Tonight’s Channel Television… in 1969 

30 August 2017

The Channel Viewer tells us what was on Channel on Saturday 30 August 1969. Things worth noting include:

Space-saving national newspapers possibly billed this day of programmes on Channel simply as:

CHANNEL: 12.55pm As Westward. 11:.00 Weather

They might have needed to for once since on this day there were remarkably few programmes completely networked at the same time even for the era.

Channel would become notorious for its late starts into the 1980s but in 1969 a 12:55 Saturday start was unremarkable. Only the majors and Scottish started any earlier with a half hour of adult education type programmes of climbing, riding, cooking or history. Southern just slipped in a weather forecast.

Dickie Davis is still billed Richard here, with World of Sport almost into the template that would see it through to the mid 1980s. A notable difference though is that this is before the invention of the ITV7, so only four horse races, three of which incongruously for today sponsored by Imperial Tobacco under their ‘Wills’ brand. Not sure how much of a fan Shaw Taylor was of water skiing but no doubt he did his research.

Tarzan at 17:15 was shown also by most of the other regionals plus ATV. This is the sixth episode of the first series shown by NBC nearly three years earlier. For a show cancelled in the USA at least in part for being too violent the UK airtimes were usually during established children’s times, as here.

We stay across the Atlantic at 18:15 for The Beverley Hillbillies and an episode based around two exotically unknown elements for the Channel audience: American Football and colour television. An episode from the fourth season, the already absurd premise is stretched to breaking point as Jethro and the rest of the family take up football to dissuade the maid from watching the Rams on the newly acquired colour television. Or something like that.

The Frankie Howerd Show at 18:50 was written by the formal incarnation of Green and Hills, being under contract to ATV. Pan’s People are usually today thought of in the context of Top of the Pops, but they had an existence as a dance troupe long before appearing there, and continued performing on other shows in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, although this was the last one not for the BBC.

Back across the Atlantic at 20:05 for The Name of the Game. This was a series based in a magazine company initially with one of three main characters taking the lead in any one episode, although later a couple of the regular supporting characters also had an episode built around them. Possibly a story about tracking down a drug dealer selling to teenagers was a bit fresher at the time than now, although it does include a trip sequence that these days could push it to be post-watershed.

The final two main programmes form an unintentional James Gatwood theme night. The lightish thriller Letters from the Dead made by Southern slowly dribbled around the country a region at a time as a half-hour six-week filler seemingly suitable of being shown in any available slot between 19:00 and 23:30. A year has already passed since it had been shown on London Weekend, and another year would pass before Anglia would be the last, slipping it in just before colour transmissions reached the region.

The Talking Head at 22:00 was fully networked with John Thaw starring as the embittered idealistic TV script writer with such lines as ‘What a load of crap. Doesn’t it make you want to vomit. It does me and I wrote the bloody script.’ London Weekend feeding the hand that bites it somewhat with this one. Then again maybe Thaw is made unintentionally to anticipate parts of his own later career with ‘Crap that’s all it’s ever been. Every line a witness to the deed, every thought a revelation. Good copper cancels out bad copper in time for the Nine O’clock News – send them to bed happy.’

Which Channel does afterwards pausing only for the weather. The item missed out from the Westward schedule was the sixth episode of Seaway about investigations of a shipowners’ agent filmed in Canada financed by the CBC and ATV/ITC.

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You Say

15 responses to this article

Richard Jones 30 August 2017 at 11:56 am

I love these articles but would add that in fact Harlech were on air at 12.16 (!) for Tinker and Taylor. By mid 1969 they had abandoned their penchant for very early closedowns and they were the last company off air at 12.45.

11pm was an early but familiar closedown time for Channel viewers – it was occasionally 10.30pm in the mid sixties.

Colin Daffern 30 August 2017 at 12:23 pm

I’ve just clocked that the producer of the wrestling segment of World Of Sport is listed as the intriguingly punsome G.R. Applefan! I wonder why the person responsible didn’t wish to be credited under their real name?!

And the results (courtesy of the ITV wrestling website) – Mick McManus won by a KO, and Ray Fury and Alan Sargeant won by 1 fall apiece.

Westy 30 August 2017 at 12:46 pm

Wonder if Channel ever screened any of the Doctor series in colour as repeats?

I suspect not!

Jeremy Rogers 30 August 2017 at 2:06 pm

My personal favourite reference to different region which didn’t make my cut was that ATV was pretending to be ABC with a 9pm Emma Peel Avengers episode. As I did mention there was so little networked on this day that the original draft included a lot of possible compare and contrasts, but in the end I thought that drew the focus away too much from the actual Channel schedule so I reduced those references greatly.

Only one difference all day between the Harlechs …

Kif Bowden-Smith 30 August 2017 at 2:36 pm

How do you know G.R.Applefan wasn’t their real name? ?

Richard Jones 30 August 2017 at 3:15 pm

There was never much difference between The Harlechs on a Saturday – even in the Teledu Cymru days – apart from some form of Light Entertainment in Welsh – usually Siôn a Siân, but also pop shows and panel games for teenagers. The exception was the mid seventies with the kids morning slot Deg ar Fore Sadwrn/Ten on Saturday when repeats of Miri Mawr were shown in Wales instead of Batman! There were exceptions but in this case the generalisation is true!

Geoff Nash 30 August 2017 at 4:46 pm

Reference ‘The Avengers’on ATV that evening, I suppose that with ABC having departed a year previous this now made the earlier series available to them, presumably they’d already aired the Tara King series via Thames.

Jeremy Rogers 30 August 2017 at 7:42 pm

ATV had been running through the Tara episodes since the middle of January on Sundays, months behind London – how ironic. The final two were shown in September, so this was a one-off Peel repeat. 1 September was a Bank Holiday in 1969 in England (at least) which may explain some of the ragbag scheduling as the autumn new series probably started up over the next week.

Jeremy Rogers 30 August 2017 at 8:36 pm

Hmm, actually taking time to go back to the primary sources there had been Saturday Peel repeats on ATV for some time. The secondary source regarding the Tara episodes I was using seems to be incorrect. Moral: do your own research!

Alan Keeling 30 August 2017 at 8:45 pm

Channel TVs programmes at this period were fed from Westward TV except for Channel’s local news items & Puffin’s Birthday Greetings. It seems strange for a ‘very early’ closedown at 11pm, I dare say Westward may have carried on with a documentary or a repeat of a British film series.

Alan Keeling 30 August 2017 at 8:55 pm

Saturday’s episode of Name of the Game was episode 12 from season 1 with Robert Stack as the shows’ leading character, this rotating series also starred Gene Barry & Tony Franciosa. Southern TV’s Letters from the Dead was a 6 part mini series shot on grainy 16mm film stock, about mysterious letters from a dead girl which unsettles a small village.

Paul Mason 31 August 2017 at 8:49 pm

Nothing specific about Channel ITV, but to mention the recent death of Richard Gordon on whose books the ITV comedy series was loosely based. Ernest Clark played the James Robertson Justice role but NOT Sir Lancelot Spratt on ITV. Dr Graeme Garden was one of the scriptwriters.
As well as Ernest Clark two of the shows stars Robin Nedwell and Barry Evans are now dead, the last two only in their mid 50s.

Paul Mason 31 August 2017 at 8:51 pm

I forgot to mention the “Doctor at” series titles.

Richard Jones 1 September 2017 at 2:01 am

Alan, as it happened Westward carried on until 12.06 with an episode of Seaway, Faith for Life and the Weather.

Mark Jeffries 1 September 2017 at 6:46 pm

Although Channel picked up everything from Westward, I noticed that the imports have the “Channel Television Presentation” flag at the bottom of each listing. Would I assume that there were many instances of the “Westward/TSW/Westcountry Presentation” slides appearing on Channel before they could put up their presentation slide, especially if they were put up before the credits ended?

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