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What we were watching on the box, forty-one years ago

By john workman  |  Posted: May 20, 2010


Jean Mlorton with Tingha and Tucker

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FROM time to time Alan Keeling, the Bugle’s resident TV guru, will provide us with a schedule from a day’s television viewing that takes us way back in time, and in this instance the programmes he has selected may seem like only yesterday to most readers, but in fact they were entertaining us over forty-one years ago. Alan writes: “ITV transmissions were still being received on 405 lines, and in black and white, on Thursday May 9th, 1969, at a period in our history when the voting age had just been reduced to 18; all women over 18 were allowed to vote; the British Concorde made its maiden flight from Bristol to Fairford; and Robin Knox Johnston arrived back in Falmouth after completing the first non-stop solo circumnavigation of the world.

“But what was entertaining us on the box back then? Well, programmes that afternoon began with the Royal Windsor Horse Show at 3pm, followed by another edition of the long running children’s favourite, the ‘Tingha and Tucker Club’, hosted by Jean Morton with her two puppet koalas, who were on holiday in Scotland. At 4.13pm precisely the first segment of a half-hour ‘Survival’ programme on wildlife narrated by Donald Houston, was followed at 4.25pm by the continuing story of the American soap opera, Peyton Place. The West Midlands became the last ITV region to screen Peyton Place.

“In a third repeat of ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ , Robin, played by Richard Greene, saved a young boy’s pet goose from becoming Christmas Dinner in an episode called, yes you’ve guessed it, The Christmas Goose.

“Into late afternoon, and at 5. 20pm ‘Magpie’, ITV’s answer to ‘Blue Peter’, hit the screens, presented by Susan Stranks, Peter Brady and Tony Bastable.

“There was no getting away from the now familiar news programmes that always bridge the gap between late afternoon and early evening viewing, a time for the adults to become serious for a few minutes and the kids to remain quiet or make themselves scarce by leaving the living room. But then 6.35 pm heralded the arrival of that classic Birmingham based soap Crossroads, starring Noele Gordon as the owner of a motel and a cast of actors all trying their hardest to talk with a decent Brummie accent. That particular evening at 7pm the Star Action Movie was called Summer and Smoke, a period drama starring Laurence Harvey and Geraldine Page, which lasted two hours. Then at 9pm it was time for a black comedy/murder mystery called John Browne’s Body, a six part series made by ATV, starring Peggy Mount and Naunton Wayne. Half an hour later This Week took a look at the plight of agricultural workers, and then it was the chimes of Big Ben to introduce News at Ten with Andrew Gardner and Reginald Bosunquet. After half an hour of news a young looking Michael Parkinson presented Granada’s ‘Cinema’ programme, looking at all the new film releases, then it was back to the repeats as ATV screened an episode of Seaway with Nick King (Stephen Young) and Admiral Fox (Austin Willis) investigating ‘The Sinking of the Elizabeth Rainey’ with British actor Paul Massie as the star guest.

“With the children tucked up in bed, after all it’s school in the morning, it was up to Dad to switch the telly off, but not before he had snored through the weather forecast, then the local Epilogue programme, ‘Pulse’, before being stirred into conciousness by the National Anthem.”

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