This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

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Billy Smart
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This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by Billy Smart »

John Wyver on a (surviving) BBC Television Gala entertainment, and competing Light Entertainment on the just-started ITV: This Is Music Hall (1955) - https://www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk/th ... hall-1955/

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by Brock »

Thanks for that. In addition to the piece itself, John Wyver makes an interesting remark in the comments:

"I’m very curious to know when is the earliest we might be able to have a decent go at showing the majority of an evening’s schedule – for the BBC at least my guess is that it would be the early 1970s, and maybe even later."

This sounds like the sort of thing that the Mausoleum Club might have discussed at some point, although I don't remember anything specific. You mention Sunday 22 March 1964 when the entire ATV schedule was telerecorded, but what's the first date for which an entire BBC schedule is retained in the archives? The BBC had no legal requirement to keep archives until 1981, so my hunch is that the date is unlikely to be before then (unless there was some similar one-off experiment).

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by Simon Coward »

Brock wrote:
Sun Dec 06, 2020 3:25 pm
Thanks for that. In addition to the piece itself, John Wyver makes an interesting remark in the comments:

"I’m very curious to know when is the earliest we might be able to have a decent go at showing the majority of an evening’s schedule – for the BBC at least my guess is that it would be the early 1970s, and maybe even later."
The weak link, aside from continuity and presentation, would be the news and the weather.

Ignoring those, Christmas Day 1972 on BBC 1 does pretty well with everything else from 3pm to 11.50pm surviving. That includes The Queen, Billy Smart's Christmas Circus, Dick Whittington, Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game, Christmas Night with the Stars, The Morecambe and Wise Show, the film Barefoot in the Park and The Good Old Days 1953-1973. The only news in that period fell between Dick and Bruce, and the evening was rounded off with A Story for Christmas (which is missing) and the weather.

Mr Benn, A Stocking Full of Stars and a repeat of The Black and White Minstrel Show from earlier in the day also survive.
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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by Brock »

Simon Coward wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 3:26 pm
Ignoring those, Christmas Day 1972 on BBC 1 does pretty well with everything else from 3pm to 11.50pm surviving. That includes The Queen, Billy Smart's Christmas Circus, Dick Whittington, Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game, Christmas Night with the Stars, The Morecambe and Wise Show, the film Barefoot in the Park and The Good Old Days 1953-1973. The only news in that period fell between Dick and Bruce, and the evening was rounded off with A Story for Christmas (which is missing) and the weather.

Mr Benn, A Stocking Full of Stars and a repeat of The Black and White Minstrel Show from earlier in the day also survive.
That's pretty impressive. How about lobbying the BBC for a 50th anniversary reconstruction in two years' time? (It would coincide with their 100th anniversary celebrations as well.)

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by ian b »

Repeating a circus show that involves animals maybe problematic, I’ll take a guess that the panto will contain a fair bit of non PC material though the CHRISTMAS NIGHT was recently repeated, (but with an edit), the Morecambe and Wise is a non-Braben edition and isn’t amongst their best, billed as the 150th edition THE GOOD OLD DAYS wasn’t one of those repeated by BBC4 which may be because of too much unsuitable content to cut, which leaves us THE GENERATION GAME, a film that’s now far from being a “first screening on British Televsion” and a recreation of John Slater’s (unidentified) reading and the news. Which, looking at the events of the 24th and 25th December 1972, was probably of not that much interest.

:)

And if the TOTP had survived, then it was presented by Savile...

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by stearn »

You know how to sell it, Ian!

Having watched an edition of Billy Smart's circus earlier this year (my son was covering the circus at school and I thought, why not), the animals were the most professional performers on the show. It's an hour of my life I'll never get back, and trying to explain to a 7 year old that this was something people looked forward to and enjoyed when I was a kid, was another hour I could have used on something productive.

The idea of recreating a whole evenings viewing may be an interesting one, but other than for academics that wish to see shows in their exact context, I am not sure what the benefit would be. The general public might be initially curious, but I suspect would be turning off in droves as soon as they realise that 'normal' telly was generally crap with the occasional gold nugget, and a schedules based solely on the chance survival isn't the best criteria and would, no doubt, horrify current schedulers.

Having been a regular at events like Missing Believed Wiped, I have watched my fair share of rubbish over the years that is generally reshown simply because the furnaces were not working that day and it escaped a more permanent ending. In most cases the archivists made the correct decision and it should have been consigned to a fiery hell - there are always exceptions though.

Even where there are survivors, and I've picked up a hell of a lot in Network Sales, they are not all classics - far from it. We are actually very well served in terms of archive TV these days with the various channels out there, especially TPTV and academics can arrange access to programmes that the general public can't (and have no interest in doing so). It is only those who post on fora like this that lie somewhere in between.

I wonder if an evening as was would turn even more off of archive programming being present on current TV.

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by brigham »

Why don't we (they?) just declare 'anything over ten years old isn't suitable for today's New Victorians' and be done with it?

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Tue Dec 08, 2020 8:18 am
The idea of recreating a whole evenings viewing may be an interesting one, but other than for academics that wish to see shows in their exact context, I am not sure what the benefit would be.
It would be an "event", like the numerous other one-off "events" that the BBC stages in order to get publicity.
The general public might be initially curious, but I suspect would be turning off in droves as soon as they realise that 'normal' telly was generally crap with the occasional gold nugget, and a schedules based solely on the chance survival isn't the best criteria and would, no doubt, horrify current schedulers.
Yes, but viewers wouldn't be expected to stay with it all day. A few die-hard enthusiasts would no doubt stay with the whole thing, but I've no doubt that the majority of viewers would dip in and out, as with other "theme" evenings. I don't see what would make this one any different.

Even if a few cuts needed to be made to satisfy today's sensibilities, I'm sure there'd be a great deal of interest. According to Genome, there's only one animal act in Billy Smart's Christmas Circus ("The Elephants" from India). Maybe Stratford Johns as "The Sultan of Morocco" could cause problems in Dick Whittington. Don't see much of a problem anywhere else.

Main problem would be finding a channel, as BBC Four (the obvious one) doesn't come on air until 7pm. Maybe have the first four hours on BBC Two?

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

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It would be scheduling suicide, and televised suicide, whilst certainly an event, is not the sort of publicity any channel would want to be associated with.

The parliament channel get the closest to these events repeating past elections or having themed evenings, but the channel is extremely niche, MPs are certainly not going to make a fuss by biting the hand that feeds them, and the programming is cheap. To clear a whole day of, quite frankly, mediocre viewing, for a main channel like BBC2 would cost quite a bit and the BBC bashers, of which there are a number, would have a field day.

As I've said before, I've sat through more than my fair share of crap telly, and will continue to do so, as my tolerance levels are quite high. I'm certain the general public would switch off very quickly after tuning in at whatever time. Even as a symposium or conference event it would be hard going and the only winners would be the bar!

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by brigham »

I watched this same 'crap telly', along with the 'grown-ups' at the time, and we all enjoyed it.

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by stearn »

Attitudes and expectations have changed considerably since the early 70s. There is far more choice of television and many more alternatives to it. And to take just one example, there is a reason why there aren't more circuses up and down the country, and why they don't appear on television with the same regularity as they did in the 70s - fewer are interested.

This isn't to say that 'a night in the 70s' wouldn't be viable as a scheduling event, a day might be pushing it somewhat, but a single night broadcast simply because all the programmes exist by some curious chance isn't the way to do it. It would undoubtedly fall back on the same few 'classics' to reinforce the golden age and you could probably fill the gaps with talking heads of people who weren't even born then to make it more relevant to the young.

