The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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Brock
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The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by Brock »

This may have been discussed previously, but what were the main casualties of the compulsory 10.30pm closedown during the Three-Day Week of early 1974? I seem to remember that Parkinson lost his Saturday night slot, for one thing.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by ian b »

If you haven't access to the printed copies of the Radio Times, take a look a Genome.

Billings with a 10:30pm closedown begin 5-01-74 and continue to 22-02-74. Compare before, during and after.

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Simon Coward
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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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It's a hard question to answer, because while programmes originally expected to go out in late December 1973 and January / early February 1974 may not have been shown as expected, they may not have been lost, merely postponed or, like the Parkinsons you mention, just moved to BBC 2.

A further complication exists in that, as Ian says, the Radio Times/Genome schedules don't start listing programmes after 22:30 until 23 February, but in actual fact the normal broadcasting hours were resumed from Friday 8 February, and it took a couple of weeks for Radio Times (and indeed TVTimes) to catch up. So Parkinson was restored to his usual 11pm Saturday slot rather more quickly (Saturday 9 February) than the listings suggest.
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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by bent_halo »

Whistle Test was moved to Sunday afternoons for a time, which I think coincides. I'm sure you can look this up for yourself on Genome.

There was a concerted effort internally not to have too many casualties. I think a few plays - already commissioned for fixed lengths - were trimmed down.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by Brock »

Simon Coward wrote:It's a hard question to answer, because while programmes originally expected to go out in late December 1973 and January / early February 1974 may not have been shown as expected, they may not have been lost, merely postponed or, like the Parkinsons you mention, just moved to BBC 2.
Oh, so he went to BBC2, did he? (In my defence I was not quite eight years old and wasn't allowed to stay up that late.) I see from Genome that his show moved to Friday nights at 9pm, but not until 18th January.
A further complication exists in that, as Ian says, the Radio Times/Genome schedules don't start listing programmes after 22:30 until 23 February, but in actual fact the normal broadcasting hours were resumed from Friday 8 February, and it took a couple of weeks for Radio Times (and indeed TVTimes) to catch up. So Parkinson was restored to his usual 11pm Saturday slot rather more quickly (Saturday 9 February) than the listings suggest.
Ah, I didn't know that. I also note that the 10.30pm closedowns are only billed as starting from 5 January, when presumably they actually started from 1 January when the restrictions came in. I assume that the Radio Times had already gone to press by then.

Can't remember a thing about how ITV was affected. What happened to the regional news bulletins that used to follow News at Ten? Were they just abandoned?

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by stearn »

The 1973 Christmas edition of the Radio Times spanned 22nd December 1973 - 4th January 1974, so not only was it published in advance of the restrictions, it was further in advance due to it being a Christmas double. I am surprised that the recovery wasn't quicker as planning on the next issue would have started as the 'current' one was coming off the presses. The 9-15 Feb edition would have had a nominal press day of the 7th, so would be affected by changes, but the 16-22 Feb edition would have gone to press on the 14th, and actually states on page 3 that things are back to normal. If schedules were available from the BBC schedule planners, they would have gone in the Radio Times.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by bent_halo »

Broadcast, 21 December 1973

“On the programme side, final plans for the redistribution of programmes within the newly truncated hours are still being worked out by the NPC. For the moment, programmes scheduled after NAT are simply not being transmitted. In due course, schedules will be arranged so that at least some programmes planned for the dark period will replace some of the programmes in the pre-NAT time. Details, however, are yet to be released. Clearly there will be some residual value accruing to the programme companies as they pass programming forward to inventory instead of transmitting it.

“At the BBC, a rather more radical rescheduling has taken place, and the Corporation has been able to make use of the flexibility it has available to it through having two channels on the air. Midweek, for instance, has been moved straight over to BBC-2 from its 2245 BBC-1 slot, and it will be seen at 2200 on 2. Controller Alasdair Milne’s aim has been to try to maintain the regular pattern of programming as much as possible, and among the ways in which he will do this is by bringing forward some of the 60-minute Plays for Today [sic] to replace the longer ones originally scheduled for midwinter. But the Tuesday Documentary will lose its prime position, mainly to keep the 2215 regional opt-out slot open on Tuesday nights; Milne believes that these regional programmes, though only 15-minutes long, will be of special importance.

“All the BBC-2 Presentation programmes, such as Real Time and Whistle Test, will take an unwelcome holiday; there will be no attempt to reschedule them within the shorter day. Parkinson, too, will be off the air for a while, though a prime slot might be found for him if the cuts continue.

