The Golden Star award winners

The Golden Star award winners

Outstanding creative contributions to the TV programmes of Rediffusion, London during the last year have been recognised by the Board of Directors. Four £1,000 Golden Star Awards have been made for the first time following a secret ballot. The winners who contributed to programmes produced by the company during the year ended October 31 are: 

Sound recordists Basil Rootes and Freddie Slade jointly (they receive £500 each) for their work on the sound recording for the documentary ‘The Grafters’ which dealt with street traders; Programme director and producer Cyril Coke for his work on ‘Crime and Punishment’ and for his production of the ‘Four of Hearts’ drama series starring Patrick Wymark;

Writer Robert Kee for his script for the ‘Children of Revolution’ Intertel documentary about young people growing up in Czechoslovakia and for his script contributions to ‘This Week’; Actress Philippa Gail for her part in ‘Summertime Ends Tonight’, the last play in the ‘Four of Hearts’ series (she appeared as Lyn, a 19-year-old girl with whom Patrick Wymark as a Q.C. fell in love).

Each were presented with their cheque and their Golden Star trophies (based on the company’s symbol and trade mark) by the chairman of Rediffusion Television Ltd., Mr. John Spencer Wills, at the company’s annual general meeting at Wembley Studios on Tuesday, November 16.

The Board decided last year to introduce the awards scheme to recognise outstanding contributions to the company’s programmes, based on personal viewing observations and opinions of the directors of the company.

They were assisted by a preliminary selection committee which considered nominations for the awards by members of the staff of Rediffusion, London. The members of this committee were: Mr. B. C. Sendall, C.B.E., deputy director general (programme services) of the Independent Television Authority;
Mr. Leonard Marsland Gander, television editor of the ‘Daily Telegraph’;
Mr. Clifford Davis, television editor of the ‘Daily Mirror’;
Mr. Paul Adorian, managing director;
Mr. John McMillan, general manager.

The classes in which the four awards were made were:

— staff in the fields of camera operation, engineering, filming, graphics, lighting makeup, scenery, sound, wardrobe or any other fields in which the exercise of special skills contributed to the success of a programme;
— a producer or a director;
— an author or composer;
— an actor, actress or other performer.

Golden Star award

Philippa Gail

Robert Kee

Cyril Coke

Basil Rootes

Freddie Slade

Philippa Gail

Robert Kee

Cyril Coke

Philippa Gail starred with Patrick Wymark in ‘Summertime Ends Tonight’ in the ‘Four of Hearts’ series. Aged 23, went to the Webber Douglas Drama School at the age of 17. After two years, left to go into repertory at Chesterfield, Cheltenham and Guildford. Highlight was playing the lead in ‘Salad Days’ at Chesterfield. Three small parts in TV followed a year in repertory, then the film ‘This Is My Street’. Appeared in the ‘Triangle’ experimental TV drama series. Was in ‘Giants on Saturday’ and a ‘Riviera Police’ story for Rediffusion. Single, likes reading a lot. Lives in a Knightsbridge flat.

Robert Kee, writer. Born 1919. Served with Bomber Command as a Fit. Lt. during the war. Afterwards worked for the ‘Strand’ magazine and ‘Picture Post’. Started to freelance in 1951. Was ‘The Observer’s’ correspondent at the time of Suez. Also wrote feature articles for ‘The Sunday Times’. Became the literary editor of the ‘Spectator’ in 1957. Worked on feature programmes for BBC TV from 1958. Contributed first story to ‘This Week’ in November 1964. Also worked for Television Reporters International for two years on documentaries. Wrote and narrated script for Intertel documentary ‘Children of Revolution’ and has also visited Ethiopia, Vietnam, America. India and Rhodesia for ‘This Week’ during the past year.

Cyril Edward Rigby Coke, producer and director. Son of the late Edward Rigby, character actor, and Phyllis Austin, authoress. Served in Italy with Eighth Army during war. From 1946 to 1955 worked on films with Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat as assistant to the producers and casting director. Joined Rediffusion, London in April 1955. Has produced and directed more than 50 plays including ‘Dead on Nine’, ‘House of Lies’, ‘Darkness at Noon’, ‘Crime and Punishment’ and ‘Four of Hearts’. Married to Muriel Young, children’s programme presenter.

Basil Rootes

Freddie Slade

Basil Rootes, sound recordist. Born 1921. Served with Bomber Command during war as flight engineer. Went to Shepperton Studios in 1946 as a sound assistant. In 1950 became a freelance boom operator on feature films. Joined Rediffusion, London in 1956 as a sound recordist. Has travelled on documentary programmes all over the world. Notable programmes were ‘The Quiet War’ (Vietnam), ‘Living with a Giant’ (Canada), ‘America – on the edge of abundance’ and ‘America – the dollar poor’; the first two series of ‘Crane’ (Morocco) and ‘The Grafters’. Married with four children. Breeds pedigree dogs.

Freddie Slade, film dubbing mixer. Born 1919. Joined the Odeon cinema chain at the age of 15 as a page boy, then trainee projectionist. At 20 went to Denham film studios as a projectionist. When Denham closed down, he became a sound camera operator/recordist at Pinewood studios. Joined Rediffusion, London in February 1955, becoming an assistant dubbing mixer in 1956. Worked on dubbing the sound for such documentaries as ‘The Two Faces of Japan’ and ‘The Quiet War’. Has been responsible regularly for the sound dubbing on ‘This Week’ as well as ‘The Grafters’.

1956 – losses reach £3¼ million

1956 – losses reach £3¼ million

Pioneering proved to be a pretty unrewarding business financially. The lack of any other ITV area with whom to network, slowness in the conversion of sets to receive the ITV signals and caution over the new advertising medium in some circles, combined against the new arrival. By December, the chairman had to report to the company’s general meeting ‘substantial losses’. By the end of one year’s operations the company had lost £3¼ million.

Despite this, Associated-Rediffusion continued to set the pace. On January 6, a bright news magazine programme was launched to create a new standard in television journalism. It has been doing so ever since, for the name of this programme was ‘This Week’.

On the staff side, 1956 saw two major appointments – Paul Adorian was made managing director and John McMillan came in as controller of programmes. With Capt. T. M. Brownrigg as general manager, the management team was complete.

Then came a further major gamble. Losses were continuing to build up. Yet, such was the group’s faith in the outcome, a deal was concluded on August 23 with Associated Newspapers for British Electric Traction (on behalf of itself and Rediffusion) to buy four-fifths of the Associated Newspaper interest. Subsequently the remaining one-fifth was acquired.

In September, Studio 9 was opened in Television House. Little was it realised then that it would become the nerve centre for ITV’s coverage of general elections and Royal Weddings. Nor could anybody envisage how many of the world’s leading statesmen and politicians would appear before its cameras for ‘This Week’ and ‘Division’. Meanwhile, in February, the ITA’s Midland transmitter had gone on the air. This meant the setting up of networking with ATV. The audience was slowly growing and by October, a million sets could receive ITV programmes in the London area. But the losses mounted.

It was at this troubled time that the board – conscious of its responsibility to provide a comprehensive public service – took the decision to pioneer again by providing the first television programmes for schools in Britain and the Commonwealth.

‘A Show Called Fred’ pioneered in its own way in 1956. Among those in it were (left to right) Valentine Dyall, Graham Starke, Kenneth Connor and Peter Sellers, together with The Alberts (back and right). Spike Milligan added to the madness.

1963 – ‘The Lover’ scoops the pool

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.

1965 // FROM TRANSDIFFUSION