Tonight’s BBCtv… in 1960

The Radio Times tells us what was on BBCtv on Wednesday 19 October 1960. Things worth noting include:

  • The Radio Times design and layout is by Abram Games (1914-1996). It’s a startling, modern, plain design and was not liked by the publishers, leading it to be one of the shortest-used designs in the magazine’s history
  • News and sport in Welsh for 20 minutes at 1pm is also on Holme Moss (North of England) and Sutton Coldfield (Midlands) – transmitters that overlap into the ill-served nation at this time. Later research would show that the programmes in Welsh were mainly being watched by the diaspora and the BBC would start putting them out in London and other places
  • Wednesday, so Watch with Mother is The Flowerpot Men. There were 26 episodes of these, made in 1952/3 and repeated on a loop until 1970 – six months between repeated episodes being long enough for the toddler audience to have forgotten the episode or grown up enough to lose interest
  • The BBC has always had a love of westerns, often slightly more than the viewing public did. They give 25 minutes at 5.10pm to a repeat of the series Union Pacific, made in 1958 and, unusually for the time, produced for syndication to independent stations, out of prime-time play or to replace locally unpopular network shows on individual US television stations
  • ARD/Eurovision caption from 1968

    ARD/Eurovision caption from 1968

    A mixture of money shortage and a lack of two-way communication lines mean that the ‘regional’ news at 6.10pm crams happenings from the Welsh border to Lowestoft and Lincoln to Oxford into 10 minutes

  • Another western makes an appearance at 7.30pm – Tales of Wells Fargo, an NBC series that ran for 200 episodes across 6 seasons, switching to hour-long colour episodes for its final season
  • Peter Dimmock (1920-2015) presents Sportsview at 8.20pm. Dimmock was an extremely talented all-rounder, being simultaneously the BBC’s head of Outside Broadcasts, a sports commentator, a news reporter and a talented presenter. Note also the two other television powerhouses tucked in the programme’s credits, the director (“presented by” in the parlance of the time) Brian Cowgill and the editor (producer) Paul Fox
  • At 10.15pm Eurovision makes an appearance, with the ARD’s Sender Freies Berlin bringing us ballroom dancing from a not yet walled off West Berlin
  • The BBC considers 11.05pm as “late night”. Bless

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