The stuff that doesn't fit into my main blog Random Radio Jottings

Monday, October 31, 2011

One Day in the Life of Television - Part 1

As BBC Television celebrates its 75th anniversary this week (and unlike the 50th it’s a low-key affair)   I recall the television you would’ve seen back in 1988.

The day chosen to represent One Day in the Life of Television was 1 November 1988. On that day 18,000 viewers kept a diary of their television day and 2,500 people in the industry wrote about their working lives.

The day was a British Film Institute (BFI) initiative originated by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, reminiscent of the 1930s Mass Observation exercises. The 1st of November was chosen as simply a date that was far enough in the future to enable proper planning. The BFI invited viewers to complete a diary and return it to them for analysis and future research. Film crews from Yorkshire Television recorded the event for a documentary shown in 1989 and Sean Day-Lewis compiled a book on the subject.

It was an ordinary enough day in terms of the programmes broadcast. Inevitably the event itself was covered by some programmes, mainly on the BBC. That evening’s programming included a couple of comedy classics – Fawlty Towers and Rising Damp – and BBC1 repeated the Wildlife On One:Meerkats United documentary, otherwise it was business as usual.

Back in 1988 British tv was on the cusp of major change. At the time there were just the four terrestrial channels, Sky Television via Astra started the following year and Channel 5 was over seven years away.

Here’s how British television looked on 1 November 1988 in the form of programme clips that I recorded during the day. Not all the programmes are shown here, I only had the one video recorder, but I hope you enjoy this journey in the television time tunnel.

No 24-hour broadcasting on the BBC in ’88, though it had started on ITV back in 1986 when YTV carried Music Box overnight, so the gap was filled with pages from Ceefax and the test card.
ITV carried the ITN Morning News for an hour from 5 a.m. and then handed over to TV-AM from 6 a.m. Here are clips from The Morning Programme and Good Morning Britain, which followed at 7 a.m., with Richard Keys, Kathryn Holloway, ex-ITN newscaster Gordon Honeycombe, weather presenter Carol Dooley, Lizzie Webb (aka Mad Lizzie), Anne Diamond and Gyles Brandreth. Missing from this recording is Anne’s co-presenter Mike Morris.
Read more about TV-AM
Over on BBC1 programmes kicked off at 6.35 a.m. with an old Edgar Kennedy film followed at 7 a.m. by Breakfast Time. By now the BBC morning sofa had been ditched in favour of a young Jeremy Paxman and Kirsty Wark, now both on Newsnight, sitting behind a desk.  The news headlines are read by the late Jill Dando and the weatherman is Francis Wilson. There’s also the first of the day’s mention of the BFI project when The Schofe talks about his television day alongside Project Director Janet Willis. Look out for some serious shoulder pads and Paxo handling a technical hitch at about 3 minutes in.  
Daytime on BBC2 didn’t start until 9.30 a.m. when programmes for schools aired. This is a short clip of the Pages from Ceefax followed by the start of programmes with Inset-Economic Awareness. 
Back on BBC1 there was the first of the two editions of Open Air, this one presented by Mike Shaft. Other presenters during the week included Eamonn Holmes, Natalie Anglesey, Mavis Nicholson and Susan Rae. This early edition included criticism of the previous night’s Paul Daniels:Live at Hallowe’en in which Paul was put on a bonfire and set alight. See Mike Shaft on Open Air here (external link). 

