Tonight’s Associated-Rediffusion… in 1955 

22 November 2017

TVTimes tells us what was on Associated-Rediffusion on Tuesday 22 November 1955. Things worth noting include:

  • Two months into the life of Independent Television and the financial disaster of the idea is becoming very clear to the participants, with A-R and weekend counterparts ATV losing ridiculous amounts of money every day
  • The ITV day is divided into three sections: Morning Magazine, Tea-V Time and Evening Viewing. Morning Magazine will not last much longer, programmes in the daytime earning far less than those in the evening
  • Of the Morning Magazine, Sixpenny Corner would survive, shunted to just before peak, as would Small Time, shunted to 4pm. Everything else would be ditched to save money. Daytime general entertainment television on ITV weekdays would not return until the 1970s
  • The space vacated by Morning Magazine would be used by schools television from 1957
  • The 6pm to 7pm closedown was a government requirement, to allow parents with children to put their toddlers to bed without distraction, and for the religious to not feel they’re missing anything when they go to Evensong
  • This “Toddler’s Truce” applied to the BBC Television Service as well, and was deeply resented by both channels: if they could hook people in at 6pm, they would have them for the rest of the night; a closedown, testcard and start-up meant the viewers would chose who to begin with – and stay with – themselves
  • The evening schedule is irredeemably middle-class but also lacks any consistency: the art of scheduling hasn’t really been discovered yet. Instead, everything is thrown into the pot and the length of the programme decides where it goes rather than any real attempt to target viewers
  • The main programme of the evening is Cavalcade of Sport, which today devotes a whole hour to… water polo. No, honestly. There’s also an “aqua-display”. The mind boggles
  • There are some absurd programme lengths, a feature of ITV at the time. The news from ITN at 7pm comes in at 7 minutes, the other 7 being taken up with a menu of tonight’s viewing
  • We spend a mere 8 minutes meeting the Visitor of the Day at 10.30pm, repeated tomorrow at 12.10pm, where it is three minutes shorter, suggesting it was made on film and that the visitor was not necessarily there that day… although the repeat listing suggests it is a telerecording they reshow – a film made by pointing a camera at a TV screen showing the programme as it went out live
  • Time for a Tune is 7 minutes and consists of a man – Norman Hackforth – playing a record and then reading out tomorrow’s TVTimes listings. If this isn’t the definition of “cheap filler”, I don’t know what is
  • We’re off-air, our regulated hours exhausted, just after 11pm

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8 responses to this article

Alan Keeling 22 November 2017 at 11:38 am

There was no other actor that could portray Sir Percy Blakeney than Marius Goring in The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Unlike the other ITC ‘swashbucklers’, this TV series only ran for 18 episodes and was not so well remembered as Robin Hood or William Tell. Repeats were shown at much earlier time slots in later years.

Alan Keeling 22 November 2017 at 3:40 pm

The first Children’s programme at 5pm is one of 20 Lotte Reiniger Silhoutte Films produced in the early 1950s by Primrose Films, with assistance from Lotte’s husband, Carl Koch. Each film was 11 minutes long with fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm. So popular was this series, that the BBC screened it from the late 50’s until around 1963. The music theme and score was by Freddie Phillips.

Alan Keeling 22 November 2017 at 8:28 pm

Not much time for trade tests on ITA in 1955, from 10.30 to 11am & 12.30 to 1pm, then 6 to 7pm. I’m sure that many TV engineers kept tuned to Test Card C on the BBC. The ITA used a Marconi designed test card until 1958.

Paul Mason 23 November 2017 at 12:20 am

I recalling childhood seeing Shirley Abicair with her zither played while seated, but in the 1960s.
My lost Silver Jubilee TV Times had an article featuring Patricia Dainton who like Ms Abicair are now retired in their late 80s. PD gave up acting in the 60s. The Scarlet Pimpernel featured the 2nd TV Dr Who, Patrick Troughton
As for water polo don’t forget TV was a novelty and people tended to watch anything according to my grandparents. It was only in the 60s that people started to get choosy!

Arthur Nibble 23 November 2017 at 9:35 am

John Lemont looked incredibly old for 38 at most in that photo.

Half an hour apiece from 10.30 and 12.30 giving viewers an opportunity to check reception. The ultimate filler.

I can’t find anything out about the water polo trophy but discovered another competition, the Independent Television Floodlit Trophy, which was incredible for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was a rugby league cup involving eight of the Northern based league’s teams playing at grounds in London, but at the time ITV only covered the London area where the game wasn’t well known and no-one in the rugby league strongholds could watch the games. The first quarter-final was played in a 45,000 capacity ground and the attendance was around 500. Secondly, only the second half of each match was shown (live, similar to the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy). Thirdly, there were only two rounds – quarter-finals and the final. The two teams who won their quarter-finals by the biggest margins played in the final!

Arthur Nibble 23 November 2017 at 12:50 pm

Cover star Ron Randell became notorious for a while after hosting “What’s My Line?” where, in his second show in charge, he gave a consolation kiss to a contestant and then blew a kiss to the 500 women who’d written in to him following his debut.

Alan Keeling 24 November 2017 at 10:30 am

Cover star Ron Randell was a mid-Atlantic actor who starred in films & TV series both in the UK & USA. In Britain Randell hosted The Vise (1955), was the main star of O.S.S. (1957). His other TV credits were Douglas Fairbanks presents, Espionage, Bewitched, Tales of Wells Fargo, Man in a Suitcase, to name but a few.

Sally Reading 22 April 2022 at 9:37 am

The show that topped the ratings chart in 1955 was Sheila Mathews’ Friday’s Girl with 12 million viewers every week. Not too shambolic!

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