Telly in 1973 (Part I)

Hidden amongst my posts for my 1972 diary was one dedicated to the television shows I watched as a 14-year-old.

In a cruel twist of fate – considering how much else of my past life I share in these pages – this post has proved to be amongst the most viewed of anything I have written here.

*sigh*…. I know, I know… if only I could remember MORE about my diary entries… you might take a bigger interest in the mundane over the profound.

However, in an unashamed effort to bolster readership and to once again attain the heady heights of hits this blog was receiving back in June ’08 I bring you…

Telly in 1973!

There’s no doubting that a lot of what I was watching in 1972, I was still watching in 1973. I was always something of a creature of habit with my TV viewing, rarely giving up completely on a show until either it came to a complete stop or something on another of the THREE channels we had appeared more impressive and was on at the same time.

Remember this was a time before VCRs, before Tivos and before (what now seems like) instant repeats. If you missed a show in 1973, you missed it completely.

From the kids teatime shows I was still watching Magpie(Jenny Hanley remaining an almost irresistible twice-weekly draw), but a new daily addition to my viewing schedule was John Craven’s Newsround.

John Craven’s Newsround was such a simple concept, it’s amazing no-one had thought of it before. It was, put simply, a news show for kids… the first such show in the world. The days events were presented – predating, by several decades, today’s trend for ‘soundbites’ – in a simple bulletin style, the details of each news item condensed down so that teenagers, such as myself, could understand what was being talked about.

John Craven (now John Craven O.B.E.) started his career as a print journalist in Yorkshire before moving to join BBC Bristol in the early seventies. In what was very much a TV ‘first’ of the times, Craven did not sit behind a desk – the traditional place for newsreaders – but instead sat next to it. Producers of Newsround felt that if he had sat behind a desk, children might think he represented a teacher and would be put off from watching the programme!

 Craven initially dressed quite formally – collar and tie – but as the show’s popularity increased – and attracted a progressively younger audience over the years – Craven adopted the “wooly jumper” look, best displayed here in an episode of the news from 1982.

He presented John Craven’s Newsround right up until 1989 when – unsurprisingly – the name was changed to simply “Newsround”. Amazingly, the show is STILL broadcasting. It’s now on CBBC (Children’s BBC), and aimed at even younger kids from the ages of 6 to 12.  (So children ARE growing up quicker these days!)

I think what’s amazing about Newsround is how much it appears to have influenced other – grown-up – news programmes over the decades. A few years ago the notion of a news reader being anywhere but behind a desk was unheard of, and yet now we’re more than accustomed to seeing them sitting rather ungainly on a stool, a small laptop propped up on a table beside them. 

The whole “rolling news 24-hours a day” concept has of course adopted the ‘soundbite’ culture so as to cram as much salient information in as short a period of time as today’s current affairs producers feel we can spend watching their show. True investigate journalism seems an outdated model for today’s news programme, replaced instead by a bunch of over-opinionated simple-minded talking heads. *cough*Fox News*cough*

I guess for me and many people of my age, Newsround represented an early induction into the oft-murky arena of”current affairs”. I’m glad that the show still airs in the UK and continues to teach kids about the ‘real world’. __________
Tomorrow, I feature – somewhat aptly – The Tomorrow People!

(“Telly in 1973” Article continues in Part 2…)

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