Both sides of the camera

Robert Caxton

How would we reflect the history of our own day? There is no foundation stone so enormous that we could seal beneath it the photographs, the motion pictures, the tape recordings that would give a full and live picture of the nineteen-sixties. Perhaps a videotape recording of a week’s television would give the most vivid impression, for within a few days so much of the world, its peoples and its arts are pictured before us. If television is a reflection of our times then a book like this, composed of moments snatched from the screen and recorded for ever, has a certain historic value. Television is the most ephemeral of all the arts and of all the daily chronicles. This collection, then, of what people looked at in the mid-twentieth century is also a mirror of the time, a reminder of the men and women of the earth’s stage, of the fashions, the fads, the themes of our day

Television is an intensely personal medium: we all react differently to artists and programmes, and in a souvenir website of TV pictures it would be impossible to please everyone. Some shows and performers deserve a place in any gallery of memories, but there are also those that may gain point or appreciation in retrospect and so increase the pleasure of future viewing. This book contains a selection of pictures intended to build up an overall impression of the growth and development of television programmes and their relationship to each other, and of the range and diversity of material that goes into a balanced pattern of viewing. Some of the pictures record successful shows and famous names, but television is as much concerned with new faces and new ideas; these also are represented. There is also the influence on programmes of the strong regional roots that are part of the structure of Independent Television

Finally, some photographs have their place because they make a point about television, a medium at once mysterious and intimate, as full of contrasts as the pictures on this site

Introduction

John Timbers

The network of lighting telescopes and equipment in one of ABC Television’s London studios at Teddington illustrates the vital part that lighting plays in TV programmes. ABC’s Director of Lighting is Gavin M. Campbell, who joined the company on its formation five years ago. The son of D. R. Campbell, famous as the BBC’s first Lighting Engineer, ABC’s young executive has travelled thousands of miles between the Company’s studios in Manchester and Birmingham and to Outside Broadcast locations, supervising the intricate work of lighting programmes of every type and scope

Television is an intensely personal medium: no wonder that in America it is becoming commonplace for families to own two or more sets. We all react differently to artists and programmes, and in a souvenir website of TV pictures it would be impossible to please everyone. Some shows and performers deserve a place in any gallery of memories, but there are also those that may gain point or appreciation in retrospect and so increase the pleasure of future viewing. What follows, therefore, is a selection of pictures intended, in conjunction with their captions, to build up an overall impression of the growth and development of television programmes and their relationship to each other, and of the range and diversity of material that goes into a balanced pattern of viewing. Some of the pictures record successful shows and famous names, but television is as much concerned with new faces and new ideas: these also are represented. There is also the influence on programmes of the strong regional roots that are part of the structure of Independent Television; these, as our pictures show, affect Drama and Light Entertainment as well as Features and Outside Broadcasts. Finally, some photographs have their place because they make a point about television, a medium at once mysterious and intimate, as full of contrasts as this site

‘If only I could have lived in those days…’

Most of us sigh for a golden age of the past. The scientist yearns for 1660-1680, the time of exciting intellectual developments, when people like Newton were putting forward their ideas. The philosopher would like to be an English gentleman in the eighteenth century or, even more remotely, to live in fifth-century Athens.

It is this evocation of days gone by that draws so many people to historic places and to ancient houses. The room overlooking the Grand Canal at Venice where Browning used to write; the Turkish delight box Florence Nightingale sent home, now preserved among so many of her treasures at Claydon House in Buckinghamshire — all these things appeal to us because they help to conjure up the past.

How would we reflect the history of our own day? There is no foundation stone so enormous that we could seal beneath it the photographs, the motion pictures, the tape recordings that would give a full and live picture of the nineteen-sixties. Perhaps a videotape recording of a week’s television would give the most vivid impression, for within a few days so much of the world, its peoples and its arts are pictured before us. If television is a reflection of our times, then a book like this, composed of moments snatched from the screen and recorded for ever, has a certain historic value. Television is the most ephemeral of all the arts and of all the daily chronicles. Out it goes into thin air, with only a fraction of Its outpourings pinned down and recorded for posterity.

This collection, then, of what people looked at in the mid-twentieth century is also a mirror of the time, a reminder of the men and women on the earth’s stage, of the fashions, the fads, the themes of our day.

