Room 53 @ THE NICE ROOMS presents
"TV That Time Forgot"
Date of Article: 23rd April 2018
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Welcome to an incomplete article here at The Nice Rooms.
'Incomplete' as my memories of the following TV programmes shown on UK TV between the late '60s and early to mid '70s are just that: Incomplete. Shot. Fragmented.
My list of half remembered TV programmes expands much further than the several examples highlighted below. If ever I get round to putting together a second part or even a third part to this article then I'll probably include such gems as "The Magic Boomerang" "The Enchanted House" "Paulus The Wood Gnome" "The Tomfoolery Show" "The Forest Rangers" and a whole host of other shows that I think were real and didn't just dream up.
For those people of a certain age, how many of these shows do you remember?
Thanks for viewing.
gR / The Nice Rooms Webzine / 2018
KNOCK THREE TIMES (1968)
"Molly is desperately disappointed when, instead of the longed-for silver bangle, her Aunt Phoebe sends her a small, grey, pumpkin-shaped pincushion for her birthday. But at night, when the full moon shines, the pumpkin turns out to be a magical one. It leads Molly and her twin brother Jack into a strange land and an extraordinary quest.."
Directed by Bill Turner and adapted by Dave Freeman from a story by Marion St. John Webb, each of the 6 x 25 minute episodes - broadcast under the Heyday Theatre banner and first aired on UK TV on Sunday 3rd August 1968 - were the stuff of nightmares for this 7 year old.
I (mis)remember a couple of scenes: A giant pumpkin walking down some stairs and a secret passageway whose entrance was a tree and whose exit was a post box on a street. (? ? ? !) Why I remember the name of the programme that came on before it on a Sunday night beggars belief but I recall a show (I think was called The Rain On The Leaves) that involved people singing drab songs accompanied by guitars..I was probably waiting for Knock Three Times and caught the end of it.
KNOCK THREE TIMES CAST:
HATTIE JACQUES as Aunty / Queen / Miss Popinjay / Lydia
JACK WILD as Jack
SALLY ANN JONES as Molly
GORDON ROLLINGS as Dad / Admiral
MAUREEN O'REILLY as Mum / Irene
ERIC CHITTY as Grandad / King
ROSAMUND GREENWOOD as Aunt Phoebe / Witch
LIZ GEBHARDT as Cissie / Green Girl
RICHARD O'CALLAGHAN as Cliff / Sentry / Watchmaker
NORMAN McGLEN as The Grey Pumpkin
IAN TRIGGER as Goblin
WILLIAM SHEARER as Wilbur
BRIGHT'S BOFFINS (1970 - 1972)
"Bright's Boffins was a British children's television comedy about a team of eccentric inventors working for the British Government.
..Group Captain Bertram Bright was the hair-brained leader of a department for designing inventions that was so hush-hush even the Government had forgotten about it."
Southern TV produced 13 x 25 minute episodes and 26 x 30 minute episodes of Bright's Boffins between 1970 and 1972.
The group of eccentrics took their orders from a mysterious chap at Whitehall named Sir Desmond Dark. The first series saw Bright and his bungling assistants, Thumper (the head of security) and “Dogsears” Dawson, based in a place called Halfwitt House. Looking after all of them was Molly McCrandle (Avril Angers) – a sort of scientific aunt who was also their cook.
This programme always appeared to be 'on in the background' in my house. I'm not even sure anyone was watching it. I glanced at it every now and again and remember laughing at parts of it but remember very little else other than some guy repeating each week: "When I was in Pattagonia" or such like.
CATCH KANDY (1973)
This Australian series tells the story of an orphaned boy Catch Kandy and his sister Kate Kandy who, as the series begins, are living with their uncle, Earle Kandy. Their uncle, however, slips on a roller-skate which Catch left lying near stairs, and knocks himself unconscious. Believing he has killed his uncle, Catch and his sister go on the run. They end up hiding out at the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, living in a cave within the bear sanctuary whilst their uncle tries to track them down. They then befriend a zoologist called Christian Faber.
Catch Kandy Opening Credits (47 seconds)
Kids living in a bear sanctuary? Kids meeting a strange guy at a zoo? I very much doubt that the whole premise would get past the ultra safe TV focus groups made up of the brain storming chin scratchers of today.
I remember watching it with my little sis during the school holidays but don't remember much except for the song that accompanied the opening credits and an episode when the kids got lost in a shopping mall.
