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

They Seek Him Here…

ITV, three days to goThe Times’ television reviewer (TR) was not enamoured of last night’s production of The Scarlet Pimpernel on the BBC. TR observes that “Television is on the whole unkind to classics of one’s youth” because it has a way of “magnifying the tiniest flaws and spoiling the fantastically woven memory”. “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” TR says, “suffered last night from a scrutiny it really will not bear.” The Express too noted that “it seemed an odd choice for Battle of Britain Sunday” and felt it was “a waste of a fine actor (Tony Britton)’s Sunday evening.”

The Guardian reports on a Mr Herbert Glynn, a councillor and secretary of the Bolton Trades’ Council who said last night that his suggestion that television plays, like cinema films, should be classified A, U, H and X – for the guidance of parents – had been rebuffed by the BBC. He is now “considering putting his suggestion before the Independent Television Authority.” The Councillor said that the BBC’s reply to him “contended that the editorial matter in Radio Times gave sufficient guidance for family viewing. It also pointed out that a spoken word of warning was given before presentation of plays which might upset nervous people.”

Elsewhere in the issue, the paper’s Radio Critic (RC) enjoyed the televising of the Promenade Concerts at the Albert Hall, but it seems that RC’s enjoyment is in the concert rather than in the televising which hardly makes for a television review.

RC’s concern, for there always is one, is with “Sport Special” which “is not a bad Saturday programme”. RC’s goat was got, in particular, but “several films of important football matches, each with commentary, but in only one were we told what the result had been.”

Harry Sacher – and I’m not sure whether this is the director of Marks and Spencer – writes to the editor of the Manchester Guardian and asks, “Should newspapers be allowed to invest in commercial television? One of the functions of the press is to criticise. Can it be expected to criticise freely an enterprise in which it has a financial interest?”

Can it indeed? Plenty of the national press, including The Guardian, the Daily and Sunday Express, the Daily Mirror and Sunday PictorialThe Times and Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph are as yet untainted I think. But will that remain?

I’ve not yet mentioned TV Times the “only paper giving NEW TV programmes in full” and the commercial television companies’ equivalent of Radio Times. The first issue contains programme details for the three days of the opening week as well as for the seven days following. From its second issue it will, of course, just be carrying a week’s programmes from Sunday to Saturday, just like RT. Of its forty pages just over 12 pages’ worth are taken up with advertisements, and it will be interesting to see whether the magazine shrinks when it only need feature seven days of television listings. It’s probably only fair to say that the Radio Times issue for the full week covered by this TV Times is 52 pages in length and has 12½ pages’ worth of advertisements. The RT is 3d, the TVT 4d.

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