Highlights of 1966

Rediffusion Television is required by the Independent Television Authority to produce a “balanced” schedule of programmes. Happily this precisely accords with Rediffusion’s programme philosophy because such a concept of public service broadcasting can never be precisely legislated.

A “balanced” schedule means, firstly, making only one assumption about the television audience—that it is a demanding, perceptive and alert community of individuals who will switch over, or switch off, if its diverse tastes for entertainment and information are not satisfied.

It means not making a value judgement on something called “popular taste”, recognising that what some will think corny, low-brow and worthless, others will find diverting and enjoyable; programmes which some will think dull and uninteresting others will find stimulating and informative. It means, among other things, not expecting to satisfy every viewer during every consecutive hour of transmission. The idea of a passive “mass audience” timidly watching every programme fundamentally underrates the viewer and is contrary to all research evidence. The only viable criteria can be whether or not a programme meets its own objectives, whether or not it is true or bogus in its own terms, whether or not it is capable of growth and development.

In 1966, as it has for the past 11 years, Rediffusion Television put this philosophy into action. In some 50 hours of broadcasting from Monday to Friday it transmitted a range of programmes from which the viewer was invited to make a choice. It offered a view from the bridge and no hiding place; double your money and the frost programme; hippodrome and betjeman at random; the f.b.i. and major barbara; take your pick and this week; the beverley hillbillies and warship eagle; the informer and ready, steady, go! blackmail, and a wide range of drama, documentaries, sport, quiz programmes, plays, music programmes, current affairs interviews and discussions, adventure series. In fact, a “balanced” schedule of programmes.

This is the time to look back on 1966. On this site you will find some of the television programmes we recall with most pleasure and some of the favourable comments of the critics.

We have listed, for your guidance, all Rediffusion programmes of 1966. We do not claim that all have been successful; if they were we should have found the secret that has eluded every novelist, every film maker, every playwright and actor and composer, every creative television professional who started off with an idea that must ultimately be offered to an audience.

What we do claim, and there are some research tables to support it, is a good record both in providing the television viewers with what they wanted and in offering what they didn’t think they would want but came to appreciate.


Major Barbara

George Bernard Shaw’s play adapted for television by Ronald Gow. With Eileen Atkins, Julia Foster, Ronald Fraser, Moira Lister, Daniel Massey and Douglas Wilmer. Produced by Peter Willes. Directed by John Frankau.

“…it was the only original television programme really worth watching last night.” Kenneth Eastaugh, Daily Mirror. October 19.

“Rediffusion made a happy contribution last night to the current GBS revival.” David Wilsworth, The Sun. October 19.

Top: “Major Barbara” left to right: front – Anna Palk, Moira Lister, Douglas Wilmer, Eileen Atkins; back – Jonathan Cecil, Michael Latimer and Daniel Massey.

Right: Douglas Wilmer as Andrew Undershaft with Eileen Atkins as Major Barbara.

One in every hundred

A programme dealing with the lives of retarded children. Filmed in Canada for Intertel. Produced by Richard de la Mare. Directed by Maurice Hatton.

“…it diminished our ignorance.” Robert Ottaway, Daily Sketch. June 9.

“…compulsive and socially valuable use of the television screen.” The Times. June 9.

“There was some brilliant film, including unforgettable shots of retarded couples dancing.” Maurice Richardson, The Observer. June 12.

Tony Sandy of West Ham, a retarded child who has benefitted from home life.

Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn

The first production of Rediffusion Films Ltd. An hour-long adaptation of a John le Carré short story set in Germany starring James Mason, Hugh Griffith and Jill Bennett.

“…a competent effort, often tautly told with sound characterisation….” New York Times. September 22.

“Admirable–action–taut and convincing with top class performances.” Richard Last, The Sun. September 29.

“When drama was a real pleasure….” Kenneth Eastaugh, Daily Mirror. September 29.

“…it is clearly obvious that ITV is capable of producing such first-class material….” James Thomas, Daily Express. October 1.

James Mason as Otto Hoffman in “Dare I Weep, Dare I mourn”.

The Frost Programme

People, personalities and comment introduced by David Frost. Produced by Geoffrey Hughes.

“The kind of programme that Independent Television has been needing for years. Sharp, witty and perceptive.” Norman Hare, Daily Telegraph. September 29.

“The return of David Frost… deserves a little bunting and a few fairy lights.” Geoffrey Nicholson, Daily Mail. September 29.

“Of course, despite my gibes, ‘The Frost Programmes’ is all right.” Kenneth Eastaugh, Daily Mirror. September 30.

