Hello.  Welcome to my blog about British archive television.  This will highlight programmes I’ve been watching whilst my Twitter feed – embedded in the blog and also directly accessable via @archivetvmus71 – contains many more archive treats.

The posts are broken up into categories (by decade and type – comedy, drama, etc).  You can also explore via the tags lower down the page.  Many of the programmes which have multiple posts can also be accessed via the top of the main menu (BBC/ITV/Christmas TV/Doctor Who/Grange Hill).

These top menu options have the posts re-arranged from oldest to newest (WordPress blogs display the newest posts by default).  So if you’re looking to read about, say, The Day of the Triffids episode by episode, then selecting it via the BBC button next to the Home button is the best option – since the posts will be in the correct order!

If you notice any broken links or have any comments or suggestions then please leave a message on the relevant post or drop me an email at archivetvmusings@gmail.com

I also have a theatre related blog at Theatre Musings.

147 thoughts on “About

  1. I have recently learned that for head of BBC children’s programme Edward Barnes has died, aged 92.

    He was best remembered for his work on Blue Peter and Swap Shop, and also devised Newsround.


  2. I noticed that you recently featured “Strange Report” in your Twitter posts. Does that mean we can soon look forward to some reviews here?


  3. I would like to say a few words about the late Christopher Wenner. I read that he was dropped from Blue Peter because he was unpopular with viewers, but I couldn’t understand that. Simon Groom was visibly nervous when he started on Blue Peter, but Christopher Wenner was very natural from his first programme as presenter.

    (In the Blue Peter 50th anniversary book they mentioned something about embarrassing disco dancing. That was on his first show as presenter, and he was actually quite good at it. And disco dancing is a bit naff anyway.)

    Before he was a Blue Peter presenter he was a water ski instructor, and his first appearance on Blue Peter was a piece of film where he gave Lesley Judd a water skiing lesson.

    And of course he made the legendary Star Wars Stew for Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

    His last regular appearance was on Tina Heath’s last programme, and unlike her departure it was a complete surprise. He wasn’t mentioned in Blue Peter’s review of 1980. (likewise Michael Sundin wasn’t mentioned in the review of 1985.) He did make guest appearances on the 25th and 40th anniversary programmes, and got a mention in the documentary for the 50th anniversary.

    I wasn’t surprised to hear that he’d died. I recently read on Wikpedia that he’d undergone treatment for throat cancer, and he did look worse for wear in the recent photograph. (Was he a smoker? When Simon Groom showed viewers how to make a key ring/pen holder to give someone for a Christmas present, Chris said it could also be used for penknives or lighters.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christopher Wenner also came back to Blue Peter a second time in 1998, as one of the ex presenters who took part in that year’s panto ‘Back In Time’.

      I’ve noticed something that I might find a bit alarming if I was Peter Duncan. Maybe this is a bit of a weird thing, but I have always divided up Blue Peter presenters by which ‘ilneage’ they were in, based on who they replaced. For example Simon Groom replaced Peter Purves who replace Christopher Trace, so they all form part of the same lineage, which I think of as the Trace line. Now if we look instead at the Noakes line we see that John Noakes (who was taken on as a third presenter and didn’t replace anyone) was replaced by Christopher Wenner who was replaced by Peter Duncan, who took a year out and was temporarily replaced by Michael Sundin before being eventually replaced by Caron Keating, who was replaced by Diane-Louise Jordan who was replaced by Romana D’Annunzio who was replaced by Konnie Huq (who left unreplaced, ending the line). Apart from the line mostly containing a combination of very short-lived presenters and very long-lasting ones, it also now contains four of the five deceased presenters, and three of them have died before their time from Cancer, all of which is a bit spooky. In comparison the Trace line is only missing Trace himself, and the Williams line is fully intact so to speak. So is the Noakes line cursed, and should Peter Duncan be worried?


      • For a series that’s being going for as long as it has it’s remarkable that most of the forty presenters are still alive. Four of the presenters who’ve died died of cancer.


    • His first appearance on Blue Peter was the water-skiing film. In the first Blue Peter Book to feature Chris Wenner (number sixteen) there’s an article called How I Came Aboard


  4. There are 51 editions of Radio Times every year, unless it’s a year beginning on a Sunday or a leap year beginning on a Saturday when there are 52 editions.


  5. You didn’t do a look back for 18th of January, which I believe was the anniversary of the first edition of Blankety Blank. (Two days after part one of Life on Earth.)

