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

Youth and music

Beford Studios

▲Modern music has always been an integral part of The Sunday Break. The current season of the programme featured the Sunday Break Songsters, a choral group formed by ABC from teenagers in the Midlands.

Janice Willett is one of the young directors who have worked on this programme.

Bob Fuest designed the set and also the riverboat below.

 In Light Entertainment, the Summer 1960 season ended with Steamboat Shuffle, a light-hearted musical programme for young people, networked across the country from a specially constructed riverboat moored on the Thames beside ABC’s London studios at Teddington Lock.

The director was Ben Churchill, who was also the first director of The Sunday Break

Ronald Hart
1960 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM