1959 – ballet, opera and crime


The company’s confidence in the future (despite having Pilkington round the corner) was demonstrated in May, 1959, when Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, then chairman of the ITA, laid the foundation stone of Studio 5 at Wembley. This million pound project was to give Associated-Rediffusion the largest studio built for television in the world.

The company’s willingness to try new things was further demonstrated during the year. In March, there was ‘Tyranny – the Years of Adolf Hitler’, a documentary which pioneered new techniques. From May 29 to June 14, the company screened an hour’s programmes over the Portuguese television network each night during a British Trade Fair in Portugal. In August, ‘London Morning’, a new musical by Noel Coward, was presented by London’s Festival Ballet. In September, there were new schools programmes for sixth forms and primary schools. On October 7, there was ‘Gala’, featuring Alicia Markova, Jose Iturbi, Maria Callas, Sir Malcolm Sargent and Tito Gobi. Then in December came Benjamin Britten’s ‘The Turn of the Screw’, the first full-length opera on ITV.

The year 1959 has also been described as a vintage year for series programmes. From other companies there was ‘Probation Officer’, ‘Four Just Men’, ‘Rawhide’, ‘Johnny Staccato’ and ‘The Deputy’. From Associated-Rediffusion, on September 16, Scotland Yard had a powerful addition to its ranks. Lockhart set out to prove that for murderers, thieves and gangsters, there was ‘No Hiding Place’.

The Turn of the Screw

‘The Turn of the Screw’, Christmas, 1959. Left to right: Janette Miller as Flora, Tom Bevan as Miles, Judith Pierce as the housekeeper and Jennifer Vyvyan as the governess.