Home > Adults' Programmes > Panorama

'Panorama' (Nov 11 1953)Richard Dimbleby introduces Panorama

A programme which is still going strong. This dealt with current affairs and was originally introduced by Max Robertson. It was more of a magazine with Malcolm Muggeridge on hand to interview the famous. Denis Mathews was the art critic and Nancy Spain reviewed books whilst Lional Hale discussed events in the theatre.

After two years, Panorama was transformed to become a 'window on the world' and into the programme we know today by the arrival of Richard Dimbleby (left), originally aided by athlete Christopher Chataway and John Freeman.

Click Here for theme tune Theme Tune

A clever April Fool's Day joke was played by this, normally very serious, programme in 1957 when Panorama reported on a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. TV viewers saw Richard Dimbleby walking among trees growing spaghetti, while workers pulled the pasta off the trees and put it into baskets. When viewers called to ask how they could grow spaghetti plants, the BBC replied "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best." Lending the hoax credibility, was the fact that spaghetti was not a widely eaten food in Britain in the 1950s and was considered by many to be very exotic

An Italian Spaghetti Farmer

'It is not only in Britain that spring this year has taken everyone by surprise. Here in the Ticino, on the borders of Switzerland and Italy, the slopes overlooking Lake Lugano have already burst into flower. But what, you may ask, has the early and welcome arrival of bees and blossom to do with food ? It is simply that the past winter, one of the mildest in living memory, has also resulted in an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop. The last two weeks of March are an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer. There is always the chance of a late frost which, while not entirely ruining his crop, generally impairs the flavour and makes it difficult for him to obtain top prices in world markets.

'Spaghetti cultivation here in Switzerland is not, of course, carried out on anything like the tremendous scale of the Italian industry. Many of you, I am sure, will have seen pictures of vast spaghetti plantations in the Po Valley. For the Swiss, however, it tends to be more of a family affair. Another reason why this may be a bumper year lies in the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil, the tiny creature whose depredations have caused much concern in the past. After picking, the spaghetti is laid out to dry in the warm Alpine air. Many people are very puzzled by the fact that spaghetti is produced in such uniform lengths. This is the result of many years of patient endeavour by plant breeders who have succeeded in producing the perfect spaghetti. Now the harvest is marked by a traditional meal. Toasts to the new crop are drunk in these poccholinos, then the waiters enter bearing the ceremonial dish. This is of course spaghetti--picked early in the day, dried in the sun, and so brought fresh from garden to table at the very peak of condition. For those who love this dish, there is nothing like real home-grown spaghetti'.

Click Here! Spaghetti Harvest clip (RealVideo)

Click Here! Spaghetti Harvest clip (audio)

Robin Day took over the presentation in 1959


Election night with Richard Dimbleby

Election Broadcasts

In February 1950 came the first general election of the television era. Producer Grace Wyndham Goldie managed to persuade the BBC to let her put on a programme on election night to report the results (over the objections of engineers who thought it was dangerous to the transmitters to keep them on overnight). Chester Wilmot was the anchorman and David Butler, who went on to become an election regular, was chief pundit

Richard DimblebyThe 1955 election results were reported on television in a much more comprehensive way than ever before. A professional anchor was found - Richard Dimbleby (above). For the first time, a telerecording of an election night programme was made and kept. Robert McKenzie was a Canadian born Politics professor who wrote a standard study on political party structure. McKenzie talked about the political impact of the election results as they came in. He also invented the one graphic which came to symbolise television coverage of elections, and is still in use today: the swingometer, a pendulum attached to a chart illustrating the House of Commons outcome at each point of swing.


This Week (ITV 1956-78; 1986-92)

TV Times issue featuring Ludovic Kennedy and This Week

ITV's answer to Panorama, This Week began life as a simple topical news magazine with the slogan 'A window on the world behind the headlines'. Presenters over the years were Rene Cutforth, Leslie Mitchell, Michael Westore, Ludovic Kennedy (above), Daniel Farson, Brian Connell, Alastair Burnet and Jonathan Dimbleby. It was renamed to TV Eye in 1978 but restored to its original title in 1986.

Click Here!
'This Week' Theme music
(an excerpt from Sibelius 'Karelia Suite')

Return to home page

If you have any comments or further information of interest, please e-mail webmaster@whirligig-tv.co.uk