Tag Archives: BBC

Age of Innocence – 1967, Radio Leicester and Cycling Proficiency

The BBC made some important broadcasting changes in 1967. On television it began broadcasting in colour and the first two post monochrome programmes were some matches from Wimbledon and an episode from the American western series, the Virginian. By December BBC2 was broadcasting a full colour service, with approximately 80% of its output now being broadcast in colour.

At Wimbledon incidentally the American Billie Jean-King beat the English tennis player Ann Jones in the women’s final. Two years later however she got her revenge and beat Billie Jean in the 1969 final. On radio, the BBC had a shake-up in order to compete with pirate radio and introduced radio one, two, three and four. Tony Blackburn was the first radio one DJ on the breakfast programme and the first record that he played was ‘Flowers in the Rain’ by the Move.

Also in 1967, Radio Leicester, the first BBC local radio station was launched and this turned out to be a watershed in broadcasting for my dad. Being Leicester born and bred and with a fascination for anything about the city, especially its sport, Leicester City, Leicester Tigers, Leicestershire County Cricket Team and so on, this new radio station provided him with his greatest possible source of entertainment satisfaction. A little while after I think he underwent a surgical procedure and was permanently attached to his transistor radio and he spent about 50% of the rest of his life listening to anything that was on Radio Leicester.

In the 1960s before families had two cars most of us went to school on our bikes. This was a much better arrangement than today when every school morning and evening the roads are clogged up with cars taking lazy kids to school. Everyone had a bike. I had a simple sky blue and brown Raleigh model but what I really wanted was a racing bike with pencil thin tyres, derailleur gears and a saddle so sharp that one false move in any direction would cut your arse to ribbons. My bike didn’t have any gears at all, a very sensible saddle and it certainly wouldn’t have won any races, but it was reliable and solid and everyday I would cycle the two miles or so to school and back and, on account of the fact that I didn’t like school meals, go home for my dinner as well.

I didn’t have one of these either because this is my brother Richard on his Raleigh Chopper in about 1972.

With so many bikes on the road the Government was concerned about highway safety and in 1967 along with a load of other kids I took my Cycling Proficiency Test. Cyclist training began in 1947, although its roots stretched back to the 1930s when cycling organisations were pressing the Government to include cyclist instruction in the school curriculum and finally in 1958 the Government funded the introduction of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) National Cycling Proficiency Scheme and cycling instructors came to the school to prepare us for the test. RoSPA by the way was also responsible for the Tufty Club and the Green Cross Code and were completely detached from reality because we had all been out on the open road for years on our bikes and had already perfected some of the finer points of cycling, such as riding facing backwards or with no hands, for example.

Most of the ‘training’ took place in the safety of the school playground where we had to demonstrate our biking skills by cycling between bollards, learning the Highway Code and how to maintain our machines in good mechanical order. Once we had done all of this to the satisfaction of the instructor there was a final road test under the watchful eye of the examiner. As far as I can remember, I don’t think anybody ever failed the Cycling Proficiency Test and at the end there was a certificate and an aluminium badge to attach to the handlebars so that everyone knew just how safe we were.

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Scrap Book Project – The Television Licence

1969 Television Licence

Tucked away in the scrap book with miscellaneous other paperwork is what seems to be a rather pointless thing to keep – the 1969 Television or Broadcast Receiving Licence.

Dad bought this licence on 1st May from the Bridget Street Post Office in Rugby which was close to the Rural District Council Offices where he worked.  The cost was £6 which seems a real bargain to me now because the current annual television licence fee now is almost £150 which means that in forty-four years it has gone up by almost double the rate of inflation.

In Britain, there were just fifteen thousand television households in 1947, this increased to one and a half million by the year I was born in 1954, and over fifteen million by 1968.

As far back as I can recall, which must be about five or six years old now, there was always a television set in our house which sat as a sort of status symbol in the corner of the room for most of the time with a blank screen because there was no such thing as breakfast television or twenty-four hour channels in those days.  When I was a boy in the 1960s television sets were very basic and at first received only a single channel, the BBC and the signal was received via a large ‘H’ shaped metal aerial, usually bolted on to the chimney.  The little girl in the picture at the top of the page is my sister Lindsay in about 1959.

On 22nd September 1955 ITV was broadcast for the first time and this meant that if you had the correct aerial attached to the chimney that suddenly houses could suddenly receive two television channels (I mention this because even as late as 1962 my friend Tony Gibbard had no ITV because his dad was too mean to buy a suitable antenna).

This was all well and good but to watch television at all was not terribly easy.  Just turning a television set on was quite a long process in the 1950s because instead of today’s micro chips, televisions had an antiquated system of valves, wires and resisters and these took some time to ‘warm up’. After a minute or so you would get sound and then after another minute or so (if you were lucky) a grainy black and white picture with flickering horizontal lines would slowly start to appear.  Most television sets needed about fifteen minutes to warm up, I seem to remember.

