1962 – ‘Laudes’ goes coast-to-coast


Music featured prominently in the highlights of 1962.

In January, the Hallé Orchestra, in conjunction with Associated-Rediffusion, gave the first major orchestral concert in the new Guildford Cathedral. Then in April came two triumphs for the music and mime production of ‘Laudes Evangelii’. It won first prize in the drama section of the Fifth Roman Catholic Television Festival and it won a coast-to-coast screening on CBS in the United States. A different form of music – that of a hot gospelling negro company – was featured in ‘Black Nativity’, a religious programme transmitted on Christmas Day, 1962.

In the summer, something new in the shape of international communications flashed across the sky. Telstar had arrived and naturally Associated-Rediffusion took part in the first British transmission via this satellite on July 10.

Something new in the shape of programming came, too, when the Piraikon Greek Tragedy Theatre Company’s production of ‘Electra’, in Greek, was screened on November 28

The previous month Giles Cooper’s adaptation of Constantine Fitzgibbon’s novel, ‘When the Kissing Had to Stop’ hit the screen in two parts on October 16 and 19.

Some new ideas had also hit the world of industrial publishing and this was recognised when the company’s house magazine, Fusion, was given the award for the best designed house magazine in the country by the British Association of Industrial Editors.

Laudes Evangelii

‘Laudes Evangelii’ featured The Ballets Européens, The Glyndebourne Festival Chorus and the Sinfonia of London.

‘Electra’ had Aspassia Papathanassiou as Electra. The number of viewers who saw this programme in Greek would have filled the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, for three years.

Top: ‘Black Nativity’ told the Christmas story and the spreading of the Word in mime and dance.

Bottom: ‘When the Kissing Had to Stop’. Left to right – Douglas Wilmer as the Prime Minister, Alan Wheatley as a member of the Establishment and Barbara Murray as a leading actress.

1963 – ‘The Lover’ scoops the pool


This was the year when Harold Pinter’s ‘The Lover’ won more awards than any other television play. It had had a background of controversy when it was screened on March 28, but there was no controversy among the judges in September when they awarded it the Prix Italia for TV drama in Naples. Then came the deliberations of the Guild of Television Producers and Directors . . . best script of the year – Harold Pinter; best actress of the year – Vivien Merchant; best actor of the year – Alan Badel – all for ‘The Lover’. On top of that, Joan Kemp-Welch, who directed the production, won the award for the most outstanding creative work. In addition, Peter Morley and Cyril Bennet, joint producers of ‘This Week’ at that time, won the award for the best production of a factual series. There were plenty of other excitements in 1963. They began on January 9, with the play ‘Darkness at Noon’ about which one critic wrote: ‘I have seldom seen the talents of cast, camera work and thought working so well together on television to mix horror and compassion so vividly’. This was followed by ‘Black Nativity’ winning a special U.N.D.A. award at the Monte Carlo Festival. The citation said: ‘The ecstatic performance given by the artists was made possible by brilliant camera work, lighting and choreography’.

In June, the documentary ‘One Man’s Hunger’, made as a contribution to the World Freedom from Hunger campaign, was shown to delegates at the World Food Congress in Washington.

Then on August 9, a new type of programme crashed into life to bawl lustily from the start. ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ had arrived to give television debuts to such groups and singers as The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Donovan, Manfred Mann, Dusty Springfield (as a solo artist), Marianne Faithfull and Lulu.

Next an audience of no less than 250 million had a chance to hear British voices raised in a different way when Associated-Rediffusion’s cameras covered the England v. the Rest of the World soccer match at Wembley in October for the match was relayed to 23 European countries. Finally at the end of the year, Capt. T. M. Brownrigg retired as general manager and John McMillan took over.

Alan Badel and Vivien Merchant in a scene from Harold Pinter’s ‘The Lover’.

‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ continued the pioneering trend set by earlier programmes such as ‘Cool for Cats’. Most of this country’s, and indeed the world’s, leading pop groups and solo artists have appeared on it. Left – Freddie and the Dreamers; top – the Applejacks; bottom – The Rolling Stones.