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.


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.