“His new show is giving ITV something it lacked–the journalism of ideas live and lively in form.” Maurice Wiggin, Sunday Times. October 16.

“Just in passing, I must say that ‘The Frost Programme’ has rapidly become the most stimulating and most adventurous talks programme on the air. Its sharp journalistic flair for the issue of the moment and the way in which it has maintained its standard of lively and provocative comment makes it compulsive viewing.” Milton Shulman, Evening Standard. November 23.

The Men in Black

A Rediffusion production for the International Television Federation, whose aims are to obtain greater international understanding through television. A searching inquiry into the priesthood in Ireland. Produced by Richard de la Mare. Directed by Geoffrey Hughes.

“…a worthy contribution to Intertel….” Norman Hare, Daily Telegraph. April 28.

“…provided a wide-ranging study of the current position in the priesthood in Ireland.” The Times. April 28.

“The Intertel programmes produced by Rediffusion are generally objective and fair… last night was a typically detached and considered survey of the Irish Catholic priesthood.” Mary Crozier, The Guardian. April 28.

“…a sympathetic survey of the Irish priesthood.” John Woodforde, Sunday Telegraph. May 1.

Scenes from the ordination ceremony of young priests at the Holy Cross College, Dublin.

A View from the Bridge

Arthur Miller’s play. Directed by Joan Kemp-Welch. Starring Raf Vallone, Katherine Blake and Francesca Annis.

“…it was good to see one of Miller’s most intense and mature works presented to a wide audience.” Sylvia Clayton, Daily Telegraph. April 4.

“…made a smashing entertainment in Rediffusion’s Play of the Week revival.” Peter Black, Daily Mail. April 4.

“…was a faithful rendering of this enobling modern tragedy….” The Times. April 4.

Katherine Blake as Beatrice, Raf Vallone as Eddie and Francesca Annis as Catherine in Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge”.

The Levin Interview

Field Marshall the Rt. Hon. Viscount Montgomery of Alamein interviewed by Bernard Levin. Directed by Geoffrey Hughes.

“…was about as good as it possibly could have been. The Bernards seemed to have hit it off together to perfection.” Gerard Fay, The Guardian. September 6.

“…all deeply engaging.” The Times. September 6.

“…neither were tricks needed to make Lord Montgomery interesting in Rediffusion’s ‘Levin Interview’.” Ruth Hall, Sunday Times. September 11.

Bernard Levin talking to Field Marshall the Viscount Lord Montgomery of Alamein.

H.M.S. Eagle

A filmed documentary depicting the way of life on board an aircraft carrier. Produced by Richard de la Mare. Directed by Charlie Squires.

“The life on a modern aircraft carrier, in Rediffusion’s excellent documentary ‘Warship Eagle’ last night. seemed easy and attractive to my husband.” Nancy Banks-Smith, The Sun. July 14.

“…first-rate photography and a crisp commentary….” The Times. July 14.

“…topicality gave ‘Warship Eagle’ an extra edge.” Philip Purser, Sunday Telegraph. July 17.

On the flight deck of H.M.S. Eagle. The director, Charles Squires, was presented with a Golden Star Award for his work on this programme and a cheque for £1,000 [£19,000 in 2019, allowing for inflation] at the company’s annual general meeting.

This Week

Rediffusion Television’s current affairs programme now in its eleventh year.

“…earns a salute on the Tenth Anniversary of ‘This Week’.” Barbara Brandenberger, The Observer. January 2.

“The report of the Hull North by-election was another stylish piece of work… combined impartiality with some elegant wit in presentation.” The Times, January 28.

“I enjoyed ‘This Week’s’ cross-examination of the Leader of the Opposition.” Nancy Banks-Smith, The Sun. February 25.

“‘This Week’ is undeniably a leader in the legitimate snap judgement business.” Geoffrey Nicholson, Daily Mail. September 28.

Rediffusion’s full current affairs operation completed last week by two editions of ‘This Week’ grittily devoted to redundancy in (a) the car industry, and (b) the pits. Quite simply, this represents such an advance in enterprise, independence and responsibility over anything this weekday company has offered in the past decade that it would be churlish not to applaud it.” Philip Purser, Sunday Telegraph. October 23.

“…the account of a terrifying problem (hunger in India) which every day seems to aggravate made ‘This Week’s’ quietness as disturbing as it should be.” The Times. May 20.

“Llew Gardner’s gently needling interview with Ian Smith for Rediffusion’s ‘This Week’ had more impact than any amount of moralising from the less intransigent.” Ruth Hall, Sunday Times. September 11

Ian Smith being interviewed by Llew Gardner in Government House, Salisbury.

