Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of thing

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Simon36
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Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of thing

Post by Simon36 »

I don't know what this suddenly popped into my mind, but one of the things long vanished from television are the five minute to camera pieces usually spoken by a clergyman before the channel went off air for the night. They were to me the religious equivalent of the Open University broadcasts as they so often were hosted by people who were as far from showbiz in appearance as one could imagine.

As far as I remember, ITV ones were often regional opts, as I remember being on holiday and seeing vicars of a church in the local area spouting forth.

I was curious to know if these programmes were at one time insisted on by the IBA in the same way that they decreed that both major channels had to have a "god slot" on a Sunday evening. I presume ITV kicked the habit when it went 24 hours but what about the BBC one?

Despite not being remotely religious I actually used to find them quite absorbing. A nice sort of aural Ovaltine before bed.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Roll ACR »

I remember TSW having "Postscript" which was later re-branded as "Nightcall". Some local Reverend or mildly eccentric folk singer or some such, giving a thought for the day. In fact TSW continued to carry it, after the late news, right to the end. Surely one of the last ITV stations to still have that kind of programme in it's schedule. Although I expect some of the other ITV "small 5" probably did too.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by RobinCarmody »

Simon36 wrote:I was curious to know if these programmes were at one time insisted on by the IBA
Definitely not. Granada never had them, even in 1956 (they never played GSTQ either).

Those in the London area (always produced by Thames, even those shown at the weekend) became a lot more secular in later years.
I presume ITV kicked the habit when it went 24 hours but what about the BBC one?
BBC epilogues, like BBC in-vision continuity, seem to have disappeared in the black and white era. Even then I think they were mainly on Sundays.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by RobinCarmody »

Roll ACR wrote:Although I expect some of the other ITV "small 5" probably did too.
Grampian also persisted with them well into the 1990s.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Simon36 »

I certainly remember Grampian doing them well into the 90s. I think they did the one called Reflections.

I seem to remember at least one of the regions used Cavatina as the music OF COURSE!

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by GarethR »

Do announcers still state that viewers wishing to follow along at home will need a candle and some bread (IIRC) before the televised religious service that uses them?

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Roll ACR »

Or perhaps a piece of chalk, a goat and a very sharp knife.... :-)

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Kecske Bak »

GarethR wrote:Do announcers still state that viewers wishing to follow along at home will need a candle and some bread (IIRC) before the televised religious service that uses them?
IIRC that was the announcement that preceded "This is the Day" on Sunday mornings on BBC1. The only thing other thing I remember about that was it began with a TV camera pointed at a television set at the start so you got an infinite picture.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Bob Richardson »

Kecske Bak wrote:
GarethR wrote:Do announcers still state that viewers wishing to follow along at home will need a candle and some bread (IIRC) before the televised religious service that uses them?
IIRC that was the announcement that preceded "This is the Day" on Sunday mornings on BBC1. The only thing other thing I remember about that was it began with a TV camera pointed at a television set at the start so you got an infinite picture.
I worked on the pilot, which came from the Crellin Home for the Deaf in Great Malvern. About 20 minutes before the live TX the producer popped her head around the door of the room where I was preparing the captions and informed me that she was about to say a prayer for the success of the transmission, and would I like to join her and the others? I declined, not because I'm anti-religion but because I still had so much work to do.

It struck me afterwards that it was a nice touch to have a BBC religious programmes producer ask the Almighty for a helping hand with the microwave links or whatever was being used to get us on air.

P.S. When we finished the pprogramme I went to the railway station and discovered that there are no trains from Great Malvern on Sundays, so I had to take a cab to Worcester (Shrub Hill) to get home. It took all day. Perhaps God was a bit miffed that I'd refused to join in the prayers.
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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Caledonianne »

Great Malvern is a really lovely little station (at least since its relatively recent refurbishment).

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Mark »

I remember other little five minute pieces that were done before Closedown, in the 70's, there was one with Spike Milligan as McGonagall.

Others featured Blaster Bates, and Wilf Lunn, ISTR.
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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Davis Mcardle »

Simon36 wrote:I certainly remember Grampian doing them well into the 90s. I think they did the one called Reflections.
Yup, Reflections was GTV's Ovaltine pause-for-thought slot. Regularly scheduled to follow News At Ten & local headlines, so unaffected by the arrival of late-nite/all-nite telly in the late eighties. Although mainly religious in nature, from memory it did also make room for more secular ruminations; I recall one particular instalment wherein the presenter simply switched on one of those Playful Penguin Race toys & invited us to consider the circular hustle of our everyday lives. Likewise one chap at Christmas 1984 who just played the Band Aid 7'' with nary a comment. Was actually briefly involved in some myself, circa 1982, as a choirister; we recorded some psalms as bedding music, which were played under slow dissolves of striking Scottish scenery for a week. Can't remember precisely when it was finally dropped, but they were still thriving when I left the GTV area in 1989.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by ayrshireman »

Simon36 wrote:
Despite not being remotely religious I actually used to find them quite absorbing. A nice sort of aural Ovaltine before bed.

Agreed. I miss Late Call, it was a nice, quiet way to end the TV day. Of course, from the late 70's onwards in Scotland, it was increasingly hard to watch Late Call without laughing, as all you could think about was the late, great Rikki Fulton's wonderful character of 'the Reverend I.M. Jolly', whose ultra-morose sketches were a affectionate parody of Late Call.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Simon36 »

Davis Mcardle wrote:
Simon36 wrote:I certainly remember Grampian doing them well into the 90s. I think they did the one called Reflections.
I recall one particular instalment wherein the presenter simply switched on one of those Playful Penguin Race toys & invited us to consider the circular hustle of our everyday lives.
That's marvellous! I remember one clip on Alright on the Night once of a Vicar beginning a Closedown by going on about how he hates sleet and it being a never never land between rain and snow. There was something fantastically comic about that even before whatever went wrong did go wrong.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by RobinCarmody »

I remember not "getting" a reference to 'Late Call' in a Momus song years ago - I mean, I worked out that it must have been some kind of epilogue but didn't instantly realise that it was a nod to his Edinburgh origins.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Mark »

I have still not found any more info on the short pieces I mentioned further up the thread, especially the Spike Milligan ones!

I also remember various pieces of music played on the Granada closedowns of the mid-70's, the best was a piece of synth music, which I think I taped at the time, there was another accompanied by a film of ticking clocks, which was very good, don't know if they made it to other areas?

Can't find any references to their titles though.
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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Simon Coward »

Mark wrote:I have still not found any more info on the short pieces I mentioned further up the thread, especially the Spike Milligan ones!
Ah, you mean...
Mark wrote:I remember other little five minute pieces that were done before Closedown, in the 70's, there was one with Spike Milligan as McGonagall.

Others featured Blaster Bates, and Wilf Lunn, ISTR.
Yes, that sounds like Granada's Thank You and Goodnight... which featured those three as well as John Laurie, Bryan Pringle, Mike Harding, Paul Daniels, Christopher Logue, Bernard Wrigley and some others. Most of them were shown during the summer of 1976, but there were a few at the start of that year and few more in January and February 1977.

Then, in March and April 1977, it was billed as a short series of half-hour programmes running from around 00:25 to 00:55 on Saturday nights. I'm not sure whether these were compilations of what had gone before, or whether they consisted of unused material that hadn't been included in the five-minute versions. Either way, the longer programmes don't seem to feature anyone who hadn't been seen before, so I think it's unlikely the material was newly-recorded even if it was previously unseen.
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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Simon Coward »

Granada tried a similar thing with music in 1978. A Little Night Music featured performances of varying durations by a cornucopia of artistes from a string quartet to The Kinks via a harpist, Robin & Barry Dransfield, Don McLean and The Chieftains to name a few.

Some of those were collected in a 50-minute compilation shown in 1979, but again I don't know if this was made up of additional performances not used in the series or a best-of using previously-broadcast material.
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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by prisoner5 »

Anglia had Reflections i remember, cant recall atv having anything,but the excellent Peter Tomlinson had some great closedown words at the weekends even giving a mention to Tiswas late on Friday nights before reminding us to turn off the tv and un plug it.
Remember the "God slot"? that waste land between 6.15 pm and 7.25 on a Sunday evening when some very boring and sometimes weird progs went out, i recall "the rain on the leaves" with its poetry readings and also "Pilgrims progress" which was really way out, my father hated it, dont think any of these survived.
Finally love the story of the phone that rings and an urgent voice bellows "mention God!" because there wasnt enough religious references in the production for said slot.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Mark »

Simon Coward wrote:
Mark wrote:I have still not found any more info on the short pieces I mentioned further up the thread, especially the Spike Milligan ones!
Ah, you mean...
Mark wrote:I remember other little five minute pieces that were done before Closedown, in the 70's, there was one with Spike Milligan as McGonagall.

Others featured Blaster Bates, and Wilf Lunn, ISTR.
Yes, that sounds like Granada's Thank You and Goodnight... which featured those three as well as John Laurie, Bryan Pringle, Mike Harding, Paul Daniels, Christopher Logue, Bernard Wrigley and some others. Most of them were shown during the summer of 1976, but there were a few at the start of that year and few more in January and February 1977.

