A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1975.

If you were listening to the lunch time concert on BBC Radio Three on the 7th January 2011 (the programme page is here) and heard a chair squeak during Shai Wosner’s solo rendition of Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor (K475) then you momentarily irritated by me readjusting myself in situ because I was at that concert whilst it was pre-recorded in studio 7 of BBC Manchester on Oxford Road.

Completing construction in 1975, New Broadcasting House became the BBC's North West England headquarters, eventually hosting BBC Manchester, BBC North West, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Religion and Ethics Department.  TV Ark has a long list of the kinds of programmes produced there.  Then, 36 years later it was demolished once Media City opened at Salford Quays and it became surplice to requirements.  

But back in 2011, there I was this free event as part of their Genius of Mozart season, a chance to sit in close proximity with an orchestra and allowing a wall of live musical sound blow me over. Despite visiting BBC Manchester before for other events, I hadn't realised that they could accommodate this kind of recording or, as the photographic portraits on the walls of previous conductors and supporters and a giant banner above the entrance to the venue indicated that this was the "home of the BBC Philharmonic".

Studio 7 was a giant square auditorium with the audience in stadium seating on one side and the orchestra across a small stage opposite and somehow despite the large number of players and even greater number of listeners a very intimate atmosphere was created. The concert was presented by Catherine Bott (pictured), who stood at some microphones just to the side and read her announcements as live from an A4 print out which was an impressive feat in itself.  The audience sat in complete silence throughout.  This was clearly a group of passionate music fans.

There are two things you need to know about my experience. Firstly that I was a bit distracted because the other reason I was in Manchester was for some replacement fillings at my dentist on Oxford Road. He’d just finished work within half an hour of me sitting down so I spent most of the concert regaining the feeling in my mouth, my tongue fringed with pins and needles and prodding around my teeth getting used to the work which had been done. 

Secondly that I wasn't distracted enough from the virtuosity of the playing and the emotional embrace of the music.  Only The Magic Flute overture was familiar to me, with its impactful chords and pauses which seem designed to catch out an early clapper. During his solo, Wosner sat hunched over his piano and once again I was impressed with a musicians ability to remember a whole piece without need to refer to a sheet. The Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat (K482) is unusually because it’s topped and tailed by a slow movement which somehow makes it feel more melancholic something that might have been reflected in the determination of the players.

At the end we applauded as though at a real concert (Was this a real concert? What are the rules?) and then an engineer appeared from the back and asked us to remain seated. There were to be retakes.  Wosner reappeared with conductor Antonello Manacorda and we heard a few bars here and there again. Presumably for technical reasons because their playing sound fine the first time. As I pondered what would have happened during the live broadcast which filled the slot the day before from the same venue, and considered whether an hour was the perfect length for any concert, it was time to leave.


"Watch the mini documentary telling the story behind the iconic Arena title sequence."
Arena began broadcasting this year.
[BBC Clips]

"The documentary sets about the task of bringing to light the craft of the sports journalist by visiting three major events: a world title fight in Las Vegas; an England football international; and the Cheltenham Gold Cup."

The corporation’s indefatigable flagship arts programme celebrates its latest anniversary with a magnificent act of expanded television and self-repurposing.
[Sight & Sound]

A complete episode guide to the whole series.

Interactive website leading to numerous clips.
[The Space]

Fawlty Towers

"ohn Cleese shares the inside story of BBC TV sitcom masterpiece, Fawlty Towers."
[BBC Sounds]

"In 1977 Fawlty Towers was released in book form, which was a good excuse to bring John Cleese onto Read All About it. He discussed all things behind the hit comedy show with Mervyn Bragg, including the inspiration for Basil Fawlty, which goes back to a hotel Cleese stayed in while filming the Monty Python.  Also features poet Elaine Feinstein, philosopher Sir Alfred J Ayer and cricketer Mike Brearley.  Originally broadcast on Read All About It on 13 Nov 1977.
[BBC Archive]

"I admit it. When writing about old television, there is often the desire to pick out something obscure nobody has heard of in decades. It’s not an attempt to be clever. (Well, not always, at least.) It’s just that sometimes, you really want to highlight a programme which you feel deserves more attention than it’s been getting lately."
[Dirty Feed]


"A profile of Mersea Island and interviews with residents, contrasting the rural, and isolated settlement of East Mersea with the maritime activities of the larger settlement of West Mersea."
[East Anglian Film Archive]

"Bob Harris interviews the former Beatles star for The Old Grey Whistle Test.  Recorded on 17 March 1975 and originally broadcast on 18 April 1975."
[BBC Clips]


"Made by members of the Mercury Movie Makers, this film captures the beginning of a typical day in the city of Leeds. It begins at daybreak and the start of the BBC Radio Leeds Breakfast Show with John Henry and continues on capture the hustle and bustle of the city centre just before 9 o'clock."
[Yorkshire Film Archive]

"Short clip including shots of new Broadcasting House development (in Belfast), as well as shots of control room with the continuity announcer."
[BBC Rewind]


"John Noakes explains the techniques used to film his famous bobsleigh ride on the Cresta Run."
[BBC Archive]

"This first edition features Graeme Garden and John Lloyd looking at radio comedy in the late 1970s. Graeme by this stage was an established figure, with his breakthrough show I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again morphing into I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, in addition to his work presenting Week Ending and as a panellist on shows such as A Rhyme In Time."
[BBC Sounds]

"Cast and crew of the iconic Welsh drama serial prepare for another day of filming on location in Cwmafan."
[BBC Archive]

"In the 1960s the BBC’s poetry programming opened itself up to the world."
[The Poetry Archive]

"Felicity Kendal reveals the inside story of her iconic performance as Barbara Good in much-loved BBC sitcom, The Good Life."
[BBC Sounds]


"BBC Radio's historic first live transmission to the Nation of the proceedings of the House of Commons - the start of a four-week experiment in Parliamentary broadcasting authorised by the House on 24 February 1975."
[BBC Sounds]

This is a transcript of the first live session.  Notice how the transcription isn't complete accurate.
[House of Commons][BBC Programme Index]

"The BBC's 1976 Handbook comes out at a time of great national difficulty. Now, more than ever, people look to the BBC for wholly reliable information, for an expression of the innumerable concerns of the nation, and especially perhaps, for laughter and pleasure in every home."
[World Radio History] 

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1974.

We've reached a milestone.  I was born in 1974, so from now on everything in these posts will almost be within my living memory, give or take some years for me to understand the concept of memory and what it's for.  Even though its only been a few weeks, I hope you don't mind another look at the schedules to see what was broadcast on my birthdate, 31st October.  I was born at 6:30 in the morning, so television and most of radio hadn't begun yet, but Radio 2 had Simon Bates and Radio 4 was in the midst of Farming Today (although my parents, especially my Mum, we're a bit too busy to listen).

Much of BBC One's schedule feels incredibly familiar, with many of the formats lasting well into my teenage years and beyond, Play School, Jackanory, Blue Peter (the classic Noakes, Purves, Judd trinity), Newsround, Roobarb, Nationwide, Tomorrow's World, Top of the Pops and Mastermind.  Elsewhere there's an afternoon repeat of 1967's The Forsyte Saga (one of the last major BBC dramas made in black and white), the Sykes episode The Pub and the Leeds - United! episode of Play For Today, recently repeated on BBC Four (and available for a couple of pounds on Amazon Video).

I'm quite tempted to spend a birthday watching through all of the material which is still available.  Over on Two, outside of kids television, the Open University and news, programming doesn't really begin until five to eight with a repeat of The Pallisers: Part 25 from earlier in the year.  This is followed by a documentary about the jewellery trade,  A Girls Best Friend, the "Mr. and Mrs. Brian Norris' Ford Popular" episode of Python, The Complete Victor Borge, a Man Alive about sex therapy and Film Night rounding out the schedule with publicity piece about the likes of Phase 4.  

BBC Radio hasn't changed radically in the years since we last checked but all of the stations have a much clearer idea of their remit.  Radio 1's line-up has now welcomed Noel Edmunds, Ed Stewart and John Peel, although the evening prime time slot between 7 and 10 is a simulcast of Radio 2, with its quiz show about old 78 records, folk concerts and light orchestral music.  Elsewhere, Radio 2 regulars have already been installed: Simon Bates, Terry Wogan and Jimmy Young and there are still comedy and drama slots.  By 1976, Bates will have moved to Radio 1 and he stayed there for sixteen years.

Over on the "serious" channels, Radio 3 has moved even closer to the station we know today with more classical music throughout the day and night although there's an hour of speech between 6:30 and 7:30 in the evening, Study on 3 which offers a mix of talks and a documentary at 10:10, The Talking Machine, about the origins of recorded sound.  Some further stalwart formats have begun on Radio 4: Yesterday in Parliament, From Our Own Correspondent, You and Yours is at midday, Any Answers?, Analysis, The World Tonight and Today in Parliament.

What does any of this tell us?  That for all the changes the BBC went through in the years leading up to my birth and since, plenty more stayed the same and broadcast legacies were already being put in place 48 years ago.  Of all the channels, BBC Two's changed the most with the slightly more elitist fare having moved to BBC Four in the past couple of decades, literally in some cases with old shows given new broadcast all of these years later.  Could the makers of any of the dramas have imagined that people would still be watching them fifty (odd) years later?


"Angela Rippon introduces Ceefax - the BBC's new dial-a-page news and information service. She visits the nascent Ceefax editorial unit in Television Centre, where Ian Morton Smith demonstrates some of the features of the system, and how he creates a Ceefax page.  What is the potential for this technology? Might it one day turn the humble television set into a home computer terminal?  Originally broadcast 15 July, 1975."
Ceefax began in 1974.
[BBC Archive]

"Fyfe Robertson looks at the latest innovation in delivering the daily news, straight to your television - the BBC's Ceefax service."
[BBC Rewind]

"David Seymour and Bob Langley take their first, tentative steps into a wider world, one rich with all manner of exciting possibilities - the wonderful world of modern television.  This clip is from Pebble Mill, originally broadcast 7 January, 1977."
[BBC Sounds]

"This unit generated the clock for broadcast in the BBC’s onscreen text information service CEEFAX. Accurate time information was provided by the MSF receiver, contained in a weatherproof box, which was fed to the rack unit."
[Science Museum Group]


"Timelord Tom Baker recalls introducing jelly babies to the Doctor's diet, how the Daleks were darlings, and why his scarf kept getting longer."
[The Guardian]

"Jenni Mills talks to people who were famous for a short period of time. 5: From 1974 to Barbara Edwards was British television's first weather woman. Neat, sensible, practical, she wore tank tops and talked knowledgeably of isobars, windspeed and barometric pressure. And then she vanished from the screen."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"David Attenborough chats to Jeffrey Preece about his wide-ranging career in television. He recalls his early days as a trainee television producer - working on live broadcast BBC shows like Animal, Vegetable, Mineral - through to his first experience as presenter, when he was forced to replace Jack Lester at short notice on Zoo Quest."
[BBC Archive]

"BBC Two has been on air for over 8-and-a-half years, but has it been a success? Members of the public have their say."
[BBC Archive]


"A day in the life, behind the scenes of BBC Northern Ireland in television and radio."
This is a fifty minute documentary.
[BBC Rewind]


