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

Sellers Peter Out

The BBC yesterday opened its experimental television service for the Channel Islands according to The Times. It notes that the signal is received at Guernsey and relayed from there to Jersey and the first reports are that reception is “quite satisfactory”.

Transmissions are also of interest to “Six members of the Soviet broadcasting organisation,” who according to The Times, “who are coming to London this week as guests of the BBC will be enabled to study all aspects of the BBC system including television, domestic sound broadcasting, the external services, and the technical services. They will visit one or more BBC transmitters.”

Some expansion on the Television Ball advertised yesterday. The paper says that “Mr J. B. Priestly and Mr Kenneth Horne are among the speakers at the dinner dance to be held at the Savoy Hotel on October 10 by the Guild of Television Producers and Directors.” The awards themselves will be presented by Dame Edith Evans.

The Doncaster Race Committee is not what you might think from its name – in fact, it’s in charge of the television rights for, among other things, the St. Leger horse race. They have received an offer from the BBC for the right to film next year’s race but have yet to accept it and the committee’s chairman is quoted in the Express as saying, “We shall doubtless have offers from other quarters. Naturally we want to take the best offer we can.”

The Times reports on a reduction in the number of radio sets bought in August reflecting, “the increase in hire-purchase deposit introduced in July”. The British Radio Equipment Manufacturers’ Association figures show that retail sales fell to 73,000 sets (from 84,000 in July and 74,000 in June); for radiograms, 11,000 sets were sold (from 9,000 in both June and July). At the same time, television sales increased to 64,000 in August – 3,000 more than in July and 6,000 more than in June.

So, to the programmes, and Cyril Aynsley writes in the Daily Express about the ITV programme What’s It All About? and for once, a reviewer does not pour scorn on a new panel show. The premise of the programme is that each challenger – a member of the public – will recount a tale which carries with it an air of mystery, and the panellists, in this first instance Avis Scott, Ngaio Marsh, Michael Trubshawe and Dr Mostyn Lewis, must ask questions and suggest solutions. For each incorrect solution the challenger wins £1, up to a maximum of £10. Mrs Webster won £2 and her tale was described by Mr Aynsley: “During the black-out in Birmingham, Mrs Webster was standing on the corner of the street one night and a man came and gave her a shove in the back. While the panel tried to puzzle what the shove in the back was all about a voice let viewers into the secret: the man had mistaken Mrs Webster for a pillar box.”

Some challengers won the full £10, and one of these was Mr Frederick Hall. Aynsley explains: “He told the story of a car being driven furiously at night and suddenly stopping because a dog ran in front of it. Why did the car then turn round and drive back normally?” The answer, which eluded the panel, was that “one of the passengers had a piece of meat stuck in his throat [and] was being driven urgently to hospital… and the sudden jolt had the piece of meat dislodged.”

Aynsley reports that “This sort of thing went on for 30 minutes, with the panel laughing, the audience applauding, chairman Paul Carpenter looking slightly bewildered, and ‘our friend Margaret here’ doling out pound notes.”

Cyril Aynsley mentions just one commercial in which a woman “with a pleasant face” introduced herself as Ruth Dunning and “proceeded to mention that she had been in her grocer’s that day and had something interesting to say about soap.”

Adverts were absent yesterday morning, though. There were no takers for any of Associated Rediffusion’s advertising slots in their morning programmes from 10.45am to 12.30pm and only one today. Why is this? The Express TV Reporter has a view: “The BBC, in the face of commercial competition, has steered clear of morning programmes and does not open its transmitter until 3pm. Women have then completed their shopping and household work and are ready to sit down and view, says the BBC which expects about a million women to be watching. Commercial television, on the other hand, has gone out to capture women’s interest in the morning, and has put on a rival to The Grove Family with Sixpenny Corner, plus a series of programmes on muscular control and other items.”

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