The Informer

An eight-part dramatic action series dealing with a disbarred barrister’s activities as a police informer. With Ian Hendry, Heather Sears and Jean Marsh. Produced by Stella Richman.

“This new hero is sly–and slick… is likely to catch on.” Robert Ottaway, Daily Sketch. August 2.

“Ian Hendry, of course, is perfect in the role of a cool, shrewd, intelligent ex-Barrister.” Kenneth Eastaugh, Daily Mirror. August 2.

“Derivative escapist entertainment with a touch of style.” Maurice Wiggin, Sunday Times. August 7.

“…continues to prove itself one of the most viewable crime series at present available on television.” Derek Malcolm, The Guardian. August 18.

“…the best of its kind this year….” Robert Ottaway, Daily Sketch. August 30.

Top: Ian Hendry as Alex Lambert, the informer. With him in this scene from “It’s An Unfair World, Baxter” is Dorothy Frere. Ian Hendry was presented with a Golden Star Award as the best actor of the year and a cheque for £1,000 [£19,000] at the company’s annual general meeting.

Below: Heather Sears as Mrs. Alex Lambert and Jean Marsh as Sylvia in “The Informer”.

Royalist and Roundhead

An adult education series dealing with personalities of the English Civil War. Produced by Guthrie Moir.

“…deserves whole articles of appraisal all to itself. Oh! for that University of the Air.” Maurice Wiggin, Sunday Times. June 12.

“…Rediffusion’s excellent ‘Royalist and Roundhead’ series….” George Melly, The Observer. June 19.

“…the information was presented with a touch of imagination.” Philip Purser, Sunday Telegraph. June 26.

“Well worth doing, this programme….” Gerald Fay, The Guardian. July 23.

George Murrell as Sir John Eliot with a Parliamentary onlooker in “Coke and Eliot”, a programme in the “Royalist and Roundhead” series.

Seven Deadly Sins

A drama anthology series in which each play dealt with one specific sin. Authors included Paul Jones, Joe Orton, Frank Marcus and Leo Lehman. Leading players included Vivien Merchant, Nigel Stock, Alan Dobie, Anna Massey, Robin Bailey and Julia Foster. Produced by Peter Willes.

“…was a beguiling and well-carpentered piece.” Robert Ottaway, Daily Sketch. May 10.

“It was so well done….” Kenneth Eastaugh, Daily Mirror. May 10.

“…it looks as if Peter Willes, the producer, is on to a nice idea.” Philip Purser, Sunday Telegraph. May 15.

“TV’s newest lively look at up-and-coming drama.” Fred Cooke, Sunday Citizen. May 15.

Patrick Allen, Nigel Stock and Vivien Merchant in “My Friend Corby”. The script for this story was written by Paul Jones whose widow was presented with a Golden Star Award for the most outstanding writer of the year and a cheque for £1,000 [£19,000] at the company’s annual general meeting. (Mr. Jones died on October 30.)


Series running at the start of the year included: stars and garters (pub entertainment show), take it from the top (theatre rehearsals), dialogue with doubt (religious series), stage one contest (children’s plays), double your money (quiz), no hiding place (crime series), this week (current affairs), make sail (educative series), five o’clock club (children’s), ready, steady, go! (pop music) and take your pick (quiz).


January 3 ‣ late show london (start of new unscripted show with Benny Green)

January 6 ‣ this week (10th anniversary)

January 19 ‣ here come the animals (musical); a boy called donovan (musical documentary)

January 24 ‣ the levin interview (interview series with prominent people)

January 26 ‣ the valiant man (repeat of Churchill Funeral O.B. on first anniversary of his death)

January 31 ‣ the rat catchers (new suspense/spy series)

February 8 ‣ pay and prices—the crunch (I.T.V.’s first ‘open-ended’ programme on Britain’s economy—duration 101 minutes)

February 21 ‣ change of heart (religious series)

February 25 ‣ a swinging scene (musical series)

March 1 ‣ object z returns (children’s serial)

March 28 ‣ all my loving (Scott Forbes and Gwen Cherrell in play by Owen Holder); second generation (religious series with parents and children)

April 4 ‣ a view from the bridge (Arthur Miller’s play with Raf Vallone)

April 5 ‣ orlando (children’s series with Sam Kydd returns)

April 6 ‣ rebellion at easter (musical documentary on the Irish rising)

April 13 ‣ funny girl happened to me on the way to the piano (musical look at Jule Styne)

