it may be that an actual official estimate of the total hire purchase debts outstanding may be published.” So what’s this index? Not sure, to be honest.

The same paper mentions an article in The Banker earlier in the year which put total hire purchase debts at between £356m and £456m with radios, television sets and other household appliances contributing between £75m and £95m to that total.

The Daily Mirror includes a piece which leans towards the notion that anyone with a television set is either rich beyond the dreams of avarice or a frivolous spendthrift. A clerk, on £8-10s a week (£442 a year), got into debt and stole from his employers to fund his racy lifestyle which, it seems, consisted of buying a television set on hire-purchase.  The magistrate, Mr Leslie Marks, himself on £2,500 a year, is quoted as saying, “It seems to me that people, whether they have the money or not, must have a television set or motor-car. I personally have not got a television set.”

Will this just get worse as more can receive? The Guardian reports on BBC plans for a new television and VHF radio transmitter at Barren Fell in Caldbeck, Cumberland.

The same newspaper carries an advertisement which lists a number of northern stockists of Kenrick’s “Shepherd” castors which are “so kind to carpets” and have been “demonstrated on Commercial TV”.

Today’s the day that Bernard Levin comments in The Guardian on the week’s viewing on ITV and the programmes he has watched this week, he says, “could be put together to form a valuable and instructive course on how not to run a television service.”

First of these was Wednesday’s Cavalcade of Sport wherein Kent Walton was tasked with interviewing the boxer Yolande Pompey who Levin describes as “a thoughtful and intelligent young man whose courteous, alert and soft-spoken manner marked him out as a man of interest”. So worth listening to, it seems, providing… I’ll let Bernard Levin continue in his own words:

But would Mr Walton let Mr Pompey get a word in edgeways? Not on your life. He asked strings of idiotic questions that could only be answered with a “Yes.” He made terrible jokes and shrieked with laughter at them himself. He interrupted almost everything that Mr Pompey tried to say, be bounced up and down in sheer joy at his own cleverness… in short he made himself a perishing nuisance.

The brief Assignment Unknown which preceded Cavalcade took us to Tokyo and Korea but unfortunately showed the British soldiers there “doing the same things as their comrades on Salisbury Plain” while Thursday’s Playhouse production “Summer in Normandy” was just “a bad play, badly acted.”

The only programme coming in for praise was the five-minute news-film shown at the end of the 10 p.m. news broadcast on Thursday. Here Norman Dodds M.P. was talking to the men he had accused of slacking on a job in the road outside his home. Levin calls the people “real and recognisable” and describes them as “an intelligent man… a less intelligent man, and a still less intelligent man, and a member of Parliament. And the first three were very angry with the last and let him know in their several ways.” And the participants “looked at each other and did not spend time gawping at the camera.” Says Levin: “For five minutes the screen looked in on life and the screen came alive with an immediacy and a degree of reality that for the rest of the week was never even suggested.”

Along with Visitor of the Day and the Epilogue, the news is broadcast from Associated-Rediffusion’s Television House, the corridors of which are mostly lit by candles and hurricane lamps because the electricians there are still on strike. However, the strike only affects office and ‘house’ lighting so they can still illuminate Christopher Chataway in the newsroom.

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