ELEPHANTS' EGGS IN A RHUBARB TREE (1971)
The elephant is a pretty bird,
If flits from bough to bough.
It builds its nest in a rhubarb tree
And whistles like a cow.
Only six 30 minute episodes were made of this "hilarious crackpot comedy review" back in '71 but I remember it for being one of the first TV shows Richard Beckinsale (The Lovers, Porridge) appeared in. Another plus for me was that it also showcased quite a bit of Spike Milligan's nonsense verse.
You can click the image below to read part of an article from Look-In Magazine (1971) about the show and its stars.
The permanent line up of 5 people who appeared each week consisted of:
Ann Beach who provided much of the singing. (Died March 9th 2017 aged 78)
Richard Beckinsale (Died March 19 1979 aged 31)
Paul Whitsun-Jones (Died January 14th 1974 aged 50)
John Gould and
ESCAPE INTO NIGHT (1972)
If there was one programme that scared the *!*! out of me more than the Doctor Who story "Web Of Fear" (robot yetties let loose on the London Underground), then it was this six parter made by ATV that aired in 1972.
The film clip and information below tells you everything you need to know.
Escape Into Night" was a six part British television serial for children made by ATV for ITV that aired from April 19, 1972 until May 24, 1972.
It was directed by Richard Bramall. An adaptation of the novel Marianne Dreams written by Catherine Storr, the serial deals with a young girl, the eponymous Marianne, whose drawings become the basis for dreams, and the dividing line between dreams and reality becomes all too thin.
The novel was later adapted into a 1988 film, Paperhouse. As you can see, in those days TV producers didn't mess around when it came to scaring the living daylights out of their young audience. The strange "humming" end sequence is also way ahead of its time.
The serial is available in the UK from Network DVD, although sadly the original colour recordings were destroyed in the early Eighties and only black-and-white copies remain.
Oh, and by the way..."They're coming..."
Clip from 'Escape Into Night' (2mins 40secs)
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH - Cartoon Series (1967 - 1969)
Anyone remember this golden nugget of an animation series?
The series was about the adventures of a group of explorers - complete with a pet duck called Gertrude - seeking the secrets that lay in the Earth's core. Kids in TV series did this sort of thing back then. ..And let's face it, if you are going to trek many miles beneath the earth's surface, why not take a duck along as company?
There were 17 episodes in all.
I watched parts of this show in the days before I realised why "Center" was spelt "Center" and "Colour" was spelt "Color".....and digressing - why "Top Cat" was called "Boss Cat" in 1970s' UK...(Top Cat was a cat food brand).
OK..Back to "Journey To The Center Of The Earth"...
..At this starting point, the adventure began when the group discovered the long lost trail of explorer Arnie Saccnusson, who had managed to find Professor Oliver Lindenbrook's hidden subterranean passage that led through a labyrinth of eerie caverns to the center of the Earth.
Along with Professor Lindenbrook, the small group of explorers also included the Professor's niece Cindy, her classmate Alec McEwen, their tall and muscular guide Lars, and Lars pet duck, Gertrude.
Complicating matters was the evil Count Saccnusson, Arnie's last living descendant. For selfish and self-serving reasons, the Count wanted to speed up his power-mad plan to use the Earth's core to promote his own agenda to conquer the world.
Saccnusson ordered his monster-looking servant, Torg, to set off an explosion to stop Lindenbrook's expedition. But instead, the explosion sealed the only entrance to the trail, entrapping them all. So both groups struggled to survive and find a way to return to the Earth's surface...
Journey To The Center Of The Earth Intro (1 minute 3 seconds)
The characters were voiced by:
Oliver - Ted Knight
Count Saccnusson - Ted Knight
Cindy - Jane Webb
Alec - Pat Harrington Jr
Lars - Pat Harrington Jr
Torg - Pat Harrington Jr
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO (1969)
Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart
This junior talent show cum quiz hosted by Ed "Stewpot" Stewart was shown on UK TV from 30 April to 30 July 1969 (A subsequent series was presented by Chris Kelly)
I wasn't a keen Talent Show viewer; Junior Showtime (1969 - 1974) hosted by Bobby Bennett and featuring The Poole Family put me off them for life.
It was the preview for Anything You Can Do, however, that has stuck with me for all these years...(..And why I remember this stuff from half a century ago is beyond me.) Ed himself sat in front of the camera asking for people to audition and said something along the lines of.."..or if your goldfish smokes then let us know.."