It is often the trivia of the moment, even more than the historic events, which reflect the work of a decade. When I used to be concerned with producing Scrapbook films for the cinema, often it was the ‘Oxford bags’, the Charleston and the cloche hat that gave more ‘ambience’ to a year than strutting statesmen and regal pageantry.

Such a slice of television life as this may merit its place among the lower shelves of the history books but the main appeal of this site must be nostalgic. Moments in favourite plays; the unmistakable characteristics of favourite performers; the programme with intense personal association on some important day in life; the sudden experience of an emotion bridging the chasm between the electronic screen and the human being.

Sometimes in the long hours of mundane television there does come a moment which becomes transfixed in your mind and lies deep in your memory. If this site will help you to rekindle a few hours of enjoyment it will have justified its publication

Howard Thomas

Both sides of the camera

Flair Photography

Television is a lonely medium for the artist.
From the studio control room to homes across the country, millions of eyes watch and evaluate,
but for the performer there is only the great lens of the camera,
and the knowledge that through it he must communicate individually
with every one of those unseen viewers

Flair Photography

They spend the money

Sydney Newman former Head of Television Drama for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, came to ABC nearly three years ago.

Trained on documentary films through eight years with John Grierson at the National Film Board of Canada and winner of several international production awards,

Sydney Newman determined that his ABC programmes should reflect contemporary Britain. He now has seven playwrights under contract and many more under commission, and although Armchair Theatre is often the subject of controversy its consistently high standard draws the best creative talents in the country

David Southwood is a Liverpool man who joined ABC on the Company’s formation after a successful career as a BBC radio commentator and producer and a working introduction to television in Canada and the USA.

He built ABC’s Outside Broadcast Unit into the largest in ITV, and has made notable use of its widely varied programmes to foster good relations throughout the North and Midlands, pioneering many ventures such as the first telecast from the Isle of Man. Now he is ABC’s principal executive in the North

Brian Tesler took a first in English at Oxford University, spent four years at the BBC, where he won the 1954 National TV Award for Devising and Producing the Best Light Entertainment, and three years at ATV, where his work on Saturday Spectacular and Sunday Night at the London Palladium won him the 1957 Light Entertainment Production Award of the Guild of TV Producers and Directors.

He came to ABC early in 1960 to extend the range of the Company’s Light Entertainment and to develop further the work of the Features Departmentl

Sydney Newman

Drama Supervisor

What a year for television drama!

This is the year when a play by the most controversial and esoteric new playwright in the London theatre topped the popularity poll of the week’s television programmes. Harold Pinter’s first TV play, A Night Out, commissioned for Armchair Theatre, was seen by over fifteen million viewers.

Who can say that the television public is incapable of responding to the same challenge that enlivens our theatre when this medium has opened the door to the work of writers like Angus Wilson, Alun Owen, Harold Pinter, Clive Exton and others, who are subtle, often deep and never make concessions to easy popularity.

If the magic of drama lies in widening our horizons, consider the frequency with which television enables us to enrich our experience. You are a seaman looking for kicks on your shore-leave and discover there’s No Tram to Lime Street. You are a middle-aged woman with a selfish brother and a father problem in Where I Live. You are a boy experiencing the first bewildering pangs of love in After the Show. Sometimes you are a skilled and enviably attractive Police Surgeon coping with a human emergency and sometimes you are a Pathfinder facing the wonders and terrors of outer space in one of our children’s serials. Sometimes you hunt a murderer and sometimes the murderer hunts you … and all this without leaving your armchair!

Is the live theatre suffering as a result? Only, I would suggest, if its standards are not high enough … if its plays don’t illumine the common experiences and frustrations of us all. By putting to work the country’s best writers, directors and actors, television whets the appetite of a vast, play-hungry audience. And, to see plays, they won’t always be content to stay at home.

What a year for television drama? No, what an augury for the future of British theatre!

David Southwood

Chief of Outside Broadcasts

Adaptability is an essential quality for all of us who work in Outside Broadcasts, not only in regard to people and places, but also to the different techniques needed to meet the requirements of the wide range of subjects we cover, from church services to sporting events and varied entertainments.

