1965 … current affairs, a State event, light entertainment and drama … four moments from a crowded year. 

Top left: Mr Ian Smith from Rhodesia, in the ‘This Week’ studio.

Top right: Studio 9 in Television House was the control room for the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill for which nine ITV companies provided men and equipment. Peter Morley (left) was the producer of this, the largest TV operation yet mounted in the United Kingdom. Graham Watts (right) was the senior director. Other Rediffusion personnel involved were Ray Dicks as executive producer, Basil Bultitude as engineer-in-charge, and Robert Everett in charge of administration.

Bottom left: Joan Hickson and Donald Sinden in ‘Our Man from St Mark’s’ [sic].

Bottom right: Diane Cilento and Gary Raymond in ‘Cut Yourself a Slice of Throat’ a story in the ‘Blackmail’ anthology series.

Five men and one woman with various awards

1965 … The Guild of Television Producers and Directors awards. Left to right: jeremy isaacs and the production team of ‘This Week’ received a Craft Award for the production of factual programmes; peter morley received a Craft Award for his work on ITV’s coverage of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral and for his documentary ‘L.S.O. – The Music Men’; alan badel, Actor of the Year, among the plays for which he received his award was Rediffusion’s ‘A Couple of Dry Martinis’; gwen watford, Actress of the Year, among the plays for which she received her award were the Rediffusion productions ‘Take Care of Madam’ and ‘The Rules of the Game’; charles squires, a Craft Award for documentary production for his work on ‘The Grafters’ and ‘Paradise Street’; cyril coke, a Craft Award for drama for his work on ‘Crime and Punishment’, ‘The Rules of the Game’ and ‘Four of Hearts – Tilt’. 

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.

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.

1958 – to Russia (and elsewhere) with love


The company has always maintained that its job is to provide good programmes in every sphere of television entertainment without specialising, and 1958 provided some excellent examples.

In January a major documentary reached the screens after months of planning and research. Called ‘U.S.S.R. Now’, it was a 60-minute feature on Russian life. The night after transmission, it was screened again for M.P.s in the Grand Committee Room at Westminster Hall.

In contrast, the company had been screening a trend-setting light entertainment show of music and dance called ‘Cool for Cats’. Its director, Joan Kemp-Welch, was pronounced the best director of light entertainment by the Guild of Television Producers and Directors. Drama came into the spotlight in September, when ‘Women in Love’, a series of four plays with leading European actresses, was screened. On the news magazine front, a ‘This Week’ feature on American tourists in Britain was declared the best foreign production by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Hollywood. Finally, 1958 saw ‘Macbeth’ produced especially for schools … ‘Twelfth Night’ (1959), ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ (1960), ‘Arms and the Man’ (1961), ‘Hamlet’ (1961), ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1962), ‘Medea’ (1963) and ‘Playboy of the Western World’ (1964) were to follow.

The entertainment as well as the education of children was not neglected. Indeed they were combined. In this year, it was decided to give children’s programmes a magazine flavour and ‘Lucky Dip’ was created for the network. As the years passed, the format for the magazine programme has changed to the ‘Five O’Clock’ series. Also introduced in 1958 were specially written dramas for children.

In 1958, too, the company was consolidating its policy of helping others. In March, scholarships were set up for pupils of the Central School of Speech and Drama, while in June £5,000 was given to the Friends of the Tate Gallery. The scholarships and gifts to the arts and sciences have continued ever since.

In July the shareholders received their first reward for their courage in supporting what the chairman had previously described as either a wild gamble or an act of faith.

Harold Macmillan visited the ‘This Week’ studios in 1958 to add his name to the long list of world figures who have appeared in the programme.

A scene from one of the six stories dealing with ‘Women in Love’ transmitted on Wednesday, September 24, 1958. George Sanders was the story-teller for this two-hour programme which marked the company’s third anniversary.

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.

‘The Quiet War’