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.

A storm - possibly dust or fire - amongst palm trees, with a man flailing it

‘The Quiet War’

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’ 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.