At Last The 1948 Show
Hugely significant to the creation of Monty Python's Flying Circus, this series was written and performed by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Marty Feldman and Tim Brooke-Taylor, with "the lovely" Aimi MacDonald as their hostess. So little of the series survives in the archives now, although many memorable sketches remain extant, including 'The Four Yorkshiremen'.
Do Not Adjust Your Set
With Cleese and Chapman honing their act on one popular Rediffusion series, three other members of the future Python team - Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle - starred in another. They were joined by David Jason, in his TV debut, plus Denise Coffey and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. A first series of 14 episodes and a special were made by Rediffusion; following the franchise loss, the 1968 Christmas special and the second series of 13 episodes in April 1969 were made by Thames.
Do Not Adjust Your Set
Vivian Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band were the resident band on Do Not Adjust Your Set, and this edition from 1968 includes a performance of their classic number "Monster Mash" (clip link, above left) and a tribute to Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music" (clip link, above right). The former has a lovely visual gag, when a portrait of Liberace is held up during the lyric "Dracula and his son..."
Double Your Money
A quiz show hosted by a Canadian, Hughie Green, based on a format by Radio Luxembourg. Critics agreed the quiz was passable, but condemned Green's attempts at showmanship and wisecracks at the expense of his hostesses. Over the years these included Valerie Drew and Jean Clarke, while Monica Rose and a 77 year-old charlady called Alice Earrey were former contestants. Bobby Charlton was perhaps the most famous contestant, winning £1,000 on a pop music question. Green was bitter when ITV axed his show in 1968, but he soon bounced back on Thames with The Sky's The Limit and Opportunity Knocks.
The Frost Programme
Possibly David Frost's finest hour, a confrontation on live TV with the reviled insurance swindler Dr Emil Savundra. Savundra had asked to be interviewed by Frost, confident that his charm would sway public opinion in his favour. By the end it is clear which of them the studio audience is rooting for. This occasion lead to Lord Justice Salmon's warning that trial by TV should not be tolerated in a civilised society. When Frost became a founding father of London Weekend Television, his chat show transferred to the new station, along with his George Martin-penned theme tune, "By George, It's the David Frost Theme"
Living for Kicks
Journalist Daniel Farson broke into television in 1957 when he hosted an interview with Cecil Beaton for AR-TV's This Week. The company rewarded his charm and quick-witted interview technique by giving him his own series People in Trouble (1958) and Out of Step (1959), but it is Living for Kicks (1960) for which he is probably best remembered.
Living for Kicks (cont.)
Farson meets Brighton teenagers, dubbed "Sexpresso Kids" by the Daily Sketch, who have astounded their parents and society by living a hedonistic lifestyle of dancing in coffee bars and engaging in pre-marital sex. After gorgeous period footage of the seaside town (clip, above left), Farson takes an admirably neutral stance, seeming more amused than appalled by the thoughts of beatnik poet Royston Ellis (clip, above right).
Ready Steady Go!
Beatlemania exploded into action in 1963, but the Fab Four were not the only pop phenomenon to arrive that year. Teenagers found their essential viewing on Friday evenings with this show, the brainchild of Elkan Allan, and its promise "The Weekend Starts Here." 200 of them were present in the studio for the opening edition, presented by Keith Fordyce and David Gell, for a line-up featuring Pat Boone, Chris Barber, Billy Fury, Brian Poole and The Tremeloes. The opening theme tune includes the famous catch-phrase "Five - Four - Three - Two - One!"
Ready Steady Go!
This latter-day title sequence is more ethereal, involving a beatnik girl in a floaty dress covering her face, jump-cutting to jazzy dancers flicking into negative and back. Host Keith Fordyce appears too. The show employed a teenage adviser for entirety of the series, Cathy McGowan. Once a £10-per-week secretary, she beat off competition from 600 hopefuls and became an icon to teenagers, receiving 500 fan letters per week and launching a range of Cathy McGowan shirts, stockings and even a doll...
ITV's answer to Panorama launched in 1956 and was hosted by former BBC announcer Leslie Mitchell. His successors included Ludovic Kennedy and Brian Connell. The initial run of this current affairs magazine series lasted through the franchise change until 1978, when Thames replaced it with TV Eye, though it was revived from 1986-1992. The theme tune 'Intermezzo' is part of the Karelia Suite by Jean Sibelius. This title sequence dates from 1963.
This Week - The Arts
Bryan Magee discusses censorship in British theatre with Labour MP Michael Foot, and some pretty-darn-sexy-for-1967 ballet coverage. Sorry about the atrocious quality, it is a primitive conversion of a 60s home video recording.