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


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.