Saturday 26 August 2023

Four Fantastic Minutes Straight from 1979

My ongoing quest to salvage ephemeral goodness from British television's distant past continues, and, once again, I've been able to dig all the way back into the 1970s. And it's all courtesy of the mammoth haul of Betamax tapes which I picked up back in June. These intriguing tapes all date from the early 1980s, but the owner had previously owned a Philips VCR and had copied several of these tapes over to Betamax. Previously, I had found some very brief BBC continuity for Top of the Pops, but I've now uncovered four minutes of footage which contain nearly everything you could want.

Dating back to February 12th 1979, when James Callaghan was still prime minister, this footage follows on from an episode of Danger UXB during its original run. First up is a series of ads, which start with a promo for the relatively new Daily Star, having only launched in November 1978. Naturally, it's very much of its era, featuring a Starbird and footage of the Bee Gees in the studio. This is followed by a typically humourous John Smiths advert which finds two Yorkshiremen discussing Tchaikovsky on their way for a pint at The Three Ferrets. Next up is a bright and bouncy advert for Shredded Wheat featuring the Malt Street Kids before the a brief, final advert arrives to try and flog us Roskens hand conditioner.

Following this, we're in to in-vision continuity from Thames which features Peter Marshall providing a rundown on what else is coming on Thames that evening. The background of the continuity studio is, in my opinion, one of the best from the many regional ITV franchises, and remained in place for several years. Anyway, Marshall soon hands over to Elton Welsby, who had only been with ITV for a year at this point, as he's here to entice viewers into watching the highlights of Man Utd vs Fulham in an FA Cup 4th round replay. Welsby then makes way for News at Ten which is presented by the legendary Reginald Bosanquet, who has a set of headlines which are now a staggering 44 years old.

And then the recording stopped. It's a shame there wasn't more, and it would have been amazing to find a rundown of what was on Thames the following evening, but you can't have everything all of the time. The good news is, I've still got an absolute mountain of Betamax tapes to go through, many of which have 'Philips Copy' written on them, so I could yet find more intriguing slices of late 1970s television.

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