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The days when you had to get out of the chair to change channels

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: July 20, 2006

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Alan Keeling continues to nudge our memories with more TV programmes of the past, from the days when you had to get out of your chair to change channels on the little box in the corner. These days we have to get out of the chair to find the remote control! Alan writes:

"In 1955, supreme British actor Robert Newton re-created his role as Long John Silver for Australian television, four years after the successful Disney Film "Treasure Island" had been released. Twenty-six half-hour episodes were made in techni-colour, with up and coming young actor Kit Taylor playing Jim Hawkins, and Hollywood actress Connie Gilchrist in the role of Miss Purity Pinker, owner of the "Cask and Anchor Inn" on the island of Porto Bello. An ATV audience got to see the series (produced by Treasure Island Pictures no less) in 1957 with a 5.30 pm evening slot. But "The Adventures of Long John Silver" did make a comeback in 1990 when viewers saw it for the first time in colour on various satellite channels.

"Does anyone recall "Colonel March of Scotland Yard?" In 1954 an independent British film company called Panda Productions made 26 half-hour episodes of the show based on the J. Carter Dickson novels. It starred Boris Karloff, complete with black eye-patch, as the head of D3, the office of queer complaints at New Scotland Yard. Together with his assistant Ames, played by Ewan Roberts, he solved strange and mysterious cases, committed by deranged criminals. ATV viewers would have seen it between 1956-59, when it paved the way for other crime series after its final repeat. In 1963 the first three episodes of the series were edited together, this time with brand new introductions from Karloff, and released for the cinema, and entitled "Colonel March Investigates." The series made a brief return to the small screen in 1996 when it was shown on satellite television.

"Sitcoms have always been a favourite with TV viewers, and in 1962 the comedy series "Oh! Susanna" hit the small screen in ATV land after a successful run in the US between 1956-60. It starred Gale Storm, a well known actress and singer at the time, as Susanna Pomeroy, the trouble-prone social director aboard the cruise liner S.S. Ocean Queen. Her co-stars were Roy Roberts who played Captain Huxley, and her friend and beauty-salon operative Miss Nugent, played by veteran actress Zasu Pitts. Star guests who appeared during many farcical voyages included Chuck Connors, Lorne Greene and Pat Boone, and songs such as "Pennies from Heaven" and "There's a Tavern in the Town" were sung with gusto by Gale in every episode. The first season of this series was last shown by ATV in 1969, and in the end 125 half-hourly episodes in black and white were produced by Hal Roach Studios for ITC. You may remember Gale Storm in an earlier sitcom called "My Little Margie." This had its Midlands premiere in 1956.

"And finally we mention once again the name of Chuck Connors, the archetypal western gun slinger who appeared in the series "The Rifleman," It told the story of a widower and rancher Lucas McCain, who lived in New Mexico in 1880 with his young son Mark, played by Johnny Crawford. One-hundred and sixty-eight episodes were made in glorious black and white (between 1957-63) and followed the daily struggle of Lucas and Mark to maintain their cattle ranch. The opening title sequence featured Chuck walking down a street looking straight at the camera, repeatedly firing his hair-trigger action repeater rifle, from which of course, some of the show's bad guys ultimately bit the dust."

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