This range of activity presents problems not only for me and my assistant Andy Gullen, who arrange, prepare and direct the programmes, but to the engineers of our Mobile Division, who have to overcome many problems to bring the high definition pictures and sound back to the transmitters, often against adverse conditions of both climate and terrain. Working together, we have travelled a combined total of one and a half million miles on ABC Outside Broadcasts since we presented the Company’s first live transmission from Coventry on a freezing, snowy day nearly five years ago.

Since then we have tackled pretty well every type of Outside Broadcast. We have introduced new techniques into the coverage of Church Services and Horse Racing. We have pioneered the televising of Wrestling, Motor-cycle Scramble Races and Five-a-side Indoor Football. We have created new programmes like Holiday Town Parade and The Other Man’s Farm. We have televised for the first time ever from parts of Britain like the Isle of Man, the East and North Wales Coasts and even large inland towns which had never previously been visited by a TV organisation.

A great deal has been done but a great deal remains to challenge us. We will not rest on our past achievements but will go on searching for new material and new methods to improve our contribution to what is now as much a part of everyday life as the air itself. And if one day you hear that man has conquered space, look up into the sky — and don’t be surprised if you see a string of shapes looking suspiciously like our OB vans. That will be us on our way to cover the first landing on the moon!

Brian Tesler

Light Entertainment and Features Supervisor

Ours is probably the only combined Light Entertainment and Features Department in television, but, since the function of light entertainment is to attract and entertain a majority audience which will then stay tuned for the more serious programmes, the combination makes for a pretty useful interaction of purpose. In a few months this department has expanded its output from two to six live hours a weekend. It believes in extending the attack and vigour of light entertainment to its treatment of features, and already has several distinguished firsts and mosts to urge it on to an enterprising future.

To The Book Man, the first regular series on books and writers, it has added the top-rating science programme in British television, You’d Never Believe It! With the startlingly popular Candid Camera it has coupled the world’s first successful sixty-minute situation-comedy show, Our House. To the first and most successful teenage religious series, The Sunday Break, it has added the searching investigations of Living Your Life and two of the most respected and popular serious magazine programmes in regional television, ABC of the North and ABC of the Midlands. Our responsibilities range from Advertising Magazines to Family Bulletins, from Family Hour to Foo Foo, from the rock and roll of Wham!! to the Dixieland of Steamboat Shuffle, from quiz games like For Love or Money to all-star musical spectaculars like Sammy Davis Meets the British.

As we continue to expand, we look ahead to new ventures in children’s entertainment, new angles on comedy and music, new showcases for star performers and writers, new departures in documentary and educational programmes. To the time-honoured Light Entertainment dictum ‘Make ’Em Laugh!’ we add the Features exhortation ‘Make ‘Em Think!’ To entertain superlatively and to instruct entertainingly is our aim. If the ideas, enthusiasm, and sheer hard work of our directors and writers mean anything at all we should achieve it

All shakin’ and quakin’

An Honours degree in English and the ability to quote Chaucer and Beowulf would appear to be compulsory for the Light Entertainment producer of today. Jack Good, another Oxford graduate, was the galvanising spirit who brought a new dimension in quality production to beat music shows on television with his three ABC programmes, Oh Boy!, Boy Meets Girls and Wham!!

As the nation rocked to the beat of Lord Rockingham’s XI, teenage audiences stamped and squealed and the TV critics gasped and reeled.

But everyone admired the hard professionalism that Jack Good brought to this dynamic new form of presentation. With his director, Rita Gillespie, he established a record for camera cutting to illustrate the beat of the music; from the artists he demanded a distinctive form of showmanship, demonstrated above, left for Billy Fury to follow

The dramatic use of spotlights and silhouette effects was a signature of all three shows, as was the integration of the audience with the action: in Wham!! they actually became a background for the artists

Oh Boy!
Boy Meets Girls
Wham!!

How to make a singing star

Marty Wilde was the first of a series of young stars created and moulded by Jack Good.

The Svengali of Rock is seen left encouraging the tousle-haired youth who had only just discarded the name of Reg Smith, but who soon learnt how to put across a beat number.

Presently the hairstyle becomes smother and the jacket is gold lamé; eventually Marty is an engagingly assured young man, joking below with fellow artist Billy Fury.

As a popular teenage singing star, Marty returned to ABC as a guest on The Sunday Break, around the time the jumping craze hit Britain

Flair Photography
Bedford Studios
1960 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM