10 great years for you, for TVTimes and for the stars of ITV 

21 September 2023 tbs.pm/78051

A photomontage including the first cover, Jenny Hanley, Brough Scott falling from a horse, Francesca Annis, Tommy Cooper, Ian McShane, Engelbert Humperdinck, Jeremy and Caroline Thorpe, Lulu with 4 children, Eileen Derbyshire and Hattie Jacques


Cover of TVTimes

From TVTimes for 23 September 1978

TEN years ago this week Diana Rigg was bowing out of The Avengers; Kenny Everett was co-starring with Germaine Greer and Jonathan Routh in his first TV series, Nice Time; Francesca Annis (this week’s cover star as Lillie Langtry) was rehearsing for a part as a very modern miss in Eric Jupp’s play The Explorer; Ian McShane (currently TV’s Disraeli) was playing a fighter pilot for the cinema’s big-screen version of the Battle of Britain; Tommy Cooper was getting drenched under a barrage of soda syphons in a piece of conjuring that strangely went wrong; Jeremy Thorpe, accompanied by his bride of only three months, Caroline, was addressing the Liberal Party Assembly; Brough Scott was starting another bone-breaking season as a National Hunt jockey — and Issue No. 1 of the new TVTimes appeared.

New because this was the first time ITV as a whole had its own magazine. Until September, 1968, there were several different regional journals — TV Post in Ulster, Television Weekly in Wales and the West, TV World in the Midlands, The Viewer in Tyne Tees, Look Westward in the South-west. Other areas had a journal with the title of TV TIMES (two words) but this was a rather basic programme guide.

The publication which came on sale 10 years ago was a totally different concept. It was a complete family magazine which paid special regard to television rather than merely listing what was on TV for the coming week.

Within six months the new TVTimes had 10 million regular adult readers and we’ve added another million since then — not forgetting a loyal following of two million children between the ages of eight and 14.

The very first issue gave a sample of the ingredients which were to become so popular.

Our cover subject was the six-year-old boy we tipped as the first Englishman to set foot on the Moon. His father — a train-drain emigrant from Bournemouth — was in charge of the Apollo lunar module rocket motor that placed the first Americans on the Moon a few months later. Ten years later four English scientists have already been picked as possible candidates as Europe’s first astronauts. But our little-boy-in-a-space-helmet, David Tribe, has become a teenage student of geology in an American high school who now prefers gliding to rocket travel and last month made his first parachute jump.

A birthday cake in the shape of a binder of TVTimes editions

In the same issue Engelbert Humperdinck was indulging a private fantasy as World War One air ace The Red Baron; Johnny Speight (creator of Alf Garnett) was warning that Harold Wilson might take over the throne and install George Brown as Archbishop of Canterbury; Nyree Dawn Porter was longing to have a baby; and Jimmy Hanley (eight years B.S. — Before Skateboards) was telling young readers how to make a model land yacht while his daughter Jenny (six years B.M. — Before Magpie) was building her acting career in a Bond film…

The pages that now go under the title of Family Scene included fashion (a button-through dress from Bus Stop, for example, for £4 19s. 6d.), cookery (butter 3s. 3d. per lb, bacon 5s. 6d. per lb, and a large loaf of bread 1s. 7d.) and advice on where to buy a dream country cottage for less than £2,500.

It all seems a long time ago … But in Issue No. 2 we were already looking 20 years ahead and asking famous personalities to picture themselves in 1988.

Lulu saw herself as a mother of four, Eileen Derbyshire (then Miss Nugent of Coronation Street) wanted to be a middle-aged Auntie Mame, and Hattie Jacques hoped to be a schoolgirl all over again, thanks to the invention of a youth pill.

Well, we’re halfway there and we’ll let you decide who is likely to be proved nearest the mark.

In the meantime, we thank you, our readers, for the loyal support which has given us a decade of fantastic success and trust you will stay with us for at least another 10 years — if only to see if Hattie Jacques really does take over as Elizabeth in the 1988 version of Just William.

Signature of Peter Jackson, editor

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