“One big problem that both ITV and BBC face is that they have much less flexibility in the main evening news bulletins, which have often been extended in recent weeks in order to give comprehensive coverage of crisis news. An extended Nine O’Clock News on BBC-1 would severely upset the jigsaw timing of the rest of the evening and might even necessitate a fade-out of a later programme if the Government is going to be picky about the exact moment of shutdown; News at Ten is specifically limited to ending at 2220 or 2230 on alternate nights, and has no opportunity for extended coverage whatever, which (to this paper at least) seems entirely contrary to the public interest in a time of national crisis, when the prime need is for information.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by Brock »

Interesting, thanks. One further question occurs to me: the whole country was put on a three-day week, with businesses only allowed electricity for three days a week, yet television continued seven days a week (although it wasn't always possible to watch it due to the power cuts). Were the BBC and the ITV companies exempt from the power restrictions?
bent_halo wrote:Broadcast, 21 December 1973
“One big problem that both ITV and BBC face is that they have much less flexibility in the main evening news bulletins, which have often been extended in recent weeks in order to give comprehensive coverage of crisis news. An extended Nine O’Clock News on BBC-1 would severely upset the jigsaw timing of the rest of the evening and might even necessitate a fade-out of a later programme if the Government is going to be picky about the exact moment of shutdown; News at Ten is specifically limited to ending at 2220 or 2230 on alternate nights, and has no opportunity for extended coverage whatever, which (to this paper at least) seems entirely contrary to the public interest in a time of national crisis, when the prime need is for information.
Yes, and I presume that was why the broadcasting restrictions were lifted on 8 February; Heath called a general election on 7 February, and it would have been well-nigh impossible to cover a general election campaign under such conditions. Coverage of election night itself would have been out of the question!

Interesting that the News at Ten alternated between a 10.20pm and a 10.30pm finish. Does that mean that the late-night regional news was only broadcast every other day?

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by Brian F »

Some businesses carried on using their own standby generators, I remember seeing signs on buildings saying things like they were running generators on "allocated heating oil". I don't know if the broadcasters did this or like PO Telecoms, where I worked (not yet BT) they were exempt but were asked to cut down power use. Our office had 3 out of 6 fluorescent tubes removed.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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stearn wrote:The 1973 Christmas edition of the Radio Times spanned 22nd December 1973 - 4th January 1974, so not only was it published in advance of the restrictions, it was further in advance due to it being a Christmas double.
That's only partially true. Despite my reference to December 1973 up-thread, there seems to be an assumption here that the restrictions only applied from January 1974. That's incorrect. The restrictions started on Monday 17 December. Obviously that still post-dates the publication of the Christmas issue, but by no longer than would have been the case for any other issue.

The restrictions were lifted from 24 to 31 December inclusive.
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Simon Coward
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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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Brock wrote:Interesting that the News at Ten alternated between a 10.20pm and a 10.30pm finish. Does that mean that the late-night regional news was only broadcast every other day?
I don't think late night regional news was that common at this point in time, and I think only Westward's two- or three-minute bulletin used to immediately follow News at Ten.

Southern, Border and Tyne Tees used to have a late news programme but sometimes that was on well after midnight, so whether or not News at Ten got the full half-hour wasn't that relevant.
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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by brigham »

IT'S a chilling thought...but I don't think a British government could implement a compulsory television closedown any more.
I think Big Business has made that impossible.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by stearn »

Simon, Press Days are moved forward slightly, now at least, to allow the Christmas double to be on sale longer than the normal few days before it is relevant. It can mean that there are up to three editions on the shelves in the run up to Christmas. I don't know for sure if this was the case in the 1970s - circulation was a lot higher and The Listener was also coming off the same presses so there may not have been the spare capacity. I do recall seeing a special 4 or 8 page supplement from around 1974, but I can't remember exactly what it was, the date, or even if it was distributed - it may have been a proof copy that didn't go to press.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by Juswuh »

brigham wrote:IT'S a chilling thought...but I don't think a British government could implement a compulsory television closedown any more.
I think Big Business has made that impossible.
I think that's probably true - even if all the broadcasters consented to a closedown, what would stop people from going online to watch streaming services or Youtube? Or just putting on DVDs? But is that a bad thing?

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by Brock »

Simon Coward wrote:
stearn wrote:The 1973 Christmas edition of the Radio Times spanned 22nd December 1973 - 4th January 1974, so not only was it published in advance of the restrictions, it was further in advance due to it being a Christmas double.
That's only partially true. Despite my reference to December 1973 up-thread, there seems to be an assumption here that the restrictions only applied from January 1974. That's incorrect. The restrictions started on Monday 17 December. Obviously that still post-dates the publication of the Christmas issue, but by no longer than would have been the case for any other issue.

