Music, maestro, please!

For those who like their music sweet rather than beat, ABC presented two big orchestras supported by a host of stars in glossy, Hollywood-style productions.

First of these was maestro Mantovani and his internationally famous ‘singing strings,’ who were filmed at Elstree in thirty-nine half-hour shows under the title Mantovani

A date with Maxin

Leslie Davis

Another sweet-music man was Ernest Maxin, who introduced his Orchestra in Make a Date, a series of live studio programmes in which he performed the dual role of producer and star.

Bob Fuest designed the sets.

While producer Maxin bottom scratches his head, host Maxin left dances with Petula Clark and joins Dave King in a song and dance routine

Stanley Allen

From music to mirth

Ernest Maxin proved his versatility as a producer by following Make a Date with Our House, a series of thirteen hour-long comedy plays by top screenwriter Norman Hudis, with an all-star cast headed by Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey and Joan Sims.

Our House recorded the adventures of an oddly assorted group of people who agreed to solve their accommodation problems by sharing a house.

Paul Bernard designed the ‘mansion’ in question

Stanley Allen

Summer Home

Serious homemaking was demonstrated in Summer Home, a ‘do it yourself’ series starring Maid Marion herself, Patricia Driscoll, here seen weilding a paint brush, and her husband, Duncan Lamont.

Philip Harben dispensed advice in the kitchen department, and below he gets some tips about wine from noted gourmet Paymond Postgate, who is arrayed in the impressive robes of Jurade St Emilion.

The director was Helen Standage

You’d Never Believe It

A popular science programme in every sense of the word is You’d Never Believe It, which investigates famous magic acts in show business and gives viewers the medical and biological facts that make them possible.

Putting your hand under molten lead, lying on a bed of nails, walking on hot coals and up a ladder of swords are some feats demonstrated here for host Huw Thomas and scientist Arthur Garratt.

George Noordhof produces the programme

Willoughby Gullachsen

T-T goes ‘straight’

John Timbers

A form of magic that goes badly wrong provokes Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, when on of London’s eligible bachelors is led into a disasterous series of experiments with explosive devices after a palmist tells him he is destined to commit murder.

Terry-Thomas made his debut as a straight actor on ITV in ABC’s adaptation of the Oscar Wilde story for Armchair Theatre, and Robert Coote, recently released from several years’ service as Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady, made his British TV debut as Lord Arthur’s manservant.

The palmist was Arthur Lowe.

The director was Alan Cooke, and Englishman home on leave after nine years in Hollywood, and George Haslam designed the magnificently Gothic sets

The military mind

Sir Donald Wolfit was another famous player who created a period role for Armchair Theatre.

Philip Saville directed him in The Last of the Brave, Stanley Mann’s powerful story of a retired French colonel, obsessed with the ideal of discipline, who drives his son to the 1914 War and later shoots the wounded boy when he reveals himself as a coward.

Paul Massie played the son and Rosemary Scott the mother.

Assheton Gorton designed the sets

Warwick Bedford

Two views of the military man

John Timbers

Another old-guard soldier, but this time of a more human kind, was created by Clive Exton in his comedy Some Talk of Alexander.

Harry Andrews had waited eight years to find a TV play to his liking before making his ITV debut as the former Guards nco who readjusts himself to civiliian life in the greengrocer’s shop kept by Ingeborg Wells and her son James Culliford.

Alan Cooke, who has a gifted hand with comedy, directed the play.

A very different Clive Exton story about a military man was Hold My Hand, Soldier, illustrated right with a scene from each of its deeply moving acts. Victor Maddern, Gordon Jackson and Ronald Fraser were the only three players in this modern parable of a private soldier’s journey to Calvary, presented by Armchair Theatre on Easter Sunday.

John Moxey did some of his finest work as a director of this play, while James Goddard, a new name among ABC’s young designers, created the sets for both Exton productions

Mark Hamilton

Fighting men

George Varjas
Aubrey Dewar

An American view of soldiers in action was shown in Rod Serling’s Korean War play Come In Razor Red, directed by Alvin Rakoff with designs by Timothy O’Brien.

The Commander, US Navel Forces Europe lent fifteen nco’s and men of his Headquarters Marine Guard to guide the British extras in the trench warfare scenes; they were later ‘decorated’ by ABC for their ‘gallantry’ in applying themselves to the cause of theatrical duty

American visitors

Warwick Bedford

Among the US stars who came to Britain for Armchair Theatre in 1960 were John Ireland and Ed Degley.

Ireland is seen above with Peter Dyneley and Constance Cummings in The Last Tycoon, a play from the Scott Fitzgerald story directed by William Kotcheff with designs by Timothy O’Brien; Ed Begley was directed in A Phone Call for Matthew Quade by David Greene, an Englishman who has become one of Hollywood’s top TV directors

John Timbers
1960 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM