Tuesday, 19 September 2017

From Russia With Love

Putting it mildly, I was somewhat relieved last week that 0015 did not loathe his first experience of 20th century James Bond. In fact, he seems rather keen on our Bond nights now. Following Goldfinger, we are sticking with Connery and going for another film many regard as a classic: From Russia With Love. It is rather different from Goldfinger though and as a child I found it rather dull. Hopefully, 0015 will instantly appreciate it as much as adult me does.

What do you think From Russia With Love might be about?
0015: I think it has a missile that says 'From Russia With Love' on it. I also know it's the second oldest film because I looked the order up last week before we started.

Is there anything from last week you would like to see more of?
More crazy grandmas. Cheesy bad guys. Better hat physics.

0015 heads to sort drinks out before we settle down.
We have Fireball and Jäger.
There is no vodka though so we pass and hit play.

START

I always forget the pre-title sequence and 0015 has no comment on it, not even when a mask is removed from the fake 007.

The titles are a bit weird. They're just some half-naked women dancing in front of back projection.
Oh 0015, you're going to have to get used to this.

Rosa Klebb, Kronsteen and a man with a white cat are discussing SPECTRE's new plan on a boat.
It's my boat!
As established last week, 0015 has a longing to buy a boat/yacht.

Red Grant is in a garden, getting a massage from a young lady.
She's old enough to be my nan. When was this made?
1963.
She's probably dead.

0015 recognises Bernard Lee, who plays M, but we don't know what from. Later, it turns out he was thinking of Anthony Hopkins.
When we pause to grab a drink, 0015 manages to pause on a pair of tits. Not for the first time in our Bond marathon. However, he protests:
Based on the titles, I had a 90% chance of it being tits.

1963's technology is a shock for 0015. Bond and Kerim spy on the Russian consulate through a periscope that Kerim has secretly had installed.
Is this before CCTV? Because that would have been a lot easier.
I assure him 1963 is indeed some time before widespread CCTV was available, even for Her Majesty's Secret Service.

As they prepare to raid the gypsy camp, the Russians are communicating with enormous handheld radios and 0015 audibly scoffs.
I take it this was a while before mobile phones too?
Just a little bit.

Bond and Tania start to get to know each on Bond's hotel bed. The audience is shown that two people are filming them with a camera from behind a two-way bedroom mirror.
Bit creepy.
Dirty f-
But I suppose it's easier than a periscope.

Bond and Tania arrange for her to drop off plans of the Russian consulate in a mosque.
It's a bit echoey.
They should put some carpets down.
Yeah, they should be common in cathedrals, or mosque things.
It's some famous building there, isn't it?
I don't know. I'm not acquainted with Istanbul architecture.
0015 insists it is and I wonder why he knows this and realise he probably wonders why I know when mobile phones were invented.

I wonder why they made blueprints blue.
Why don't I know this? I will google it later.
0015 googles it immediately and Wikipedia proves enlightening.

With the Lektor decoding machine in his hands, Bond grabs Tania and they jump on a train as it starts to pull away. The Russians are hot on their tails and one manages to jump on board too.
I wish they'd still let you get on moving trains.
0015 commutes 2 hours each way every day and seems to spend a lot of time diving for train doors with seconds to spare.

'Captain Nash', who is really Red Grant, appears and he has a little chat with Bond. It's the first time Red Grant has spoken in the film.
He can talk. I didn't expect him to be able to talk. The other one [Oddjob from Goldfinger] couldn't talk.

They leave their compartment to go for something to eat in the dining car.
Trains look so much better then.
I think they look great.
I want my own room, table and chair, and waiter service! I bet they were cheaper then too.
I actually have no idea if trains were cheaper in the 1960s. This one looks very swish though.

Bond kills Red Grant after a vicious fight on the train (my favourite part) and news reaches Rosa Klebb and Kronsteen. Man With A White Cat Whose Face We Do Not See is not happy with their failure.
Oh, this is where evil men with white cats come from!

Bond and Tania are preparing to leave a hotel and take the Lektor back to England. But Rosa Klebb appears, disguised as a hotel maid, ready to attack Bond with poison-tipped knife shoes.
It's another crazy granny!

THE END

What did we think then?
It's done quite well for such an old film. I guess I expected it be a lot tackier. It was a lot harder to follow what was going on, compared to last week. I didn't know what was going on until near the end. The gypsy bit seemed unnecessary. 'Gypsy' might be offensive but it said 'gypsy' in the film.
We will stick with the contextual term.

Do you have any questions?
Who's the guy with the cat? I suppose you're not supposed to know.
I'm not going to tell you.
I want a cat. I've always wanted a cat. I've always wanted to sit stroking a cat, being evil, but I didn't realise it originally came from Bond. I want to sit and open the windows and look out at the world and be evil.
What are they trying to decode?
They're not trying to decode something - they're after a machine that decodes.
Decodes what?
All sorts of stuff, they weren't after anything specific. They would just be able to decode the Russians' stuff.
Ah I see.
Have you heard of the Enigma machine?
Yes - I've seen The Imitation Game.
It's like that.

Did you have a favourite part?
The helicopter bit at the end was pretty cool.
How do you think they did it?
I noticed you didn't actually see it fall out of the sky when it blew up. Well, it was probably pre-green screen. Was it a toy on a stick?
Yep, pretty much. It's a model.
You can't tell.

Who was your favourite character?
I really want to say crazy granny but this one isn't a very good fighter. She just kicks people.
That's probably why she gets other people in, like Red Grant.

Was there any bit you didn't like?
It probably got better after they got on the train - when I actually knew what was going on.

Was it more or less cheesy than last week?
Less.

Is there anything you would like to see more of?
*whispers* Crazy granny.
It's gonna sound like I've got a love fetish if I say that again. It's good when you can't predict what side someone's on - grey characters. I think that's what they're called. Some are good, some are bad but you can't predict them. I like that.

Who do you think is the most grey character?
I can't remember the main girl's name [Tania]. The one who keeps saying Jams instead of James. I was never sure if she was really tricking him.
It's good to see some of the history I didn't expect. Like the big walkie-talkies and the periscope instead of a camera.

And you final score?
7/10

Would you like to do more Connery next or someone different?
They're probably like little series in themselves with each actor, so as long as it doesn't spoil anything, it will be good to mix it up. Like, mini-series. I think they are probably all self-contained. I don't know - I'm just trying to sound more technical. But it might be good to get away from crazy Koreans and grannies.

In this case, next week we will jump forward 10 years to 1973.
That's still like 40 years ago!
We're going to watch Roger Moore in Live and Let Die.
I've heard of that one. I've heard of the song.
Paul McCartney sings it.
I've definitely heard of him. He was in The Beatles. Well, I really hope he was now I've said that.

JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN...

LIVE AND LET DIE

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Goldfinger - Bonding Over Bond

Aged seven, I caught the start of Live and Let Die on ITV one Wednesday evening and James Bond became a prominent part of my life. Over the next few years, my brother and I collected Bond films on video and learned to emulate 007 from his own magazine. I spent my childhood with walkie talkies, night vision binoculars, and a caps gun under my pillow. I went to school equipped with a code book and invisible ink pens. When a mission was rained off, I could always brush up my spy skills with a Bond Playstation games.

Nowadays, my espionage techniques are a tad more subtle and predominantly extend to stalking acquaintances on social media. Every film is someone somewhere's favourite and equally every film is someone somewhere's least favourite. Twitter is now one of my favourite places to discuss Bond with fellow enthusiastic fans. A Sunday afternoon Bond film on telly will bring out the best and worst. 

Not too long ago, I first mentioned someone called 'Date' for the first time. I went on dates with him and he got promoted to 'Special Friend', which sounded naff so I'm glad to now refer to him as 0015 (his choice).

We have been getting to know each other. Maybe it was when I mentioned going to a Roger Moore double bill tribute. Maybe it was that on his first time in my car, my iPod was dead and I had three CDs in the glove box, one being Bond themes, and we had a 4 1/2 hour round trip. At some point, my 007 credentials were evident and 0015 fessed up to have only seen Daniel Craig's Bond films.

At some point afterwards, it was suggested we should watch all the Bond films together. So here we are.

I'm a big fan of order - release order, broadcast order. Yet once I started thinking it through, I decided it might be good to mix things up. If 0015 turned out to hate Sean Connery, George Lazenby might start to feel a long way off, let alone dear Rog.

Goldfinger ticks a lot of Bond boxes so this week it became 0015's first pre-Daniel Craig James Bond film and with the gun barrel sequence paused, I undertook my first interview.

Goldfinger  (1964)



What do you think Goldfinger might be about?
0015 It's probably the nickname of the evil villain.
Do you think there are any villains that aren't evil?
Everyone thinks what they're doing is right else they wouldn't do it. Well sometimes... there's probably the odd one.

Do you know anything about the Bond films before Daniel Craig?
I only know the names of them. I recognise some of the songs.
My CD may have helped.

How do you think they will be different to the Daniel Craig ones?
I think they will be more story-based than action.

Is there anything about them you are or aren't looking forward to?
I am definitely not prepared. It feels like something you should have watched. They're the classics you have to watch. I guess I don't usually watch old films so that's the other thing.
Why don't you normally watch any old films?
I always assume the new ones will be better. I don't know why.

What do you like/dislike about the Daniel Craig's Bonds?
I didn't like Quantum Of Solace. That was boring - I can't remember why.
You've probably blocked it out like I have.
I really can't remember. Skyfall was good. I liked the modern themes about hacking. It was a modern, computery thing. It could happen now. And Casino Royale was just the first one I saw. It was ok.

Do you know anything about the other Bonds?
You mean the actors? One has a hat. *points at paused gun barrel sequence on screen* They're British actors as far as I know... With a tux. One of them died recently or something. *grits teeth* There's one film with a laser in space. And one with a satellite. They might be the same.
There's another one with Gold in. It's not Golddigger, is it? GoldenEye! There's Die Another Day! And Live and Let Die!  There's something in one about writing something on a missile or a bomb. A little note on something.
Do you mean a bullet?
Maybe... I'm not sure. It might not even be from James Bond.

Is there anything that would make you want to end this mission?
There can't be too long without any story progression. I don't want too much time with people just talking or just going up to Bond and saying 'hi'. But it would probably just make me stop watching that particular one.

We start Goldfinger properly and I snap a photo of the screen for Twitter.
I need to do some dusting if you're doing that.

Bond emerges from the water, removing scuba gear to reveal a white dinner jacket.
I recognise his face now!

Bond uses his watch to set off an explosion.
They had better gadgets in the old ones, didn't they? I think they're pretty poor in the new ones.

Looking in a woman's eyes as he kisses her, Bond sees a man creeping up behind him. He twists the woman around and she gets knocked out instead of him.
Well, she tried to kill him too. She's probably 80 or dead now.

Title Sequence

Me What do you think so far?
0015 I like the cucumber.
He proudly points at the tea he chopped the salad for and as Shirley Bassey belts out the title song, I try not to weep over my beautifully cooked, currently ignored, fillet steak.

I wait for a comment or some reaction from the 'man talk' moment. NOTHING. We will be having words. But it isn't long before Bond has moved on to Jill Masterson.
That's his third girl so far! That's quite impressive.

Bond is wining and dining Jill in a hotel room.
I've heard of Don Perignon! They have it in [the local nightclub] for £180.

As Bond arrives at Q Branch, I glance over and take it as a positive sign that we are still eating tea but 0015's eyes don't leave the screen for some time the moment the DB5 appears.
Next, Bond is off to the golf course to try to fleece Goldfinger.

'Shall we make it a shilling a hole?'
A shilling hehe.
Me Do you know what a shilling is?
There is a long silence.
Less than a pound. Some pennies...
0015 gets a pre-decimal currency lesson.

Golf isn't a lively sport, is it?

0015 is rather amused as Bond's face drops while Oddjob crushes his golf ball.

Bond proceeds to stalk Goldfinger to Geneva, where he encounters Tilly Masterson. He allows her to overtake him but only so he can use one of the Aston Martin DB5's gadgets to destroy her tyres.
Well, at least he didn't do it near a cliff.
Me He's still a bit of a bastard.

As Bond rolls out some patter, the penny drops.
Ah he's trying to pull her, isn't he?

We agree Tilly is quite posh and her car looks quite expensive. Later, Bond is sneaking around, getting a good look at Goldfinger's operation.
There's another film where they're smuggling gold in a car. They obviously stole it from this.

Tilly is killed by Oddjob's razor-edged hat.
I'm surprised that didn't decapitate her!

Bond has been caught and is being taken back into Goldfinger's complex under armed guard. We are curious why there is an old lady guarding the entrance to the complex and we decide it is supposed to be deceptive. This is proved right shortly afterwards when she starts firing a machine gun.

After Bond nearly loses his knackers to a laser (Oh I know about this bit!), he wakes up on Goldfinger's private plane.
I wouldn't mind a private jet. I was actually looking at yachts, to see if it would be better than buying a house. You probably can't get a mortgage on a yacht though. Or wifi.
I disagree. I reckon you can get wifi on one and we stop paying attention for a minute or so as we go off on a tangent of the pros and cons of a yacht versus a house. We tune back in to see a sign for...

Pussy Galore's Flying Circus... unusual name.
This is 0015's sole comment on Pussy's name. If he can take that on the chin, he's going to be fine through every double entendre this series can muster.

A while later, Goldfinger is hosting a hood's convention. They have all provided him with various items or finances for Operation Grand Slam.

'You can have your $1m today...or $10m tomorrow!'
How much would a million be worth today?
We aren't sure. Maybe $40m?
Enough to buy a few yachts then. And a private plane!
Looking it up later, it's actually more like $7m.

Goldfinger explains his plan for Operation Grand Slam to the hoods.
Me Are you following this?
I got the bit about the nerve gas. I hope I don't have to remember the rest.
He doesn't and I think about telling him this but decide not to.

Mr Solo is not interested in $10m - he just wants his $1m so is leaving.
Bond is a bit too friendly for 0015, as he calls, 'Happy landings, Old Boy.'
Does he know him?

As Felix Leiter leaps into action, I'm excited to spot a 1960s' KFC and 0015 asks if the CIA agents are 008. Meanwhile, Mr Solo has a pressing engagement
What a waste of a car just to get rid of a body.
I am thinking the same. We also notice that the only blood we have seen so far is from a cut on Bond's cheek.
It's alright to have him crushed so long as there's no blood!

Bond goes into a barn with Pussy to roll about in the hay
Is that 6 now? I think it's 6.
We decide it's actually 5.
Well, 5 attempts then.
Me I don't think he's fussy.

The next day, Pussy's Flying Circus is spraying gas around Fort Knox and everyone drops to the ground. Goldfinger moves in to start breaking into the bank. Shortly afterwards, the CIA agents awake.
How do they know about the bomb? They didn't get the note?

The shooting starts and Goldfinger whips out his pistol.
He HAD to have a gold gun!

The End

Well I've watched one now.
Are you willing to watch another?
Yes.

Do you have any questions?
Did they film it in the real Fort Knox?
No, but a lot of people thought they had.
How old is Goldfinger?
1964.
And it's not even the first!
Well, they have been around a while.
I wasn't around then.
Neither was I!
So this is during the Cold War, riiight?
Yeah. The Cold War was from the end of the war and ended in about 1990.
You know a lot about this history.
Just a bit.

What was your favourite part?
The crazy granny. I also like all the little tricks that the car does, especially the ejector.

Was there any part you didn't like?
It kind of kept pace. I'm not convinced of the physics of that hat though.
You're doubting nothing else? You accept every other bit of fantasy in this film, except the hat?
I mean, it's not magic. It levitates.
No, he chucks it.
He couldn't like that.

Did you have a favourite character?
Probably the crazy Korean.

I pin 0015 down on the issue of the 'man talk' moment, in which Bond asks a young lady, Dink, to leave him and Felix. He then slaps her on the arse and explains it's 'Man talk.'
I wasn't paying attention. I think they're all like that back then. Hence the 5 girls and pinning one down.

What would you like to see more of?
The cheesy villains and the cheesy plans.
Do you think we should go more cheesy or less?
I think it's good to vary it.

What do you think of this Bond?
He seems stereotypical of how you would expect him to be. Charming, good at charming people. Someone with a bit of class who's good at charming people.
So you don't think he's charming but he's good at charming people?
He's putting it on.
So you think he's a complete bastard?
Well yeah, cus he just uses everyone.

What's your score out of ten for Goldfinger?
8

Would you like to watch another Sean Connery next (Oh I didn't know his name until you mentioned it!) or a Roger Moore?
Is he the one on your phone?
0015 points at my phone's screensaver.
Yes - but that's him in The Saint. See the halo?
Is he your favourite Bond then?
No actually, but I like him in The Saint.
So what are we watching next week?

JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN...

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE


Monday, 31 July 2017

TV Times 30th July 1967

My View... Keep drama out of the TV rut

Producer and scriptwriter Philip Mackie enthuses about the continuation of the television play. Looking through schedules for this period, there are plays in abundance. There are one-offs and more so, there are those under what Mackie calls 'omnibus titles'. He names Love Story but there is also Armchair Theatre, Play of the Week and The Wednesday Play. Mackie says he wants a place for these sort of programmes 'two or three or four times a week' and I think, how bloody marvellous! I would settle for one today!


The only similar such series we have now is Inside No. 9. Undoubtedly, a large part of the appeal of Inside No. 9 is the twists and fans' appreciation of the writers' style. But for me, I also enjoy having stories that stand alone, where I don't have to remember every plot point from last week and we get a constantly changing, yet still brilliant cast.

Mackie doesn't want television schedules to be identical, week in, week out. He argues lots of television is predictable as 'too much of television is stuck in a comfortable rut of sameness and tameness and mediocrity'. I suppose with a series, that is usually true. Detective series will all follow a similar course each episode, soaps cycle through similar plotlines every few years and sitcoms tend to function in the same way every episode. I do think this has changed a little compared to 1967 (particularly the point on mediocrity) but nonetheless, Mackie's main point still stands; plays are allowed to be far more unpredictable.

I am wholly behind this urging for programmes 'which are not written according to formula, nor produced according to routine' and it is still a relevant argument today. One of Mackie's final points really deserves expansion; 'I know there's a National Theatre in the Waterloo Road in London, and I know it does marvellous work. But Britain's real national theatre is on television'. This being the northern edition of TV Times only cements this. I am glad there is a National Theatre in London but I don't live in London. Television makes theatre much more accessible.

PlayBill - Summer Playhouse 'The Big Killing'

Philip Mackie has written this week's Summer Playhouse. 'The Big Killing' has an interesting-sounding plot of a man betting his neighbour he can get away with killing the neighbour's wife. Barry Foster stars and clearly relished playing against type as 'this is what I call posh, proper acting'. He faced up to the challenges that come with this. 'It looks easy until you try juggling with all those gin and tonics that have to be poured with precision timing while you stay suave and charming'.


The play was written a few years earlier. In 1962, Ian McKellen had a role in a stage production, though he was rather scathing about it, 'Another miserably-written "comedy-thriller", which made the cast laugh more than the audience and which thrilled no one'.

ERIC the conceited computer

Absolutely no idea.



Susan Maugham - Dear Young Men...


For a change, Susan's dishing out fashion tips to blokes this week. She is a bit dictatorial about it though. It's quite fine for young men to have long hair now but they are not allowed to comb it in public as women have always been told they aren't allowed to. If they are going to wear these new army-style jackets, they should be wearing them buttoned up so they look smarter.

The one insistence of Susan's that is really necessary is her final one, 'There are lots of men's deodorants on the market, and if it is not cissy to wear your hair long, then it certainly is not cissy to smell nice'.

Tommy Simpson



A short note about the death of cyclist Tommy Simpson shortly before the last issue was printed. Tom Simpson died during the Tour de France, with an official death given as 'heart failure caused by exhaustion'. Simpson had been suffering from diarrhoea and had diuretic amphetamines and alcohol in his system when he died. Footage of his death was broadcast live on French television. A memorial stone now exists at the point where he fell.

There is a 2005 BBC documentary about Tom Simpson.


Current affairs


Miss Audrey Conway of Ainsdale, Lancashire, wants 'more entertainment, less education'. She also wants 'less sport' though she neglects to provide any reasons for either of these requests. The letter she refers to was in the July 8th issue, not 6th as printed. A Mrs S.E. Bushnell of King's Park Road, Bournemouth, stated she and her husband did not want to be more informed on current affairs because 'Our already jangled nerves do not deserve to be tensed even more by contentious arguments on political and foreign issues which we have already read and discussed fully in working hours'. I don't think I have ever known anyone who could say they have fully read and discussed political and foreign issues in their working hours. Mr and Mrs Bushnell are clearly either both journalists or civil servants.

Max Caulfield Interview: Dame Gladys


Dame Gladys is interviewed, as she is appearing in Callan this week, though sadly this episode is now missing. Though the name is familiar, I have to say I don't know Dame Gladys's work at all. However, this interview paints her as a remarkable woman.

She is described as 'a national monument', a nice change from the overused 'national treasure' we have today. Caulfield was expecting someone rather grand and was instead 'greeted by a slim, tomboyish figure'. She is going 'up the Thames' after the interview. A few years previously, Dame Gladys had driven herself 3,500 miles from New York to Hollywood. '"Alone?"' asked Caulfield. '"Naturally"' came the reply.

I find it rather sad that Dame Gladys felt she was limited by the standards of her lifetime. '"If I had to live my life over again, I would want to be a man. Why? Because they have much the best of it. And a woman is really so dependent on a man - even someone like me.

A man can go wherever he likes, do whatever he likes. There are so many things I should like to have done but couldn't, as a woman."'

Caulfield compounds this, writing that 'A great man of action was clearly lost to the world when Dame Gladys was born a woman'.

District Bank


The advert here has two messages: save and spend. It has very neatly summed up what a bank is for. The main one is the 'spend' part as it emphasises the convenience of a cheque book.

At a time when many, if not most, people were paid in cash in physical pay packets, some still didn't see the need for a bank account. Additionally, the first cash machine had only been unveiled the previous month, so even if you had a bank account, you had to actually walk into a bank to withdraw any funds in there. Cheque books meant you could chuck your money around without having to carry the wads around with you.It would be another thirty years before the first debit card was introduced. Nowadays, a lot of businesses no longer accept cheques as they are not the most secure payment method and so lots of people don't bother to have a cheque book anymore.

Within a few years, the District Bank would become part of National Westminster Bank Limited, better known today as NatWest.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

TV Times 15th July 1967

Callan


Edward Woodward graces the cover this week as TV Times promotes Callan, which started last week. The second episode is now missing though.


007 Goes Back To Fairfield


In 1967 Sean Connery worked for a month for free, directing and narrating a documentary on the Fairfield Shipyard in Glasgow. The Bowler and the Bunnet, referring to the different hats worn by workers and management, would turn out to be the only thing he ever directed. Connery had become interested in the experiment taking place there. He saw it as 'the first real move towards breaking down the barrier between workers and bosses'. This article actually tells us nothing at all about the experiment, probably hoping we will tune into the programme to find out. The article comments on Connery's 'sinister new moustache'. He had grown the droopy tache for Shalako (1968), a Western to be released the following year, but was ultimately persuaded to shave it off before filming started. It also still references Connery as James Bond, indicating that he had yet to step down from the role. He would do so later that year before being persuaded to pick up his Walther PPK again for Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and $1 million.


Country Boy from the city


A couple of weeks ago we saw a preview of some of the new children's programmes, one of which was Country Boy, so it's nice to get a bit more information on it. Dennis Golding is a cockney lad who gets introduced to the ways of the countryside. Dennis is keen to point out he had seen the country before, 'once or twice, but only from a train or a car on a day-trip to the Essex coast. Just a lot of boring old fields it used to look like'. He has now seen swans, heard a cuckoo and learned how to handle a small boat. It's wonderful to hear the lad gushing about how much it has opened up his mind and he is now keen to live in the country one day. Presently, he lives in a terraced house with his 13 brothers and sisters. He was spotted for Country Boy while performing in a play. Dennis doesn't fancy drama school - 'They look a toffee-nosed lot to me' - though likes the idea of being an actor, 'But if it doesn't work out I'll be an electrician like me dad'.


IMDB does list a Dennis Golding but we can't be certain it is the same one, as this one has some pre-1967 credits.


My Micro-Mini


Susan Maughan dispenses more fashion advice. For a while now, she has been encouraging readers to cut off bits of skirts and dresses. The warmer weather is here and everyone should be embracing the fashion for shorter hemlines. It seems she has not gone short enough so far though and here she has turned to buying an actual mini skirt. It is so short, she has termed it a 'micro-mini'. Interestingly, on the same page of which she has been advising more comfortable nightwear for the warmer nights, she also suggests wearing a mini skirt with sweaters.


Entero Vioform


As British holidaymakers are still struggling with foreign food, a fun cartoon encourages you to take precautions against yet another bout diarrhoea.


We've Had Enough of Experts



Double helping of Monkhouse



We are informed Bob Monkhouse 'has about 500 miles of film valued at £30,000 carefully stored in his London home'. That is approximately half a million pounds today. However, this is only the start. Bob Monkhouse would continue to grow his archive, moving on to videotape and amassing an enormous amount of television programming. He undoubtedly made a fantastic contribution to film and television archiving. Some of his items have become the only surviving copies and the Bob Monkhouse Collection is now part of the Kaleidoscope Archive

Nivea Cream shampoos


Nivea is offering the chance to win either a diamond tiara or £1000. Simply rate how important you feel each contribution is for beautiful hair and, 'Complete this sentence in not more than ten words: I USE NIVEA SHAMPOO BECAUSE'. Being around £16,660 today, I think I would happily take the money.


Omega Seamaster



This is an absolutely stunning portrait of an Omega Seamaster 300. They really sell the benefits of this diving watch. Yet, for the most part, it is unlikely most wearers will spend very much time beneath the surface. They are simply very beautiful watches. Personally, that is enough for me. The Seamaster collection began in 1948 and the Seamaster 300 was first launched in 1957. Since 1995 the Omega Seamaster has been the watch of choice for James Bond and the brand now has strong links with the franchise. This Seamaster 300 costs £53.10.0 - approximately £891 in today's money. A new Omega Seamaster 300 will currently set you back around £4400. If I could, I would.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

TV Times 1st July 1967

This week, colour has arrived on British televisions! But alas, that means absolutely nothing here as it was only for BBC2. Independent Television would have to wait a while longer yet.

The BIG news - from ITN


The new arrival on Independent Television this week is News at Ten and this itself is quite a big deal. As explored in a TV Times article back in May, the news was short - no more than thirteen minutes - and any analysis was explored in separate programmes. The idea of having a regular half-hour news programme that gave time to analysis, not just reporting of the news, was quite revolutionary.


It is so revolutionary and different that they are not entirely sure what it should be like and so plan to experiment. 'One night we may fill the programme with one item, as with the Aberfan disaster* or the war in the Middle East**. On another night it may be possible to fit all hard news into five minutes and give the rest to a major interview in depth or a piece of film of great human interest. On another night there may be three main items with the news wedged in between them. There will be no rigid pattern. Every night we start with a blank canvas.'

They seem keen to give more time to human interest stories, which I suppose will eventually morph into the so-called 'fluff' pieces often used at the end of the news. There should also be more room to devote to all sorts of sports reporting.

Running through the team, the lack of a female reporter is noted. Editor of ITN, Sir Geoffrey Cox, says, 'If we could find a good one, I would even be prepared to use her as a newscaster.' How generous! A year later Jacky Gillott will start as the first woman reporter on News at Ten. It would take until 1978 for Anna Ford to become News at Ten's first female newscaster.

Overall, these articles convey a great sense of excitement at the possibilities for the future. Behind the scenes, some were uncertain about this initial 13-week experiment. Yet, although ITV has tried a few changes over the years, these have never stuck and fifty years later News at Ten remains a staple in the schedules.


*The Aberfan disaster occurred in October 1966 when a colliery spoil tip collapsed. It hit a nearby school, killing 116 children and 28 adults. The BBC's 50th anniversary piece on it is excellent.

**The Six Day War had taken place from 5th-10th June 1967

It's Adventure Time!




New for the children...Anglia has a number of new series starting for children. Send Foster follows a junior reporter's adventures and Danger Island sounds very exciting, with a 12-year-old, Nicholas, getting caught up in an assassination plot while on holiday. Come Here Often is a new magazine programme. I like the sound of Country Boy, which sees a 14-year-old city lad come to learn about country life. Finally, Zoo Time takes a look at animals, starting with Chester Zoo. It's great to see such a variety of programmes on offer for children and it would be wonderful to see any of these. However, survival rates for children's programming are poor and sadly not a single one of these series still exist.

Embassy and Colgate



If TV Times is anything to go by, all sorts of companies were keen to encourage brand loyalty at this time. A popular way to do this was to have vouchers of some sort in each packet of cigarettes. Collect enough then send them off for something in the catalogue. These catalogues often offered a wide variety of household goods. In comparison, Colgate is simply offering some seamfree nylons.



Churchman's CIGARELLA



I am a great admirer of old tobacco advertisements and occasionally share them through a Twitter account: @fagsandbooze This one stood out as it was a brand I had not come across before. They are selling themselves as cigarettes and not cigarillos, having a filter that a cigarillo would usually lack. Compared to regular cigarettes, these are quite expensive at five shillings for twenty, with most other advertised brands not being more than 4/3.

Shell's 1967 Touring Pack


Shell is offering a book to tell you the cost of things in other countries. This seemed absolutely baffling at first - why pay for a book to tell you how much stuff is? Won't you just find out when you get there?


But looking at it in more detail, it becomes clear why the book might come in useful. As explored the other week, the government was keen to sort out its balance of payments. Restricting how much money tourists took out of the country was deemed a useful contribution to this. In 1967, this was limited to £50 and £15 in sterling per adult. £50 is about £832 today but with exchange rates, it is difficult to estimate how far this would actually have gone. Opponents argued it gave holidaymakers limited choice on where they could travel as some countries were more expensive.

Nescafé


For many, it is probably difficult to imagine a world before instant coffee. However, Nescafé came up with 'Freeze Drying' in 1965 so it was only two years old at this point. It is advertised as 'new' here, so I am not sure exactly when it was introduced to the UK. Previous methods had found the coffee taste and smell was best preserved in sweet milky coffee but now you could brew preserved coffee as black as your heart's desire.


Have a swinging Saba Saba Day


Cigar adverts are few and far between compared to the usual cigarette ones in TV Times so it feels we are being spoiled to get two, even if the first is hiding itself as a cigarette. Wills Cigars are providing a wealth of reasons to have a cigar every day, so why not? You too could find yourself patting an obviously stuffed lion.


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

TV Times 17th June 1967

A selection of articles and adverts for the week of 17th June 1967.

The State of the Nation


An article promoting The State of the Nation in which the Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, will face tough questions on his economic policy. There will be questions from men from unions, men from industry, men from the City, a man from a university, a man from the press, a man from France, a man from America and from the man in the street.


At the time, the UK economy was viewed rather poorly due to a trade deficit. Basically, the UK imported more than it exported. The books had not been great for a number of years but 1967 was the year things really went to pot. The 'international situation' mentioned at the bottom is likely to be the Six Day War. This would raise the price of petrol, putting further pressure on the government. There were also a number of major industrial strikes throughout the year. By November, the government would take the decision to devalue the pound. £1 went from equalling $2.80 down to $2.40, the idea being it would make British goods cheaper abroad. Less than a fortnight later, the UK was denied entry to the European Economic Community (EEC), or European Union (EU) as it is has now become.

Harold Wilson's address to the nation attempted to reassure the public.


Play Bill


A 20-year-old Felicity Kendall is in Friday's Half Hour Story, 'Gone and Never Called Me Mother'.



Encore!


A couple of readers are frustrated by a lack of repeats and they would particularly like to see 'some of the better plays' again.


Repeats are few and far between in 1967's TV Times. Actors' contracts and limited broadcasting hours mean they provide little appeal to broadcasters. Children's programmes are the most likely to be repeated, including the likes of Thunderbirds and The Adventures of Robin Hood. Also, in this issue, there are repeats of popular series, The Saint and The Avengers.

Carter's


'Carter's have made me feel younger, brighter and more healthy' says Mrs G. Aldridge of Walsgrave, Coventry. 'Carter's are a safe, gentle but certain laxative'.


Kodak


'Things happen in colour - remember them in colour'


Although photography had been around for some time, it had been many years before portable cameras were available to the masses. Like television, it began in black and white and so manufacturers then have to try to push the benefits of paying more for colour film. There are few colour pages in 1967's TV Times and even fewer colour adverts. The most likely candidates to pay extra for colour are tobacco companies and film or camera manufacturers. The Kodak adverts usually play on emotions and often contain photos of children. Even today, it is still the case that people start taking more photographs once they have children. This spur of the moment photo of a beautiful view with a figure in shadow is an interestingly slightly different take. Having the rest of the page in black and white also really draws attention to the colours.

Monday, 29 May 2017

TV Times 27th May 1967

A selection of articles and adverts for the week of 27th May 1967.

Miss Anglia Will Need Beauty Plus...



This article sets out to find some hints on 'How - To - Make - Yourself - Sparkle - Before - The - Judges' for Miss Anglia '67. I must say I am baffled by the whole beauty competition concept. Despite all the claims made in this article about personality and 'an inner beauty', it all feels rather hollow. If it is genuinely considered at all, the comment that personality is there 'to garnish your natural feminine appeal' makes it clear what really counts. Who wants a garnish?

Interestingly, the article does turn to four women and only one man to seek tips.

'But who would have sound advice to pass on to the girls? I decided to ask the people who devote a lot of their time to the world of love, marriage, beautiful women, handsome men - the writers of romantic fiction.'


Barbara Cartland, Sylvia Thorpe, Ivy Ferrari, Mary Burchell and Walter Boore are the authors consulted. They all provide variations on the personality trope.

First place gets £200, second takes £100 and both go through to the National Final of the Miss ITV competition. Third place receives £50. These are not insignificant sums in 1967 and would undoubtedly be a large part of the appeal for many of the young ladies.

Lessons that go on and on...