    Not that I blame you for not doing it. I watched the first edition of Blankety Blank when it was first shown and instantly wished I hadn’t. What made matters worse was on the following day we had an O-level geography lesson interrupted when the headmmaster got the class to take part in a questionaire. We were asked questions such as how many times we’d been abroad (none), and what we liked to watch on tv. And one of the questions was what we watched the previous evening, and I had to admit that I watched Blankety Blank.

    The best guest they had on Blankety Blank was Spike Milligan because he gave stupid answers.


  6. I noticed that one of your twitter postings was an item from Look-In on Michael Bentine’s Potty Time. This series was originally shown at lunchtimes on ITV’s young children’s slot. But it was wasted in that slot so they later repeated them as double bills on the main children’s slot. (It was the only ITV children’s show I watched at the time.)

    The picture in the article is from the Treasure Island parody. As in the book the three surviving pirates get left behind on the island. One of them asks what they’re going to do on the island, and Michael Bentine gives them a gramaphone and some records, and then the pirates fight over which record they’re going to play. I wonder how many children got the Desert Island Discs reference.

    The Pottys first appeared on a BBC show called Michael Bentine Time. There was one series, shown once, autumn of 1972, and then the whole series was wiped. The show consisted of a couple of slots with the Pottys, unusual inventions in Yesterday’s World, the flea circus, and a sketch at the end where a couple of children in the audience took part.

    In the last sketch the children had a go at being army cooks, waiters, spies, farmers, veterinary nurses (with Peter Glaze as the vet), and in one episode they had a go at being astronauts, and unlike the other careers items this was played straight. (Colin Bean from Dad’s Army was a;so a guest on one of the programmes.)


  7. Yesterday you mentioned that 26th of January 1976 was the first screening of the first colour episode of Ivor the Engine. But that was only three weeks after the first screening of Paddington. So the first series of Paddington was only fifteen episodes.

    I mentioned Michael Bond’s guest appearance on Swap Shop. I also remember him appearing on a documentary series about marketing broadcast during the summer of 1979. He was surrounded by Paddington Bear merchandise, and with the exception of the soft toy all the items came out after the tv series.

    In the same programme the interviewed a businessman, and then played the interview over the Mr Chatterbox episode of the Mr Men. We saw a worm asking a question, and we heard the businessman talking while the sun went down, the moon came up, and the sun came back up again. And in another part of the interview Mr Chatterbox’s had grew while he was talking and we heard the businessman’s voice echo inside the hat.

    In the end they made more colour episodes of Ivor the Engine than black and white ones. The later remade some Noggin the Nog in colour but only did two stories.


  8. There was a popular tv trivia question “Which other comedy trio did Tim Brooke-Taylor belong to?”

    The answer was Hello Cheeky, the radio series he did with John Junkin and Barry Cryer. So Barry Cryer was the last surviving member of the Hello Cheeky team.

    In 1976 the tv version was broadcast on ITV. TV Times printed a set of figures of Barry Cryer, John Junkin and Tim Brooke-Taylor which could be stuck onto card and made into puppets. And I bet someone at Radio Times was kicking themselves and wishing they’d have thought of doing that with the Goodies.

    He had a filthy laugh!


    • Your set of pictures of Barry Cryer included one of him with Kenny Everett. He did appear briefly on The Kenny Everett Video Show, during the Cock-up at the OK Corral sketch, smoking a pipe.


  9. I heard on Radio 4’s Last Word that the toy maker Kristin Baybars died last month. You may not know the name, but you have heard of her most famous creation because she made Humpty for Play School. In fact I found a picture of her on the internet surrounded by Humptys, all different colours but all the same design.

    Humpty appeared on the very first programme (although several Humptys were used during the series’ twenty-four year run as the old toys got worn out), the first programme broadcast on BBC2 of course. The other toys came later. I saw a black and white clip where they had a teddy bear called Ted, so I presume Little Ted came later and they started calling the first bear Big Ted after that. Hamble was replaced with another doll called Poppy, but then Play School finished only two years later.

    Humpty and the other Play School toys are now on display in the National Media Museum (formerly the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television).

    Kristin Baybars ran a toy shop in North London which looked more like a toy museum. I saw a piece of film of her shop, and one of the items on display was a circus automaton which I may have seen at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre that used to be in Covent Garden, and definitely saw in the automata exhibition in the Oxo Tower on the Southbank.


    • I was saddened to read that the longest running children’s programme in the world is Blue Peter, and the second longest running children’s programme is Play School – the Australian version.

      The Australian Play School started in 1966, two years after the British version, and is still going. The format was directly copied from the BBC version. But the BBC version could have been the second longest running children’s programme. When they did axe Play School they replaced it with Playbus which was so similar it begged the question as to why they axed Play School. And on CBeebies there was a series called Tikkabella which was the same format.

      (The person who appeared on more editions of the Australian Play School is Don Spencer, who is one of the few people to have presented both the British and Australian versions, and he was doing the Australian version long before he did the British version.)


    • I just had a look on his Twitter, and had the same problem, that it wasn’t readable, as even if you zoom it right up to like 400% the resolution isn’t sharp enough ro read it. Luckily I have access to the British Newspaper Archive and found the original, which was across two separate pages/scans.

      The writers are numbererd from left to right across the back row, then the front row, then finally the man lying on the floor at the front:
      1. Alan Simpson (Steptoe and Son, Hancock’s Half Hour, Frankie Howard’s shows)
      2. Barry Took (Bootsie and Snudge, The Army Game, Round the Horne)
      3. Marty Feldman (At Last The 1948 Show, Bootsie and Snudge, Stars and Garters)
      4. Tony Hawes (The Des O’Connor Show, Spotlight, Dickie Valentine material)
      5. Dick Vosburgh (The Frost Programme, On the Braden Beat, The 1948 Show, Roy Hudd series, Stars and Garters)
      6. Sid Green (Dave King show, Citizen James, Winning Widows, Morecambe and Wise shows)
      7. Dick Hills (Dave King show, Citizen James, Winning Widows, Morecambe and Wise shows)
      8. Dave Freeman (Harry Worth, Benny Hill and Charlie Drake shows, Illustrated Weekly Hudd)
      9. Ray Galton (Steptoe and Son, Hancock’s Half Hour, Frankie Howard’s shows)
      10. Johnny Speight (Till Death Us Do Part, all sketches for the late Arthur Haynes)
      11. Lew Schwarz (Mrs Thursday, Harry Worth, Benny Hill, Tommy Cooper shows and previous Charlie Drake series)
      12. Vince Powell (Harry Worth show, George and the Dragon, Never Mind the Quality Feel the Width, Coronation Street) [NB his writing partner, Harry Driver was unable to be present for the picture]
      13. David Cumming (Marriage Lines, Sam and Janet, Baker’s Half Dozen, Bootsie and Snudge, Army Game and Dicke Emery show)
      14. Bill Oddie (Twice a Fortnight, That Was The Week That Was)


      • Thank you for the information. So that was Johnny Speight having a smoke. I was about to say that Bill Oddie is the only one still alive.


  10. I have recently learned that a tourist attraction that was used as a tv location will be closing later this year. Bristol Zoo will be closing at the end of the summer, and the animals will transfer to a wildlife park in South Gloucestershire.

    From 1962 to 1983 Bristol Zoo was was used as a filming location for Animal Magic.

    I went away with the school one Easter and on the last day we went to Bristol. The teachers were thinking of taking us to the zoo, but decided that we didn’t have time, especially as one of the teachers particularly wanted to visit the SS Great Britain, which was then undergoing a major restoration. But two year later there was another school holiday and one day when it raining heavily one of the teachers took his young children to Bristol Zoo while rest of us went for a walk.

    It would have been nice if there’d been another school holiday a couple of years later for the next lot of pupils, but the teacher who organised had left, one of the other teachers was expecting her first child, because they could have gone to Bristol to see the SS Great Britain fully restored.

    I thought about going on holiday to Bristol on my own and visiting the SS Great Britain, the camera obscura at the Clifton Observatory, and spending a day at Bristol Zoo. But I never did.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I recently learned that two people from the world of Doctor Who have died.

    Stewart Bevan played Professor Clifford Jones in The Green Death, the only Doctor Who serial to acquire a Friends style moniker, “The One With the Giant Maggots”. This was the last story to feature Jo Grant who left the Doctor to marry Clifford Jones. Stewart Bevan was engaged to Katy Manning at the time, but they never married, but they did remain friends. (When Katy Manning appeared in Sarah Jane Adventures it was stated tat she and Clifford were still married.) (Jon Pertwee had three female assistants, and the other two assistants’ husband appeared in Doctor Who.)

    Henry Lincoln had died aged 92. He co-wrote the two Yeti stories and The Dominators with Mervyn Haisman, the last was under the pseudonym Norman Ashby. The Yeti are regarded as one of the classic Doctor Who monsters. The Quarks were one of the few monsters from Doctor Who to feature in TV Comic, but without their creators’ permission. The Quarks other claim to fame was that they appeared with the more famous Yeti, Ice Warriors, Cybermen and Daleks in the best bit of The War Games.

    He also made a documentary called The Priest, the Painter and the Devil, which was about a mysterious religious sect, hidden treasure, and cryptic messages in a Painting by Nicholas Pousin.

    Henry Lincoln was the last surviving Doctor Who writer from the sixties. The last surviving writer from the Perwtee era was Bob Baker who died last year, so the earliest surviving Doctor Who writer is now Chris Boucher whose first story was The Face of Evil.


  12. I remember It’s Murder, But Is It Art? being on. I didn’t see it because I was too young.

    I remember seeing a trailer with a man dancing with a dummy. And you can download a very bad recording of the theme on Yoy Tube.

    Was it based on a book?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You posted a couple of items yesterday that brought back some memories.

      Yesterday was the 44th anniversary of the first screening of The Rutles. It was first shown on Easter Monday 1978, and I missed it because I was away with the school (the same holiday I was talking about earlier when one of our teachers took his children to Bristol Zoo)), but my dad recorded it on a reel to reel tape recorder for me. It worked very well with just the soundtrack.

      It got a repeat showing during the Whitsun weekend two months later, but I missed it second time around because I was on Scout camp. It was some years before they showed it again. I did borrow the record from the library which had a booklet inside with stills from the programme.

      And you also posted the edition of The Generation Game with Roy Castle filling in for Bruce Forsyth. I remember when they showed the 100th edition of The Generation Game I pointed out that it was only the 99th one that Bruce Forsyth had done because there was one edition where Roy Castle filled in, and sure enough Bruce said that he couldn’t believe that he’d hosted 100 editions of The Generation Game and then got a phone call from Roy Castle telling him that he hadn’t.

      In his autobiography Roy Castle said that just after he recorded that show he learned that Ross McWhirter had been killed.

      The title sequence includes a clip from an earlier show with the constants doing The Laughing Policeman. One of them was wearing a kilt. He must have been from Scotland Yard.


  13. I’ve just learned that Denise Coffey has died. She first became well known as the only female performer in Do Not Adjust Your Set. (She died two months after Jo Kendall, the only female performer in I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again.)

    In the late seventies she was in the Radio 4 series The Burkiss way which broke the same rules on radio that Monty Python did on television. She then did the ITV sketch show End of Part One which was meant to be the tv equivalent of The Burkiss Way.

    In 1979 she filled in for Willie Rushton on I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, and in some of the games did better than the regulars. In that series they played a children’s party game each week, and in this programme they played witch hunt. My mum said that when she heard it she was laughing so much that she was glad nobody came in when it was on.


  14. The article about predictions for tv in the seventies was interesting.

    They were mostly wrong about some tv channels being in colour and some in black and white. When colour tv started in Britain, a year after the article was published, it was on BBC2 only, but BBC1 and ITV followed quite soon after. So apart from that period from 1967 to 1969 it was either all black and white channels or all colour.

    One time I went to the British Newspaper Library and had a look at the first issues of The Sunday Times Magazine (or Sunday Time Colour Section as it was known originally), and one of the early issues ran a feature on colour television. In 1962 the USA and Japan had colout tv, and Britain could have had colour tv then as well, but after the Pilkington Report it was decided to delay the introduction of colour tv.

    By the end of the seventies there were still only three tv channels. By the end of the eighties there were eight.

    I still think the broadcasting bill of 1989 was a mistake. I don’t know if anyone else on this website ever went to Cult TV Weekend. At the first Cult TV Weekend Victor Pemberton said that he thought six tv channels would be about right. I presume he meant three BBC and six independent channels, but I wish I’d asked him.

    At school we had a single period every week called film and tv studies, which wasn’t much cop, but sometimes we watched a schools’ programme called Looking at Television, presented by John Thaw. One programme looked at the senties pipe dream the Open Broadcasting Authority. It was suggested that instead of being another BBC or ITV channel, the next tv channel should be the OBA where the public now make their own programmes. Of course we get this on the internet.


    • There article mentioned pay-tv where you could watch the film version of Doctor Who on a Sunday. I believe the first screening of the film version of Doctor Who and the Daleks was on Saturday the 1st of July 1972.

      Regarding the Sunday Times article on colour television. If the BBC had started broadcasting in colour then Doctor Who would always have been in colour, and there probably would be fewer missing episodes as its shelf life for overseas sales would have been longer. The USA might have bought Doctor Who earlier if it had always been in ccolour. Discuss.


  15. I’ve noticed you’ve started a Doctor Who marathon. But what about the website’s Doctor Who marathon. You got as far as The Massacre. When are we going to get The Ark?


      • You’re getting there.

        But which fanzine did the article on The Myth Makers come from?

        The reviewer said that Vicki lacked the depth of Susan, but Carole Ann Ford left the series because Susan didn’t have enough depth. And Doctor Who Magazine’s Time Team were surprised to find how much they liked Vicki.


  16. Just looking at that clip from Coronation Street, people have knocked Doctor Who for making references to earlier episodes that only hardcore fans would understand, but here we have an episode of Coronation Street referring to an episode broadcast fifteen years earlier.

    Did that make sense?


  17. When you mentioned that today was the 54th anniversary of the tv version of the Railway Children one of your correspondents pointed out that the younger girl was played by Gillian Bailey who later appeared in The Double Deckers.

    Before The Double Deckers there was The Magnificent Six and a Half, a series of films made for cinema by the Children’s Film Foundation. The leader of the Magnificent Six and a Half was played in the first series by Len Jones, who was unable to take part in the second series because he’d just got the job of voicing Joe 90, and the role was taken over by Robin Davies who later became a regular in Catwezle.

    Michael Audreson and future Aswad member Brinsley Forde appeared in both series of Maginificent Six and a Half and then appeared in The Double Deckers along with Gilliam Bailey who was in the tv version of The Railway Children with Jenny Agutter. Jenny Agutter reprised her role in the Railway Children for the film version, but Gillian Bailey was unavailable for the film, because she was doing The Double Deckers, so her role was played by Sally Thomsett who had previously appeared in several CFF films with Len Jones, and the two of them would work togetther again on Straw Dogs. And the boy in the film version of The Railway Children was played by Gary Warren who was Robin Davies’ replacement in Catweazle.

    It’s all rather confusing really.


    • Speaking of Children’s Film Foundation Films featuring Sally Thomsett, For the past ten weeks Talking Pictures TV have been running the CFF serial Danny the Dragon.


  18. I see you’ve now reached the Dodo era in your sequential Who rewatch. Does that mean that we can soon look forward to seeing the Hartnell series blogs starting again? I think you got about halfway through The Ark before Coronas of the Sun was terminated.


    • I’m planning to do single posts for the remaining Hartnell stories over the next week or two. After that, I’ll probably take notes as I work my way through the series from Troighton on and turn them into blog posts every so often.


  19. Yeasterday you mentioned that it was the anniserary of the birth of Peter Cushing. But you didn’t mention that today was the centenary of Christopher Lee. (And also the 111th anniversary of the birth on Vincent Price.)


  20. Some random comments on yesterday & today’s postings.

    What was rather good about Morcambe & Wise’s Cleopatra sketch was they did a sketch where Glenda Jackson (who may have been the only MP to have been a guest on The Morcambe and Wise Show) visited their flat to have a look at Ernie’s new play and she read one of the lines out loud: “All men are fools, and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got.”, and during the Clepatra sketch she says “All men are fools, and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got.”,.

    In Louis Barfe’s book on Mocambe and Wise, Sunshine and Laughter he notes that they did sketches where Ernie thought he was a writer but Eric knew he wasn’t, and they did sketches were Eric thought he was a musician and Ernie thought he was.

    I liked Come Back Mrs Noah. It’s a shame it didn’t last for more than one series, because I once read somewhere that If they had made more Come Back Mrs Noah they would have stopped making Are You Being Served? which jumped the shark very quickly.

    David Collings played hyperactive composer Percy Grainger in Ken Russell’s play about Delius.

    The clip from the Kenny Everett Christmas Show with Geoffrey Palmer was actually broadcast on Thursady the 27th of December 1984.

    Did the singer Marian Montgomery make a guest apprance on The Golden Shot.


  21. You mentioned a programme broadcast on 13th of June 1975 called The Balloon Game. This is also known as a balloon debate. In the tv series there were three contestants, but it’s usually four or six contestants. Each person pretends to be a historical character, and they are in a hot air balloon which is losing height, so someone must jump out. And each person has to explain to the audience why they should stay in the balloon. And the audience have to vote on who to throw out until only one person remains. (There is a variation of the game where they are in a nuclear fallout shelter.)


  22. I saw the repeat of the episode of The Adventure Game with Denise Coffey. (I was camping the weekend that it was first shown and the camp was a dead loss.) I agree that the team didn’t do very well, and there were a few bits where the camera faded out while they were trying to solve the puzzles, and I think this was the only time they did this on The Adventure Game. And they skipped the vortex game at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve probably mentioned it before, but it’s very noticeable that the episode lengths of the first series are wildly different – suggesting that a fair amount of editing had to be done in order to get the shows in some sort of transmittable order.

      By series two everything seems a lot smoother, as the puzzles aren’t quite so impossible to solve.