A less than glowing review of the first experiments in quadrophonic broadcasting on the BBC from a contemporary magazine.  With photos of the reviewers setting up the speakers in their home and listening to the show.
[Into The Sound Field]

"For the first time since 1969 Star Trek was used as a between series substitute for Doctor Who. Series 11 of Doctor Who finished on Saturday 8 June and Star Trek repeats resumed the following Monday; 10 June."
[Space Doubt]

"Nicholas Kenyon explores early music at the BBC in the 1970s."
[BBC Sounds]

"Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor, continues his series on relations between broadcasters and politicians by looking at broadcast coverage of 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland."
[BBC Sounds]

"In Vision takes a look at the mammoth operation involved in getting Saturday night sports staple Match of the Day to air.  Originally broadcast 2 May, 1974."
[BBC Archive]

"Terry Gilliam shares his cutout animation tips and techniques, under the watchful eye of Bob Godfrey.  This clip is from The Do-It-Yourself Film Animation Show."
[BBC Archive]

"Stop The Week had its origins in a decision by BBC Radio’s Current Affairs Department that it wanted a programme which would act as a bookend to Monday morning’s Start The Week with Richard Baker. This had been running for about four years, and seemed to consist largely of notables coming in to talk about their latest book, play or film. The new programme would run on a Saturday evening, and its brief was to be a weekly magazine of satire, topical guests and music."

"Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner on recording the music for the 1974 series about ‘a saggy old cloth cat’, stress-tested by Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger – and endorsed by Belle and Sebastian."
[The Guardian]

"John Noakes takes a trip to the old Ealing Film Studios, where an episode of Porridge is being filmed. He speaks to stars Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale and Fulton Mackay, and producer Sydney Lotterby."
[BBC Archive]


"The last year has not been an easy one for Britain, and that inevitably means difficult times for the British Broadcasting Corporation. Because of inflation, and in spite of economies, our financial position has become increasingly gloomy; and in the present year it can be expected to reach crisis proportions, leading to massive cuts in programmes, unless the licence fee is raised."
[World Radio History] 

When the Rain Comes.

Music  Hello. Listen to that! Just listen to it! Twenty-three years on from the release of One Touch, ten years since the release of anything by this line-up and here they are with more new music released near the time of its recording and it's amazing

Their voices have matured and deepened but that harmony which slowly ebbed away with each line-up change across the ensuing decade is back and just as glorious and unique as ever. Not to mention it sounds like a Sugababes song that meld of pop and R'n'B which other bands attempted but couldn't recreate the alchemy. This sound is steadfast. 

But so are the people. In 2009, Sioghan gave a semi-notorious interview in which she talked about her time with the Sugababes in less than glorious terms.  I'm putting this here to just to demonstrate just how broken everything was in the late-00s:

Was it your decision to leave?
SD: Hell, yes. Though there was no doubt that I was pushed out. It was clear that there was someone in that band who never wanted me in it and that’s Keisha. She never wanted me in that band and made my life a living hell. It’s funny... all these years on, I’ve grown up and I’ve left it all behind me and I’m not bothered by it. I think a lot of the memories, I have just blocked out because I don’t really like to think of the nasty stuff. I like to think about the good things in life, always focus on the positive, and Zen and all that shit. But I’ll never forgive her. Though no-one forgives that first bully in their lives, do they? No-one does. Even when you’re fifty. Though, on the other hand, it doesn’t matter. You meet so many people in the world. Why would I need to reconcile with that person? I don’t even know if she would want to.
Well, Siobhan did forgive her and as she's since said, it was a situation in which they were all manipulated by their management and whoever. Perhaps Keisha saw this and reached out?  Nevertheless, they're back it is indeed about time and again in a Doctor Who anniversary year.  Let me put it this way.  If Flatline was the TV Movie, this song and apparent album are the 2005 revival.  Hopefully they won't regenerate this time.

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1973.

Proposed by then BBC Two director David Attenborough as the scientific follow up the earlier, highly successful art series, Kenneth Clarke’s Civilisation, Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man (now available on the iPlayer) provides a history of science covering all of the big topics in a slow sweep across the development of civilisation in the past ten thousand years: archaeology, anthropology, biology, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, physics, engineering, evolution, particle physics, more physics, genetics and psychology.

These stories are played out across thirteen fifty-minute films shot in twenty-seven countries with Bronowski (pictured) constantly on screen, animated expressing each subject through densely packed lectures which were apparently improvised on the spot. The Dr. knew roughly what he was going to say and would relate it to the production team and they would then film him, either from the front of shifting about the location. The impression is of a Royal Society Christmas lecture in which the expert walks and takes a pew as the landscape shifts around him.

Bronowski is positively hypnotic, often grinning in the middle of sentences as the shear joy of having the opportunity to impart this knowledge overwhelms him and we hang on ever word. As Attenborough notes in the interview that accompanies the episodes on DVD, "Bruno" was the master of the dramatic pause and he does often stop in the middle of a sentence as though he's trying to find exactly the right word to express his ideas.

Unafraid to jump off into the detailed abyss of a subject and expecting the viewer to join him, there were occasions, especially during the episode about particle physics when I couldn't quite follow the narrative but that’s more likely to be a failure of my understanding than his clarity and that’s as it should be. Television is always slightly disappointing when it simplifies a subject to make it intelligible to everyone rather than challenging them to understand, especially now that you can rewind and try again.

Each film is beautifully rendered and often spectacular but often it’s the simplest imagery which has the most impact. The destruction of Hiroshima is minimised to a large bang, a melting clock, and shots of Japanese people in streets who because of this juxtaposition seem entirely bewildered by the oncoming fate. Contrast that with the modern recourse to offer a giant computer generate mushroom cloud and we see the dignity with which Bronowski is desperate to present his story.  Perhaps Christopher Nolan took notes.

Time and again Bronowski surprises us by not taking the obvious route to explaining a topic. His story of evolution is though the diaries of Alfred Russel Wallace the other scientist who discovered natural selection in parallel with Darwin. The trial of Galileo proceeds through a transcript read in voiceover by Joss Ackland against empty chairs in a room similar to the location for the original meeting leaving the audience to imagine the white heat of injustice within those musty walls.

The series is subtitled “A Personal View” and rather than presenting a dispassionate history, Bronowski is keen to explain how scientific thought and development are constantly under threat from the kind of dogma and cynicism, usually religious, that is unable to assimilate new discoveries and theories when a different set of absolute truths has already been established. Time and again we see work, from Gallileo through Darwin to Mendel, either deliberate suppressed or put in a drawer for fear of insulting the establishment.

In the final programme he predicts that scientists will increasingly be unable to do their best work, their life’s work, because political and business interests will take up so much of their time, presumably because theoretical science will not pay the wages. When the Large Hadron Collider was turned on the first time, questions were asked about why some would spend all of that money without there being some kind of practical use.  Well, because science isn’t always and shouldn't always be about that.

What would he feel about this slightly older version of the world were science is rarely undertaken unless there will be some kind of monetary outcome even within universities whose researchers and often departments are being funded by big business. He's adamant that The Ascent of Man stagnates when children aren’t taught the history of science isn't taught properly in school and society doesn’t take a keen interest in the whole of the subject.

The Ascent of Man

"First transmitted in 1974, Michael Parkinson's guest is Dr Jacob Bronowski, the presenter and writer of the 1973 documentary series, The Ascent of Man."
[BBC iPlayer]
"Roy Plomley's castaway is scientist and broadcaster Dr Jacob Bronowski."
[BBC Sounds]

Tim Radford finds Bronowski's history of humanity, The Ascent of Man – reissued with a foreword by Richard Dawkins – as compelling as ever.
[The Guardian]


"In 1965 the remains of Irish patriot Roger Casement were disinterred from the limepit at Pentonville and brought to Dublin. Casement, as this play shows, was a man of many conflicting parts. Is there a parallel between his history and Ireland's? Is there a lesson to be learned from it?"
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"Themes examined include the benefits system, lack of social housing in the area, immigration and the changing culture of the area."
Includes film review by Clive James and Marty Feldman taking part in a studio discussion.
[Bridgeman Images][BBC Programme Index]

"Jokes about 'the operation' are all that most people know about transexualism. Tonight's group discuss their situation in a more serious and comprehensive way, and draw attention to the many difficulties they endure."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"Films that show the beautiful intertwinings of the living things on our varied earth.  A BP/BBC co-production."
The Living Woodland doesn't seem to have been transmitted on the BBC, but I'm including it here for completion sake.
[BP Video Library][BBC Programme Index]

"A documentary prepared by the BBC in 1973 about the migration of workers from Turkey to Germany."
[BBC News Türkçe via Pitt Rivers Museum][BBC Programme Index]


"1973 was not a good year to be in Britain, let alone to return there after six years in New Zealand. Return we did though, with very little money, no home and two lovely kids. My immediate priority was to get a job."
[Peter Dewrance]


"Whilst not strictly within the remit of this website, it is perhaps worth recording that during the time of the ‘three-day week’ in the winter of ’73/’74, the Questor’s Theatre in Ealing was taken over by the BBC and used as a studio."
[TV Studio History]

"This documentary chronicles the workings of BBC Bristol in the early seventies (just before I joined them). It covers filming trips to far-flung places, Animal Magic, Johnny's Jaunt, Points West, Any Questions."
[Keith Rodgerson]


"with Philip Jackson (PJ), Tara Prem (TP), Philip Saville (PS) and Jack Shepherd (JS)
chaired by Lez Cooke (LC)"
[Forgotten Television Drama]

"How the ground-breaking show That's Life entertained and educated Britain."
[BBC Clips]

"The Story of Pop was the title of a 26-part documentary series first broadcast on BBC Radio 1  between September 1973 and March 1974. The series was introduced by Alan Freeman and produced by Tim Blackmore. A 26-part "weekly encyclopaedia" was also published by the BBC to coincide with the series.  This page contains the 26 issues of the encyclopaedia."
[World Radio History]

""Television's most popular space series returns," was how the Radio Times described Return To Tomorrow the episode which launched 1973's mammoth 49 week repeat run of Star Trek. This could be viewed as slightly insensitive to the BBC's home grown series Doctor Who which was in the middle of its tenth anniversary story, The Three Doctors."
[Space Doubt]

"Doctor Who star Jon Pertwee glides into the Blue Peter studio for a chat with Peter Purves about the Whomobile, the Doctor's unique new mode of transport.  Originally broadcast 5 November, 1973."
[BBC Archive]

"Songwriter Mike Batt and voice actor Bernard Cribbins remember overdoing the accents and blagging it on to Top of the Pops"
[The Guardian]

"Central to the emergence of these series at this time was the ethos of the BBC's Light Entertainment Department under the successive leadership of Bill Cotton and James Gilbert. They espoused and developed attitudes of creative excellence, competitive success and benevolent patronage, and took a liberal, non-polemical, middle-brow approach to material."
[University of Westminster]

"Let’s take a look at the recording dates of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Series 1."
[Dirty Feed]

"This double-bill, the fourth screening in our ‘Dramatic Spaces’ season at the BFI, features two remarkable BBC television plays that take advantage of electronic ‘studio-trickery’: Howard Schuman’s never-transmitted Censored Scenes From King Kong (1973) and Caryl Churchill’s 1978 Play For Today, The After-Dinner Joke. Both used Colour Separation Overlay (CSO), an analogue form of blue or green-screen compositing, to create stylised backdrops for their action which function in different ways."
[Spaces of Television]

"It ran for a decade and infuriated the rightwing press, giving a voice to marginalised Britain. Now a new show is celebrating the extraordinarily prescient Open Door series."
[The Guardian]


"This is the first time I shall be putting my name to a foreword to the BBC's Annual Report to Parliament and Handbook, appearing together this year as a new combined publication."
[World Radio History] 

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1972.

