Tonight’s BBCtv… in 1968 

17 May 2017

The Radio Times tells us what was on BBCtv on Friday 17 May 1968. Things worth noting include:

  • The Welsh diaspora around England plus those straining to get television at home in Wales from English transmitters are catered for at 1pm with a show about folk customs, previously shown on BBC Wales (as BBC-1 was known in that country)
  • Lloffa is not shown in Wales itself, where transmitters closed after schools programmes and won’t come back on until 1.25pm for the news, then go off again from 1.33pm until 2.05pm when the schools resume
  • In the rest of the UK, BBC-1 has interval music with test card between 10.20am and 10.45am; 11.38am and 1.25pm; 1.33pm and 2.05pm; and 2.25pm and 4.40pm. Without the requirement for a closedown and a formal opening sequence identifying transmitter and company that the General Post Office required of ITV, the BBC could drift on and off air (“we now return you to the test card and some music”) without worrying about whether the gaps qualified as an interval or as a closedown
  • BBC-2’s limited air time and budget sees it come on a 11am for 20 minutes of Play School, then resolutely stay off air until 7pm
  • It’s Friday, so it’s The Woodentops on Watch With Mother at 10.45am. There were 26 15-minute episodes of this puppet show, made in 1955. They ran on a repeating loop until the early 1970s – the toddlers watching will either have forgotten the episode from six months before or outgrown the series entirely. The parents may have been driven mad, of course
  • Look North at 5.55pm is now in three editions: the pan-north transmitter at Holme Moss and the eastern one at Belmont (serving Hull and quite slice of the south of the West Riding) have been handed to a new show from Leeds, ready to challenge the forthcoming split of the Granada/ABC time-share region into a geographical split between Granada and YTV from late July
  • Look North from Manchester had previously covered the entire “north” region, but had been shunted on to a new channel on Winter Hill to cover just the north-west. The excuse for this was that Channel 2 on Holme Moss had a lot of interference and this was a cure for it. This was true, but the interference was mainly in the east of the old region – the one with the new service on the old frequency
  • Most viewers in the north-west saw no reason to tune away from Channel 2, especially not all the way over to Channel 12, where they would get the signal on their ITV aerial. Those viewers found themselves watching Eddie Waring et al giving news and sports for Yorkshire
  • The third edition of Look North, from Newcastle, continued unchanged
  • BBC-1 tonight feels very safe and middle-class. Going for a Song and A Spoonful of Sugar would now be daytime affairs rather than leading off primetime
  • 7.05pm is your only chance to see this episode of The Newcomers: of the 430 made, a mere 5 survive in the archives. The series was a BBC Midlands production, but was filmed in London and Suffolk (the Midlands region included East Anglia at the time) as well as Birmingham
  • The series, about city dwellers moving to the countryside to follow their factory’s relocation, finished before the Pebble Mill studios opened in Edgbaston, suggesting that the Birmingham filming was done in the old Delicia Cinema in Gosta Green
  • The middle-class nature of BBC-1 continues with light classical, opera and dance filling 50 minutes from 7.30pm
  • Comedy Playhouse was a long-running strand of stand-alone half-hour comedies, the best of which might be made into full series. Despite the promising-sounding plot to Stiff Upper Lip, this was not one of them
  • This episode appears to be missing from the archives
  • Detective at 9.05pm was another anthology series, this time without plans to spin any of the episodes out into full series. This week’s detective is Dudley Sutton, who you may remember from everything
  • Almost needless to say, this is also missing from the archives
  • Another only-chance-to-see is Priestley’s Angel Pavement at 10.25pm. This was a four-part serial and wasn’t kept, perhaps because of the lack of big names appearing and despite originally being in 625-lines
  • BBC-2 is mainly in colour tonight but not entirely. The forgotten Frontiers of Science at 7pm is monochrome, as is The Revenue Men at 8.15pm. Neither survive in the archives
  • Making its colour debut is a performance by Sammy Davis Jr at 9.55pm, recorded in colour but first shown in black and white on BBC-1
  • Late Night Horror was yet another anthology series and this episode is yet another that isn’t in the archives, on a bad night for archive TV fans

External links

A Transdiffusion Presentation

Report an error


Jessica Fielding Contact More by me


# # # # #

You Say

12 responses to this article

Victor Field 17 May 2017 at 12:48 pm

So “Going For A Song” was an actual thing? I saw it in that Paddington book that was basically one big BBC plug (particularly for “Blue Peter”) and I thought it was made up.

Les 17 May 2017 at 1:17 pm

‘Going for a song’ ran for years, and was an antiques quiz. The guests had to guess what an item was, and how much it was worth.

Newcomers was my favourite soap at the time, and was relevant to that period, as so many people were being moved out of london into new towns. Where i was living in north hampshire there were huge housing developments, which changed the character of the place. ‘Newcomers’ was based on a village called angleton, which expanded when a large factory moved to the village from london. I spoke to wendy richards, who was in the soap. She said it was stopped when colour arrived, as it was easier to start a new soap.

