Tonight’s Yorkshire Television… in 1971 

19 April 2016 tbs.pm/8906

The TVTimes gives us a run down of Yorkshire Television programmes for Monday 19 April 1971. Things worth noting include:

  • The stream-of-consciousness that was Houseparty from Southern at 3.50pm. This was the Loose Women of its day, but considerably more safe and mumsy – no banging on about periods and drunkenness, anyway – and it survived from 1967 through to Southern’s demise in 1981, partially because it cost about 4d to make each episode. In comparison, Thames Television’s various rivals – Tea Break, Good Afternoon and Afternoon Plus – seemed profound and quite philosophical in nature
  • Anyone old enough to remember Nine Network’s Skippy the Bush Kangaroo at 4.50pm will not need to be told how dire it was
  • Richard Beckinsale at 5.15pm is right at the start of his fame. He’d had a minor role in Coronation Street in 1969, where he came to the attention of Jack Rosenthal, who cast him in 1970’s The Lovers. From there he went on to huge fame in Rising Damp and Porridge, but at this point is still doing (complicated and involving, it must be said) children’s programmes for Thames. He died at the terribly young age of 31 of a heart attack in his sleep in 1979
  • Calendar, YTV’s regional magazine at 5.55pm, is just 20 minute long today
  • Opportunity Knocks! was a fantastic weekend programme, drawing huge audiences for ABC before the 1968 contract changes. When ABC became most of Thames and moved from weekends to weekdays, it transferred as well, moving from Didsbury to Teddington at the same time. But it also had to move from its natural home on weekends to a weekday slot to suit the contract Thames held. 6.45pm on a Monday was not the natural place for such a light, weekend-y type of show. It would bob about the ITV schedules until 1978, never finding a satisfactory home
  • Such is the power of black and white television in memory and the slowness of adoption of colour sets in the home that one easily forgets that Ena Sharples and Minnie Caldwell made it into colour episodes of Granada’s Coronation Street (7.30pm)
  • The Mind of Mr. J. G. Reeder at 9pm was a very nicely made Thames detective show set at the beginning of the century and based on the short stories of Edgar Wallace. The hook was an unusual one: Mr Reeder was a very mild, quiet man with a pen-pushing job in the Director of Public Prosecution’s office… but his mind was wired in the same way as the most depraved criminals, allowing him to out-think the villains
  • 10.30pm sees ITC’s wonderful Strange Report apparently debuting on YTV with episode 9 a year and a half after the series played out on ATV
  • The day rounds off with Calendar’s Austin Mitchell (before he became an MP in 1977) going for a nosey around a clothing factory. This 20 minute programme smells heavily of “adult education”, which it probably almost is, and helps to balance the limited number of hours television is allowed to be on air. These restrictions would be swept away in November 1972, but 24 hour television would be another 15 years away

You Say

10 responses to this article

Westy 19 April 2016 at 5:15 pm

JG Reeder only primetime show still in black & white, due to the colour strike!

Arthur Nibble 20 April 2016 at 11:36 am

I always associated Val Doonican’s shows with the BBC. Was this ambiguous TV Times front cover for a new series, a one-off show, or simply showcasing his appearances on Yorkshire’s “Stars On Sunday”? Talking of being on target, shouldn’t that arrow be positioned through the hole in the middle of the bow? Good thing Val didn’t take over Bernie’s role in “The Golden Shot”.

“For The Love Of Ada” (charting the relationship between an elderly widow and the grave digger who’d dug her husband’s final resting place) lasted four series and 27 episodes, and they wrung out a film as well. An American version lasted less than half the number of episodes of the original. A slighter gentler sitcom vehicle for Jack Smethurst than his best known work. His screen wife, versatile sitcom actress Barbara Mitchell, passed away six years after this episode aged 48.

Russ J Graham 20 April 2016 at 11:43 am

This was the start of the second series – of 5 in total – that Doonican did for ATV between 1970 and 1975. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066723/

Arthur Vasey 20 April 2016 at 11:46 am

HOUSEPARTY: This programme was more like a mothers’ meeting – a bunch of middle-aged, unidentifiable women talking amongst themselves and showing each other how to knit and stuff – didn’t address the viewers at home – it was like being in someone’s house – hence its name – and they invited other people round.

