16/09/2021

Televisions

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Noticed what is missing from these early memories? Television.

That’s because few of us had one, and radio back then targeted adults – until Radio Luxembourg took off in 1963 and Radio Caroline followed along in 1964. Radio One was the eventual establishment response, launched on 30 September 1967 so there was little technical stimulus for us back then, although chemistry sets proved great fun. We had fewer toys, a cardboard compendium of games, plasticine sets that rapidly ended up grey, as did the little tin containers of water colour paints. It was war comics and bomb debris that fed our imaginations – and these were free!

1950s Cossor TV
– spot the sound system!

Our acquisition of a black-and-white television was not until the mid-‘50s. We had to pile in to someone else’s house to watch the Coronation, after which we had a street party down the centre of Ludlow Road, perhaps my earliest memory. It was fancy dress and I went as a five-year-old dressed as Robin Hood with hat, bow and arrows and quiver made by my dad (see Matt in a similar outfit above).

Of course we had only one channel – BBC – until 1955 when ITV was launched, and BBC2 in 1964. In 1955 BBC (1) was on from 9am to 11pm, with no more than two hourse before 1 pm. At 11pm the presenter said goodnight and we watched the image disappear into the centre of the screen. We children of the 1950s were offered Watch with Mother, with puppets like Andy Pandy, Muffin the Mule, Bill and Ben… We were all transfixed by the ‘Intermissions’, fillers or interludes between regular programming, the ‘Potters Wheel’ was popular (it’s full length was five minutes and fifty seconds) as was ‘London to Brighton in four minutes’

ASIDE – when we did get a television my key memory was of our postlady’s family descending on us each year for the FA Cup. She was called Ethel Chipp. Her husband was Ernest Chipp, his father was another Ernest and their son, and I kid you not, was called Charlie Chipp. Small wonder he became an ardent train-spotter; he was a bit of a Charlie-no-mates.

Ethel would always take a break from her round at our house (and probably others) where she got a free cup of tea and distributed gossip. They had no TV so were invited to ours for the FA Cup. We all sat in a darkened room with the curtains drawn, as resolution and angles-of-view were limited back then. I mostly recall that they had the nerve to shush me in my own home! I suppose that it was the era of children being seen and not heard.

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