Sunday, 23 February 2014

Juke Box Jury, Simon Dee, Sooty, Dr Who, Dixon of Dock Green and Crackerjack.

Yes, it's another trip down Memory Lane!

As you may know, I collect maps, and I was searching for a couple of detailed US maps from the 1950s (covering Maryland and West Virginia from Baltimore westwards) about three weeks back, which I thought were rolled up in my attic. Why I wanted those maps is another story entirely. It was to do with the old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. (If I temporarily run out of things to post about, I may reveal what made me conduct a little research into the B&O) Anyway, the maps in question were not in the attic, flat or rolled. Where could they be?

Eventually I remembered that I'd put them under my bed. Yes, there they were. And I also found some other items. Such as the very first issue of The Independent newspaper in 1986, when it was a broadsheet publication: I'd bought it as a souvenir. And some old issues of Radio Times and TV Times, bought by my parents when we were living in Southampton in the 1960s, when I was still at school. This post is about one particular issue of the Radio Times.

As you can see, it's the issue covering 30 September 1967 to 6 October 1967, the week in which it was All Change at BBC Radio. Out went the old Home Service, Light Programme and Third Programme. In came Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3 and Radio 4, which are all still with us today, forty-six years on.

The cover highlights the arrival of the new Radio 1, and shows a smiling, swinging blonde girl ('swinging' in the groovy, discothèque sense), dressed in a plastic dress and sharp shoes, with a transistor radio close by on the floor. A very up-to-date and 'now' image for the already august and venerable organ of the nation's only official broadcaster! For the launch of Radio 1 represented a belated, overdue wooing of the the UK's teenage population. Most of the Pirate Radio DJs who had been on air illegally, broadcasting what young people really wanted to hear from hulks and rusting forts in the Thames Estuary, now came in from the cold, their sins forgiven. The full crew was shown inside this landmark issue:

Tony Blackburn, Emperor Rosko, Pete Brady, Alan Freeman, Mike Raven... Not all of them lasted. The new Radio 1 set-up didn't suit them all. They were joining an Institution. They had to become subservient to Aunty's whims and strictures. Free spirits eventually went elsewhere. A few quickly found their feet and became legends. Note that old timer Pete Murray, even then described as the 'World's Oldest Teenager' was one of the Radio 1 team. He had for instance a 4.30pm Wednesday spot called What's New, in which he presented 'the week's 'newly pressed' pop records'. How cool was that? It would make anyone get on their feet and snap their fingers. And David Jacobs had a Sunday night spot, The David Jacobs Show, billed as 'the best in good music' which included 'good talk with people of choice'. The guest that week was Julie Andrews (of Sound of Music fame - clearly one for the mums).

There were of course young guns like Tony Blackburn with his 7.00am Daily Disc Delivery (although he called it The Tony Blackburn Show in his jingles; and it might as well have been called The Arnold Show, as he was a bit too fond of playing a barking-dog tape that went 'Woof! Woof!', the dog being called Arnold). And there were older but likeable DJs like Alan Freeman, whose Sunday at 5.00pm programme Pick of the Pops was unmissable for me right into the early 1970s. Even though at some point he revealed that his nickname was Fluff. Fluff? What was that all about?

The thing I chiefly wonder about now is who was the trendy girl on the Radio Times cover? I've tried some Internet research, to no avail. I wish I knew. She looked fab. Yes, an iconic look. She deserves recognition, as much as the young girl in the BBC TV testcard has had; this girl (my shot dates from 1993):

Inside this issue of the Radio Times there are so many other things that stir the memory. TV programmes I watched avidly like Steptoe and Son. Dr Finlay's Casebook. Bewitched. Tom and Jerry. Harry Worth. Tomorrow's World. Top of the Pops. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The Newcomers. The Andy Williams Show. Going For a Song. And naturally, Dr Who:

And Call My Bluff. The ad beneath is a reminder that in 1967 women were supposed to get delirious over household gadgets like tumble driers:

And Softy, Softly. Remember big, hard, cross Charlie Barlow?

Or in contrast, elderly, benign, avuncular Sergeant Dixon of Dixon of Dock Green?

Dee Time and The Monkees, anyone?

David Jacobs' TV slot Juke Box Jury was still going strong, but I think the great days of guest juror Janice Nicholls saying 'Oi'll give it foive' were long over:

By 1967 I had well outgrown most children's TV, but I might still nostalgically dip into Harry Corbett's The Sooty Show:

The same for Crackerjack. Anything to delay getting on with the evening's homework, I suppose.

But I hardly glanced any longer at Blue Peter. The Magic Roundabout was however still a credible viewing choice, because of its many supposed references to the Drug Culture then in vogue (of which I knew absolutely nothing, but you could adopt a hip and knowledgeable pose at school if you had to. My inscrutable-faced bluff was never called).

The adult world was on the horizon. I was fifteen. I was already thinking about driving lessons. I was beginning to notice things that affected people who had cars. Such as this ad on one page all about the Breath Test for drunk drivers:

What a snapshot of BBC fare so many decades ago! This issue of Radio Times - any issue like it, really - is an historical document. Is it worth anything? No, not much. In the 1960s the Radio Times had a print run of millions of copies every week. I dare say hundreds of thousands of this particular issue were saved as souvenirs. Even allowing for the inevitable turn-outs when people move house or die, thousands of copies must still exist, some of them in pristine condition, which mine is not. So it isn't rare or 'mint'. A quick look at eBay this morning suggested that if selling I'd be lucky to find a buyer willing to pay more than £5, if that.

So I'll hang onto it.

No doubt you've now had by now quite enough of vintage Radio Times. But there's still TV Times, the major mag for Independent TV at the time. You know. The Avengers. Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Opportunity Knocks! Peyton Place. The Prisoner. Crossroads. Coronation Street. The Adventures of Robin Hood. The Rifleman. Man in a Suitcase. University Challenge. The Flintstones. Take Your Pick. The Untouchables. Candid Camera. Never mind the Quality, Feel the Width. The Golden Shot. Cimarron Strip. Sexton Blake. World in Action. Popeye. No - That's Me Over Here! Dragnet. The Saint. The Frost Programme...


  1. Our hard drive recorder has just croaked, a gadget way beyond the dreams of those presenting "tomorrows world". It croaked because we do not live by the whims of the broadcasters any more especially those who think that we shall sit through regular five minute stretches of advertising hell, hence nearly everything we choose to watch gets recorded first...

    Chatting about the poor dead machine we agreed that we would only watch a small proportion of what we watch from the recorder if we were forced to watch broadcast TV once more.

    "67 was nearing the end of a lifetime watching TV for me as I was soon to leave home and not watch another programme for a decade! There seem to be more items on your list than I record each week now, what does that say about the imagination of broadcasters today?

    Now you have me silently humming "flowers in the rain to" myself...

  2. What memories. I had just started working as a young engineering apprentice when Radio One was launched. Before that, I got my pop fix through the crackles and bangs of a weak signal from Radio Caroline. In the evening it was the Teen & Twenty Disc Club (TTDC) on Radio Luxembourg, hosted by a certain fast-talking DJ that we'd all now rather forget.

    One little correction though, my dear. "I'll give it five" was Janice Nicholls' famous line on Thank Your Lucky Stars, ITV's answer to Juke Box Jury.

  3. I'd rather not remember how old I am! LOL

    Shirley Anne x


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