SKIPPY: The adventures of a boy and a kangaroo, who, despite only speaking in clicks, was understood by all that knew it.

Don’t remember Elephant’s Eggs In A Rhubarb Tree at all – curious title for a programme, despite its content.

I lived in the Tyne-Tees region, so never got Calendar – our news programme at that time was Today At Six – on a Monday, it ran right through to 6:40, when it was followed by a five-minute programme, Police Call – as far as I knew, it was a similar programme to Police Five, presented by a local uniformed police superintendent!

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS – I can only remember it being made by Thames – started out on the BBC Light Programme on radio, transferred to Radio Luxembourg – I think that the radio version – radio not being visual – could only have featured singers, orchestras and comics – the television version from Thames was on throughout autumn, winter and spring and was replaced by David Nixon’s Magic Box, later to become The David Nixon Show.

There were some special shows – All-Winners shows – some even featured amateur songwriters.

Unlike its ATV rival, New Faces, which featured a panel of celebrities and record producers assessing the acts, Opportunity Knocks relied on votes from the public – had to send your vote by snail mail – this was in the days before Skype and Facebook and Twitter and text messaging – even before those premium rate numbers, whereas New Faces had a panel of some 20 people to draw on, but never more than four on the panel – people like Arthur Askey, Shaw Taylor, Tony Hatch and Mickie Most – I knew Tony Hatch as being the composer of the Crossroads theme – until I saw the producer’s name on my sister’s Suzi Quatro and Mud singles (and others) – he produced all the artists and groups who recorded on RAK Records.

On both shows, the comedians and impressionists fared best – some singers and groups won for weeks in a row (winners came back on the next show) and had limited chart success following it – the most successful pop group was Showaddywaddy – they won New Faces in the early 1970s and were still bringing out records as late as 1980 – comics, ventriloquist acts and impressionist acts continued to appear on variety shows and did summer seasons and pantomimes (those that are still alive) for many years afterwards!

Arthur Nibble 20 April 2016 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for clarifying that, Russ. I noticed from the imdb details that the series included an act called Fabric – I’ve looked on YouTube for some of their work, but can’t find any samples. Boom boom!

Geoff Nash 20 April 2016 at 1:17 pm

Interesting that in the regional variations Granada fails to get a mention despite being Yorkshire’s next door neighbours. I know the Pennines were in the way but I’m sure the coverage from Emley Moor and Winter Hill must have overlapped at some point.

Arthur Nibble 20 April 2016 at 2:56 pm

OpKnocks hopefuls Shag Connors and the Carrot Crunchers were a Gloucestershire version of The Wurzels who released at least five albums and three singles. When Shag passed away, his son Matt fronted the scrumpy ‘n’ western outfit.

I take it that’s a horoscope programme mid-afternoon on the Midland channel.

Paul Mason 21 April 2016 at 4:58 am

I thought daytime television started in September 1972 when ITVs school output was shunted to mornings, a decade before passing to Channel 4 with horse racing. In fact Granadas opening time was creeping towards 2.30 to 3 pm before that date.
Crown Court and Emmerdale Farm started in Sept 1972 as part of the “midday to midnight” viewing as promoted.
Barbara Mitchell popped up in many comedies from the late 60s until her untimely death..
Its odd that both ITV talent shows came off within a few weeks of each other in 1978. Op Knox came off because Thames TV were fed up with Hughie Green using his show as a political platform.

Sorry theres little “Yorkshire”/in my post apart from the mention of Emmerdale Farm as it was

Alan Keeling 29 May 2016 at 11:51 pm

The 6.15 slot was filled by “The Odd Couple”, a U.S. import based on Neil Simon’s play/film of the same name, starring Jack Klugman & Tony Randall, from 1970/71.

Rob Fearn 24 June 2017 at 9:15 pm

Jessica, did you like “Woobinda – Animal Doctor” btw?

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