A personal pick of articles and adverts from TV Times for the week of 13th May 1967.
A Cathedral For Our Times
Two pages are given over to an article by the Archbishop of Westminster on the opening of The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool’s new Roman Catholic cathedral. It had more glass than any other cathedral in Europe and the central altar was constructed from a 19 ton block of marble imported from the exotic climes of Yugoslavia. Having visited Liverpool and had the cathedral pointed out to me from a tour bus, I can say with confidence that today (well in 2013 at least), it remains a stunning building. In 1967 the opening ceremony was televised, though Cardinal John C. Heenan lamented, ‘The pity is that colour television will not be available‘. Colour was on its way and due to be launched later that year. I could not say for certain but I reckon the chances of a religious programme being one of the first to be shown in colour would have been slim. All the same, the programme is on for over an hour on Sunday evening. The feature goes on to describe the cathedral as ‘the most exciting building to be erected in Britain for 25 years‘. I would like to see TV Times‘ definition of ‘exciting’, considering the Post Office Tower had been constructed only a few years before. A magnificent colour photo of the new cathedral graces the cover of this issue.
My View – Alun Owen
An interview with writer Alun Owen, who has written the first play in a new series, Half Hour Story. He feels some drama has too much padding and 30 minutes (25 minutes, 30 seconds with adverts) is ideal for certain stories. ‘Television is ideal for the small cast in a confined space, capturing a small moment in time‘. A modern series that represents this perfectly for me is Inside No. 9. It often tells a story in real time and utilises a small but excellent cast. Alun Owen’s greatest claim to fame is for writing the screenplay to The Beatles’ first film, A Hard Day’s Night, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. His Half Hour Story, ‘Shelter’, is included with other episodes from the series in an Alan Clarke collection.
Swing into the Seventies with Stork
Stork, the margarine company, are inviting us to ‘Swing into the Seventies’ with a competition to win ‘one of many fabulous prizes of the future!‘ There are 50 first prizes of a colour television. ‘These sets receive both colour and black and white. Colour programmes are expected to start later this year‘. It is a decent prize too as the sets are 25 inches! My last CRT one was only three inches bigger. As well as the tellies there are many other ‘trend-setting‘ prizes on offer too. 50 second prizes of a 13 inch black and white portable, 100 third prizes of a cassette tape recorder, 100 fourth prizes of a portable record player and finally, 2000 fifth prizes of your choice of an LP. To enter, go to a shop, pick up a Stork competition pack, choose four programmes ‘in the order they would best appear to make an enjoyable evening’s viewing for all the family‘, say which would be the best in colour, then send it off. Are you a couple? Do you live alone? Best make it up. Stork wants viewing for all the family.
By now, adverts for colour televisions are starting to crop up a lot in TV Times so readers will be well aware of the looming change. For many though, the price difference compared to a black and white set, as well as the higher licence fee, is going to be too much. It will be about ten years before the number of colour licences overtakes the number of black and white ones.
A CHALLENGE to This Week’s team
Jeremy Isaacs’ article on current affairs programmes is most interesting. There is concern in television land that everything has been done before and they worry about attracting viewers with something new. He also points out how short a period current affairs on television has been around for – a little over ten years. He gives an insight into early programming, saying, ‘Only ten years ago, television did not dare to report by-elections, to put hard questions to Prime Ministers, to deal with unmentionables like illegitimacy or abortion, to devote more than a few skimpy minutes to any serious topic, no matter how important.‘ It really does give insight into how much has changed and how quickly.
Isaacs goes on to emphasise the difference made by current affairs programmes by ‘responsible treatment of difficult topics‘ – the ‘responsible‘ part is perhaps a swipe at any drama explorations. ‘If people today are more tolerant of the mentally sick, the unmarried mother, the homosexual, it is undoubtedly because television has broken down barriers to communication‘. It is difficult to measure this of course but Isaacs asserts these have been ‘taboo‘ topics so to see them discussed at all could well have been a first for many viewers. He also mentions the fact that with television, it brought these subjects into the home. For some, this would probably have been horrifying but nonetheless, it was bringing them closer to reality.
Finally, a mention of the future. From July, ‘Every week-night, at 10 o’clock, ITN will mount a half-hour news programme of a type not yet attempted in Britain‘. For me, News at Ten has always existed so it is quite odd to think of it as once having been something completely different. The daily news was shorter prior to this, though there were longer weekly current affairs shows. News at Ten was expected to prove a serious challenge to them: ‘The producers of weekly current affairs shows will have to ask themselves, even more forcibly than before, not just: “What have we got to say?” but: “What have we got to say that someone else hasn’t said already?“‘
Tivvy Club – Keeping Britain clean
As I understand it, Tivvy is the little creature in the corner and the Tivvy Club was something children could send off for. A letter in another issue revealed that the messages printed in TV Times could be decoded with information sent through as part of the club.
This Tivvy Club section intrigued me as I had never heard of a tax on soap. Tivvy informs us it was brought in by Charles I and removed by William Ewart Gladstone in 1852.
Viewpoint is the page for viewers’ letters and one reveals that a previous issue’s Tivvy cartoon demonstrated something quite dangerous.
In some ways, a Teasmade seems like the best invention there ever was for Britain. But then central heating became widespread and getting out of bed in the winter seemed a lot easier than setting up a Teasmade every night. Nowadays, if you really want to, you can set kettles to boil from your phone.
Big Fry – 100 day special offer!
Collect some wrappers and get money off a load of goods. The face of Big Fry is George Lazenby, who would achieve much greater fame a couple of years later as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I particularly like the drawings of the various items here.