1964 – Rediffusion, London arrives


The new contracts with the ITA were made and it was decided to form a new company to take over the television assets of Associated-Rediffusion Ltd which was wound up. The new company was called Rediffusion Television Ltd. In this year – on April 6 – a new name for on-screen and publicity purposes was adopted – Rediffusion, London.

All this was swiftly followed by something new in educative programmes. ‘Towards 2000 – the Britain We Make’ traced scientific and technological progress from the age of Shakespeare, through the present and into the future.

A documentary, an entertainment show and a play followed to demonstrate the versatility of the staff of Rediffusion, London. The documentary was ‘Black Marries White’ and it took third place in TAM’s top 10 for the week, being seen in 7,606,000 homes on April 29. The entertainment show was ‘Around the Beatles’ on June 8. This programme helped the dollar reserves by being seen coast-to-coast in the United States in November. Then ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ on June 24 achieved the largest audience yet for a Shakespeare play on British television when it was seen in 3,855,000 homes. One critic described it as ‘the most profoundly satisfying dramatic experience given by television.’

To encourage these diverse talents shown by the staff, the Board set up a ‘Golden Star Awards’ scheme on November 1, under which the staff themselves could nominate for awards those who work on exceptional programmes.

To end the year, there were two more major programmes of contrast. Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ was transmitted on November 16, while Tommy Steele’s ‘Richard Whittington Esq’ went out over Christmas.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Above: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ – (left to right) Alfie Bass as Flute, Benny Hill as Bottom, Arthur Hewlett as Snug. Bill Shine as Starveling. Miles Malleson as Quince and Bernard Bresslaw as Snout. The play was the company’s contribution to Shakespeare’s quarter-centenary. Below: The Beatles appeared in this scene from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ when ‘Around the Beatles’ was screened.