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

There are more Questions than Answers

There’s a fascinating and moderately lengthy piece by Gerald Fay in The Guardian – perhaps the first of its size since this blog began – entitled Two Months To Go Before Commercial TV Begins: Questions Only Experience Can Answer.

As might be guessed from the title, much remains unanswered but it’s a useful catch-up for odd snippets of information. Reminding us that the opening night will be Thursday 22 September, Fay wonders whether the choice of Thursday is an accident or is because it is “a night on which the BBC is not generally at its brightest.”

Looking at the possible finances of the ITV companies Fay notes that “the London contractors have already sold several million pounds’ worth of advertising time” and that Norman Collins recently said that, “bookings for the Midland weekday programmes have reached £1 million” – and the commencement of the midlands’ service is still more than six months away.

Gerald Fay quotes an un-named man “whose interests in the new programmes is purely commercial”. “The best thing that will come from commercial TV,” he said, “will be the improvement in BBC television.” Fay faintly praises moves in this direction in the BBC’s newsreel programmes “which have become (by BBC standards) notably more adventurous.” Fay also spots an edge which Independent Television News will have over the BBC: it has studios in central London. “For quick, short news interviews,” Fay opines, “Lime Grove is certainly too far away and not everybody can be caught at the airports.”

Remembering some of the major criticisms of the concept of commercial television, Fay suggests that there “is not really much evidence that the programme contractors intend to concentrate entirely on the silliest forms of light entertainment” and points out “a lively policy in drama” as evinced by the positions of the actor-manager John Clement and H. M. Tennent‘s Binkie Beaumont in the commercial companies (although Fay doesn’t use the sobriquet ‘Binkie’ when referring to the latter).

On the subject of L.E., and presumably referring to the more sensible end of that genre, Fay is surprised that, “the BBC seems likely to put most of its effort into competing with the commercial stations on light entertainment (faced with, as we have been told, the full power of Jack Hylton’s knowledge).”+60

If you can find the whole thing, it’s worth reading.

The highlights of today’s television could well be The Ted Ray Show at 9.0pm, but Radio Times is tight-lipped over the identity of the guests who are “stars and personalities from London, Paris and New York”. With a script by Sid Colin, Talbot Rothwell and George Wadmore it could be good.

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