I wanted to see a goldfish that smoked.
I watched the first episode and realised that the show was more about kids "singing and dancing" than goldfish smoking. No sign of a goldfish anywhere. That was that..I never watched it again but somehow Anything You Can Do has etched itself onto my brain..
CLAPPERBOARD (1972 - 1982)
Clapperboard was a brilliant programme about the cinema that tended to be shown around 420pm weekly although, annoyingly, it was moved around day and time wise for some reasons best known to the powers that be. It was aimed primarily at a children's audience but made great adult viewing too. It treated its audience and subject matter with total respect and was presented very cooly, calmly and professionally by Chris Kelly. The producers and presenters of BBC's Film 2018 could learn a thing or two just by watching a few episodes.
In total - and according to IMDb there were 292 episodes made - (although I have read somewhere that over 400 episodes were made??) Each episode lasted 25 minutes and covered a very wide range of film topics including: Stunts in Films, Charlie Chaplin, Film make up, Elstree Studios, Science Fiction and Singing Stars. Some episodes covered individual films; I personally remember episodes about the following films: "Island At The Top Of The World" "Bugsy Malone" "Warlords Of Atlantis" and "Freaky Friday".
THE NEW PEOPLE (1969)
The New People is a 1969 American television series that aired on ABC in that focused on a group of young college students who were returning from a trip in Southeast Asia when their plane crashed on an island in the south Pacific Ocean. The crash killed several of the college students, and all but one of the adults, who was badly injured and later died. The surviving students were the only human life remaining on the island. The island was unusual in that it had been built up as a site for a potential above-ground nuclear test which never took place, leaving all of the buildings and (improbably) supplies untouched and ready for use by the survivors.
The trip to Southeast Asia was a goodwill tour arranged by the State Department showcasing what American youth were like, but it went awry when one of the students disrupted it, feeling that what they were doing was fake and a way to gloss over what was going on in the country and with relations to the Vietnam war.
The New People: (Promo: 1 minute 6 seconds)
My dad loved this programme but I don't remember much of it other than the catchy theme tune and one scene where a lady was trying to make a phone call to home from a phone box..and then burst out crying...I think she was going mad as she must have known the phone wasn't connected.
The 17 episodes aired on ITV in the UK in 1970 ish I think and the series was created by Larry Gordon, Rod Serling and Aaron Spelling.
1954's "Lord Of The Flies" and 2004's "Lost" come to mind.
Did The New People ever get back to civilisation in the end? I don't remember...but did anyone in a US TV series ever get back in the end back then?...I'm thinking Time Tunnel, Gilligan's Island and er..Shazzan.... :)
HATTYTOWN TALES (1969 - 1973)
The residents of Hattytown were anthropomorphic hats. The style of hat each character was indicated its ethnicity, attitude, and role in Hattytown society. For instance, Bobby, the constable, resembles the hat of a constable. Buildings in the town are also hat-shaped; each building's form suggests either its primary function or resident.
39 (?) x 10 minute episodes were made of Hattytown Tales; a stop motion children's television series produced by FilmFair for Thames Television. It aired in the United Kingdom between 1969 and 1973. Creator and writer Keith Chatfield narrated the series, and Ivor Wood directed it.
JOURNEY INTO THE UNKNOWN (1968 - 1969)
This anthology of supernatural tales - produced by Hammer Film Productions and 20th Century Fox takes the biscuit for having one of the eeriest opening credits that has ever existed. - There's something about a deserted fairground...and whistling..
Directors of the episodes included Roy Ward Baker, Alan Gibson, Robert Stevens, Don Chaffey and Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Each episode was executive-produced either by Joan Harrison or Norman Lloyd. UK and American actors all starred.
In America, eight episodes from the series were broadcast as four made-for-television films consisting of twinned episodes along with new segment introduction footage provided by actors Patrick McGoohan, Sebastian Cabot and Joan Crawford serving as hosts.
There are two scenes from separate episodes that I remember..Some guy is able to make a guy drown himself in a bath using the power of his mind and one where a butterfly appears to die inside a jam jar...I know... I know..
Come to think of it TV from my childhood has scarred me for life :)
The Nice Rooms would like to acknowledge contributions from the following:
Curious British Telly
Jack Gould / New York times