The restrictions were lifted from 24 to 31 December inclusive.
Ah, right - I think I remember it now. That means that the issue dated 13th December would have been in error, as well as the first couple of days of the Christmas double issue.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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Simon Coward wrote:
Brock wrote:Interesting that the News at Ten alternated between a 10.20pm and a 10.30pm finish. Does that mean that the late-night regional news was only broadcast every other day?
I don't think late night regional news was that common at this point in time, and I think only Westward's two- or three-minute bulletin used to immediately follow News at Ten.

Southern, Border and Tyne Tees used to have a late news programme but sometimes that was on well after midnight, so whether or not News at Ten got the full half-hour wasn't that relevant.
Which leaves me wondering why it would ever have finished at 10.20pm...

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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One day BBC shut at 10:20, the next day ITV. Reason was to avoid a surge as everyone turns off their TV at the same time (although wasn't electricity off for many people as well?)

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Richardr1 wrote:One day BBC shut at 10:20, the next day ITV. Reason was to avoid a surge as everyone turns off their TV at the same time
Oh, I hadn't appreciated that subtlety! So the broadcasters were operating within even tighter constraints than I thought. With BBC1 having to accommodate Commonwealth Games coverage for part of that period as well, there couldn't have been a lot of room for manoeuvre.

Another oddity I noticed from Genome was that for the week 7-11 January (the first with accurate listings), the 11am broadcast of Play School was on BBC1 instead of BBC2. I'm guessing that this may have been an energy-saving measure to avoid the BBC2 transmitters having to be switched on for a single programme, but I don't know. From 14 January it goes back to BBC2 because of the resumption of schools broadcasts on BBC1.
(although wasn't electricity off for many people as well?)
My recollection is that there were rota power-cuts of a few hours at a time for ordinary households - I have firm recollections of sitting in the kitchen illuminated by candles, listening to the battery-operated radio. However I may be conflating it in my mind with the earlier miners' strike of 1972.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by JezR »

Some BBC local radio stations put out special programmes after 10:30pm during this period when normally they would have been relaying national stations. An example of this was BBC Radio Leicester who ran "Tranny by Gaslight" until midnight with Ron Coles during the week and Adrian Juste and Dave Jamieson on together at weekends.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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Brock wrote:My recollection is that there were rota power-cuts of a few hours at a time for ordinary households - I have firm recollections of sitting in the kitchen illuminated by candles, listening to the battery-operated radio. However I may be conflating it in my mind with the earlier miners' strike of 1972.
I wondered about this. The one specific power-cut memory I have is that I was unable to watch the final episode of ATV's serial Tightrope because we had no electricity. But, given that it was shown on 12/04/1974, that seems quite late for all of that disruption, so perhaps the outage then was down to a fault rather than any rota, and I've just merged the two things in my mind in the intervening years.
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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by Mark »

The ones in 74, always seemed to be around teatime weekdays, don't recall any at weekends, thankfully, as I was doing Audio recordings off TV at the time, ( the exception being the start of "Tomorrow People" series 2, Mondays, which luckily wasn't effected).
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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by JezR »

In both cases I can remember maps being put in the local paper showing sectors and a key saying between what times each sector would be switched off for. It wasn't 100% reliable, but allowed for a degree of preparation.

I can recall some editions of Nationwide being hosted by Tom Coyne at short notice from Pebble Mill but not whether these were 72 or 74.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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Richardr1 wrote:One day BBC shut at 10:20, the next day ITV. Reason was to avoid a surge as everyone turns off their TV at the same time (although wasn't electricity off for many people as well?)
The power cuts started a few months after the 1970 General Election, they were small isolated outbreaks at first but by early 1972 the cuts were on 3 hours on 3 hours off rota -outside it was pitch black (no street lights) and inside it was freezing cold - but the 1970-72 strikes was not by the miners it was the power workers on strike..however by 1973 the miners decided to join in, during that year there had been overtime bans strikes etc which had left the coal stocks for the winter very low..hence to save running out completely the 3 day week was called. meanwhile in the outside world the oil sheiks had decided that the western world was not paying them enough for their oil and so there was shortages of oil based products too. Amongst the chaos Heath (like May ) called an election saying something like 'back me or sack me' ..he lost his majority and an election again 6 months saw him out ..With Labour in power all the big strikes stopped and we all thought we were in for quiet life, however caving into the big wage demands had caused inflation to rise to 20%..now other workers wanted a wage rise and strikes were back but not by the miners or power workers.

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fatcat wrote:
Richardr1 wrote:One day BBC shut at 10:20, the next day ITV. Reason was to avoid a surge as everyone turns off their TV at the same time (although wasn't electricity off for many people as well?)
The power cuts started a few months after the 1970 General Election, they were small isolated outbreaks at first but by early 1972 the cuts were on 3 hours on 3 hours off rota -outside it was pitch black (no street lights) and inside it was freezing cold - but the 1970-72 strikes was not by the miners it was the power workers on strike..
Thanks for the clarification, but there was definitely a miners' strike in 1972. They picketed the power stations:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/date ... 757099.stm

One thing I hadn't realized was that a three-day week was imposed during that dispute as well, though it didn't last for so long.

