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!!

Armchair Theatre

The 1959-60 season of Armchair Theatre, the only ITV [drama anthology] programme presented every week by the same company, was a notable success with audiences. Thirty-two of the thirty-seven plays featured in TAM’s Top Ten ratings, one gained the highest viewing figure to date for an ITV play and another became the only play ever to achieve first place in the Top Ten

Producer Sydney Newman’s determined work among authors also resulted in a record proportion of new writing; eighteen of the plays were specially commissioned for the programme, among them the first original work for TV by Angus Wilson, Alun Owen and Harold Pinter. Of the remainder, all but seven were by British writers, and several were adaptations made for ABC

The season opened with The Scent of Fear, specially written by Ted Willis and directed by John Moxey, one of ABC’s ablest and most experienced directors, whose cigar is seen left in consultation with Sydney Newman

George Varjas

A new television playwright

One of Britain’s most distinguished novelists, Angus Wilson, signed a contract in Autumn 1959 to write exclusively on television for Armchair Theatre.

His first TV play was After the Show, adapted by the author from his own short story and directed by William Kotcheff with designs by Assheton Gorton.

Starring Jeremy Spenser and Ann Lynn, it told with gentle irony the story of a young man’s first painful brush with love on meeting his uncle’s delectably youthful mistress.

Below the young lover reflects on the capriciousness of women

John Timbers

A ring of cameras converge on the seated figure of Jeremy Spenser

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Depth director

William T. Kotcheff (the ‘T’ stands for Theodore, hence the nickname ‘Ted’) won the 1959 Award for Drama Direction from the Guild of TV Producers and Directors.

In the three years since he came to Britain, this young Canadian has become the most talked-about man in his field.

Disliking the term ‘Method’, he nevertheless demands a depth of characterisation from his actors that drew from one Hollywood star the remark that Kotcheff had awakened his creative imagination for the first time in ten years.

Now actors accept ‘bit’ parts just to work with Kotcheff, in whose productions the dividing line between art and reality is concealed by the kind of vitality he is here infusing in Jeremy Spencer and Ann Lynn for After the Show

John Timbers

Not seen in London

Ronald Hart

‘One of the funniest shows in British television’ was the verdict of audiences and critics on After Hours a fantasia of nonsense perpetrated on the ABC Network for two seasons by Michael Bentine above and assorted friends under the direction of Dick Lester, with designs by Bob Fuest.

Not seen in London except for the first three shows, After Hours fielded a team including ‘seaman’ Benny Lee, ‘football fan’ Clive Dunn, ‘child prodigy’ Dick Emery and ‘guest goon’ Bernard Bresslaw

After Hours

Stanley Allen

Well… where else would you interview a swimming champion? Olympic Gold Medallist Judy Grinham gets the John Freeman treatment from Michael Bentine

Tuppence in the slot will wind up Mr Bentine and other ‘mechanical footballers’

The ample charms of blonde Heidi Erich are a gift for Bentine and guest star John Bentley, taking the mickey out of African Patrol

Commonwealth heroes

African Patrol, the popular film series about East Africa’s police force made on the actual locations, stars John Bentley above as Inspector Paul Derek. 

Below Richard Denning, Jill Adams and Alan White play the central characters in Flying Doctor, the story of Australia’s famous airborne medical service, specially filmed for television by the Associated British Picture Corporation

White collar cops

Television is gradually changing the public image of the ‘private eye’; increasingly he is becoming a businessman rather than a lone operator.

The hour-long 77 Sunset Strip series and the half-hour International Detective (made at Elstree by the Associated British Picture Corporation) both belong to this new category

Efrem Zimbaiist Jr and Roger Smith left, reading downwards play the partners whose office address gives 77 Sunset Strip its name; their youthful assistant, ‘Kookie’, played by Edward Byrnes, is the glamour boy whose comb and breezy line of patter have become a signature of the series

Based on true stories from the files of the world’s largest detective agency, International Detective takes its star Arthur Fleming right to many interesting locations

What you saw… and how it was photographed

This intimate scene between Isa Miranda and Roland Brand in Light from a Star was a lot more romantic for the viewers than for the actors, who had to sustain their moment of emotion against the intrusion of microphone and camera

As Isa Miranda harangued her fellow guests at dinner, director Philip Saville and his camera circled the table like ghosts at the feast

1960 // THIS IS TRANSDIFFUSION