Then, in March and April 1977, it was billed as a short series of half-hour programmes running from around 00:25 to 00:55 on Saturday nights. I'm not sure whether these were compilations of what had gone before, or whether they consisted of unused material that hadn't been included in the five-minute versions. Either way, the longer programmes don't seem to feature anyone who hadn't been seen before, so I think it's unlikely the material was newly-recorded even if it was previously unseen.
Ah okay, thanks for that, makes sense, those two pieces of closedown music I mentioned I would have taped early 76, so would have seen some of them then, the Mike Harding ones ring a bell too.

Surprised not to find any mention of the Spike Milligan ones, with him having such a fan base, I would guess they still survive.
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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Mark »

prisoner5 wrote:Anglia had Reflections i remember, cant recall atv having anything,but the excellent Peter Tomlinson had some great closedown words at the weekends even giving a mention to Tiswas late on Friday nights before reminding us to turn off the tv and un plug it.
Remember the "God slot"? that waste land between 6.15 pm and 7.25 on a Sunday evening when some very boring and sometimes weird progs went out, i recall "the rain on the leaves" with its poetry readings and also "Pilgrims progress" which was really way out, my father hated it, dont think any of these survived.
Finally love the story of the phone that rings and an urgent voice bellows "mention God!" because there wasnt enough religious references in the production for said slot.
Ah..."Stars On Sunday"...memories!
"A cup of Tea....Tea...Tea"

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Simon Coward »

Mark wrote:Surprised not to find any mention of the Spike Milligan ones, with him having such a fan base, I would guess they still survive.
I believe so, in fact I think the majority of the series survives, but I'm not quite sure if all of it does.
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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by wittoner »

I remember a late night Granada show from around that time featuring Spike reading extracts from "Adolf Hitler: My part in his downfall" in front of an audience.
Would that be the one?

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Mark »

Simon Coward wrote:
Mark wrote:Surprised not to find any mention of the Spike Milligan ones, with him having such a fan base, I would guess they still survive.
I believe so, in fact I think the majority of the series survives, but I'm not quite sure if all of it does.
Perhaps some clips will surface, it would be interesting to see again.
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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Mark »

wittoner wrote:I remember a late night Granada show from around that time featuring Spike reading extracts from "Adolf Hitler: My part in his downfall" in front of an audience.
Would that be the one?
It probably is, rings the faintest of bells, but for whatever reason it's the McGonagall ones I recall.
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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by TonyCurrie »

"Late Call" persisted for a very long time and was modestly popular because it wasn't scheduled at closedown but usually before the late movie and therefore provided a useful break to make the tea and late night snack!! Of course seven "Late Calls" equalled 35 minutes of local content and that was useful for the IBA quotas. But it would be quite wrong to describe these as "opt outs" because on the ITV network no such thing existed. Each contractor produced its own schedules, made up from whatever was on offer at whatever time. Of course there were many programmes networked simultaneously, but nobody "opted" because there was never a basic programme from which to "opt". (Unlike the BBC)

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by RobinCarmody »

The Momus song to which I referred in this thread actually gets in references to two of these - "death will be unlike the night thoughts of Late Call when ministers stop being cosy", Night Thoughts of course being the manifestation (although, as I said, less overwhelmingly Christian in later years, as you'd expect) he'd have seen when he moved to London.

I suppose that, compared to what Southern had, the TVS 'Company' format of a discussion rather than a straight-to-camera piece also can be seen as a late-period attempt to move the format on a bit. Conversely, in their early years Westward had something called 'The Unsleeping Sword' which seems an extreme example of Hitchens Minor's Very Last Years of an Older Britain.

No prizes for guessing what connections I made when I opened a 1963 Anglia TV Times once and discovered that a man of the cloth from Lowestoft was doing one of these ...

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Malcyb »

BBC television ran a weekly programme of evening prayers from January 1959 called "Late Night Final". It was transmitted every Wednesday evening just after 11pm. In November 1961 it moved to Thursday nights at just before 11pm.
By October 1963 it had returned back to it's Wednesday night slot just after 11pm. The final programme was broadcast in June 1964 to be replaced the following week by "Postscript" which ran each week until December 1970.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Ian Fryer »

Yorkshire Television never, to my recollection, had any sort of religious epilogue slot. As much of the channel's presentation style was taken from Rediffusion, I was wondering if that means that Rediffusion also didn't have them.

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Re: Closedown, Late Call, Reflections and all that sort of t

Post by Malcyb »

In London Associated-Rediffusion had a last programme listed as "The Epilogue" Monday to Friday from 1955.
By 1960 this had gone to seven nights. From 1964 the Monday to Friday programmes in London were listed as "Last Programme", "Who Cares?", "The Psalms Today", "Milestone", "Dialogue With Doubt", "Faith Of The Word", "Men Of Vision".
"Last Programme" was still around when Thames Television took over in 1968. Thames continued with the slot well into the 1980's and the infamous "Night Thoughts".

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