Now Welsh ITV 

14 January 2021 tbs.pm/71701

One of the Western Mail‘s facts from 1958 is disputed. See the note at the foot of this article.

TECHNICIANS and artistes rushed about the Pontcanna (Cardiff) studios of T.W.W. yesterday putting the final polish to preparation for today’s opening of Independent Television in Wales.

The service starts at 4.45 p.m. with a 15-minute introductory programme in which Mr. Mark Chapman-Walker, managing director of Independent Television for South Wales and West of England, Ltd., [sic] the programme contractors, will speak.

At 6.45 p.m. viewers will see an official opening, called “Beginning of T.W.W.,” by Lord Derby, president of the company.

 

 

ITV COMES TO WALES

 

SOMEDAY some-one will write the history of independent television in Britain. There will be as many sections as there are stations — six at present, but, perhaps, more by then.

Western Mail masthead

From the Western Mail for 14 January 1958

The Welsh chapter will certainly make the most interesting reading. For what has ever made good entertainment without containing a quota of trials, tribulations and ups-and-downs.

And those, independent TV in Wales and the West has certainly had.

What to call the chapter? That task should test the author as much as the text itself. Well, what about: “That Uncertain Feeling”? Because, for a long while, it looked as if independent television would NEVER be relayed to the area.

Big news

In the Western Mail office we like to keep “tabs” on world and local events by filing away in large envelopes every newspaper cutting to do with them.

NEWS — that’s what ITV in Wales has made. For our packet on the subject is about two inches [2.5cm] thick. The author of that history will have quite a job on his hands!

But, back to the title. Today the Independent Television Authority’s contractors — Television Wales and the West — begin their programmes. So perhaps it would be better to fix on the title: “All’s Well That Ends Well.”

Let’s scan back through past ITV events…

In November, 1953, a Government White Paper put an end to speculation about South Wales’s chances in the I.T.V. “race.”

Second stage

Studio interior

STUDIO ONE. – 30ft. by 60ft. [9m x 18m], the largest studio stage in Britain – and rehearsals are in full swing.

For the area was included in the Authority’s second stage of development and the go-ahead was given for stations in other parts of the country.

There followed two years during which no-one quite knew what was happening about providing South Wales with the service.

Then in October, 1955, Sir Robert Fraser, director-general of the Independent Television Authority, forecast at a conference of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers in Hastings that it would be operating in South Wales in the spring of 1957.

Nine months went by…

“South Wales is to get commercial television at the end of 1957,” said Sir Kenneth Clark, chairman of I.T.A.

He said that the delay in providing a station was technical and not financial. Experts scoured the area north and south of the Bristol Channel seeking a site for the towering mast which would send signals over the mountains and over the waters without too much Interference.

14 firms

A difficult job — one which tested the experts’ technical knowledge to the full.

Meanwhile 10 to 14 companies were formed, each hoping in be appointed programme contractors in the area. The most desperate business struggle connected with beginning ITV broadcasts was ON.

Among the companies were Cambrian Broadcasting Service (Television) Ltd., and Llewellyn Television (South Wales and West of England) Ltd.

Connected with the former was Miss Bronwen Pugh, now a celebrated B.B.C., TV personality. Shareholders in the latter were Col. Sir Godfrey Llewellyn and Group-Capt. George Bailey who were said to be top directors.

Nail-biting

A drawing of a transmitter dominates this advert

The days went by with, no doubt, the heads of the various companies biting their nails with anxiety in case they were the ones not to be awarded the coveted contract.

Another company, headed by four chiefs of newspapers in Newport, Swansea and Bristol, made a last-minute application to ITA and Lieut-Col. Harry Llewellyn, thie world renowned show jumper, admitted he was connected with another group.

Then Mr. Clement Davies, the former Liberal leader, was offered a directorship with the Cambrian company and the American organisation N.B.C. denied they were bidding for the contract.

Speculation was rife. Behind the scenes the “race” was really becoming fast and furious.

Then, towards the end of October, 1956, the odds in the Welsh Commercial TV stakes shortened considerable in favour of one company. T.W.W — who were eventually awarded the contract — were emerging as the probable contractors.

The site

At the end of the month an announcement was made confirming this. The T.W.W. Board, headed by managing director Mr. M. Chapman-Walker, who is also manager of the “News of the World,” was revealed.

It contains a representative line-up of people in the forefront of Welsh affairs, together with men connected with the West of England.

That was one phase in commercial television’s story over. While it was going on, the site-seekers had been carefully examining and surveying a number of suggested places. For one reason and another they were rejected.

St. Hilary, not far from the B.B.C.’s Wenvoe station, was finally selected as being the most advantageous site.

Planning permission was applied for.

The next problem facing T.W.W. was the selection of a suitable building in which to erect their offices and studios.

Set-back

First, Penylan House, Penylan Road, Cardiff, was examined. But the city’s public works and town planning committee turned down the application because some members said that residents would object to the studio building. This was after the surveyor, Mr. E. C. Roberts, had given an assurance that it would not affect amenities.

In January, 1957, the committee approved an application for T.W.W. to take over a house in Cefncoed Road, in Cyncoed, one of Cardiff’s most exclusive residential areas.

A further set-back came when it was revealed that local airlines had objected to the siting of the St. Hilary mast as it would be a serious hazard to flying.

Objections were backed up by the Welsh Advisory Council for Civil Aviation, and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government withdrew planning permission lodged by I.T.A. with Glamorgan County Council.

The I.T.A. referred to the possibility of moving the transmilter to the West Country, with a further delay of six to 12 months in getting it into operation.

 

 

Inquiry

In February, 1957, it was announced that a public inquiry would have to be held into the siting of the mast.

Good news for T.W.W. came when Cardiff Public Works Committee granted them permission to convert Pontcanna Farm, in the heart of the city, into offices and studio.

March 7 was the date of the inquiry… a vital day in commercial television’s history. The arguments for and against the erection of the mast at St. Hilary were given.

For 15 days the Minister of Housing and Local Government weighed up the varying views. On March 22 he gave permission for the mast to be put up on the site.

Later Lord Ogmore protested over the decision in the House of Lords — but to no avail.

Disaster

Everything looked, after that, set fair for the future. Opening date was given as December 17.

Then — disaster!

Test signals sent out from St. Hilary were found to be unsatisfactory. A thorough examination of the machinery was made and technical faults were discovered on the new experimental aerial running up the 750ft. [229m] mast.

This meant that once more the opening night had to be delayed. Later, after engineers had worked desperately to put up a fresh aerial in time, the new opening date was announced… January 14, which is tonight.

 

WHAT’S ON TONIGHT

4.45 Programme Parade. 5 Children. 5.30 The Buccaneers. 6 Youth Want To Know. 6.30 News. 6.40 The Beginning of T.W.W. 7 Stars Rise in the West. 7.27 Introduction to Emergency Ward 10. 7.30 Emergency Ward 10. 8 £1,000 Word Quiz. 8.30 Football — Manchester United v. Red Stars. 9.30 Chelsea at Nine. 10.30 What the Papers Say. 10.40 News. 11 Love and Kisses — Episode 1. 12 Weather — Close down.

 

Stars rise in the west

 

 

THE battle for fame on the stage and the screen is long and hard with many heartaches and frustrations.

First there is the training which is hard, gruelling and frustrating. Second, the opportunities — difficult to come by, even more difficult to do one’s best in once they are obtained.

Then there’s the producer, the director, the stage manager, the sponsor, to be convinced of one’s ability and power to bring in the crowds, and this leads to the most risky, the most hazardous, the most maddening part of all in an actors or actress’s struggle for acclaim.

A Welsh guide

But, for all that, Wales does not seem to have done so badly in the variety and acting profession. Tonight on the T.W.W. channel is the programme “Stars Rise in the West.” It features stars from Wales and the West who have made their names in show-business.

Here is a Welsh guide for this star-studded show:

Stanley Baker: His connection with Wales is about as well known as Cardiff Castle’s. He was born in the Rhondda in 1928 — Albany Street, in Ferndale. to be exact.

Villain to hero

A squat building with a lattice tower projecting from behind

The transmitter hall at St. Hilary.

Since then he has appeared in many films and was one of the first to be honoured by the Rhondda Recognition Committee.

Donald Houston, too, received the Committee’s awards at the same time as Stanley. Tonypandy was Donald’s birthplace, in 1923. He made his first stage appearance with the Pilgrim Players at Penzance in 1940. Afterwards he played just about every role there is in repertory, from villain to hero. Films, and lately the part of the narrator in the stage version of “Under Milk Wood,” have consolidated Donald’s hold on the public.

Tessie O’Shea, popularly and affectionately known as “Two Ton Tessie,” was born in Plantagenet Street, Cardiff. Big in every way is Tessie — big in heart, big in sense of humour and, of course, big in physique. She has appeared on television and in films and has been heard many times on the radio. But her real home has always been the variety stage.

The Goon Show

Harry Secombe: The Goon Show is his platform — and he has lately taken his humour, his acting and his fine operatic voice into the world of celluloid. No doubt, he will be as equally successful there as he always has been in the entertainment world.

Sian Phillips is the 24-year-old Gwaun-cae-Gurwen actress who has met with startling success in climbing that somewhat unpredictable ladder to fame on the stage.

“Discovery of the year,” said Mr. John Fernald, principal of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art — and he should know.

Ibsen actress

“Here we have a fully fledged, utterly delightful Ibsen actress,” said the Norwegians when Sian placed in their country last year. And they should know.

Tonight, you’ll have a chance of seeing this young woman, who has been compared with Sarah Bernhardt, for yourself.

Ronald Lewis, born in Port Talbot, educated at Bridgend Grammar School. Twenty-eight years old, he first shot to fame when Eugene O’Neill’s play “Mourning Becomes Electra” opened at the Arts Theatre Club, near Leicester Square.

He began his career at the Prince of Wales, Cardiff. But after a London performance, a noted critic wrote: “Every film and stage director in the country should rush at once to see a young Welshman who impressed me mightily last night.”

You’ll be hearing about Ronald more in the future. too.

Petula Clark. Her mother is a native of Abercanaid, near Merthyr Tydfil, and “Pet” has many Welsh relatives. This month Miss Clark attended the wedding of her cousin, Miss Shirley Rose, who was married in Ystrad Mynach to Mr. David Vaughan, of Sheffield. Miss Clark is no stranger to Wales, and listeners to “Top Twenty” must be pretty familiar with her name by now.

Ralph Reader was born at Crewkerne, Somerset, in 1904, and has achieved great fame on the stage. He is in the show because of his West Country birth, but also has a connection with Wales because he was educated, partly, at St. John’s, Cardiff.

The ‘Tweenies’

Naunton Wayne — his real name is Wayne Davies — occupies about seven inches of space in “Who’s Who in the Theatre,” quite a distinction!

He was born in Llanwonno, Glamorgan, in 1901, and made his first appearance on the stage at the Pavilion, Barry Island, in 1920 as an entertainer with the “Tweenies” Concert Party.

An account of his career is studded with the names of successful stage shows, plays and films. The 19-year-old who began among the holidaymakers at Barry has come a long way.

And then there’s the newest star of them all – Cardiff’s Shirley Bassey. She was not able to be in this country because of her Australian tour. But tonight she will be seen in a specially made film.

Yes, for Wales, it’s quite a line-up.

 

 

South invites the North for Amser Te

 

ALTHOUGH the studio is in Cardiff, the overriding aim of TWW is to keep a balance of programmes that will not only have special localised interest but also others with a common attraction to both sides of the Bristol Channel.

