Syndicated to UK newspapers on 1 January 1966
LOOKING back over the achievements of TV during 1965 is like studying a panoramic photograph of the moon. All is a wasteland except for occasional promising shadows which on closer examination turn out to be the Sea of Despond or the Valley of Blighted Talent.
With the exception of Winston Churchill’s funeral I cannot think of a single programme on Channel 9 during 1965 that has advanced or enlarged by an iota the art, the aims, the grasp or the potentialities of television.
In a year which might best be labelled and forgotten, as The Year That Never Was, it is clear that my annual awards will hardly be included in those annual reports which take such pride in listing the prizes won in remote and undistinguished festivals throughout the world.
BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR – This undoubtedly goes to ATV who, under the tireless chivvying of Lew Grade, has finally produced British TV films that have broken into the America TV networks.
From the series The Saint, Danger Man, and the Baron (yet to be seen), it is possible that Britain could earn something in the region of 10 million dollars in the next two years.
This, for the first time, opens up the golden American market to British TV producers and, for the first time, puts TV into the posture of a significant foreign currency earner.
RASPBERRY OF THE YEAR – This award – an Op Art version of the fruit that periodically emits derisory sounds of contempt – has been tidily won by Rediffusion – the London-based TV company.
Not only was it responsible for the three programmes that received the worst critical receptions of 1965 – Groucho, The New Stars and Garters and Riviera Police – but it has confessed to a sterility and rigidity of creative ideas by its apparent inability to think of anything fresh or novel with which to replace its mouldy programme relics – Double Your Money, Take Your Pick and No Hiding Place.
Rediffusion’s board – which has persistently refused to have anyone from the programme side as one of its directors – has finally admitted, by implication, that its thinking on this matter has been wrong.
Within the past few months it has invited five new men to the board – although only three of them have actually produced programmes and it will be interesting to see what difference this will make in Rediffusion’s performance.
I cannot say that the changes announced by their programme chief, Cyril Bennett, have caused any pulses to race in TV circles.
Best Programme of the Year – The coverage of Winston Churchill’s funeral by both the BBC and ITV. This showed what could be done by outside broadcasts when talent was united for one goal, and when when money was no object. This solemn and momentous occasion was enhanced by this great record of it.
Most Noble Gesture of the Year – ITV’s decision broadcast, entirety, the BBC’s obituary of Richard Dimbleby. This was a most fitting tribute to one of broadcasting’s great personalities. The fact that ITV recognised in this way the achievement of the man who symbolised, more than anyone else, their greatest rival, displayed an adult and becoming sense sense of judgment.