Second Birthday 

22 September 2023

Messages from the Programme Contractors

Paul Adorian


Managing Director of Associated-Rediffusion, Ltd.

SINCE the commencement of Independent Television broadcasting in September, 1955, Associated-Rediffusion has provided entertainment, information and education for its viewers.

In friendly rivalry with the other programme companies, we have tried to give programmes that will interest all people, and from the viewing figures available to us and also from the many letters and other messages that we get, we feel reasonably certain that we are achieving our aim.

As to the future, we are not complacent, and this will be evident to our viewers when they see our programmes in the forthcoming year.


Howard Thomas


Managing Director of ABC Television, Ltd.

ONLY those of us in the business know the apprehension with which we watched those first pictures go out from the Guildhall in September, 1955. New ideas in transmitters, new equipment, newly-trained staff-there were so many hazards.

Yet it worked. So triumphantly, in fact, that in two short years we are well established in a new industry, with 12,000,000 customers, a programme formula dominantly successful against the BBC, skilled and experienced staff, and highly important agreements completed with almost all the important unions.

A tremendous job was done by the first two London contractors, Associated-TeleVision and Associated-Rediffusion. On that opening night, ABC had just been given its weekend concession in the North and Midlands, and we were very new boys indeed.

It was fortunate for us to be able to sit back and watch our new friends in their first brave onslaught, and to benefit by their successes and failures.

ATV were no sooner airborne in London than they joined with us in planning a joint Midlands studio and gave us every help they could spare in our own struggle to create a complete television service within five months. A tough time-but who of us would have missed it?

Happy birthday, Associated-Rediffusion and ATV! May we have many more stimulating years like 1957 and even more millions of homes to share in the celebrations!


Val Parnell


Managing Director of Associated-TeleVision, Ltd.

ATV is about to celebrate its second birthday… two years spent on an “Earn while we learn” plan. And before we enter the third year of transmission, I’d like to take this opportunity of looking back over my shoulder to see just how much we have achieved.

We entered the field of commercial television with one aim in view to please you, the viewer. Without your goodwill, our venture would have been doomed from the start. We had no precedents to guide us, no comfortable statistics to help us to judge your television tastes.

In the first few months, we were literally working in the dark. But we weren’t completely unarmed. We had a team of artists, producers, technicians, writers and behind-the-scenes experts that was the equal of any in the world. We had, at the top, a hard core of executives whose lives had been spent in show business. And, last but certainly not least, all of our team possessed one thing in common-the determination that ATV must succeed.

But this doesn’t represent the whole picture. In the first paragraph I used the phrase “Earn while we learn.” Well, it’s a very true phrase. And it still applies as we enter the third year of commercial television. If we at ATV are to continue to build upon the success we have won, then we must please you. To do this we must be constantly on the look out for fresh, up-to-the-minute material and ideas. We must learn not only from our mistakes but from our successes as well. This we have done in the past and intend to do in the future.

During the past year, the number of homes able to receive ITV has increased by 22 per cent. This means a viewing potential of nearly 13,500,000. Our task for the future is to please that audience and increase it four-fold. We look forward to the challenge with pleasure and confidence.


Sidney Bernstein


Chairman of Granada TV Network, Ltd.

SINCE September, 1955, Independent Television has established itself in four areas, and will soon be able to reach more than three-quarters of the population of the UK. This is a remarkable achievement.

In some fields of programming we have surpassed our competitors. In others, we lag behind.

We need to be fresher, more alert, more venturesome, and more adult before we can offer ourselves any flattery or – maybe – even praise.


A map of the UK showing the three regions

These are the areas (including the so-called “fringe” areas) which have been covered by ITA transmitters up to the autumn of 1956. The new Scottish station is planned to start operating during 1957, with its transmitter in the Kirk O’ Shotts area.


…and what a Birthday!


TV is two years old (or, better still, two years young) in a few days, and you are invited to switch on your set and join in the celebrations next week.

There will be a champagne Celebrity Party, with hundreds of show business guests on board the Thames pleasure ship Royal Sovereign.

A full record of the event on film is to form a glittering part of the two-hour, mammoth-scale anniversary programme.

Called Salute to Show Business, it will be seen on all ITV channels, including the latest – Scotland – on Friday night.

The accent is on the word “Salute…” in the title. For Associated-Rediffusion, who are presenting this starry programme, have had the happy idea of making the anniversary the occasion for expressing the thanks of ITV to the people of all branches of show business for their contribution to its success.

And what a tribute to the parent arts of drama, variety and films it will be! Salute to Show Business will embrace the life stories of two top stars, the history of a famous London theatre, and, of course, the shipboard celebration party.

At midnight, the Royal Sovereign sails from London’s Tower Pier to the accompaniment of a fanfare by 24 trumpeters, a display of fireworks bursting over the Pool of London, and a band playing on board. The film then being made will show you the hundreds of guest celebrities and ITV personalities on board the gaily dressed and lighted ship.

Strolling players will promenade the decks of the ship as she takes the guests pleasure-cruising down the river until the early hours.

All this viewers will see in glamorous detail on Friday night.


Pages playing trumpets


Introducing and linking the programme from the Royal Sovereign will be Peter Sellers. As compere, he will be seen chatting with some of the celebrities. Between times, Sellers the character actor will tackle such roles as these: ship’s cabin boy, stoker, and even captain!

The Sellers name is itself a guarantee of fun, and assisting him will be Kenneth Connor. Incidentally, I can tell you that the list of those on board the Royal Sovereign will read like a Who’s Who of show business. You might call it a Salute of 21 guns – only there’ll be many more big guns than that on this occasion. There will be appearances by star after star, each moment packed with the prestige of show business. A few of them are pictured in these pages.

“Salute…” is to tell the stories of two people, who, through their lives, struggles, hopes, disappointments and successes mirror the nature of show business in 1957.

They are Margaret Lockwood and Dickie Valentine. You will watch them telling their own stories and re-enacting events in their lives. Margaret’s daughter, Julia, plays her mother as a young girl.


Greeting guests on the ship


Also seen will be many other famous artists who have played a part in the lives of Margaret and Dickie. Yet another part of “Salute…” is to bring to life the 104-year history of London’s Haymarket Theatre, and introduce stars who have played there. Mary Malcolm will portray her grandmother, the ever-famous Lily Langtry.

On board the Royal Sovereign, I am told, Peter Sellers may encounter a strange-looking figure in the costume of another century, haunting the decks of the ship. He is the Haymarket’s legendary ghost, Buxton, portrayed in this case by James Hayter.

Buxton was an actor-manager connected with the Haymarket long ago.

When seen, this friendly spectre is said to bring good luck to people in show business.

Buxton was last reported seen just before The Chalk Garden opened there in April, 1956. A stage doorkeeper who saw him won first dividend in a football pool.

Special theme music in “Salute…” has been composed by Peggy Cochrane, with lyrics by Bunny Lewis. The melodious Napoli Bay may become a big hit.

John McMillan

Salute to Show Business is presented by John McMillan, Associated-Rediffusion’s Controller of Programmes.

He says: “Every birthday presents an opportunity for reflection. When we came to think about our Second Anniversary, we realised how much we owe to show business. We would not have got on the air and we would not have stayed on the air so successfully without the co-operation of everyone in the entertainment world.

“That is how Salute to Show Business was born. In other words, we thought it right and proper to thank the artists and producers of the stage, variety and filmi worlds for allowing us to draw upon their ability and experience, and – most of all – their great traditions of service to the public.”

Scripts for the big show have been written by Hazel Adair, Cyril Bennett and David Freeman, Peter Morley directs the film sequences, Joan Kemp-Welch those from the studio, and the show is produced by Peter Hunt.

Here is an impressive list of many of the stars and personalities appearing and the episodes in “Salute…” in which they will be seen:

THE LOCKWOOD STORY: William Holden, Trevor Howard, Margaret Lockwood, Sir Carol Reed, Phyllis Calvert, Dorothy Hyson, Julia (Toots) Lockwood, Leslie Arliss, Herbert de Leon, Leslie Frewin.

THE VALENTINE STORY: Dickie Valentine, Paddie O’Neil, Jimmy James, Albert Burdon, Bruce Trent, Richard Hearne, Jack Hylton, Val Parnell.

THE HAYMARKET STORY: Fay Compton, James Hayter, Ronald Howard, Sir Ralph Richardson, Celia Johnson, Susan Burnett, Mary Malcolm.



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1 response to this article

Ray 22 September 2023 at 8:29 pm

Great article

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