  23. I thought the first series of The Black Adder was the best one.

    I heard that Rowan Atkinson never wanted the unscreened pilot to be broadcast or released on video or DVD. In this clip we don’t see much of Philip Fox as Baldrick, although I believe his portrayal was closer to the Baldrick of the later series, just as Edmund in the pilot is more like the Edmund of the later series. In fact Edmund is more like a viper in the pilot than any of the other episodes.

    Some years ago BBC2 did a series late on Friday nights called Pilots Paradise where they showed pilot episodes oo long running series such as Last of the Summer Wine, Citizen Smith and Happy Ever After. But a real Pilots Paradise should have had a wider scope than that. They should have had unaired pilots (like Black Adder), pilots for shows that never went to a series, dramas and factual programmes as well as comedies, and American and possibly other foreign programmes.


  24. I’ve been looking at your clips from the later episodes of Z Cars. There was another version of the theme that was used in the seventies. A brassy, urgent sounding theme. It may have been used when the series first went into colour. I remember the funky version used up to the penultimate series.

    Grange Hill went back to the original theme tune for its final series.

    (I’ve said that if I was taking over as producer of Doctor Who in 1990 I would have gone back to the original version of the theme tune. I hop that wouldn’t have been the kiss of death.)

    Jospeph Brady also made a cameo in the last episode of the last series of Z Cars, along with Brian Blessed, Colin Welland and Jeremy Kemp as men complaining about a gas leak.


    • The only episode of Z Cars I watched on its first broadcast was the last one. I had to watch it on the black and white tv because the baby sitter wanted to watch the beauty contest on the other side.

      Ten days after the last episode of Z Cars James Ellis was the guest on the first edition of the third series of Swap Shop. The prize was a tin box with his old toys in it, whistles from Christmas crackers, champion conkers etc, and the question was “Which Irish-Liverpudlian folk song is the Z Cars theme based on?”.

      Speaking of which, does anyone know the name of the Lindisfarne track that features a medley of British folk songs including Johnny Todd?

      Liked by 1 person

  25. The edition of The Adventure Game with Derek Griffiths was broadcast straight after episode one of The Five Doctors, being shown as part of The Five Faces of Doctor Who. Part one of the tenth anniversary story was originally broadcast a month after the series’ ninth anniversary, but the repaeat was on the show’s eighteenth anniversary.

    I look forward to your review of The Ice Warriors.


  26. We must pay tribute to Bernard Cribbins.

    I believe his first Jackanory was stories with toy theatres, like the once you can by at the Pollock’s Toy Museum. He did the first one in colour, The Wizard of Oz appropriately enough. (Jackanory didn’t go straight from black and white to colour. The next week’s programme was in black and white, and they did the odd week in colour before changing completely to colour.)

    His favourite was Wind in the Willows which was shot on location by the Thames, and he later played Ratty in the radio version of Toad of Toad Hall along with Richard Goolden who played Mole in the original stage production and played the part for over fifty years.

    He read Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation (a book which I don’t think is in print). In the trailer the BBC announcer said erroneously that it was written by the creator of Doctor Who.

    Arabelle and Mortimer by Joan Aitken was memorable, and Quentin Blake must have been one of the most frequently featured illustrators on Jackanory.

    Also memorable was a reading of The Hobbit to mark the series’ 300th edition, with Jan Francis as the narrator, with Bernard Cribbins as Bilbo, Maurice Denham as Thorin and other characters, and David Wood as Gandalf, Gollum and other characters. It was excellent.


    • Last year when Una Stubbs and Lionel Blair died a lot of people mentioned Give us a Clue. But Star Turn, which was original hosted by Bernard Cribbins, was a better programme because they played other games as well as charades.

      One of his lesser know contributions to television was James and the Giant Peach, shown on BBC television at Christmas 1976. (It’s not listed on Internet Movie Database.) He played the Centipede.

      The Saturday before Christmas he was a guest on Swap Shop. He did an interview with Noel Edmonds in his Centipede outfit, but then he changed back into his own clothes to answer the viewers’ questions. But talk about spoilers. The clip they showed from James and the Giant Peach was the end of the programme when the Centipede was singing the song which summed up their whole adventure. They even showed the closing credits.

      We’d read James and the Giant Peach at school the previous year, but when we went back to school instead of asking us if we saw James and the Giant Peach, our English teacher asked us if we saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which got it’s first British tv screening on New Year’s Day, and I didn’t like it.


      • And then there was his contribution to Doctor Who.

        I have tried to get people who watched the David Tennant series of Doctor Who to watch the Peter Cushing Doctor Who films (as well as the old tv episodes), especially as there’s a familiar face in the second film.

        In 1994 I saw a special screening of the two Doctor Who films at the Screen Cinema in Walton-on-Thames.

