Tonight’s ATV Midlands… in 1957 

12 April 2017

The TVTimes tells us what was on ATV Midlands on Friday 12 April 1957. Things worth noting include:

  • The factories of the midlands largely operated a 2-shift system (as compared to the 3-shift system in the mills of the north), thus making economic sense for ATV to open for a lunchtime programme designed to catch shiftworkers leaving for work, coming home or on their lunch break. It was scheduled for 12.45pm so that it could catch the works canteens midway, letting the first sitting see the first half and the second sitting see the second half – the two halves being roughly mirror images of each other for content
  • The idea of a local early evening magazine programme on ITV hadn’t really developed yet, so five minutes of local news at 5.55pm is followed by a local talking-heads programme that fills the slot but not the remit of the later magazine shows
  • 6.58pm sees a News Flash, which just looks weird now. The terms newsflash and news bulletin have swapped meaning since 1957: newsflash then meaning brief headlines, news bulletin meaning breaking news interrupting programmes
  • The terrible financial carnage of the first year of ITV is lifting, although not helped by the UK economy being thrust into recession by the US government after the Suez debacle of 1956. Nevertheless, ITV as a whole is still a much lighter, entertainment-driven channel than it would become in the 1960s, and ATV in both the Midlands and London is particularly and noticeably downmarket and populist in peak. There’s nothing with any weight on all evening after 6.30pm…
  • …with the noble exception of Associated-Rediffusion’s This Week at 9pm. But, at this point, the World in Action format – devoting half an hour (or more) to one subject and dealing with it in forensic detail – hadn’t been pioneered. The two big news programmes – the BBC’s Panorama and A-R’s This Week – were still magazine shows, with snippets and consumer reports and holiday travel advice and fluffy interviews with famous people and the like. That would change before the 1950s were out, but hadn’t yet
  • The placement of Take Your Pick at 7.30pm and Palais Party at 10.15pm is deliberate hammocking by Associated-Rediffusion: their policy until the bitter end in 1968 being to run a light programme at the start of peak and a further light one at the end of peak, and to put their heavier drama, news programming and documentaries into the space between. The lighter programmes both paid for the heavier ones by selling heavily to advertisers and also got people tuned to ITV and disinclined to stand up and change the channel, trapping them into watching
  • ATV spoils this plan, as it were, by putting the popular Dragnet and the evergreen Arthur Askey/Richard Murdoch duo in the gap rather than anything improving or educational
  • Having opened for 45 minutes at lunchtime, those minutes have to be deducted from elsewhere to avoid breaching the legal maximum daily hours. Therefore, after the ITN news at 10.46pm, ATV Midlands hurries off to bed at 11pm. Viewers in overlapping regions – especially the north, where Granada didn’t come on air at all until 5pm – could tune away to see programming going past midnight…
  • …except in London and the north on Fridays, where the Independent Television Authority decreed that midnight was the changeover point from weekday to weekend company. A-R and Granada were therefore off air at 11:59.59pm, despite ATV London and ABC not coming on air themselves until Saturday afternoon!
  • An aside: the Spangles advert was long-running, usually with the woman saying something like “got the maps?” or “got the papers?” with the non sequitur reply from the man always being the same. This advert stands out for mentioning petrol coupons; petrol rationing came to an end in 1950 after 10 years, but came back when the Suez Canal was blocked by Nasser following the disastrous Anglo-French invasion of Egypt in 1956. Rationing would be abolished again in the middle of next month, but the unissued coupons were kept just in case, being delivered to Post Offices (but not distributed to motorists in the end) during the Oil Shock of 1973

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15 responses to this article

Arthur Nibble 12 April 2017 at 1:36 pm

I’d never heard of ZIzi Jeanmaire before. Having checked her out, I discovered that (a) she was a renowned ballet dancer and (b) she got a namecheck in an album track by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel.

I also didn’t know admags were shown late at night.

Interesting to see the timing for “The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel” shown in smaller and bracketed numbers after the programme’s title, which is itself in smaller font than any other programme heading due to its length.

I miss Spangles. Particularly the acid drops.

Paul Mason 12 April 2017 at 6:00 pm

Zizi Jeanmaire was mentioned in the late Peter Sarstedts endless song Where Do You Go To My Lovely?. Sorry but In ever liked that song!

Nigel Stapley 12 April 2017 at 6:21 pm

Are you the one man on the planet who has never heard the late Peter Sarstedt’s big hit Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?? Zizi was name-checked in the very first verse.

As for Spangles, the cola ones were the best by far…and can someone tell me what the ‘Old English’ variety was flavoured with? I could never work it out.

Paul Mason 12 April 2017 at 6:21 pm

Zizi Jeanmaire is still alive and will be 93 at the end of this month. Ballet is not my field of interest!

Alan Keeling 12 April 2017 at 8:49 pm

In the 5.15 slot, we have episode 6 of 18 episodes in the first repeat of The Scarlet Pimpernel, the third & last repeat of this series was during the early sixties. The Dragnet episode was the second in the series’ third season (1953/54). The Douglas Fairbanks Presents episode is also from season 3 (1955), this very fine series that was hosted by Fairbanks Jnr, will, I hope, at some stage be released on sell-thru DVD.

Louise C 12 April 2017 at 9:00 pm

Was Old English some kind of aniseed affair? Spangles were lethal in the latter stages, easy to slice the tongue with the shards left after a long suck.

Russ J Graham 12 April 2017 at 9:59 pm

See this advert for what Old English Spangles were!

Arthur Nibble 12 April 2017 at 10:24 pm

I got the Zizi Jeanmaire / Cockney Rebel song details off Wikipedia, which didn’t mention the Peter Sarstedt mention. Now you come to mention it, I do recall Zizi’s namecheck in “…Lovely?”.

Alan Keeling 13 April 2017 at 10:21 am

As well as appearing in & hosting Cross Talk, Edgar Lustgarten also played the host in the Scotland Yard crime film series shown on the ABC cinema chain. Lustgarten played host at the beginning of each episode

Paul Mason 14 April 2017 at 12:31 am

I have consumed many packets of Spangles in my young life, which may explain my dentures! ZI too liked the Old English flavour!

Paul Mason 16 April 2017 at 4:48 am

Being for the benefit of Mr Arthur Nibble, the song that drove me and others mad in 1969.

You talk like Marlene Dietrich,

You dance like Zizi Jeanmaire,

Your clothes are all made by Balmain,

And there’s diamond and pearls in your hair.

(Peter Sarstedt 1969)

That’s ENOUGH!

Keith Hadley 18 September 2020 at 11:34 am

I started in the forensic science lab Newton Birmingham as a 15 year old lab boy in 1954. professor Webster was the director. I have been in forensic science to my retirement at 60 and then as a consultant for the forensic science service.

I was a cruise ship speaker for many years with great success.

I just thought maybe something along the talks lines would be useful on Tv in these demanding times


Keith Hadley

Jim Gravina 11 January 2021 at 4:20 am

I am trying to recall the name of a young PA on ‘Oh Boy’ televised at Hackney Empire.Jack Good was the producer, I was on Sound. Around 1957-ish….

Jim Gravina 11 January 2021 at 4:23 am


We met again when she was in charge of freelance staff at Thames TV.

Jim Gravina 11 January 2021 at 4:53 am

A follow up, I vaguely recall her mane was Pat Ennis,she was the PA on OH BOY we used to televise at Hackney Empire. Mind you we are Going back to mid 1964.

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