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 8:47 am
This isn't to say that 'a night in the 70s' wouldn't be viable as a scheduling event, a day might be pushing it somewhat, but a single night broadcast simply because all the programmes exist by some curious chance isn't the way to do it.
But it was Christmas Day - it wasn't some random day in the year. If Christmas isn't an appropriate time to do this, when is?

I guarantee that 2022 is going to be absolutely chock-full of archive programming on the mainstream channels in any case, because of the BBC's 100th anniversary. I wouldn't be remotely surprised if the BBC chose to do something like this as a one-off.

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by Brock »

stearn wrote:
Wed Dec 09, 2020 8:47 am
This isn't to say that 'a night in the 70s' wouldn't be viable as a scheduling event, a day might be pushing it somewhat, but a single night broadcast simply because all the programmes exist by some curious chance isn't the way to do it. It would undoubtedly fall back on the same few 'classics' to reinforce the golden age and you could probably fill the gaps with talking heads of people who weren't even born then to make it more relevant to the young.
Something like this has already been done, of course - "A Perfect Christmas" on Saturday 21st December 1991, all day on BBC Two from 12.10pm. Not all programmes from the same year of course, or even the same decade:

https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/b ... 1#at-12.10

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by stearn »

One Day In the 60s was another:

https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/b ... 1993-08-30

Not exactly a decade, but a studio - Lime Grove Day

https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/b ... 1991-08-26

Compare this to what went out when TC closed: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rfrdn

The 1990s were different to now - fewer channels, more budget per channel, and less competition for viewers. Archive TV has three main criteria - does it exist, what's the cost, and will people remember/watch it?

Ignoring the first as if it doesn't exist you can rebroadcast it, it comes down to bang for buck. Current TV is generally cheaper as the rights are in place for multiple broadcasts, and with tighter budgets, longer TX hours, and more channels to fill, that matters a lot. Will people remember/watch it? That can be a self-fulfilling question. People remember Dad's Army as it is repeated. So much so that there has been a renaissance interest with lost shows recreated and films. I wasn't alive when Dad's Army originally finished, but it is a part of my upbringing. It isn't alone, Hancock and Paul temple on the radio have had a new lease of life since BBC7/Radio 4 Extra has not only reclaimed an older audience, but created a new one.

Can you honestly say this would be the same for a circus, an old edition of the Gen Game, and a panto? I'd really love to say yes, but I know I'd be lying. Old formats will turn up - Blankety Blank is being revived, again - but that will be with an eye to a new commission and some more cheap filler TV that can be regularly trotted out to get value for money.

There will be celebrations for the 100th anniversary, there will be old shows (probably the same old shows that have been repeated before, the rights already cleared and costs known, and can be pointed at with the caption 'look how brilliant we have been'), but I am sure those commissioning will have an eye looking over their shoulders for the first signs of being accused of naval gazing, having current TV compared to old (and there really was no golden age - there are always things that stand out and are timeless amongst the moving wallpaper), and they will certainly not want to be accused of being the same as the various channels out there that do rebroadcast classic material all the time - some may not even be available as it is licenced to other channels.

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by Mark »

I'd be very surprised if there's much repeated for the 100th, maybe BBC Four ( if it's still going) will show some material, but other wise we'll be lucky to get a Documentary, sadly the days of Festival 76 and the 86 celebration are gone.

It's a nice idea though, but TV is dead now, just 200 channels of mostly rubbish, I saw an ITV trail for "The Full Monty On Ice", and was practically reaching for the Service revolver!
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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by ian b »

What could be possible, (and as seen last night, is done on a very limited basis), is to repeat programmes linked to Grace Dent’s occasional series WHAT WE WATCHED.

BBC4’s evening schedule given over to full programmes from whatever theme her programme is focused on - the (very good) song and dance spectacular one from a weeks ago certainly whetted my appetite to be able to see the clipped programmes in full.

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Re: This Is Music Hall (BBC 1955)

Post by Mark »

That would be great.

Certainly with the collection of docs they have, they could put together mini-themed nights of programmes and docs.
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