Tonight’s ABC North… in 1963 

13 July 2015

  • Broadcasting starts at 1.20pm with Saturday Sportstime, later abbreviated to Saturday Sport, which would be renamed World of Sport 18 months later. There is no running presenter and all the segments are separate programmes, though there is some switching between the programmes and switching back again for later fixtures
  • More often than not, Saturday Sportstime began after the news, at 2.10pm, so the Motor Racing here is clearly an extra item, with a segment before the bulletin
  • At this time, Saturday was the only day that ITN provided a lunchtime bulletin, though a Sunday one was added the following year. There was nothing on a weekday, save in the Midlands, where ATV’s Lunch Box with Noëlle Gordon started with some ITN headlines
  • The TV racing commentators Tony Cooke, Ken Butler, John Rickman and Peter Moor worked together as a team for many years and became known as the ITV racing quad. They became famous enough to open fêtes and write newspaper columns
  • Show jumping was a bit of a Southern speciality and Raymond Brooks Ward did their commentaries for many years, his name becoming synonymous with the Hickstead course. The diagram of the course often appeared in TV Times as an aid to viewers, and carried on an old Radio Times habit of diagrams for radio listeners to sports broadcasts
  • Even after the 3.45 racing results round up, there were four further OB return visits to make, listed only in the summary box
  • The Terrible Ten and The Flying Doctor were long running Australian filmed imports. Both gain the “An ABC Presentation” footnote
  • The Lucky Stars Summer Spin was an ‘out of season’ clip show, which showcased some of the acts that had appeared on the main Thank Your Lucky Stars programme earlier in the year – ABC was getting its money’s worth from the stars engaged. Pete Murray of Radio Luxembourg presented the clips from a sedentary position, while deputising for the normal presenter Brian Matthew. The now totally forgotten Johnny Cymbal appears little more than a child in this photograph
  • Big Night Out, from ABC, occasionally came from the ABC Theatre at Blackpool as an OB , though it is not clear whether that is the case on this occasion
  • With American imports at 6.45 and 8.30, the British theme resumes at 9.30 with Morecambe & Wise from ATV (“In Association with Bernard Delfont” – Lew Grade’s brother) and Sergeant Cork at 10 – ninety minutes where ABC gave way to the ATV steamroller
  • It is almost impossible to imagine from the description, what Rave at 11pm consisted of. It appears to be some sort of comedy revue, perhaps a cross between a topical and a sketch show, but details are lost in the mists of time
  • ABC Newsdesk at 1130, a curious blend of Northern & Midland regional news (from the Didsbury studios nevertheless), is put together by the ABC at Large team, the main programme resting in July & August when there was deemed to be little local news
  • Silver Wheel – Television’s Motoring Club was a recycled daytime adult education series that had proved popular and gained a new late evening slot. It capitalised on an era in which many young families were buying a car for the first time, and put Dad firmly in the family driving seat. It catered for ‘new drivers’ by flattering their desire to become ‘experts’ and proved popular with viewers.. It came from the Aston studios in Birmingham and was directed by Marjorie Ruse. Having a woman leading a motoring production would have seemed ultra-radical at the time, but both ABC and Rediffusion had a number of women producers and directors. The address for ‘enquiries’ was for an ‘agony aunt’ feature where drivers wrote in with technical queries. It was a minor type of consumerism that regularly featured in ABC adult education series. Such programmes did not count towards regulated maximum broadcasting hours and served to extend the on air day
  • After a late night bulletin from ITN, the ABC epilogue came, as almost always, from Alpha Television studios in Aston, a facility jointly owned by ABC & ATV

You Say

4 responses to this article

Arthur Nibble 13 July 2015 at 1:47 pm

“Rave! ” looks highly intriguing. It appears Tony Tanner was an actor who appeared in “Strictly For The Birds” and, imminently, “The Pleasure Girls” and “Stop The World, I Want To Get Off”, and Sheila Falconer appeared in “Half A Sixpence” and was married to Patrick Stewart of “Star Wars : The Next Generation” fame.

Of the ‘top recording stars’ on “Lucky Stars Summer Spin”, Johnny Cymbal (who was 18 at the time) had one UK hit, “Mr. Bass Man” which made number 24, The Viscounts made 16 and 21 with “Shortnin’ Bread” and Who Put The Bomp” respectively, The Cadets’ only minor UK hit (“Jealous Heart, number 42) was two years away, Mickie Most made number 45 with “Mr. Porter”, and Australian chanteuse Patsy Ann Noble never troubled the UK chart compilers.

Arthur Nibble 16 July 2015 at 2:08 pm

“Bourbon Street Beat” was a detective series made by ABC (in the USA) four years previously. Although mainly filmed at the Warner Brothers studios in Los Angeles, the series was set in New Orleans and ABC acquired a half-interest in a restaurant there for authentic location filming.

Kif Bowden-Smith 9 August 2015 at 3:04 pm

Thanks Arthur. Your comments are interesting and most welcome.

Andrew Swift 21 March 2022 at 12:22 am

The ITV racing quartet was broken up in 1972 when Tony Cooke left and Raleigh Gilbert became the main commentator. The other three stuck around for most of the 70s.

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