They will represent something new in the way of entertainment, with the emphasis on doing, as well as viewing. This means that the new station will infuse local colour into programmes by encouraging the best of local talent and making use of the wealth of material available in the industrial and entertainment spots in this very diversified region.

TWW are keen to develop the new attitude towards television which gives viewers the feeling that this is their own programme service in which they can actively take part. This aspect of entertainment, known as “mass-participation,” is expected to get a warm and ready response from the cosmopolitan audiences of Cardiff and South Wales, — especially in view of the experience of Granada — TWW’s counterpart in the North — in winning wide favour so soon with the more conservative-minded North Wales audiences.

These two provincial TV stations have struck a new note in independent TV in Britain by copying the very successful American experiment of agreeing to co-operate and work together.

One of the greatest immediate advantages of this link-up is the arrangement between them to exchange their respective Welsh programmes. Thus the South Walian will in this opening week be able to see on his own screen the now well-established North Wales thrice-weekly feature programmes from Granada on their own ITV screens.

It should prove a valuable guide to the Welsh programme planners in Cardiff in ascertaining the tastes of their Southern viewers. But, most important of all, it will be the first time Wales has had national overall TV coverage —even the most ardent Welshman could hardly have anticipated this a few months ago.

And this exchange of programmes will go far to answering the dream of many who have campaigned for closer understanding between the Welsh of the North and the South.

The North will undoubtedly greet with equal relish TWW’s own daily Welsh magazine feature, “Amser Te” (Tea time) and its own edition of “Welsh Miscellany.”

Thus Barnstaple will be able to look-in on programmes that divert Beaumaris, just as Pembroke can join in the West Country show that appeals directly to Plymouth.

 

 

A second breath to clear snags

THE CLOCKS GO UP IN TIME FOR ZERO HOUR

 

Outside of the studio block

ALL is ready at the Pontcanna home of T.W.W. for tonight’s opening.

 

EVER since Cardiff Corporation gave planning permission for the building of studios and offices at Pontcanna Farm, in the heart of the city, and the site of the transmitting mast at St. Hilary was approved, the “full speed ahead” programme on both projects has been signalled on a specially prepared calendar in the Cardiff and London offices of TWW, Ltd.

St Hilary coverage map

ST. HILARY STATION

Site is on the edge of St. Hilary Down, Glamorganshire.
Site height: 400 feet. Aerial Height: 750 feet.
Vision frequency: 199.75 mc/s. Effective radiated power: 200 kW.
The area within dotted lines is the primary service area.

Estimated population living in area: 3.28 millions.
Number of homes with tv sets in the area to be covered by ITV transmissions (based on estimations made by “Commercial Television News” at time of going to press, August, 1957): 510,000.
Number of homes with tv sets which will be able to receive ITV programmes (based on estimations made by “Commercial Television News” at time of going to press, August, 1957): 250,000.
Number of viewers (estimated by “Commercial Television News”): 750,000.

Extracted from the Commercial Television Year Book and Directory 1958

As both projects came one day nearer completion and operational readiness, a page was torn off this calendar, and the new page would register one day less to “air date” — Pontecanna’s “D” Day.

This morning the special calendar mil give up its last page, for today is zero day, with programme and administrative staffs and technicians tensed and ready for the big “switch on” of independent television in South Wales.

To use an appropriate regional term, all will be “shipshape and Bristol fashion,” with everything functioning smoothly and everyone at his or her well-rehearsed appointed task.

Paper-hangers

Yet a chance, unauthorised visitor to the new studios only a day or two ago, might well have wondered if the tiniest squeak would be heard from Pontcanna in the foreseeable future. For there seemed to be as many carpenters, plumbers and paper-hangers feverishly at work as there were technicians trying out their immensely-complicatcd paraphernalia.

