Sunday, 14 October 2012

It was forty years ago... Came along a whole new raft of shows... Its the daytime television all-star band!

Its 1972, in the country power is ebbing away plus on and off intermittently. Only five years from the first colour broadcasts and three from both BBC and ITV turning fully colour except in the areas yet to receive yet of course. But after the broadcasting hours had been relaxed for the first time since the mid 1950's, daytime television had arrived bringing a whole new world of programmes of soap operas, children's programmes, chat shows and also the basis for the start of a major sport on television as well.

Since the early 1960's, the only viewers who would be tuned into television during the day would have been schoolchildren, also the under fives watching that morning's Playschool on BBC2 plus those working in the television trade looking out for the latest service information. Beyond that the radio was the way of keeping people entertained whilst at home, but the   
whole theory of daytime television would come with the relaxation of broadcasting hours from the Postmaster General.

This new brand of programming would make personalities of familiar faces and allow new producers to try something different at a time when less viewers would be watching. It was said that it was television for housewives, the elderly, younger children and the unemployed which in fact was not the case with some of the early programmes made. I have covered about programmes for the under fives in an earlier blog, but let's see what else was going on in 1972 in a land beyond Homes Under the Hammer..

Surely though, the most famous has to be Emmerdale which of course is the all conquering soap of today well from about 1993 onwards that is when that plane crash happened of course. But away from planes dropping out of the sky and high on a hillside were the Sudgens, years before the Ewings came along with their oil, Annie and her family were the one number one family on television with the first episode concentrating on the funeral of her late husband Jacob who had left the farm to eldest son Jack who had been in London for many years and like in all good soap he turns back up on the day of the funeral but not going to the service. Over the months Jack sold his share in the farm to the rest of the family to keep it going as an ongoing concern. 

The programme stayed in its daytime slot until 1978 although Thames and Anglia kept on showing it in a early evening slot like Crossroads until the mid 80's. But this showed that new soaps could be launched and nurtured in the daytime hours, though other forms of entertainment were used to fill up the schedule. Light entertainment, a key part of the evening schedule allowed the variety performers a new place to show off their trade. With gameshows being created for them to both to present and also take part in as well. The biggest of the period was a simple one where comedians tried to outdo each other by telling jokes. Jokers Wild was created by future Kenny Everett scriptwriter Ray Cameron and also Mike King, first show in an early evening slot in 1969, the show was a part of the daytime line-up from 1972 with comedy writer Barry Cryer as its presenter, the likes of Arthur Askey, Ted Ray were captains in its early years but also up and coming comedians appeared on the show like Les Dawson later to captain a team, Ted Rogers another future Yorkshire Television gameshow presenter, Rolf Harris and even fresh from Monty Python, John Cleese turned up to tell some jokes all with the aim of winning a trophy of a jester holding the Yorkshire logo. Its may have not have been the most glamourous trophy on television but it meant a lot to the performers pitting their wits against each other. 

The series itself lasted until 1974 and in all Cryer presented seven of those series except in 1971 when Michael Bentine took over for a series, but gameshows were always great to see and later on the likes of Three Little Words took over the slot as the years went on. Though also chat and the magazine programme has been important as well. We take it for granted to see This Morning on our screens each and every weekday nearly all throughout the year. But one of the most remember ones came from the Midlands, Pebble Mill or Pebble Mill at One to give its full title mixed chat, cooking, gardening with entertainment much like a newspaper pull-out or a magazine. This form of show had not been seen on British screens before 1972, it was almost going along the original Reithan lines of the BBC to inform, educated and entertain. But its eclectic mixture made the show as good as it was, one minute Peter Seabrook could be telling you how to grow potatoes and the next a leading cook could be offering a recipe on how to use them. Meanwhile Bob Langley could be interviewing a guest who is in the news while Marion Foster could being sitting talking to Eric Morecambe whilst Acker Bilk plays some jazz. 

But the surprises came when a marching band would walk to the studio, the finish of a leg of the Tour of Britain cycle race finished at the studios or how about things coming through the air such as the Red Devils parachute display team landing but what about a Harrier Jumpjet landing next to the studios on a lawn. Who said the programme wasn't varied everyday? Other programmes own a lot to Pebble Mill at One which in one form or another lasted through until the new millennium with a gap in-between for the launch of Daytime Live, also from Pebble Mill.

Across town another chat show giant was just getting started on his career in chat. 1972 also saw the launch of ATV's Lunchtime with Wogan was presented naturally by Terry Wogan which went out on Tuesday afternoons, but if it wasn't for this experience who know that Terry would not have been a chat show host later on in his career but another chat show host was offering chat and discussion for Thames at that time pretty much what he was going to do for the BBC like Wogan did. He was Michael Parkinson and along with wife Mary he presented 'Good Afternoon' until the Beeb came calling and Mavis Nicholson took over and eventually took the programme to Channel Four nearly a decade later for the launch of their first ever daytime schedule. 

Though as we know now, daytime drama has always been important whether it be soap or serious drama and there could be none more serious then Granada's Crown Court, set over five days this was as real as television could get to life showing fictional court cases everyday with the verdict on a Friday. It was ground breaking television both showing what went on court day by day but how the legal profession worked as well plus also giving a start to today's well known actors including Richard Wilson, Jean Boht and also Casualty's Derek Thompson as well. It maybe strange to think but BBC's Doctors draw a line back to Crown Court for popular daytime drama. It was television not to miss and opened up the schedulers eyes to new possibilities for drama during the evening, if not for Crown Court would we not have had Rumpole or even Judge John Deed?

But what of the worldwide sport launched in daytime hours? A simple idea from Yorkshire Television to keep people amused during the day, the late Sid Waddell used as an opportunity to show off sports popular with the working classes on television, put into one weekly programme like a commoners World of Sport if you like. Thus, The Indoor League was created highlighting the best shove-ha'penny players, skittles enthusiasts but unbeknown launching a few world class sports stars along the way. For instance one of the biggest names in the Arm Wrestling competition was Clive Myers, to the viewing public best known for wrestling on a Saturday afternoon during World of Sport, he was the British champion at arm-wrestling and on the indoor league he became the champion thus rising his reputation with the public at large. Meanwhile in the pool competition, both John Virgo and Willie Thorne were having varying fortunes to win that competition though with the prestige won from that they would go on to become to of the best snooker players in the world. Finally the biggest development was the darts competition, this brought it out from the back rooms of the pubs and clubs and put it front of the viewing public who saw how good these players were, the likes of Alun Evans and Leighton Rees, ordinary men, extraordinary darts... 

The competition grew and grew as more and more players entered the tournament, ready to take on the Welsh wizards at their own game. It gave them exposure and fame, for Alun Evans even a mention in the Rovers Return as well! But spotting an opportunity, Sid Waddell kept this in his mind until he went to the BBC in the late 70's and along with a few others created the first World professional darts championship in 1978, containing most of the players who had played on The Indoor League, with them helping to grown the game through the 1980's and 90's to where it is today out from the Leeds Irish Centre into arenas filled with thousands of cheering for their favourite players. 

Plus daytime television has come full circle too, as The Indoor League is being shown during the daytime by ESPN Classic. We've come a long way in 40 years, but in some ways we're still happy to see top arrows during the day too...

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