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

1960 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM