Tonight’s ATV Midlands… in 1956 

21 June 2017 tbs.pm/12712

The TVTimes tells us what was on ATV on Thursday 21 June 1956. Things worth noting include:

  • Closing between 6pm and 7pm and going off air at 11pm gives two hours for afternoon broadcasting. This creates more of an all day feel than years later when most contractors settled into a 5pm to midnight habit – although ATV Midlands had a half hour a lunchtime that was taken from the other end of the day.
  • The outside broadcasts from 3pm are advertised as such because they were still a novelty. ITV contractors were allowed 300 hours per year of outside broadcasts in addition to their regular permitted hours. Unlimited religious programming hours were also allowed.
  • From 1963, adult education programmes would be moved to outside of the permitted hours, encouraging the companies to produce more – the time didn’t count against ordinary programming, but did for the advertising average for the whole day.
  • Kingsway Corner at 4.30pm was famous for dragging reluctant passers-by in off the pavement. The phrase ‘brought before our cameras’ sounds like something from a police state.
  • It was not unusual for people stopped outside Television House and asked to come on air to refuse, sometimes quite pointedly. Less likely to happen in these days of Big Brother and ‘reality’ television.
  • Five minutes of news from and for the Midlands at 5.55pm – and that’s all you’re going to get. Regional magazine programmes, if they existed at all, were usually 30 minutes once a week. Consistent ITA pressure was needed to get them to 30 minutes a day; by the 1970s they were, but often took a summer break.
  • Superman at 7.05pm was made for syndication in the United States – which at the time often meant for ABC affiliates, who had fewest hours and least money. The programme name is shortened here from the full The Adventures of Superman. This is episode five of season one of the series, which debuted in the US on 17 October 1952.
  • The short titles of the US programmes, and the equally short episode titles each has (just two words), seems to have been done to make life easier for TV Guide and other listings magazines in the US, which were having to cram the programmes into limited space as more and more television stations opened following the end of the Federal Communications Commission’s station licensing freeze in mid-1952.
  • Bob Sharples provides the music for Spot the Tune from the still-new Granada at 7.30pm. He would later be an ABC Weekend staffer and far less likely to turn up on the rival Northern contractor.
  • 8pm sees the sitcom My Little Margie from NBC. It was a steady performer in the US, not a hit but not a flop, enabling it to jump from radio to CBS TV and then to NBC TV when CBS tired of it. It lasted four seasons on television, and this episode is number nine from season four.
  • Overseas Adventure at 8.30pm was another made-for-syndication series. It has a convoluted history of name changes, having its first two seasons retrospectively retitled Dateline Europe when Jerome Thor left the lead role. When James Daly moved on, the following season was retrospectively renamed Cross Current.
  • Early ITV was much more open to ‘independent’ producers – in fact, the ITA had originally hoped that the contractors would buy in most of their programming from independents rather than making it all themselves. The 15 minute admag at 10pm comes from TV Advertising Ltd, a company set up specifically to make admags for ITV. It used studios in Film House on Wardour Street in London, rented from Associated-British Pathé, a sister company of ABC Weekend TV.
  • Science Television Services is another independent, although how independent is not really clear; Lewis Greifer seems to have been ATV staff, and the (uncredited) producer Clive Petty was also an ATV staffer, and is mentioned as the producer of ATV’s Commonwealth Corner in the 5pm children’s slot.

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1 response to this article

Arthur Nibble 25 June 2017 at 5:54 pm

Interesting to see the spelling of Superman’s real life alter ego as Clarke Kent in the listings. Was he called this at the beginning, or was this simply a mis-spelling of Clark Kent?

“My Little Margie” star Gale Storm, real name Josephine Cottle, was heard singing on a TV variety show by the daughter of the head of a record label who phoned to sign her up before the show had finished. Gale ended up having six US top ten hits.

I hope the discussions in “Fantasies Of The Night” didn’t give anyone nightmares or a sleepless night!

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