Open Air was followed by Robert Kilroy Silk’s eponymously titled studio discussion show Kilroy!.  Today’s edition was on the difficult subject matter of marital rape.
When TV-AM finished at 9.25 a.m. it would hand ITV back to the regions. This is the start of day on Yorkshire Television with announcer Graham Roberts followed by live programme trails for This Morning and The Time…The Place. You’ll also see a short clip of Anglia TV’s game show Lucky Ladders with Lenny Bennett. The voiceover for the New York holiday prize is, I think, Bruce Hammal.
There was no early morning programming on Channel 4 in 1988. Their day also started at 9.30 a.m. with ITV Schools programmes.
ITV’s daily studio discussion show was The Time..The Place with host Mike Scott. Mike had long been at Granada TV as news anchor, World in Action reporter and the presenter of Cinema. Thames TV is in overall command of The Time…The Place but each regional company takes it in turns to put the programme together. Today’s edition comes from Central TV’s Nottingham studio. Central’s Head of News Steve Clark finds the show “bland, slow and repetitive…Thames had suggested the theme. In future we will politely listen to their ideas, reject them if we have something better and press on”.  
Going for Gold was the pan-European quiz with Henry Kelly that ran from 1987 to 1996. This edition was from week 3 of series 2. The programme format is still used for the French tv quiz Questions Pour Un Champion that I occasionally catch here on France 3
This was the classic period of Children’s BBC from the “Broom Cupboard”. Here’s Andy Crane with some birthday messages selected from the 2500+ letters and cards they received each week and then the opening of Playbus. Playbus had only started the previous month replacing the much-loved Play School that had ended earlier in the year.
This Morning was still in its infancy on this day, having started on 3 October. From Liverpool’s Albert Dock here’s Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley.
The second, and longer, edition of Open Air was broadcast at 11 a.m. In this programme Pattie Caldwell and Bob Wellings (both ex-Nationwide) concentrated on The Day in the Life of Television project itself. You’ll see guests Michael Grade, Bobby Davro, Dave Lee, Paul Daniels and weatherman Bill Giles. 
Very much in the old Pebble Mill at One mould was Daytime Live. You’ll hear Floella Benjamin and then in-vision are presenters Alan Titchmarsh and Sue Cook. Other presenters during the week were Judi Spiers, Tina Baker and Simon Potter. Yet again we go behind the scenes in what one viewer referred to as “television navel-watching”.
Meanwhile over on ITV you’d catch Rainbow and on Channel 4 The Parliament Programme with Alastair Stewart and Glyn Mathias. At 12.30 p.m. was Business Daily with Susannah Simons (ex-LBC and Radio 4’s PM). The announcer in this clip is Jon Briggs. Business Daily would, a year later, become part of the new early morning news magazine The Channel 4 Daily.

Both the main channels had their lunchtime bulletins at 1 p.m. On BBC1 the newsreader was Philip Hayton and over on ITN was Julia Somerville. Just the headlines from Julia in this clip followed by a YTV-only show called LS3, a postcode in Leeds. The show is presented by Grace Bailey but I can find no further information about her of this programme.   
No programme clips from the early afternoon, I must have nodded off! BBC1 apparently replaced a “trash movie” with another showing of The Importance of Being Earnest, though it’s not clear what film had originally been scheduled as Earnest appeared in the Radio Times listings. BBC2 had programmes aimed at younger viewers and then Championship Bowls presented by David Icke. Channel 4 offered the 1929 Douglas Fairbanks film The Iron Mask, a Three Stooges short and then Oprah.

On ITV at 3 p.m. there was a chance to see Lionel Blair doing his stuff on the 10th series of Give us a Clue. I have no recording of that but at 4 p.m. Children’s ITV started with presenter Mark Granger. In this clip you’ll see the opening to Tickle on the Tum.
On BBC1 Sylvester McCoy presented What’s Your Story? in which “the storyline is being evolved with the assistance of telephoned suggestions from the audience”.

Continued in Part 2

One Day in the Life of Television - Part 2

Continuing the post about the BFI-led project One Day in the Life of Television featuring the television of 1 November 1988.

Starting in 1988 Channel 4’s long-running quiz Fifteen-to-One. This clip is from series 2 eventually won by Mal Collier. What a great quiz show this was, all questions and no gimmicks or overly complex rules.
Some real children’s TV classics in this clip. First Newsround with the original presenter John Craven – by now John shared duties with Helen Rollason and Roger Finn. Secondly Grange Hill, look out for a brief glimpse of Michelle Gayle. No Mrs McClusky but you will see Mr Bronson (Michael Sheard). Lastly Blockbusters with Bob Holness. Who knew there was a silent K in nutmeg!
By 1988 the Aussie soap Neighbours was at its height. From the days when Jason Donovan was still on Ramsey Street here’s a snippet of the episode.
News time. On ITV the ITN News at 5.45 with newscaster Alastair Stewart. On BBC 1 the Six O’Clock News with Nicholas Witchell and Laurie Mayer.
In peak time viewing at 7 p.m. BBC2 was still showing the Western film Guns of Diablo, Channel 4 News was starting with Peter Sissons, and on BBC1 Telly Addicts in which the Blakemores take on the Moore family. This clip starts with a rundown of the evening’s viewing voiced by John Braben.
Meanwhile on ITV Michael Barrymore was racing around the giant set of Strike It Lucky. Viewers in Scotland got to see Take the High Road.
No Corrie or Emmerdale tonight so the evening soap fix was EastEnders. In this extract you’ll see Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth), Pete Beale (Peter Dean), Simon Wicks (Nick Berry), Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) and Dot Cotton (June Brown).

There was plenty of home-grown comedy on this Tuesday albeit two of the programmes were classic repeats (“another chance to see” in the days before UK Gold). BBC1 showed Fawlty Towers (a repeat of The Wedding Party and still getting a very respectable 12.2 million audience) whilst most ITV regions had Rising Damp. In this episode, Pink Carnations, Rigsby, still in search of love, takes out a personal ad.    

New comedy offerings were Thames television’s The Return of Shelley with Hywel Bennett and a script by Guy Jenkin and on BBC2 the first series of Colin’s Sandwich starring Mel Smith.

On BBC1 at 8.30 p.m. was A Question of Sport from the days when there was less silliness and more actual sports questions. In the chair is David Coleman with teams Ian Botham, Lloyd Honeyghan, Nick Farr-Jones, Bill Beaumont, John Aldridge and Martin Brundle. This was Beefy Botham’s second appearance as team captain having taken over the role from Emlyn Hughes.

Channel 4 evening offerings were not filled with the lifestyle programmes that proliferate today. At 8 p.m. The Divided Kingdom was a documentary series. At 8.30 p.m. journalist Penny Junor presented the consumer investigation programme 4 What It’s Worth. And at 9 p.m. Jacques Rupnik looked at the Communist party in Eastern Europe in The Other Europe.

The Nine O’Clock News with Michael Buerk offered viewers the second chance to see the new programme titles with its “Wagnerian thunderbolts”; Martin Lambie-Nairn’s redesign had first aired on the Monday evening.

ITV’s main evening programme, attracting an audience of 12.7 million, was the start of the third series of Boon starring Michael Elphick along with David Daker, Amanda Burton, Neil Morrissey and, in the second programme in a row on the channel, Hywel Bennett. Here are the opening titles.

The BBC1 drama series was South of the Border featuring private detectives Pearl parker and Finn Gallagher played by Buki Armstrong and Rosie Rowell.

ITN’s News at Ten was read this evening by Sandy Gall. This clip also includes adverts for Maxwell House coffee, Hartley's jam, Cathay Pacific and Dingbats plus a YTV trailer for Fight Night.

One of the best hospital dramas is St Elsewhere. Channel 4 showed the final episode of series five this evening. Here are the opening titles followed by two more adverts, this time Pearl soap and K shoes. The announcer is Veronika Hyks.

At 10.30 p.m. BBC2 carried Newsnight presented by Donald MacCormick and Peter Snow. This was the first week that the programme had a fixed start time together with new titles, set and graphics. Editor John Morrison said that “this has been the holy grail for successive editors down all the years…when John Birt’s legacy is counted, the fixed start time for Newsnight should be one of its treasures”.

There seemed to be an awful lot of airtime on this day devoted to programmes about television. At 10.55 p.m. BBC1 offered Network in which Anna Ford hosted a discussion on the coverage of football. Anna did double duty that night as she also provided the narration for the OU produced programme on computer aided design that followed, The Search for Realism.

Speaking of sport Channel 4 provided coverage of the American NFL with Mick Luckhurst in American Football, a repeat of the programme first aired at 5 p.m.

And so to bed. Announcer Martin King closed down BBC2 for the day at 12.35 a.m. Five minutes later Cathy Stewart says goodnight to BBC1 viewers.

TV schedules for 1 November 1988:

07:00 Breakfast Time
09:00 News followed by Open Air
09:20 Kilroy!
10:00 News followed by Going for Gold
10:25 Children's BBC with Andy Crane: Playbus followed by Jimbo and the Jet Set
10:55 Five to Eleven
11:00 News followed by Open Air
12:00 News followed by Daytime Live
13:00 One O'Clock News
13:30 Neighbours
13:50 Going for Gold
14:15 The Importance of Being Earnest
15:45 Behind the Screen
15:50 Children's BBC with Andy Crane: What's Your Story?, PC Pinkerton, Fireman Sam, Ratman, Knowhow, Newsround and Grange Hill
17:35 Neighbours
18:00 Six O'Clock News
18:30 Regional News Programmes
19:00 Telly Addicts
19:30 EastEnders
20:00 Fawlty Towers
20:30 A Question of Sport
21:00 Nine O'Clock News
21:30 South of the Border
22:25 Wildlife on One: Meerkats United
22:55 Network
23:45 The Search for Realism  

09:30 Daytime on Two
14:15 See Hear!
14:40 Championship Bowls
15:00 News followed by Suite Dreams
15:30 Championship Bowls
16:25 The College
16:55 Northern Lights
17:00 Advice Shop
17:30 First Time Garden
18:00 The Tuesday Western: Guns of Diablo
19:20 Personal Notes
20:00 Floyd on Britain and Ireland
20:30 Brass Tacks
21:00 Colin's Sandwich
21:30 The Mind Machine
22:20 Building Sights
22:30 Newsnight
23:20 Championship Bowls

Channel 4
09:30 Schools' Programmes
12:00 The Parliament Programme
12:30 Business Daily
13:00 Tourism: The Welcome Business
13:30 Catering With Care
14:00 Film: The Iron Mask
15:20 The Three Stooges
15:40 The Oprah Winfrey Show
16:30 Fifteen-to-One
17:00 American Football
18:00 The Cosby Show
18:30 Design Matters: Cities with a Future?
19:00 Channel 4 News
19:50 Comment
20:00 The Divided Kingdom
20:30 4 What It's Worth
21:00 The Other Europe
22:00 St Elsewhere
23:00 The New Statesman
23:30 American Football

05:00 ITN Morning News
06:00 The Morning Programme
07:00 Good Morning Britain with Anne Diamond and Mike Morris
09:00 After Nine with Jayne Irving
09:25 Lucky Ladders
10:00 The Time...The Place...with Mike Scott
10:40 This Morning
12:10 Rainbow
12:30 Regional Variations
13:00 ITN News at One
13:20 Regional Variations
15:00 Give Us a Clue
15:25 Regional Variations
16:00 Children's ITV presented by Mark Granger: Tickle on the Tum, The Adventures of Tin Tin, The Sooty Show and Count Duckula
17:15 Blockbusters
17:45 ITN News at 5:45
18:00 Regional News Magazines
18:30 Prove It with Chris Tarrant
19:00 Strike It Lucky
19:30 Rising Damp
20:00 The Bill
20:30 The Return of Shelley
21:00 Boon
22:00 News at Ten with Sandy Gall and Alistair Stewart followed by Regional News
22:35 First Tuesday
23:35 Regional Variations

Quotes are taken from One Day in the Life of Television by Sean Day-Lewis (Grafton 1989). Thanks to Robin Carmody for confirming some of the continuity announcer names.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Pressing Engagement

As Jesse off of The Fast Show might have said “today I mostly be pressing apples”.  At least that is how I spent last Saturday morning. Whilst the rest of France was gearing up to watch the rugby semi-final I was out helping our friends press and bottle their apples in nearby Secondigny. Read about this over on Val’s Poitou Property Services blog.