“Feverish activity amid orderly chaos” was the picture on the very eve of TWW’s “air date” — the final, grand climax to more than a fortnight’s non-stop day and night work by 150 local workmen installing wiring and plumbing, painting and paper-hanging the walls of dressing-rooms, offices, corridors, and canteen and a hundred other jobs, to put the finishing touches to what are claimed to be the largest and best-equipped television studios in Britain, with space for as many as half-a dozen “sets” at a time.

Only the general good-humoured sense of urgency suggested that today was so near. Carpenters sawed away and electricians trailed their wires amidst engineers keenly testing at their complicated control panels and screens the local reception of network pictures from other areas and checking film and cine-camera apparatus.

While on the floor of the vast, main studio, programme directors and camera men were auditioning several local girls for posts as “speakerenes” — an Americanism for programme announcers.

Valuable chance

This was the one quiet spot in the whole place — everywhere else hummed and pulsed with tension and excited activity.

Commented one official who could spare a brief moment to talk: “The technicians and workmen have been working here day and night for the past fortnight.

“That unfortunate postponement of our opening last month gave us a chance to get our second breath on various things and to smooth out various small difficulties.

“The delay has also given us a valuable chance to start extra rehearsals of coming programmes and to audition people for various jobs and has also given our men the chance of extra transmission tests and of getting increasingly used to handling all this highly-technical equipment. We’ve also trained many people in the meantime to handle confidently jobs that were completely new to them.

Up in an hour

“See those clocks on various walls around the place?” he remarked “We call them ‘slave clocks,’ connected with our master clock and dead right to the ninth of a second. They only arrived in Cardiff by train at one o’clock today — and they were up in position on the walls an hour later. Just an indication of the speed with which we’re pressing on to have everything just right on Tuesday.”

The staff in Cardiff already numbers 80, but T.W.W. are in no desperate hurry to swell their pay-roll at the outset and, like some other regional I.TV companies, perhaps find it necessary to retrench and cut down later.

In programme planning, presentation and staffing, T.W.W. are shrewdly profiting by the unavoidable mistakes of other regions and “speeding ahead” cautiously – but confidently.

Theatre plan

But there are already some interesting plans for future extensions on the Pontcanna site. One such project in mind is the building of a large theatre just across from the main studio entrance to accommodate audiences at T.W.W. shows.

“But just for the present we’re naturally more concerned to entertain millions, rather than to cater for selected audiences; that will come later,” commented a member of the staff.

 

 

A woman sits in front of a camera with papers in her hand

 

HARD work, and still more hard work. That is the story of Cardiff girl Maureen Staffer’s rise to fame.

For famous she certainly will be soon. She has been chosen as woman announcer for TWW.

For 22-year-old Maureen, an elocution teacher from Splott, it is the dream come true alter years of study.

“I am so thrilled. I never dreamed that I would get the job,” she said.

“There were so many other girls I thought were much better than me.”

“A better girl couldn’t have been picked for the lob anywhere,” said her father, Mr. Fred Staffer. “Since she was five years old she has been interested in elocution and has worked very hard. If anyone deserves a break she does.

“The whole family will be in front of the TV to cheer her on.”

 


 

T.W.W. Ltd
Address: 30 Bouverie Street, London, E.C.4. (Tel: FLEet Street 0304);
Cardiff office: 6 Caroline Street (Tel: CARdiff 31152).
London sales office: 149 Regent Street, W.1. (Tel: REGent 8080);

President – Lord Derby.
Chairman – Lord Cilcennin.
Managing Director – Mark Chapman-Walker

Sir William Carr
Herbert Agar (U.S.A.)
Sir Ifan Ab Owen Edwards, J.P.
Percy Jones, J.P.
Lieut.-Col. H.M. Llewellyn, J.P.
D.V.P. Lewis, C.C., J.P.
Sir Alexander H. Maxwell.
Sir Grismond Phillips.
Ald. Huw T. Edwards.
A.G. Jeans.
Eoin Mekie.
Alfred Francis.
Sidney Gilliat.

Managerial Consultant – J.R. Myers.