On January 19th, 1972, the Edward Heath government announced the lifting of restrictions on broadcasting hours on television and radio. Although this led to BBC One's midday programming gaps becoming shorter and disappearing altogether by October of that year with the launch of Pebble Mill at One, BBC Two continued to close down for much of the afternoon, except for sporting events and political conferences, and it wasn't until September 19th, 1983, that afternoon closedowns would end. Over the next few years, various experiments in filling the schedule with educational content, US imports and films were tried, with gaps bridged by pages from Ceefax. Finally, in June 1989, BBC Two launched a full daytime service.

This makes the complaints about BBC Two returning to something akin to the earlier state of affairs very interesting. In today's schedule every program from 6:30 in the morning through 9 pm is a repeat followed by two hours of simulcast news between 10 am and midday. Then, after Politics Live, the repeats begin again until Marcus Wareing's Tales from a Kitchen Garden at 6:30pm.  On Monday night there's a block of quizzes (Mastermind, Only Connect and University Challenge) but with the exception of that and Newsnight, everything else is a repeat until 3:05 am when BBC News is simulcast until 6:30 am the following day. Having created the expectation for something to be broadcast, BBC Two is in the position of having to do just that.

Ways of Seeing

"It was an unlikely choice for BBC Two to schedule against Match of the Day. But Berger’s series and book now forms the bedrock of how we interpret art and advertising."
[The Guardian]

"Our first audience was one of fridges, cookers and washing machines."
[The Guardian]

A website with what looks like the contents of the programmes and ensuring book.
[Ways of Seeing]

"Released in 1972, "Ways of Seeing" has proven to be as worthy of study as the artistic traditions it investigates."
[Big Think]

"At the core of the project is an augmented reality application. When combined with a copy of the original Ways of Seeing book, this app uses computer vision to bring into being a new virtual text, which exists digitally between the pages of Berger’s original book."
[Lewis Bush]


"A history of Clacton-On-Sea."
[East Anglian Film Archive]

"Kenzie Thorpe recalls his life on the marshes of South Lincolnshire."
[East Anglian Film Archive][BBC Programme Index]

"The influence of the American bases on the cultural life of East Anglia."
[East Anglian Film Archive]

"In a fantastic rare extended interview at the NFT, the movie legend talks to Michael Parkinson about his career, changing his name to Kirk Douglas, and his admiration for Marlon Brando. Originally broadcast on 26 November 1972."
[BBC Clips]


"You can’t really include an elephant in the menage unless you have an elephant house, and stowage space for the howdah, living quarters for Gunga Din the mahout and, for preference, a nearby bamboo forest. This is one of the minor troubles at B.H. Edinburgh. There’s no storage space."
[BBC Scotland Newsletter via Transdiffusion]


"Daytime television scheduling is considered a fairly recent idea – ask most viewers when it began, and you’ll get widely varying answers. Did it start with “This Morning”? “Neighbours”? “Crown Court”? The answer is, none of these."

"David Capper interviews the public in Belfast about the BBC's plans for an inquiry programme."
[BBC Rewind]

"Some 50 years ago on Monday (4 April), John Craven hosted a TV first on BBC One: a news bulletin aimed at children."
[Press Gazette]

"I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, recently voted ‘greatest radio comedy show of all time’ in a Radio Times poll, is 50 years old this month. Greg James unearths a bumper selection of clips and quips from half a century of the antidote to panel games, featuring many of the show’s most popular panellists and silliest rounds."
[BBC Clips]

"Before his death at the age of 86, Radio Times reflected on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue with the great Barry Cryer."
[Radio Times]

"John Craven's Newsround burst onto screens in 1972, and on Monday 4 April the UK's longest-running news show for kids celebrates its 50th anniversary with some exciting new additions."
Includes interview with John Craven.
[Dock 10]

"Today marks 63 years since ‘The Day the Music Died’. In celebration of the brilliant musicians lost in the severe tragedy, we recapture the moment Don McLean performed his hit song ‘American Pie’ commemorating the day in 1972 live for the BBC."
[Far Out Magazine]

In depth discussion of the landmark drama starring Anthony Hopkins as Pierre.
[Ellen and Jim Have A Blog, Two]

"Three weeks into 1972 BBC1 began showing most of the stories skipped during the spring 1971 block of repeats. There's no obvious reason why these stories are suddenly acceptable for broadcast; just as it's still not clear why the episodes weren't repeated last year."
[Space Doubt]


"When I joined the BBC as a producer of Home Talks in 1947 one of the first BBC publications to come my way was the Year Book, as this Handbook was then called. The BBC was 25 years old, and it had just taken delivery of its third Royal Charter. Moreover, since the end of the war it had been coping with one of those massive upheavals which it inflicts upon itself from time to time for the good (it hopes) of its audience. The Television Service had re-opened. The Third Programme was brand new. There was a new Light Programme -and so on."
[World Radio History] 

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1971.

No doubt reflecting the Radio Times of the period, the BBC Programme Index offers scant information about the opening broadcast of the Open University on the 3rd January 1971.  At 11am, "Open Forum: introduction", then an interval, followed by at 11:35, "Mathematics: introduction" with the slot ending an hour later at midday.  Although unsurprisingly there's no sign of either programme online (although YouTube has tons of other lectures), there is a recording of the original ident from a late night broadcast from later that year.

The comments underneath most of these bootlegs are from people who grew up with these programmes and indeed were inspired to enter education or at least the field under discussion after watching these programmes as a child often having been plonked in front of them by an inquisitive parent.  Never really being too academic, my own experience was more interested bafflement, of watching the close-up science experiments during school holidays and teacher's strikes (as references in the first series of Look Around You) and enjoying the chemical reactions. 

Looking at some of these lectures for the first time in many years, it's striking how many of them aren't the studio bound lecture in front of a white or black board parodied in the likes of A Bit of Fry & Laurie.  Some are full on presenter led documentaries as we'd recognise them on BBC Four today with hard hatted academics crouching in quarries explaining slate development or historic reconstructions of how Joule collected his temperature readings.   They don't feel as dry as such modern equivalents as The Great Courses.  No wonder other BTLs remark on how these programmes are still aiding them in their studies.

Open University

"Britain's novel "Open University", the headquarters of which are at Milton Keynes, north-west of London, got under way this week."

"This exhibition is a brief journey through the history of the University, using materials held in The Open University Archive to look at some of the main events and developments - from Harold Wilson's initial plans in 1963, the creation of the University in 1969 and developments through to the present day."
[The Open University]

"James Naughtie looks at the energetic and innovative founder of Which?, the Consumers' Association and the Open University. A social reformer bursting with ideas, Young challenged conventional thinking and was one of the leading minds behind the 1945 Labour manifesto which helped shape post-war Britain."
[BBC Sounds]

"Gordon Brown was one of the first tutors for the Open University.  To mark the OU's 50th anniversary in 2019, the former UK Prime Minister, tells the remarkable story from the battle for its birth to the current crisis."
[BBC Sounds]

"It’s not often celebrated, but Adrian Chiles talks to some of the first Open University students to get their degrees in 1973."
[BBC Sounds]

The Old Grey Whistle Test

"“Whispering” Bob Harris became synonymous with the landmark BBC television show, presenting from 1972 until December 1979."
[Bob Harris]

"Captain Beefheart took over the control room, as if he was producing the entire show. Bob Marley and the Wailers were ridiculously good – and totally stoned."
[The Guardian]

"Paul Jackson reveals how the BBC's influential music show devoted to rock albums, The Old Grey Whistle Test, survived on TV for 16 years from 1971 to 1988."
[BBC Sounds]

Yesterday's Men

[Trond Repato]

"Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor, continues his series on relations between broadcasters and politicians with the row over Yesterday's Men, a BBC film about Labour in 1971."
[BBC Sounds]

"Harold Wilson was British Prime Minister twice, in the years 1964 to 1970, & 1974 to1976. David Dimbleby is the interviewer here for a BBC programme entitled "Yesterday's Men" which was broadcast (with this bit edited out) on 16th June 1971."
The moment when Wilson objected to Dimbleby's question about his book contract.
[The Mill Recording Studio]

"OPENING the peroration of their long statement about the television film “Yesterday’s Men,” the BBC Board of Governors declared: “Politics is a minefield.” There was plenty of cautious side-stepping of explosive issues in the statement; if the BBC never attempts magnificent defiance it always endeavours to be a little more clever at politics than its critics."
[Transdiffusion & The Daily Telegraph]


"A tour of preserved cinema organs around East Anglia."
[East Anglian Film Archive]

The very first episode!

"The grand object of travel," said Dr Johnson 200 years ago, "is to see the shores of the Mediterranean." It's even truer today. Every year five million Britons leave their inhibitions and our damp climate behind, and head for those fabled shores."
[Julian Pettifer OBE]


"The Linda and Andrew Egendorf Masterpiece Theatre Alistair Cooke Collection features programs from the anthology series Masterpiece Theatre presented during Alistair Cooke’s tenure as host (1971-1992)."
Introductions to numerous BBC dramas as they appeared on US television.

A look at the extraordinary life and career of Charlie Williams.
[BBC Clips]

"Comedian Dave Allen is chosen by Adil Ray, creator and star of Citizen Khan. He explains to Matthew Parris how the legendary Irish comic helped shape his own career."
Dave Allen at Large debuted in 1971.
[BBC Sounds]


"BBC Pebble Mill Studios opened by Princess Anne. Also Queen Mother arriving in Northampton to open extensions to Hereward Wake House youth club training centre."
[Media Archive for Central England]

"How a local BBC local radio station looked in the early years."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]


"School’s television has always been the poor relation of the wider sphere of “cult” broadcasting. While it formed as integral a part of childhood viewing as anything that was broadcast under the banner of “proper” children’s television, it has been sidelined and all but forgotten about in the rush to celebrate the more fondly remembered occupants of the “proper” timeslots."
[Off The Telly]

"Andrew McGibbon talks to saxophonist Duncan Lamont about Sinatra - and writing Mr Benn."
[BBC Sounds]

So here’s the story of a few Blue Peter time capsules and what happened to them…
The first was buried in 1971.
[The Simple Things]

"Maj Gen Ian Cardozo says a mistake made by the BBC during the 1971 war helped his unit take on and defeat a numerically superior Pakistani force."
[Hindustan Times]

"The BBC's made up "series three" continued until 10 February 1971 and was followed by nine weeks of repeats beginning with Where No Man Has Gone Before."
[Space Doubt]

