…I have fallen out with Dad because he wouldn’t let me watch
the second half of That’s Television Entertainment from
9.00pm to 10.45pm because he said it went on too late.
It’s on because of 50 years of BBC television, from 1936 to 1986…
Unlike today, when the BBC seems to be doing its best to ignore television’s 75th anniversary completely, in 1986 the corporation went to town to commemorate its 50th.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw Radio Times and realised the schedules had been saturated with TV greats. An entire week’s worth of BBC2 programming was more or less junked to make way for everything from Dr Finlay’s Casebook, What’s My Line and Z Cars to The Generation Game, Not Only But Also and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
My knowledge of and love for television was already such that, despite not having any real interest in some of these dusty classics, I quickly drew up a timetable of viewing on a sheet of paper and pinned it proudly just below our television set in the living room.
Top of the list was tonight’s offering: That’s Television Entertainment. This programme was so enormous an entire page of Radio Times had to be given over to accommodate all the items. I was, to be frank, salivating. So you can imagine the pain when I was told I could only watch part one.
The likes of Roy Hudd reminiscing about Up Pompeii, Richard Briers recalling Marriage Lines and Prunella Scales waxing lyrical about The Young Ones would have to wait for another time – and another century.
I didn’t get to see the rest of That’s Television Entertainment until someone loaned me someone else’s video copy in 2003.