Tonight’s BBCtv… in 1960 

19 October 2016

The Radio Times tells us what was on BBCtv on Wednesday 19 October 1960. Things worth noting include:

  • The Radio Times design and layout is by Abram Games (1914-1996). It’s a startling, modern, plain design and was not liked by the publishers, leading it to be one of the shortest-used designs in the magazine’s history
  • News and sport in Welsh for 20 minutes at 1pm is also on Holme Moss (North of England) and Sutton Coldfield (Midlands) – transmitters that overlap into the ill-served nation at this time. Later research would show that the programmes in Welsh were mainly being watched by the diaspora and the BBC would start putting them out in London and other places
  • Wednesday, so Watch with Mother is The Flowerpot Men. There were 26 episodes of these, made in 1952/3 and repeated on a loop until 1970 – six months between repeated episodes being long enough for the toddler audience to have forgotten the episode or grown up enough to lose interest
  • The BBC has always had a love of westerns, often slightly more than the viewing public did. They give 25 minutes at 5.10pm to a repeat of the series Union Pacific, made in 1958 and, unusually for the time, produced for syndication to independent stations, out of prime-time play or to replace locally unpopular network shows on individual US television stations
  • ARD/Eurovision caption from 1968

    ARD/Eurovision caption from 1968

    A mixture of money shortage and a lack of two-way communication lines mean that the ‘regional’ news at 6.10pm crams happenings from the Welsh border to Lowestoft and Lincoln to Oxford into 10 minutes

  • Another western makes an appearance at 7.30pm – Tales of Wells Fargo, an NBC series that ran for 200 episodes across 6 seasons, switching to hour-long colour episodes for its final season
  • Peter Dimmock (1920-2015) presents Sportsview at 8.20pm. Dimmock was an extremely talented all-rounder, being simultaneously the BBC’s head of Outside Broadcasts, a sports commentator, a news reporter and a talented presenter. Note also the two other television powerhouses tucked in the programme’s credits, the director (“presented by” in the parlance of the time) Brian Cowgill and the editor (producer) Paul Fox
  • At 10.15pm Eurovision makes an appearance, with the ARD’s Sender Freies Berlin bringing us ballroom dancing from a not yet walled off West Berlin
  • The BBC considers 11.05pm as “late night”. Bless

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7 responses to this article

L 19 October 2016 at 1:03 pm

I think both channels had a love of westerns with abc/granada running: cheyenne, bonanza, and tomahawk at the same period.

Also ‘late news’ probably due to the strict broadcasting hours imposed by the government.

Interesting read.

Arthur Nibble 19 October 2016 at 4:44 pm

Looks like the original version of “Quick On The Draw” at 7.55, featuring the sadly recently departed Sylvia Peters.

Lelia Goldoni’s now 80. Her controversial film, actually just called “Shadows”, was about two brothers and a sister living in New York City. The two brothers were struggling jazz musicians, and Goldoni played a flirty character who has a number of relationships with men of different creeds.

Paul Mason 19 October 2016 at 5:21 pm

I was only s tot in 1960 so it didn’t bother me whether the Flowerpot Man, Andy Pandy, The Woodentops, Picture Book or Rag, Tag and Bobtail were repeats.
I see there was some non-sport afternoon TV, but this didn’t last.
Look and Sportsview I recall but not in detail, the latter replaced by Sports night (with Coleman).
I notice an evening entertainment show, music composed by Harry Rabinowitz who died this year aged 100.
Also , a practice of both BBC and ITV was to mention current West End stage activity of a show’s star. An example I recall at the end of “All Gas and Gaiters” the announcer would state that “Derek Nimmo is now appearing in Charlie Girl at the Garrick Theatre, London”.
As for Westerns Casey Jones was a regular BBC children’s show, starring Alan Hale driving the loco on the Cannonball Express.

Paul Mason 19 October 2016 at 5:26 pm

One thing I forgot is a calendar occurrence. This Weeks Radio Times is also 15-21 October. That is because the calendar repeats every 28 and 56 years. 1960 was a leap.year too. Other years repeat, 1966 did although only after 1st March.

Paul Mason 20 October 2016 at 4:05 am

Regarding Watch With Mother, the TV version of Listen with Mother, one show I remember was Tales Of The Riverbank which started on BBC in 1960, starring Hammy Hamster, Roderick Rat , narrated by Johnny Morris. Wikipedia has an article about it , having a Canadian pilot but not taken up by CBC so the devisors tried their luck with the BBC who commissioned 13 episodes, which were repeated thr’out the 60s.
I found out that the relaxing guitar theme was Andante in C by Mauro Giuliani. The music I’d playing in my head now. Very soothing……

Alan Keeling 20 October 2016 at 11:33 pm

The “Tales of Wells Fargo” episode (Outlaws Wife) is from the series’ fourth season (1959/60. A revival of this series, would be welcomed by many TV Western enthusiasts.

Mark Jeffries 23 October 2016 at 6:36 pm

“Tales of Wells Fargo” owed its existence to the cosy relationship between NBC and Revue Productions, then the television production arm of the talent agency MCA (also known as “The Octopus” for its huge influence on Hollywood). Supposedly, NBC TV chief Robert Kintner walked into MCA chief Lew Wasserman’s office with a copy of the network prime time schedule, handed it to him and said, “fill in every hole on the schedule.” Which he did for many years, including after MCA bought Universal Pictures and Revue merged into Universal. Even though MCA’s television division sold to all three U.S. commercial networks, they sold more programming to NBC than anyone else–and when NBC merged with a film studio decades later, it being Universal was not that much of a shock.

“Laugh Line” was an American format that ran briefly in 1959 as the quiz scandals died down. One of the devisers, Frank Wayne, was a long-time employee of Goodson-Todman, where he devised the stunts for “Beat the Clock” and overseed the revamp of “The Price is Right” into the format the world knows today. The U.S. version was presented by the then-unknown comic Dick Van Dyke (only a few years away from the sitcom that made him a star). The snippet of the titles sequence that’s on YouTube now would seem to indicate that the show used either recorded music or a small orchestra instead of an organist like the BBC version.

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