April 18 ‣ kee and levin (late evening discussion scries); the hidden hand (religious series on art)

April 27 ‣ the men in black (Intertel documentary on Irish Catholic priests)

May 9 ‣ seven deadly sins (anthology drama series)

May 12 ‣ royalist and roundhead (educative series on English civil war)

May 18 ‣ thou shalt do no murder (the facts about murder in this country)

June 8 ‣ one in every hundred (Intertel documentary on mentally handicapped children)

June 14 ‣ all about you (new questionnaire series)

June 29 ‣ world war (A. J. P. Taylor on World War II)

July 4 ‣ our man from st. mark’s (return of Donald Sinden in entertainment series)

July 6 ‣ cilla at the savoy (Cilia Black in cabaret)

July 11 ‣ friends in deed (religious series)

July 13 ‣ warship eagle (documentary on H.M.S. Eagle)

August 1 ‣ the informer (new dramatic series with Ian Hendry); betjeman at random (John Betjeman and poems of his choice); faith and the word (religious series about literature that has influenced people)

September 9 ‣ the river pageant (tercentenary of Great Fire)

September 26 ‣ playtime (new series for under-fives); hippodrome (circus/vaudeville series); david jacob’s words and music (series about trends in popular music); this week—art (start of fortnightly edition devoted to arts)

September 27 ‣ disney wonderland (new children’s series); double your money (return of series); this week (new Tuesday edition)

September 28 ‣ the adventures of the seaspray (children’s filmed scries); dare i weep, dare i mourn (James Mason in John le Garre’s suspense story) the frost programme (start of Wednesday-Thursday-Friday series)

September 30 ‣ take your pick (return of series); blackmail (return of anthology series)

October 4 ‣ home and beauty (Maggie Smith and Robert Stevens in Somerset Maugham play)

October 5 ‣ millicent and roy (musical with Millicent Martin and Roy Castle)

October 10 ‣ men of vision (new religious series)

October 11 ‣ a choice of kings (play celebrating 1066 by John Mortimer)

October 17 ‣ sex and morality (discussion on release of church council’s report)

October 18 ‣ major barbara

October 24 ‣ international cover girl contest ’66 (model competition)

October 25 ‣ the caretaker (Roy Dotrice in Pinter play)

October 26 ‣ go, go, go, said the bird (a look at “swinging London”)

November 28 ‣ jesus—by mark (four-week series on gospels)

November 30 ‣ the human voice (Cocteau play with Ingrid Bergman)

December 1 ‣ preparing a play (drama series for schools)

December 7 ‣ the lion and the eagle (Intertel production on the Anglo-American alliance)

December 9 ‣ the rat catchers (start of new series)

December 15 ‣ bethlehem blues (a Nativity story from the Commonwealth Institute)

December 26 ‣ the temptation of jezebel (a blues version of the story of the Prodigal son)

December 27 ‣ a christmas carol on ice; this year of sport (a round up of sport during 1966)


american programmes: Among the American series transmitted have been: “Amos Burke, Secret Agent”, “Mr. Broadway”, “The Fugitive”, “A Man Called Shenandoah”, “Laredo”, “The F.B.I.”, “I Spy”, “The Felony Squad”, “T.H.E. Cat”, “The Beverley Hillbillies”, “Run Buddy, Run”.


outside broadcasts covered during the year included Wimbledon and The Derby (for ITV), World Professional Ice Skating, Richmond Horse Show, The Motor Show, International Cover Girl Competition, Rediffusion Golf Tournament and other activities including water-skiing, boxing, hockey, international soccer, rugby football, art and other exhibitions.


schools programmes. Among the regular series of schools programmes have been: ways with words (stimulating discussion and writing in children); let’s go out (encourages observation of local surroundings and further research into them); science in action (relates the findings of science to men’s work and leisure); preparing a play (deals with the nature of drama, both on stage and in television); teachers and television (aims at developing understanding between teachers and producers of school programmes).


the frost programme. Among the guests who have appeared on the programme are: Quintin Hogg, Alfie Hinds, Gore Vidal, Marjorie Proops, Peter Cook, Adam Faith, the Bishop of Woolwich, Leslie Caron, Brian Epstein, Barbara Cartland, Dudley Moore, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.


this week. Among the countries visited have been: Kenya, India, Brazil, East and West Germany, Rhodesia and Yugoslavia. Among people who have appeared on the programme are: Jomo Kenyatta, Mrs. Ghandi, Rt. Hon. Edward Heath, Ian Smith of Rhodesia, Rt. Hon. Harold Wilson and Dr. Martin Luther King.