On Wednesday Siggy and the Changelings shows two new primary schools that have adopted an unstructured school day. Lessons are not rigid and flow among one another. The recently abandoned 11+ exam has opened up the possibilities for different teaching styles. The writer, Graeme Kay, went to visit both schools and encountered a couple of interesting aspects.

'When I rang Royce to make an appointment a 10-year-old answered the phone. A nine-year-old makes his daily rounds as the school weather man, checking temperatures and issuing weather bulletins.'

The article describes the schools as radical and being unfamiliar with a typical 1960s' primary school day, it is difficult for me to judge. Some of the ideas certainly ring bells with my own education many years later. A teacher describes an English, Maths and baking lesson all in one as, 'the children write and read out the recipe, hence the English lesson. Then when we take it from the oven, the cake is cut into fractions - halves, quarters, eighths, and so on. Thus we get a maths' lesson before the children demolish the cake.' There is also a photo of a girl measuring a boy with the caption telling us, 'Learning arithmetic this way gives children a personal interest.'


The children appear to flourish. John England, a headteacher and former president of the National Union of Teachers praises the schools, before going on to make a firm point. 'But let's get one thing straight. You can never take all the drudgery out of school work. At some point a child must get to grips with a subject or problem he doesn't like.' An official from the Manchester Education Authority pointed out that most schools don't have the resources of these two, which also both have far fewer pupils than most schools.

Wish You Were Here...



Anthony Morton, Sue Nicholls, Noele Gordon and Lew Luton pose on the shore.

Four of the Crossroads regulars pose in Djerba, Tunisia, whilst taking a break from filming there. I am absolutely baffled as to how Crossroads ended up filming in Tunisia and the cast must have thought all their Christmases had come at once. How does a soap opera centred around a hotel in the West Midlands end up in Tunisia? We want some beach scenes - where shall we go? I grant you the West Midlands region is not awash with coastline. If we wanted to go to the beach for the day when I was a kid, it was at least a four hour round trip. However, though they may be slightly less beautiful, there are nearer sandy parts than Djerba, Tunisia.


Swing Through Summer With Bulmers!


Send off the paper or foil seals and you can save money on a beach towel, a folding table, an insulated bag and sleeping bag. The sleeping bag has an 'attractive, gay cotton cover'. All you need to do is buy several, I presume, bottles of Woodpecker or Strongbow cider. I had never heard of Woodpecker. Wikipedia states sales to have declined by a third since 2001 and yet Sainsbury's claims it to be the third biggest draught cider in the UK. Oddly, I am inclined to believe the former.

The Harry Driver Story: Part One
Triumph Over Tragedy




A scriptwriter for George and the Dragon as well as Coronation Street, Harry Driver discusses how he got his success. After contracting polio, Harry was paralysed from the neck down but eventually persisted to become a writer. Harry was 25 when he contracted polio, something that surprised me because I had only ever heard about polio being contracted by children. Harry's descriptions of his suffering really convey what a terrible disease it is. 'All this rubbish about having thoughts and feeling sorry for yourself. In fact, you're just interested in breathing for the next ten minutes, nothing else!' He spent over a year lying in an iron lung, where the nurses fixed up a mirror so he could see who he was talking to and was able to watch television. Harry seems to have picked writing as one of the few jobs he could do despite being paralysed. He was very concerned about being able to provide for his young family. Overall, the picture painted is a devastating one. Harry may have made a success of himself, but there would be many who didn't. It is odd to think of such a debilitating disease still being so prevalent up until the 1950s.

Speaking out



(Mrs) M. Edgar of Harrogate, Yorks. is appalled at the use of Americanisms in The Avengers as she heard 'petrol being referred to as gas, and flat as apartment'. TV Times takes a sarcy tone, saying she wins the prize letter for that week. Her prize? '5 dollars and 88 cents.'

Mrs Jacki Boardman goes all the way with Frigidaire!



Ooh-er etc. The young lady looks ecstatic to be surrounded by drawings of modern white goods. Apparently there was the money for a photograph of her but alas, not of any of the products.

Over 250,000 Women enjoy wearing this wonderful Girdle every day



For only 16 shillings a month for five months, you could enjoy this 'light as thistledown but immensely strong' Girdle. For who-only-knows-what-reason, they need to know your occupation or 'Husband's if married'. Quite why you would need to know someone's husband's occupation before sending them a Girdle is beyond me.

Leaving School?



School leavers are invited to send for a book on the Royal Navy. The top line is appropriate for the time of year but virtually every issue of TV Times seems to have at least one advert for the armed forces. This one has three. National Service had only ended a few years before and though the armed forces were being reduced in size, there was still a need to woo young recruits in. Good prospects, decent pay, the opportunity to travel and learn a trade all usually feature in these adverts.



Why doesn't someone bring out a refrigerator as carefully made as my Singer sewing machine?



'Someone has!' Although the name is usually associated with the sewing machine, it appears Singer branched off into other products. Fridges seem a rather bold move but 'You can trust SINGER'.

The trousers that look after themselves



Two women admire a pair of men's trousers because they won't have to iron them.