[1974]
Amongst the chaos Heath (like May ) called an election saying something like 'back me or sack me' ..he lost his majority and an election again 6 months saw him out ..
He was straight out after that election, actually - he tried to do a deal with the Liberals and Ulster Unionists to stay in power, but it didn't work and Wilson took over as minority Labour leader. Wilson called another election later that year to gain a majority (which he did, but only just).

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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stearn wrote:Simon, Press Days are moved forward slightly, now at least, to allow the Christmas double to be on sale longer than the normal few days before it is relevant.
I know - that's why I said that the restrictions would have come in after publication, despite the new restricted pre-Christmas schedules (and possibly the post-Christmas ones too) having been agreed at least six, possibly seven or more, days before the date on which the issue started.
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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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I was only 8-9 years old at the time. I seem to recall some colour programmes going out in black and white at the time, such as an afternoon repeat of, "General Hospital". Made in 1972 it was post colour strike. I definitely remember that.

For years I thought some episodes of Timeslip's "Ice Box" were shown in B&W too in early '74 but might be getting that mixed up with, "Day of the Clone", some episodes were of course made in B&W with the appropriate ATV ident of that story as is well known.

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by Brock »

Focus II wrote:I was only 8-9 years old at the time. I seem to recall some colour programmes going out in black and white at the time, such as an afternoon repeat of, "General Hospital". Made in 1972 it was post colour strike. I definitely remember that.
Why would that have happened? Was there a significant power saving?

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

Post by Mark »

I was reminded of the 1970 power cuts, recently, and of course Bob Monkhouse mentioning it was over ( and blowing out a candle) on "The Golden Shot" edition (13/12/70) shown on Challenge TV a few years ago.
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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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Focus II wrote:I was only 8-9 years old at the time. I seem to recall some colour programmes going out in black and white at the time, such as an afternoon repeat of, "General Hospital". Made in 1972 it was post colour strike. I definitely remember that.

For years I thought some episodes of Timeslip's "Ice Box" were shown in B&W too in early '74 but might be getting that mixed up with, "Day of the Clone", some episodes were of course made in B&W with the appropriate ATV ident of that story as is well known.
I recall my mother watching afternoon repeats of Public Eye (circa 1973 around 2.25 in the afternoon) and it being a mixture of colour and black and white episodes. Would I be right here?

I was 11 when Timeslip was repeated in 1973-74 and, like you, I can recall some of the story being black and white. If I remember correctly though, it was some of the latter episodes of the 'Burn Up' story, and all of 'The Day of the Clone' apart from the finale which I definitely recall being in colour.

Re the 1974 10.30pm close-down, I do remember this as well, however it didn't bother me as I wasn't often allowed to stay up late to watch television. Scanning through some early 1974 TV Times pages recently, I came across mentions of early close-downs. Poor Anglia TV scheduled the first of a two-part story of The Protectors at 11.30pm which must have been just before the beginning of the strike, because the following week it couldn't show the second part. There's nothing like being caught with your pants down huh guys? I found a reschedule of the whole thing later in the year.

I don't think there was ever a worse strike though than the one in 1979, where ITV screens were completely blank for weeks on end, and the lacklustre content being shown on BBC across that time, it might as well have been off too!

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Re: The 1974 10.30pm closedown

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rosalyn wrote:
Focus II wrote:I was only 8-9 years old at the time. I seem to recall some colour programmes going out in black and white at the time, such as an afternoon repeat of, "General Hospital". Made in 1972 it was post colour strike. I definitely remember that.

For years I thought some episodes of Timeslip's "Ice Box" were shown in B&W too in early '74 but might be getting that mixed up with, "Day of the Clone", some episodes were of course made in B&W with the appropriate ATV ident of that story as is well known.
I recall my mother watching afternoon repeats of Public Eye (circa 1973 around 2.25 in the afternoon) and it being a mixture of colour and black and white episodes. Would I be right here?

I was 11 when Timeslip was repeated in 1973-74 and, like you, I can recall some of the story being black and white. If I remember correctly though, it was some of the latter episodes of the 'Burn Up' story, and all of 'The Day of the Clone' apart from the finale which I definitely recall being in colour.

I don't think there was ever a worse strike though than the one in 1979, where ITV screens were completely blank for weeks on end, and the lacklustre content being shown on BBC across that time, it might as well have been off too!
Yes you would be right as 70s afternoons often had repeats of what would have been prime time a couple of years previous, so the Public Eye eps would have dated from the 70-71 colour strike.

I don't know how we coped with the 79 strike ..no more vibrant VT colour productions and glossy film just the utilitarian BBC.


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