        Apparently he auditioned for the role of the Doctor when Jon Pertwee was leaving. Whe Barry Letts asked him why he thought he would be good as the Doctor he replied that he would be good in a fight. But Barry Letts said they weren’t looking for an action hero, but Bernard then said that when Tom Baker started the first thing he did was punch someone in the jaw.

        His regular role in the David Tennant series came about by accident. Originally the semi-regular cast was going to include Howard Attfield as Donna’s father who was in The Runaway Bride, but then Howard Attfield died, so they asked Bernard Cribbins to reprise his role as the news vendor from the 2007 Christmas special and they made the character Donna’s grandfather.

        I don’t know if he ever did any Doctor Who conventions. He would have been a great guest. (And I’ve barely touched his film career.)


  27. I remember watching A Hard Day’s Night for the first time 46 years ago yesterday. It was the first of a short season of Beatles films, followed by Help on August the 10th, Yellow Submarine on the 17th and Let It Be on the 24th.

    The next time I saw A Hard Day’s Night was at the Royal Academy’s Pop Art Show in 1991. I appreciated more when it was older. Help hasn’t dated as well. Yellow Submarine is still a fantastic cartoon.

    In Christmas 1976 we visited my mum’s cousin and her family, and my second cousin who’s also a Beatles fan said that the BBC usually showed a Beatles film at Christmas, but that year they didn’t. But they showed them in the summer.

    The next time the BBC showed the Beatles film was Christmas 1979 when they showed a season of six Beatles films.


    • Also on tv that day was a repeat of the 1966 World Cup Final shown as part of Festival 40, the fortieth anniversary of BBC television, running on BBC2 during August 1976.

      The series consisted of the introductory programme Forty Years (repeated on BBC2 on Christmas Day), It’s A Square World from 1963 (Monday nights was comedy), the 1966 World Cup Final, Doctor Finlay’s Casebook: A Right to Live, Z Cars: Police Work (Z Cars was still going then), What’s My Line? and Face to Face both with Gilbert Harding, Your Life in Their Hands: Corneal Grafting, Billy Budd, A Walk in the Sun from 1969 with tightrope walker Karl Wallenda, the first Steptoe and Son from 1962, Dispute, Cathy Come Home from 1966, Omnibus: Tyger Tyger from 1968, The Making of a Natural History Film, The Billy Cotton Band Show, Frost Over England from 1967,Last Night Another Soldier from 1973, the 1971 Monreaux Festival edition of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Mother Theresa of Clacutta: Something Beautiful for God from 1969, Tea Party by Harold Pinter, Civilization: The Fallacies of Hope from 1969,Man Alive: Gale is Dead, Workshop: The Golden Ring, The World in a Box, a look at television around the world, Hancock: The Blood Donnor (first time I saw it), Metro-Land with John Betjeman from 1973, shown to mark his 70th birthday, The Wednesday Play: Where the Bufalo Roam by Dennis Potter, a profile of L S Lowry (who didn’t have a television), Culloden from 1966, Ballet Class, What Do You Think of It So Far? a discussion on television hosted by David Frost.

      The day after Cathy Come Home was broadcast one of the papers did a report on homelessness in Britain with the headline “Ten Years On and Cathy Still Has No Home”.


      • Today you printed a cutting from 1977, and one of the programmes on BBC2 was part of Festival 77, shown as part of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations. Shown over 27 consecutive evenings, the series began with Thanks For the Memory with a selection of clips from BBC programmes from the past 25 years, followed by one programme from each year from the Queen’s reign. This was the best of the retrospectives because it did cover the whole period, whereas the fortieth anniversary was more of a celebration of the last twent years of tv. Did that make sense?

        The other programmes were Retrospect 1952, 1953 – Press Conference with Aneurin Bevin and Adlai Stevenson (possibly the best president the USA never had), 1954- Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1955 – Bless Em All a forties nostalgia programme cerebrating the tenth anniversary of V E Day, At Home with Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher and Kenneth Horne, 1957 – Men in Battle: Arnhem, 1958 – The More We Are Together, 1959 – Who Me? a musical play by Colin Morris, 1960 – a double bill of Face to Face with Evelyn Waugh and Adam Faith, 1961 – Here’s Harry: The Request with Harry Worth, 1962 – Pop Goes the Easel (which I saw later when BBC2 repeated it to tie in with the aforementioned Pop Art Show), 1963 – That Was the Week That Was, 1964 – Ten Years After, an update on Special Enquiry from 1955, 1965 – The Wednesday Play- Up the Junction, 1966 – Till Death Us Do Part: A House With Love In It, 1967 – The Wednesday Play: In Two Minds by David Mercer, 1968 – All My Loving, the first colour programme in the season, 1969 – Royal Family, 1970 – Bird’s Eye View: Beside the Seaside with John Betjamin, 1971 – Edna, the Inebriate Woman, 1972 – The Morcambe and Wise Show with Glenda Jackson, 1973 – the first episode of Whatever Happened To the Likely Lads?: Stangers on a Train, 1974 – Horizon: Joey, 1975 – Just Another Saturday, a play about Glasgow Orangemen, 1976 – Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, 1977 – Horizon: 2002.

