1958 – to Russia (and elsewhere) with love

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

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.

1965 // FROM TRANSDIFFUSION