"Christmas Day 2021 marked the 50th Anniversary of the first BBC adaptation of Laurie Lee’s evocative book ‘Cider With Rosie‘, a story that tells of growing up in rural Gloucestershire before the combustion engine destroyed rural life as it had been led for centuries."
Blog post from an actress who appeared in the programme when she was a school girl.
[Sophie Neville]

"BBC North East & Cumbria is not known for its drama productions, yet between 1971 and 1986 at least eleven dramatised documentaries were produced by this regional BBC production centre, two of them in three parts, making 15 half-hour programmes altogether."
[Forgotten Television Drama]

"... did you know that several of their classic sketches were filmed in and around North Dorset? Even today, locals remember the comedy duo with fondness."
[The Blackmore Vale]


"The BBC is glad to be able to open this year’s report with a confident assertion that the policies set out in 1969 in “Broadcasting in the Seventies" and implemented last year have been vindicated. The evidence for that assertion can be found on pages 8—10."

"As this is the last Handbook to include a foreword from me - I shall retire from the Chairmanship of the Governors in the latter part of the year - I may be forgiven for looking back over some past events, long term and short term."
[World Radio History] 

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1970.

It's been a while since we looked at the raw BBC schedules, so lets see how each of the channels shaped up for this day in 1970.  As ever its important to note that this is just one day out of thousands, but it's impossible not to notice enviously the diversity of programming especially on the two television channels.  BBC Two in particular is an embarrassment of riches, especially the film selection which wasn't really seen outside of film festivals at the time and wouldn't receive anything like proper distribution until the BFI released a shiny-disc in their Flipside label forty years later.  

BBC One opens at 12:55 with Bric-a-Brac which is described as a "quiz about antique odds and ends" - fifty years later and BBC One has returned to something similar.  After a five minute interval (?) and amid a closedown, the rest of the afternoon offers children's programmes: Chigley, Play School, Peter's Adventures (animation from Hungary), the cartoon Egbert's Sleepless Night, Score with the Scaffold (a quiz show featuring pop band The Scaffold, presented by Wendy Padbury just over a year since leaving Doctor Who), The Wacky Races and Junior Points of View.

After a ten minute news bulleting, prime time kicks off with the Canadian import Entertaining With Kerr (a food programme presented by Graham Kerr, better known as The Galloping Gourmet), Champion's Quiz Ball, US import The Virginian, the sketch show Don't Ask Us (with amongst others Russell Davies, Maureen Lipman and Richard Stilgoe), Me Mammy (a pre-cursor to Sorry but with heavy religious undertones), It's a Knock-Out!, 24 Hours (the main news programme) and the day ends with a half hour play, Roly Poly, based on a story from Stanislaw Lem and starring John Alderton.  Produced by Innes Lloyd.  Music by Dudley Simpson.

Although BBC Two opens at 11am with Play School, it swiftly closes down again twenty minutes later and doesn't re-open until 7:30 in the evening with a half hour news bulletin.  Then at 8pm, A City - a Day - A Generation, a half hour documentary about "a man approaching old age and a city rejuvenating himself".  The schedule continues with a repeat showing of Sentimental Education (Hugh Leonard's adaptation of the Flaubert novel, directed by David Maloney and starring Robert Powell and Stephanie Beacham), a half hour music programme starring Julie Felix (pictured) and the night ends with Don Levy's experimental film Herostratus on its single BBC broadcast.  How times change.

Over on the wireless, the transition into numbered stations is still in progress.  On Radio One this is still the era of Johnnie Walker, Tony Blackburn, Richard Park, Tony Brandon, Dave Cash and Tommy Vance.  Radio Two is still trying to find its identity after transitioning from the Light Programme, with a mix of easy listening presented by the likes of David Hamilton and Ray Moore, some drama, Woman's Hour, sport bulletins and cricket commentaries.  Radio 3 on the other hand is entirely recognisable with much of the day filled with pre-recorded music, a live proms concert in the evening and some arts related discussions.

Similarly over on Radio 4, many of the mainstays of the 2020s schedule are already in place.  A version of the Today programme begins at 7am, You and Your Money (a forerunner of You and Yours and Money Box) at 9:35 in the morning, the Daily Service, Pick of the Week, The World at One, The Archers, the Afternoon Drama, PM, Analysis, The World Tonight and Book at Bedtime are in there with the broadcasting day ending on the "Coastal Forecast".  The gaps between haven't changed much even if the timeslots aren't what we're used to.  There's drama for a longer period in the morning, a tendency towards "talks" of up to half and hour rather than audio documentaries and quizzes.

Play For Today

"Alison Steadman celebrates 50 year since Play for Today was launched on BBC television."
[BBC Sounds][BBC Programme Index]

"This mini-section on Play for Today starts with an episode guide: use the drop-down menu associated with the heading “Play for Today section” (above) to navigate menus for each year between 1970 and 1984. Click on underlined plays, writers or directors for essays on them."
BTD has an extensive section about Play For Today with an episode guide and numerous essays about each of the installments.
[British Television Drama]

The making of a documentary broadcast in 2020 about the strand from the writer/director John Wyver.


"A 1970 edition of Late Night Line Up following Gene Vincent on a four-day UK tour which started on 5 November 1969."
[BBC Clips]

"Selma James explores the beginnings of the women's liberation movement in Britain of 1970. For the last half-century she has continued leading its search for equality and justice."
[Global Women's Strike]

"An appreciation by Lord Annan, Christopher Isherwood, Frank Kermode, George Steiner, Richard Marquand.  E. M. Forster - novelist, essayist and biographer who died last month - was, in spite of his relatively small output, one of the most influential writers of the century.  Introduced by James Mossman."


"Spike Milligan approach Michael Mills, Head of Light Entertainment at the BBC, with the idea of special programmes shot at Wilton's that would aid in its restoration. The Handsomest Hall in Town, starring Milligan and others was broadcast by the BBC on Boxing Day 1970."
[Wilton's Music Hall]

Joan Bakewell interviews Sir Kenneth Clarke during the broadcast of his Civilisation series, the first major colour presenter-led documentary.
[BBC Clips]

"Barbara Edwards started giving the weather forecast on BBC Radio in 1970, moving into continuity announcing on BBC Radio 4 in 1972. It was back to weather forecasting in 1974, but this time for television, a first for UK broadcasting. Here she recalls the obstacles of being a woman in a male dominated environment, and recalls comments from viewers, mainly concerned with what she wore, rather than what she said."
[BBC Sounds]


"Top-level delegates from 22 Commonwealth Broadcasting companies, paid a visit to the BBC Television Centre in London on Monday (August 3)."

"Prime Minister and the Cabinet arrive at Broadcasting House for a showing of the Nationwide IRA film."
[BBC Rewind]

"With the planned move to Manchester of many London based staff, an increased commitment of the BBC to national programme making at regional centres is in the news again. David Brockman looks back at the seventies and the then-massive BBC commitment to Network Production Centres outside London."
Article originally published in 2006.


"A BBC Look East news report on preparations for upcoming TV game show heats."
[East Anglian Film Archive]

"Delia Derbyshire shows the Guardian around the BBC’s groundbreaking studio for electronic music."
[The Guardian]

"“A 20th century Robin Hood with a pinch of Merlin and a dash of Houdini”. This was how Tarot, hero of Thames Television’s new children’s adventure series was colourfully described at the series’ inception in 1970."
[Off The Telly]

"Star Trek returned to BBC1 on 6 April 1970, one week after the Easter Bank Holiday Monday, and ran weekly until 24 August. In an odd scheduling move the series then took a one week break for the August Bank Holiday on 31 August, returned for one more episode on 7 September, and then took another four week break before returning again on 7 October."
[Space Doubt]

"When Auntie BBC put on a kaftan and beads and entered the pop age" murmurs the solemn opening commentary of this 1970 'Man Alive' TV analysis of UK pop radio.  Posh voices in sepia suits submerged in cigarette smoke poke earnestly at this strange new radio thing growing with alarming speed its petri dish."

"John Noakes demonstrates some of the mind-boggling visual effects that have been made possible using the Colour-Separation Overlay (CSO) technique. Marvel as Peter Purves loses his head and bounces John Noakes' noggin like a basketball - all while Patch the Blue Peter dog does his best to spoil the illusion."
[BBC Archive]


"All the countries of Europe, without exception are watching with the deepest apprehension the way in which the simple fact of the commercial potential of the United Sates television market is forcing up the level of payments for rights to show the Olympic Games."

"Sue MacGregor reunites both on- and off-stage participants from the controversial beauty contest, shown live by BBC TV."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

"It’s the 8th April 1970 at 9pm, and BBC1, BBC2 and ITV are all transmitting the same thing. It is, of course, a Party Political Broadcast: this one by the Labour Party, titled “What’s at Stake?”. It seemed pretty normal, on the face of it. I mean, the promise of MP trio George Brown, Anthony Crosland, and Robert Mellish might sound a bit too exciting, but I’m sure the country could keep itself under control.  The very next day, the papers were in uproar."
[Dirty Feed]

"The year‘s work reviewed in this report opened up important new perspectives for broadcasting in the decade ahead and left the BBC reasonably confident of being able to make the most of them. concerned though it continued to be about the uncertainties of the financial outlook."

"The BBC is in the business of being creative."
[World Radio History] 

One Small Step: A BBC Moon Landing Collection

Links  After yesterday's BBC 100 post which included material about how the BBC covered Apollo 11, I thought it would be useful to create a list of programmes from the corporation about the lunar landings in general and what better source than the contents of a boxset of programmes released by Penguin Books which is otherwise retailing for £25.  Instead, here are links to the same programmes on BBC Sounds:

Part 1: The Moon Landings

"With unique archive recordings, Buzz Aldrin relives the dangerous moments of the final descent in the first ever moon landing."

Obituary series. Matthew Bannister remembers astronaut Neil Armstrong, organist Carlo Curley, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and comedian Phyllis Diller.

"To mark the Apollo 11 Moon landing, personal accounts of landmarks in space exploration."

"The story of the first mission which took human beings beyond the earth's orbit and which led the way to a landing on the moon."

Part 2: Legacy

"James Burke, the key voice for the BBC coverage of the moon landings in 1969, revisits the momentous event in front of a live audience."

Stargazing: A Moon Landing Special
[Not available - looks like an audio version of this television programme]

"Forty years on from the first moon landing, Richard Hollingham examines British plans to return with a mission called MoonLITE."

"Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by a panel, every member of which has been in space."

Part 3: Why The Moon?

"Mike Williams explores the moon in culture, how it affects life on Earth and he asks Alan Bean – one of the handful of people who have walked on it – what the moon is really like."

"Where does the Moon come from? Are we going back? And, as the Moon's commercial prospects are considered, who controls conservation of our only natural satellite?"

"Rajan Datar and guests contemplate the Moon, and ask how human understanding of what it is and what it means has changed over time."

Part 4: The Future

"Pennie Latin looks at the race to return to the moon, hearing from people who have orbited the moon and those who are planning to return to it to form a human colony."

"Documentary looking at the concept of growing plants in space. With plans to revisit the Moon and even Mars, the prospect is an enticing one, but how could plants survive?"

"Fifty years after the historic moon landing, what's the current state of space exploration?"