Tonight’s TV… in 1955 

22 September 2014

19550922 The TimesFrom The Times for Thursday 22 September 1955 comes this run down of what you could be watching and listening to in London. Things worth noting:

  • Regularly scheduled television has been with us since 1936 (except for the war years) but it comes firmly at the end of The Times’s list of programmes
  • 6.45pm on the Light sees Grace Archer being killed in a stables fire in Ambridge. Did a shocked middle class audience fail to turn on the new ITV? Not particularly. Many people with equipped sets dropped in to ITV’s first night, but the second and succeeding nights revealed that the majority weren’t interested anyway and ITV failed to prosper at first
  • With radio the dominant medium, the evening schedules are very good, with a great mix of programming styles and content, from ridiculously heavy on the Third through heavy on the Home and fun on the Light. Evening schedules on radio now can often be a wasteland as people are watching TV, not listening-in
  • The BBC Television Service (still referred to here as just “Television”) hasn’t pulled out the big guns against the interloper on Channel 9. Nevertheless, the network had spent much of the year beforehand changing its style and schedule ready for ITV
  • ITV’s first night is a preview night, a mix of of what you would be seeing in the coming weeks. It’s still a lot heavier than you might expect – and heavier than its audience were expecting. But the Independent Television Authority and the Postmaster General were all pleased with it
  • There’s a lot of racing on BBCtv. Off-course betting was illegal at the time, yet racing remained very very popular for some reason


With thanks to Andrew Hesford.

You Say

8 responses to this article

garry robin 15 October 2015 at 5:21 pm

The pity of it is in the 1950″s nearly ALL of the original ITV Companys did not video tape thier opening nights programming. I can only think of three TYNE TEES TELEVISION,SCOTTISH TELEVISION and GRANADA TELEVISION. that did. Also after the conclusion of the thirteen week ITV strike only the opening night programming was recorded not the following week national service. As a former disabled carer,can I ask if the 1970″s and 80″s ATV/CENTRAL disabilty programme LINK,presented by the late Rosile Wilkints was video taped? Thank You.

Russ J Graham 15 October 2015 at 5:46 pm

Videotape wasn’t even invented for the openings of some companies. Those whose opening nights were kept did so by “telerecording” – pointing a film camera at a 405-line studio monitor. You can see clips from the surviving opening programmes (as were known about in 1985) on this page:

As for Link, it was recorded on videotape, but as a topical minority programme, was probably not kept much beyond broadcast. If it was, it would now be in the ITV Archive at the former Yorkshire Television studios in Leeds, but they’re unlikely to make copies available cheaply, if at all.

garry robin 15 October 2015 at 7:32 pm

Thanks RUSS J GRAHAM. On a related issue do you know if there is any video of the first full day of programmes after the 1979 ITV strike? GOD BLESS!

Russ J Graham 15 October 2015 at 7:49 pm

Not that I’m aware of. There’s this video of the first start-up after the strike: and ATV’s Muppet Show, Thames’s George & Mildred, Granada’s Coronation Street, YTV’s 3-2-1 (very probably) and Euston Films/Thames’s Quatermass all survive in the archives. The national linking continuity between each item, produced by Thames, probably does not.

garry robin 15 October 2015 at 8:21 pm

Thanks again RUSS J GRAHAM. I have found the 1984 strike where THAMES TELEVISION was off-air for three weeks,but did not effect LWT. On a seperate issue did SKY NEWS IRELAND go off the air after just 1 year in 2004? GOD BLESS from the New Forest.

Russ J Graham 16 October 2015 at 11:08 am

Two years, it seems:

garry robin 16 October 2015 at 9:12 pm

Thanks again RUSS J GRAHAM. One final question to ask. With my disabilty [Cerbrial Palsy] since my birth nearly 51 years ago. Am I correct in remembering that CHANNEL TELEVISION is the only ITV Company to have the news in the French Laungage from 1978 until 1985 and have never been off-air even during the 13 week ITV Strike in 1979? Also are there any videos of either MONDAY”S NEWCOMBER”S an ITV advertising new adverts broadcast on 9.05am on Monday Morning”s in the 1970″s and early 1980″s and/or IBA Engering Announcements on ITV 9.15pm Tuesday Mornings 1973 until 1983 when it transfered to Channel Four until it”s concluision in 1992? Also I seem to remember when I was in POOLE General Hospitial in 1977 the BBC having seperate regional Connuinty for the 12 English Regions from 1977 for one year but for the same NETWORK programmes. Why was this? A young Kate Adie was the announcer for BBC SOUTH. From the New Forest GOD BLESS!

Alan Keeling 18 May 2016 at 8:57 pm

BBC TV were the first to screen the U.S. “Disneyland” TV series, hosted by Walt Disney himself. “The Donald Duck Story” is from season one. Later seasons were shown by ITV.

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