        They could have shown Special Enquiry from 1955 (unless it no longer existed) and then people could watch Ten Years After nine sdays after.

        Repeating an edition of Swap Shop was a shrewd move. The programmes from the fifties and sixties hadn’t been on for years, but a lot of shows from 1976 wwre currently being repeated so they showed something that wouldn’t normally be repeated. (And it was very much the BBC’s latest succes story.)

        The fictitious future editions of Horizon featured in the last programme were 2001- Plant Power, 1999, – Live 200 Years, 1990, – Diseases of Change, 1989 – Industry: The Next Revolution, 1988 – Agromania, 1985 – Unemployment for Ever, 1982 – What Would You Do with £200,000,000,000?. I never fogave the BBC for not repeating Horizon: 2002 in 2002.

        The Radio Times cover for the week that Festival 77 started was a montage of 25 old editions of Radio Times, something which has since become a cliche.


  28. While I’m at it I might as well look at the BBC’s fiftieth anniversary retrospective season.

    This was shown in over the first week of November 1986, so unlike Festival 40 it was shown around the actual anniversary of BBC Television. The season began on BBC1 with the clips show That’s Television Entertainment.

    Over the following week BBC2 showed Go With Noakes from 1977, the last episode of The Railway Children from 1968, Jonathan Miller’s version of Alice in Wonderland from 1966, Eamonn Andrews’ last edition of Crackerjack from 1964, Wheldon Talking, Going For a Song, Face to Face with Adam Faith from 1960, Juke Box Jury from 1960, the one with David McCallum and Jill Ireland and Nina and Frederick, The Forstythe Saga from 1967, Peter Grimes, the last edition of TW3 from 1963, The Rag Trade, Doctor Finlay’s Casebook, The Mike Yarwood Christmas Show 1978, Horizon: The Crab Nebula from 1971, Fawlty Towers: The Kipper and the Corpse from 1979, although this may have been part of a complete run of Fawlty Towers, Edna the Inebriate Woman from 1971, The Goodies: Kitten Kong the 1972 version, Dixon of Dock Green: Firearms Were Issued, The Best of Dick Emery from 1973, Fanny Craddock Invites You to a Chess and Wine Party from 1970, Signals for Survival, Not the Nine O’Clock News from 1980 complete with original joke Radio Times entry, On Giant’s Shoulders from 1979, Up Pompeii! from 1970, All Creatures Great And Small: Calf Love, The Billy Cotton Band Show, Man Alive: Gale is Dead, Hedda Gabler from 1972, What’s My Line?, the last Z Cars (although I heard that got replaced by an earlier episode), Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game, Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Sex and Violence from 1969, Blue Remembered Hills from 1979, Quatermass and the Pit from 1959, On Safari with Armand and Michaela Denis, Coldiz: Tweedledum, This is Your Life with Harry Secombe, Children Talking, The Search For the Nile, a 1964 episode of The Likely Lads and a 1962 edition of Points of View (the one where Stanley Unwin interviews Bill and Ben voice artist Peter Hawkins) which replaced Not Only But Also from 1965, Boys From the Blackstuff: Yosser’s Story from 1982, the most recent programme in the season and one of only two shows from the eighties, and Whistle and I’ll Come to You from 1968. Very biased towards the sixties.

    The problem was that that week BBC2 was all repeats. It was better doing one archive programme per night over several weeks. It wasn’t a very inspiring line-up. The only programme I watched with any interest was Alice in Wonderland, which was crammed between two children’s programmes, but this is an adults’ version. I didn’t see Monty Python because I was out that night and was recording Girls on Top on the other side, and I had seen it before and since. I wanted to see Not Only But Also, but that got dropped. (it was an episode with John Lennon so maybe they didn’t get permission from Yoko Ono.)

    Six years later some people slagged off TV Heaven, but I thought it was a much better selection of programmes than BBC’s fiftieth anniversary.


    • A couple of years later BBC did a season of repeats of Face to Face including the one with Gilbert Harding, Evelyn Waugh, and Adam Faith.


    • In Festival 77 they could have shown the last episode of the original Likely Lads which would have tied in neatly with Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads one week later


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s