This was the television listing page from The Daily Herald on 23rd November 1963, the day after President Kennedy was assassinated. The schedule includes the first ever episode of Dr. Who with William Hartnell as the Doctor.

There was excitement again on 20th April 1964 because on that day BBC2 became the third British television channel but unlike the other channels available at that time was broadcast only on the 625 line Ultra High Frequency system, so was not available to viewers with 405 line Very High Frequency sets. This created a market for dual standard receivers which could switch between the two systems and anyone who wanted to receive the new channel was obliged to go to the expense of upgrading their television sets.

  

Television sets were always breaking down as well, half way through a programme there would be a ‘PING’ and the picture would disappear into a bright white spot in the middle of the screen like a bright star falling into a black hole and that was it until the television repair man responded to request to come by and fix it by replacing the broken tube in the back, which was a bit like replacing a broken light bulb.  This wasn’t easy either because we didn’t have telephones so someone had to get on their bike and go to the television repair man’s shop to report the fault and make the request to come by as quickly as possible.

Today, modern slim line sets are useless for putting ornaments on top of, but in the 1960s they were a big piece of wooden furniture just right for picture frames, vases and holiday mementoes so, then as now, it was always completely accurate to say ‘Isn’t there a lot of rubbish on the TV!’

 

 

Radio Leicester

In 1967 Leicester was one of nine local authorities that agreed to fund a BBC experiment and on Thursday 8th November 1967 the people of Leicester were the first to hear this new version of an older form of radio service.  BBC Radio Leicester offered really local and relevant programmes with local broadcasters talking about local, matters – sometimes these weren’t just local – they were trivial and banal!

At first, the small staff of sixteen men and women provided just four hours of programming each day, and there were no journalists and the news stories were provided by a local news agency.  Just over two years later, the experiment was declared a success. In each of the eight station areas, people said they wanted local radio to stay.

Radio Leicester turned out to be a watershed in broadcasting for my dad.  Being Leicester born and bred and with a fascination for anything about the county and the city, especially its sport, Leicester City, Leicester Tigers, Leicestershire County Cricket Team and so on, this new radio station provided him with his greatest possible source of entertainment satisfaction.  A little while after I think he underwent a surgical procedure and was permanently attached to his transistor radio and he spent about 50% of the rest of his life listening to anything that was on Radio Leicester.

As it was the first local radio station it had a very strong transmitter and Radio Leicester could be heard probably as far away as the Ural Mountains but now everyone has local radio and the transmission strength has been so severely reduced that I struggle to pick up Leicester City match commentaries at only one hundred miles away.

Television Sets, TV Channels and Programmes

In Britain, there were just fifteen thousand television households in 1947, this increased to one and a half million by the year I was born in 1954, and over fifteen million by 1968.

As far back as I can recall, which must be about five or six years old now, there was always a television set in our house which sat as a sort of status symbol in the corner of the room for most of the time with a blank screen because there was no such thing as breakfast television or twenty-four hour channels in those days.  When I was a boy in the 1960s television sets were very basic and at first received only a single channel, the BBC and the signal was received via a large ‘H’ shaped metal aerial, usually bolted on to the chimney.  The little girl in the picture at the top of the page is my sister Lindsay in about 1959.

On 22nd September 1955 ITV was broadcast for the first time and this meant that if you had the correct aerial attached to the chimney that suddenly houses could suddenly receive two television channels (I mention this because even as late as 1962 my friend Tony Gibbard had no ITV because his dad was too mean to buy a suitable antenna).

This was all well and good but to watch television at all was not terribly easy.  Just turning a television set on was quite a long process in the 1950s because instead of today’s micro chips, televisions had an antiquated system of valves, wires and resisters and these took some time to ‘warm up’. After a minute or so you would get sound and then after another minute or so (if you were lucky) a grainy black and white picture with flickering horizontal lines would slowly start to appear.  Most television sets needed about fifteen minutes to warm up, I seem to remember.

This was the television listing page from The Daily Herald on 23rd November 1963, the day after President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas. The schedule includes the first ever episode of Dr. Who with William Hartnell as the Doctor.

There was excitement again on 20th April 1964 because on that day BBC2 became the third British television channel but unlike the other channels available at that time was broadcast only on the 625 line Ultra High Frequency system, so was not available to viewers with 405 line Very High Frequency sets. This created a market for dual standard receivers which could switch between the two systems and anyone who wanted to receive the new channel was obliged to go to the expense of upgrading their television sets.

