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

‘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.

1965 // FROM TRANSDIFFUSION