Tonight’s ATV London… in 1965 

3 January 2018

The TVTimes tells us what was on ATV in London on Sunday 3 January 1965. Things worth noting include:

The ITV companies were always in a bind about the weekends. Saturday was the big viewing night, pulling in large audiences… but fewer advertisers, since the shops weren’t open on Sundays and advertisers liked to speak to the decision maker and his wife (yeah, I know) the day before any shopping was done, to ensure their message was in her head when she reached the shops.

Sundays weren’t quite as big for viewers: people went to bed early with work tomorrow, kids had bath night which took both them and mum away from the TV set, and the predictable eating times for families in the three social classes (different for each one, but predictable) went to hell. All this made timing programmes and choosing the right ones for the right audience segments very difficult. But the advertisers were there in droves: tomorrow was a shopping day, and catching the decision maker and his wife (ugh) was seen as important as it was a chance to influence a whole week of purchasing.

On top of that, Sundays were the most highly regulated of all broadcasting days. There were large amounts of religious output expected from both the main TV channels; for ITV the 6pm to 7pm period (roughly) was closed to advertisers and to entertainment programming. The great and the good – MPs, newspaper columnists, the clergy – all used Sunday as a stick to beat television with, demanding ever more solid, upmarket and, frankly, dull programming to suit the tone of the day.

This leads to this type of schedule, one that looks more like BBC-2 in 1985 than ITV in 1965: a mixed bag of output designed, largely, to be as inoffensive to everybody – the viewers, the commentators, the advertisers – as possible.

  • Sunday starts with the morning service, generally produced by a company that had been covering a sports match in the area the day before. Once done, ATV closes down again and everybody there – including the transmitter staff, who simply power their mast down – goes for Sunday dinner.
  • We’re back at 2.18pm, which is actually 2.15pm plus the formal start-up sequence, for some adult education – imagine having a COMPUTER in your office! – then the news and ABC Weekend’s arts programme Tempo.
  • Our first go at entertainment is Sea Hunt at 3.15pm. This series was produced for syndication in the US, the three networks having shown no interest in the format, and ran for 4 seasons, finishing in 1961.
  • At 3.50pm ATV brings us what might be the ultimate in Sunday matinee movie: 1939’s Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. I find the film, like the book, overwrought, but it makes it to 73 in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movies all-time-greatest list, so what do I know?
  • Something for the kids at 5.35pm: the exciting adventures of Stingray. This episode was the tenth to be made, but ATV showed the series in any old order across its two regions. Nevertheless, it does appear to be premiering here.
  • After the news at 6.05pm, the “closed period” kicks in: an hour or so of mandatory religious programming, which starts with a programme aimed at the children caught by Stingray, moves to teenagers with ABC Weekend’s The Sunday Break and finally hits the adults, first in the pocket at 7.05pm and then with hymns at 7.10pm.
  • A 90-second news bulletin at 7.25pm takes us into the second live action television entertainment series of the day, The Saint. This is episode 13 of the third series, and premiered on ATV Midlands on New Year’s Eve.
  • The two big-hitters of the night follow: the Palladium, aimed firmly at the working class viewers, followed by Armchair Theatre, aimed just as firmly at the middle classes.
  • Quite what The Beverly Hillbillies is doing at 10.35pm, I don’t know. Everywhere else, it got a nice pre-peak slot – usually something like 6.35pm on a Tuesday – that fits well for a family sitcom that attracted both children and adults. Clearly ATV London had the rights to the show in the capital, but no clear slot to put it. So it goes here and sticks out a country mile.
  • We finish the day in the arms of Seamus Android, er, sorry, Eamonn Andrews, live from London… if Teddington Lock is in London, of course. The people of Teddington don’t think so, nor does the Post Office. Then it’s off to Foley Street for the Epilogue and we’re off-air at midnight on the dot.

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9 responses to this article

David Vauhjan 3 January 2018 at 1:56 pm

From April 1965 Teddington was part of greater London

Geoff Nash 3 January 2018 at 2:36 pm

Later in the year ‘The Beverley Hillbillies’ would find themselves in a more appropriate teatime slot on Saturdays immediately before ‘Thunderbirds’which was shown initially at 6.35.
I’m not convinced though that the ‘Hillbillies’ was an ATV Production as stated here!

Alan Keeling 3 January 2018 at 3:49 pm

The Sea Hunt episode at 3.15 is 35th in the series second season and is titled, Ransom. 10.35 is not the right slot for The Beverly Hillbillies for season 2, and episode 15. Richard Wyler is the guest star in The Saint, during 1959/60, Wyler was the star of a Danzigers crime series called The Man from Interpol.

Victor Field 3 January 2018 at 7:03 pm

“Sea Hunt” and “Stingray”? Too bad “Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea” is nowhere in sight for a full set of underwater adventures!

Alan Keeling 3 January 2018 at 8:28 pm

Following the success of the monochrome Fireball XL5, Gerry Anderson produced Stingray in 1962 and in colour, it premiered on ATV (Midlands) during the autumn of 1964. Stingray wasn’t the first ITC series shot in colour, 15 out of 30 episodes of The Adventures of Sir Lancelot were filmed in 1956 for NBC.

Arthur Nibble 3 January 2018 at 11:18 pm

A very interesting account of the details, both telly-wise and socially.

I hadn’t thought about 60’s ITV Saturdays being peak viewing but advert headache time and 60’s ITV Sundays being ‘handcuffed’ programme-wise but advertising manna from Heaven (ahem).

I also didn’t realise there were three different eating times for families in the three social classes back then either.

Oo! A new colour picture of The Beatles in TV Times! I can hear the girls screaming from here.

Two pictures of Goons and two slices of David Kossoff tonight, in the religious slot and the Palladium show.

“Police Five” mid-afternoon on a Sunday on ATV London, whereas I remember it on LWT after “News At Ten” on a Friday.

Arthur Nibble 6 January 2018 at 12:48 am

The good-doing in the Palladium show highlights what was acceptable then and now – The Spastics Society changed its name to Scope in 1994 at least partly due to the denigration of the word ‘spastic’ in some quarters.

Mark Jeffries 6 January 2018 at 9:06 pm

And I assume that ATV viewers saw at the end of “The Beverly Hillbillies” an ‘ATV Presentation” slide instead of announcer Bill Baldwin’s “this has been a Filmways Presentation” declaration over the endcap (recited in the show’s later years by Donna “Elly May” Douglas, on “Petticoat Junction” by Linda Kaye “Betty Jo” Henning the producer’s daughter and on “Green Acres” by Eva “Lisa Douglas” Gabor, with an added “dahlink”).

Russ J Graham 7 January 2018 at 1:18 pm

Don’t know about ATV London per se, but Granada’s presentations of Filmways’ sitcoms left in the announcement at the end; BBC-1 also left it on the end of ‘Green Acres’.

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