Re winter hill. I know people who lived in blackpool, who said the new transmitter gave them much better reception.
And in the east … belmont meant viewers in Lincolshire had bbc north, and anglia itv from that transmitter. In the 80s people still spoke fondly of anglia (having been switched to yorkshire in 1974).

Interesting piece!

steve brown 17 May 2017 at 3:07 pm

Speaking of Going For A Song,i recalla 70s Morecambe and Wise sketch where Eric had this antique,thinking that it was a Jacobean tv set,and he refered Going for A Song as Going For a Quick One!

Arthur Nibble 18 May 2017 at 1:48 pm

I can’t be sure but, from very quick and basic research, it looks like the only 1968 Comedy Playhouse pilot which became a series was Milo O’Shea’s “Me Mammy”.

I remember “Whistle Stop”, which gave Roger Whitaker a vehicle for his non-vocal warbling. I also remember Jack Haig (“LeClerc from “‘Allo ‘Allo”) in a children’s programme, probably this one, in which he kept bumping his head, checking it and asking “Is it bleeding?” – not the most memorable kids’ TV catchphrase.

Paul Mason 18 May 2017 at 5:40 pm

Whistlestop with the now retired but still alive Roger Whitaker was a summer replacement for Crackerjack (all shout CRACKERJACK please). It did have a game element in it. Most of RWs songs were rather sad but I like the Mexican Whistler.
Another summer replacement for CJ was Hey Presto Its Rolf! Say no more.
Going For A Song was usually on a Sunday afternoon, I don’t remember it on Friday night but there you are.
We were hit by the transmitter switch. We were warned in a short
slot featuring the abominable Hall and two “beauty queens” holding a card with the channel numbers which meant FA to us non technical Masons. We had to resort to Granada for regional news until the new 625 line b/w TV came in 1973.The Newcomers was a favourite of my late mother, who imposed a shtum order while it was on.

Paul Mason 18 May 2017 at 10:17 pm

The Radio Times picture featured Australian actress Maggie Fitzgibbon who was BIG TIME in the late 1960s, she would pop up on musical shows,Cliff,Lulu, Dusty etc as she was a singer too, but once the Newcomers finished MF vanished back to Oz by the early 70s. She is still alive but quite possibly retired now in her late 80s.
Going For A Song was an antiques panel game, with Contestants v Connoisseurs. Max Robertson, the tennis commentator was chairman, and one of the experts was Arthur Negus (1900-1983) who made his name on the show which ran from about 1965-75. He featured in the early Antiques Roadshow, games for his Gloucestershire accent.At the end of the show a musical box of a bird cage tweeted over the titles.This show was revived in 1996 with Michael Parkinson in the chair and Eric Knowles, and an unnecessary studio audience. A similar daytime antiques game featured on daytime BBC2 in the 1990s which was closer in spirit to GFAS. The chairman of that was the vile SH.

Paul Mason 18 May 2017 at 10:24 pm

A Spoonful Of Sugar was a show I’m surprised hasn’t been revived although it was rather twee, granting wishes to sick children in hospital. I remember the late Sheila Tracy was one of the presenters, as well as a Barbara McDonald, who would be in her 80s now. I wouldn’t watch it if it was on today, but there was an “aaah” factor about it. The kind of show I hope Jimmy Savile kept well away from, even though ASOS had similarities to Jim,’ll Fix It, without the monster himself.

Paul Mason 18 May 2017 at 10:31 pm

An error above – Arthur Negus was FAMED for his Gloucestershire accent.

Paul Mason 18 May 2017 at 10:35 pm

Sorry another error, Mr Negus lifespan was 1903-1985. The famous mechanical tweeting bird and cage is pictured with the listing.

Paul Mason 19 May 2017 at 5:16 am

Arthur- Recalling Milo O’Shea I watched Me Mammy (O’Shea was older than the woman who played his mammy). His girlfriend was played by Yootha Joyce, who sadly drank herself to death in 1980.
On a happier note the cast of Me Mammy featured in the hysterical Tales Of The Lazy Acre, circa 1972.
Going back to Whistle Stop in small print was a notice which the announcer would read over the closing titles , advertising (on the BBC) the current West End activity of Dilys Watling It was common practice for both channels to advertise the theatre performance of a show’s star. I don’t know when the practice ceased.

Arthur Nibble 19 May 2017 at 12:30 pm

Also regarding “Whistle Stop”, I bet the announcer wouldn’t have advertised Bert Hayes appearing in the Margate suburb of Cliftonville, where Butlins owned six hotels at one stage.

Paul Mason 21 May 2017 at 11:43 am

It tended to be a show’s stars, the late Derek Nimmo springs to mind with the stage musical Charlie Girl.

Your comment

Enter it below

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Wednesday 10 April 2024