Department Heads
Chief Engineer – Walter Kemp.
Programme Manager – Bryan Michie.
London Manager – Peter Bartholomew.
Sales Controller – Stanley Leach.

Studios
Pontcanna Studios, Canton, Cardiff

Extracted from the Commercial Television Year Book and Directory 1958

 


 

Rate card

for advertisements effective 14 January 1958

 

[To obtain approximate modern values allowing for inflation, multiply the £ figure by 25 – Ed.]

 

Monday to Saturday

 

Time segment   Time class 60 seconds 45 seconds 30 seconds 15 seconds
1 Up to 4.45 p.m. G £45 £38 £32 £20
2 4.45 to 5.15 E £90 £75 £65 £40
3 5.15 to 5.45 D £110 £90 £80 £50
4 5.45 to 6.30 D £110 £90 £80 £50
5 6.30 to 7.00 C £150 £120 £105 £68
6 7.00 to 7.30 B £190 £150 £135 £85
7 7.30 to 8.00 A £220 £180 £155 £100
8 8.00 to 8.30 A £220 £180 £155 £100
9 8.30 to 9.00 A £220 £180 £155 £100
10 9.00 to 9.30 A £220 £180 £155 £100
11 9.30 to 10.00 A £220 £180 £155 £100
12 10.00 to 10.35 C £150 £120 £105 £68
13 10.35 to 11.00 D £110 £90 £80 £50
14 11.00 to 11.30 E £90 £75 £65 £40
15 11.30 to 12.00 F £60 £50 £45 £30

 

Sunday

 

Time segment   Time class 60 seconds 45 seconds 30 seconds 15 seconds
1 Up to 4.45 p.m. D £110 £88 £77 £50
2 4.45 to 5.15 C £150 £120 £105 £68
3 5.15 to 5.45 B £190 £150 £135 £85
4 5.45 to 6.30 C £150 £120 £105 £68
5 6.30 to 7.00   * * * *
6 7.00 to 7.30   * * * *
7 7.30 to 8.00 A £220 £180 £155 £100
8 8.00 to 8.30 AA £275 £220 £195 £125
9 8.30 to 9.00 AA £275 £220 £195 £125
10 9.00 to 9.30 AA £275 £220 £195 £125
11 9.30 to 10.00 AA £275 £220 £195 £125
12 10.00 to 10.35 B £190 £150 £135 £85
13 10.35 to 11.00 C £150 £120 £105 £68
14 11.00 to 11.30 E £90 £75 £65 £40
15 11.30 to 12.00 F £60 £50 £45 £30

 

Guaranteed Rates. AA, A and B Time rates guaranteed until 14th September, 1958

* Welsh language programmes are permitted in this period in excess of normal broadcasting hours with English or Welsh language advertising at special rates to be announced later.

Extracted from the Commercial Television Year Book and Directory 1958

The following section is commentary from Transdiffusion's expert writers

Will the real TWW please stand up?

 

A selection of the differing ways TWW presented itself between 1958 and 1968. Their rationale for not keeping to a single logo, typeface or layout seems to have been that the company was identified by the letters ‘TWW’. How they were represented was immaterial.

 

 

 

18 January 2021Transdiffusion’s Richard Wyn Jones adds: The photo caption reading “STUDIO ONE. – 30ft. by 60ft. [9m x 18m], the largest studio stage in Britain – and rehearsals are in full swing.” is misleading. The studio described is the smaller 1,800 sq ft news studio, which was planned but not yet built when the complex opened. The actual studio space was 4,800 sq ft – considerably larger – and that is what is pictured. How these became muddled is not clear.

 

You Say

2 responses to this article

Pete Singleton 15 January 2021 at 2:19 pm

The top left ident seems familiar…

And the third down on the right looks like something I would have doodled on my exercise book during maths!

A good read!

Russ J Graham 16 January 2021 at 2:41 pm

(The system randomises these galleries each time you visit, so if you come back you might find your own comment looking weird!)

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