Star Of Wonder 

1 September 2001 tbs.pm/1650

I was thinking recently, if Sue Lawley was to invite me to take to a desert island five or six icons of my early childhood from about 1958, it would be an ice Jubbly to suck (they lasted ages), a Roy Rogers album to read, I dare say “Laddie” my teddy (long-departed) for companionship, a packet of Potato Puffs in case I was hungry, and the adastral from Associated – Rediffusion, which on my portable television would reliably supply all my entertainment, information and educational needs.

The Rediffusion star, aka the Adastral

The white star of Associated-Rediffusion, the London weekday ITV station, is firmly etched as one of my favourite childhood memories. Ellen and Ernie, my mum and dad, adopted me in 1954 and later in 1958 chose a baby sister, Frances.

We lived in Walthamstow, in East London, which had been a prolific centre of film production for the silent screen. However, by my childhood film production in E17 was being scaled down, as Hollywood became the focus for English language films.

Redvers Kyle, *the* Hero of Television Presentation

I can remember one Saturday sometime in 1960, my mum and dad, who were of modest means, peering through the window of the Rediffusion rentals shop by the famous Wallthamstow market.

They were in awe of the moving black and white TV pictures, though none of us could hear anything outside in the rain. After some umming-and-arring, they decided to invest 2s/6d to rent a 405-line television.

At home with mum I remember “Music While You Work” from the BBC Light Programme in the afternoons, and then later the new rented TV would be switched on with some ceremony. Mum and dad seemed to enjoy many of the programmes offered by the infant ITV, so my earlier programme memories focus on the Rediffusion star, the symbol of the ITV station supplying our programmes.

Laurie West with the weather

I couldn’t put names to faces or voices then, but following a fanfare of music, and an ITA Croydon caption, there was the assured voice of Redvers Kyle, telling us that the station was on air.

I would happily spend an hour or two watching Associated-Rediffusion, and although I did not care much for the news, the funny man with a moustache who did the weather, Laurie West, caused much amusement as he stuck various cloud, rain, sun, snow or wind symbols on his board – hoping they would not fall off.

Once aged about eleven I wrote to Rediffusion, as I wished to take part in a children’s TV show called ‘Disney Wonderland’. It was a magazine and quiz, and ran for two seasons, presented once by actress Francesca Annis and the second series by Jennifer Clulow, who later announced for Westward in Plymouth, and achieved fame in advertising for Cointreau.

Rediffusion London, ARTV's replacement in 1964

Alas, I did not get on the show, but was taken to audition in the grand Rediffusion building, Television House, in Kingsway, near Holborn, central London.

Later, one lady in particular from Rediffusion, Muriel Young, became a sort of auntie figure to me at home, as she had a pussy cat puppet with her, Willum, to read birthday cards – though never mine!

Auntie Muriel had a sort of children’s club, called the “Five O’clock Club”, which was on air twice a week. Years later I would get to meet Muriel Young in person and even went on to work with her.

Tonight on Rediffusion... Crossroads, To Dorothy a Son, This Week, Love Story, News at 10 and more...

The Rediffusion star is still seen around the world today on export programmes, including ‘The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten’.

The TV world has moved forward and is a very different multi-channel environment now.

Station logos on TV are not used in the same way but, at least for me, the Rediffusion star is one of the happier memories of my childhood in the middle years of the century just passed.

You Say

1 response to this article

Stephen Yarrow 11 August 2013 at 12:12 pm

I remember Five O’clock Club at Wembley. I used to go most weeks as I think my mum was having a fling with a floor manager. Happy days, I ended up at Thames TV 1979 – 1992.

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