Television sets were always breaking down as well, half way through a programme there would be a ‘PING’ and the picture would disappear into a bright white spot in the middle of the screen like a bright star falling into a black hole and that was it until the television repair man responded to request to come by and fix it by replacing the broken tube in the back, which was a bit like replacing a broken light bulb.  This wasn’t easy either because we didn’t have telephones so someone had to get on their bike and go to the television repair man’s shop to report the fault and make the request to come by as quickly as possible.

Today, modern slim line sets are useless for putting ornaments on top of, but in the 1960s they were a big piece of wooden furniture just right for picture frames, vases and holiday mementoes so it was always completely accurate to say ‘Isn’t there a lot of rubbish on the TV!’

A Year in a Life – 8th November, Radio Leicester

In 1967 Leicester was one of nine local authorities that agreed to fund a BBC experiment and on Thursday 8th November 1967 the people of Leicester were the first to hear this new version of an older form of radio service. BBC Radio Leicester offered really local and relevant programmes with local voices talking about local matters.

At first, the small staff of 16 men and women provided just four hours of programming each day, and there were no journalists.  All the news stories were provided by a local news agency.  Just over two years later, the experiment was declared a success. In each of the eight station areas, people said they wanted local radio to stay.

Radio Leicester turned out to be a watershed in broadcasting for my dad.  Being Leicester born and bred and with a fascination for anything about the city, especially its sport, Leicester City, Leicester Tigers, Leicestershire County Cricket Team and so on, this new radio station provided him with his greatest possible source of entertainment satisfaction.  A little while after I think he underwent a surgical procedure and was permanently attached to his transistor radio and he spent about 50% of the rest of his life listening to anything that was on Radio Leicester.

As it was the first local radio station it had a very strong transmitter and Radio Leicester could be heard probably as far away as the Ural Mountains but now everyone has local radio and the transmission strength has been so severely reduced that I struggle to pick up Leicester City match commentaries at only one hundred miles away.

1967 – Radio Leicester and Cycling Proficiency

The BBC made some important broadcasting changes in 1967.  On television it began broadcasting in colour and the first two post monochrome programmes were some matches from Wimbledon and an episode from the American western series, the Virginian.  By December BBC2 was broadcasting a full colour service, with approximately 80% of its output now being broadcast in colour.

At Wimbledon incidentally the American Billie Jean-King beat the English tennis player Ann Jones in the women’s final.  Two years later however she got her revenge and beat Billie Jean in the 1969 final.  On radio, the BBC had a shake-up in order to compete with pirate radio and introduced radio one, two, three and four.  Tony Blackburn was the first radio one DJ on the breakfast programme and the first record that he played was ‘Flowers in the Rain’ by the Move.

Also in 1967, Radio Leicester, the first BBC local radio station was launched and this turned out to be a watershed in broadcasting for my dad.  Being Leicester born and bred and with a fascination for anything about the city, especially its sport, Leicester City, Leicester Tigers, Leicestershire County Cricket Team and so on, this new radio station provided him with his greatest possible source of entertainment satisfaction.  A little while after I think he underwent a surgical procedure and was permanently attached to his transistor radio and he spent about 50% of the rest of his life listening to anything that was on Radio Leicester.

In the 1960s before families had two cars most of us went to school on our bikes.  This was a much better arrangement than today when every school morning and evening the roads are clogged up with cars taking lazy kids to school.  Everyone had a bike.  I had a simple sky blue and brown Raleigh model but what I really wanted was a racing bike with pencil thin tyres, derailleur gears and a saddle so sharp that one false move in any direction would cut your arse to ribbons.  My bike didn’t have any gears at all, a very sensible saddle and it certainly wouldn’t have won any races, but it was reliable and solid and everyday I would cycle the two miles or so to school and back and, on account of the fact that I didn’t like school meals, go home for my dinner as well.

I didn’t have one of these either because this is my brother Richard on his Raleigh Chopper in about 1972.

With so many bikes on the road the Government was concerned about highway safety and in 1967 along with a load of other kids I took my Cycling Proficiency Test.  Cyclist training began in 1947, although its roots stretched back to the 1930s when cycling organisations were pressing the Government to include cyclist instruction in the school curriculum and finally in 1958 the Government funded the introduction of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) National Cycling Proficiency Scheme and cycling instructors came to the school to prepare us for the test.  RoSPA by the way was also responsible for the Tufty Club and the Green Cross Code and were completely detached from reality because we had all been out on the open road for years on our bikes and had already perfected some of the finer points of cycling, such as riding facing backwards or with no hands, for example.

Most of the ‘training’ took place in the safety of the school playground where we had to demonstrate our biking skills by cycling between bollards, learning the Highway Code and how to maintain our machines in good mechanical order.  Once we had done all of this to the satisfaction of the instructor there was a final road test under the watchful eye of the examiner.  As far as I can remember, I don’t think anybody ever failed the Cycling Proficiency Test and at the end there was a certificate and an aluminium badge to attach to the handlebars so that everyone knew just how safe we were.