1960 – the world and studio 5 opened up

1960 – THE WORLD AND STUDIO 5 OPENED UP

At the 10th anniversary banquet of ITV, September, 1965, the Prime Minister, Mr Harold Wilson, pointed out that in 1939 a British Prime Minister had referred to Czechoslovakia as ‘that far away country of which we know nothing’ but that television now meant familiarity with the problems of Vietnam, Kashmir and Dominica. Back in 1960, Associated-Rediffusion had recognised this fact when the company had originated the idea of Intertel – an International Television Federation – to promote wider understanding of world problems. In November that year, broadcasting organisations in America, Canada and Australia – the major English-speaking countries of the world – united with Associated-Rediffusion to make and exchange documentaries with this aim in mind.

But entertainment and drama programmes generally require studios and in June the company’s directors and technicians were given the best equipped (and largest) studio in the world when the 14,000 sq. ft Studio 5 was opened at Wembley.

Before this, on March 22, British viewers were treated to something new in the way of television drama. It was called ‘The Birthday Party’ and its author was Harold Pinter. On July 21, they saw more of Pinter with ‘Night School’.

In September, ‘Rawhide’ was topping the ratings and ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ was captivating an average of 4,231.000 homes for Associated-Rediffusion.

In November, the high standard of the company’s sets for television productions was recognised by the Guild of Television Producers and Directors nominating Fredric Pusey the best television designer of the year.

In December, 1960, managing director Paul Adorian became the first Briton to be made a Fellow of the Institute of Radio Engineers of the United States. Also in that month chairman John Spencer Wills opened an extension of the Rose Bruford Training College of Speech and Drama. On the programme side at the end of the year, there was the Western ‘Wagon Train’ attracting floods of fan mail, the drama series ‘Somerset Maugham Hour’ attracting the country’s leading actors and actresses and the documentary ‘The Two Faces of Japan’ attracting ‘rave’ reviews.

‘Wagon Train’

‘The Birthday Party’

1961 – an ominous forecast and colour

1961 – AN OMINOUS FORECAST AND COLOUR

‘Boiling up inside this little country is a situation that could make the quiet war into a loud war, shattering all our eardrums.’ … These words were used by the scriptwriter about the company’s first contribution to the Intertel series. It was called ‘The Quiet War’ and was transmitted in May, 1961. The subject was Vietnam.

Nor were domestic topics neglected, for in January ‘This Week’, which regularly brought the facts of life at home and abroad to the British public, entered its sixth year and so became the longest-running regular current affairs programme on British television.

Nor, indeed, were the staff neglected. In February, the company’s house magazine. Fusion, which is run by the staff for the staff, was placed first in its class in the world contest run by the International Council of Industrial Editors. Nor was adult education neglected. During the first half of 1961 ‘Chez les Dupré’ became the first adult education series to be transmitted in London. It was watched by nearly two million people a week.

In March, there was massive praise for ‘Laudes Evangelii’, a choreographic play in music and mime depicting the life of Christ. Also in March, ‘Jim’s Inn’, the most famous of all the advertising magazines, notched its 200th performance.

May saw Television Audience Measurement reporting that the London ITV audience had passed the nine million mark, and another Harold Pinter play – ‘The Collection’.

General manager, Tom Brownrigg, had created a motto for the company to live up to. It was ‘never baffled’. And in June, 1961, the staff were not baffled when they became involved in the first regular series of radio broadcasts by an ITV company. These were made from Television House to Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica during the West Indies Constitutional Conference.

To underline this ability to tackle anything – and to learn for the future – the staff mounted their own revue in Studio 5 in December, televised it in colour and screened the results nearby for other members of the staff to study.

‘The Quiet War’

1965 // FROM TRANSDIFFUSION