Tonight’s BBCtv… in 1968 

17 June 2016

The Radio Times gives us a run down of BBCtv programmes in the north for Monday 17 June 1968. Things worth noting include:

  • It’s Monday, so Watch With Mother at 10.45am is Andy Pandy. There were 26 episodes of this series made by the BBC in 1950 and they ran one a week almost every week on a constant loop for 20 years. After all, for the toddlers who were watching, 26 weeks before a repeat was a considerable portion of their lifespan so far. They were unlikely to remember much detail!
  • In Wales, Watch With Mother is replaced by Ar Lin Mam, which roughly translates as Watch With Mother. No details are given of what the Welsh-language children’s programme being shown is.
  • 4.55pm sees Blue Peter. On the cover, the Radio Times has promised this in colour. Here they ‘fess up that it’s not in colour, but there’s a picture of cat Jason on page 33 that is.
  • Castors Away! at 5.20 is based on the book by Hester Burton, but beyond that who knows? The series appears to be missing.
  • At 5.55pm it’s time for Look North, recently split into three editions. There had been a pan-north Look North with Stuart Hall in Manchester and a north-east version from Newcastle with Mike Neville. The impending split of the ITV northern region in half and the creation of the new Yorkshire Television had forced a spoiler from the BBC. The Manchester edition was pushed on to the relay transmitters in the north west and the relatively new Winter Hill VHF channel 12; the existing and more popular pan-north was handed to the new Leeds programme, and thus was YTV deprived of a bit of uniqueness when it appeared at the end of next month.
  • Z Cars at 7.05pm had started in 1962 as a drama serial; it was rested in the mid-1960s and brought back in 1967 as a twice-weekly semi-soap opera, with two episodes a week covering a single story but with on-going plot arcs amongst the policemen themselves. It would revert to one 50-minute episode a week later in the 1970s and become less soapy. It survived until 1978.
  • Once we get the lighter stuff – Quiz Time, Gentleman Please!, Z Cars and Dick Emery – out of the way, BBC-1 suddenly becomes very heavy. At 8pm, a 50-minute documentary about the occupation of France in the 1940s.
  • After the news, the BBC returns to its series of dramatising Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s non-Sherlockian stories. They’re good stories, but very dense in places.
  • At 9.55 comes Twenty-Four Hours, effectively a cross between Tonight, the programme it was born out of, and Newsnight, which would take a similar slot (over on BBC-2) just over a decade later.
  • BBC-2’s evening schedule is made up of 4 programmes plus the news, bring the total number of programmes for the day to 7 across less than 4 hours – about as much as money would allow. One thing it does allow that the BBC would’ve had trouble doing in the days of having just one channel is devoting over an hour and a half of peak time to recorded highlights of yesterday’s golf in Rochester, New York. It’s certainly alternative viewing but doesn’t leave much for a dedicated BBC viewer seeking lighter entertainment tonight.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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9 responses to this article

Nigel Stapley 17 June 2016 at 9:06 pm

I may be missing something, but I think you’ve forgotten to put links to the enlarged images.

Arthur Nibble 19 June 2016 at 12:48 am

I assume John Humphrys had recently joined the “Look North” team in Manchester having lost his anchorman position at recently deposed TWW?

“Quiz Time, Gentlemen Please!” looks like an early variant of “Bullseye”.

Ted Moult guesting on Play School? I bet that seemed a bit heavy to the young ‘uns.

Ray Barrington 19 June 2016 at 3:31 pm

Just for the record, the “yesterday’s golf” was the final round of the U.S. Open, won by Lee Trevino, not only his first professional win but the first of his six major titles

Paul Mason 20 June 2016 at 3:38 am

Arthur- QTGP was a predecessor of Bullseye but it only ran for the one season. Wonder if the late Norman Vaughan was aware of this 1968 BBC show?
I notice no Jackanory, I always thought it was all year around, maybe not so.
My parents didn’t get BBC2 till our Radio Rentals TV expired in 1973.. For five years we had Look North Leeds so we had to turn to Granada for local news. We had to get a new aerial., but I’ve often thought it odd that we got BBCs Yorkshire news but ITVs north west service.

I bet John Humphreys has some tales about the antics of Mr Hall, who was not on Jeux Sans Frontiers at the date of the Radio Times cover.

Paul Mason 20 June 2016 at 3:49 am

I forgot to mention that Z Cars was in 1965 temporarily replaced by Softly Softly in which Stratford Johns and the now 90+ Frank Windsor played the Barlow and Watt characters. Softly Softly was set in the West Country and eventually ran alongside Z Cars for a few years. I remember James Ellis on Blue.Peter with a Ford Anglia “panda” car in 1967 when Z Cars returned.

A final item to note is that Everton FC have for many years played the Z Cars theme (Johnny Todd,a sea shanty) at the start of home games. Some Everonians have the Z Cars mobile phone ring tone, many of whom weren’t even born while the series was on TV!

Paul Mason 20 June 2016 at 3:54 am

Andy Pandy ran from 1950 to 1970 in black and white but it was remade in colour although I had long grown out of it!

Paul Mason 25 June 2016 at 9:57 am

Frank Windsor of Z Cars and Softly Softly is 89 this year. Oops!

Keith Martin 4 July 2016 at 8:33 am

I will now blow a trumpet! During the closing months of “ABC Your Weekend Television in the North” The announcer, during a split transmission said “This is ABC Your Weekend Television in YORKSHIRE” At the time I was very naughty boy. mmm!

MikeA 21 July 2016 at 10:13 pm

Bob Langley of Pebble Mill fame reading the news

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