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Gerry George's Memories - 10
The nostalgic memories of a television kid of the '50s

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Over the past few weeks I had the pleasure of answering quite a number of questions, left by readers on the Whirligig Messages Board. It struck me that they make interesting reading, so I have reproduced some of them below, for your enjoyment:-

Dear Gerry.

Do you remember the opening music and words.

"Hello,Hello,Hello sir,ze answer must be no sir,there's no more reservations for tonight" etc,etc.

Like you we had a nine inch Bush.

Thinking of Puzzle corner,one item they did was to put a celebrity's picture on-screen as a negative, you had to guess who it was. I discovered if you turned the brightness knob full up, the picture went positive,there must have been thousands of viewers doing this, after a few weeks the Beeb sussed out what was happening and dropped it. You have a wonderful unique web site, I shall return regularly.

Dave Morris.


Hello Dave !

 What a wonderful namesake you had, eh ?

Do you remember 'Clubnight', direct from Blackpool, with the other Dave Morris ?   You brought the 'Cafe Continental' song flooding back - I don't know the rest of it, mind - but, of course, I do recall Pierre Auguste, and his comments, as mentioned on the site, which, I think, followed that little ditty.   I don't think Helen Cordet sang it, though.

Yes, I do remember the 'Guess The Celebrity' competition, from negative pics, on Puzzle Corner.  I guess Harry. S. Pepper soon twigged that little trick with the brightness knob, and, as you say, the BBC would have 'deaded' that little game, on the spot, immediately they heard what was happening.

Thanks very much, for your kind words.  I have been snowed-under with work, since New Year, and, consequently haven't been able to add much more to what's already on.   However, I have done several interviews with stars of that era, and - as soon as I have time - I will transcribe them, from my tape -recorder, and post them on the site.

The first interview, will be a long talk with Stan Stennett, with lots of memories about everything, from radio's 'Welsh Rarebit',(with the late Harry Secombe, by the way), in the immediate post-war years, to later programmes, like the 'Black & White Minstrel Show', in which Stan was a leading light.   He is also a brilliant Jazz musician, and surprised me, when he told me that he used to play with Spike Jones & His City Slickers.

Have a wonderful Easter, Dave, and many, many, thanks for your kind comments, and interesting E-mail.   Every good wish.   Keep on Remembering !       Sincerely, always,   Gerry.


Re: Harry Worth
Saturday, 23-Dec-00 08:37:33

Dear Alan H,

Poor old Harry Worth went the 'Primrose Way', many moons ago: hence the fact that you have 'not seen his name mentioned in the TV pages' ! At a showbusiness gathering, recently, Harry's tweed hat, glasses and umbrella, fetched nearly £1,OOO, at auction, for charity. So, even though he is not with us, Harry is still continuing to bring cheer, in one way, or another

Here's an update: The lovable laughtermaker died, on 2O Jul 89, aged 71, after a short illness.

I'll be writing a lot more about Harry, in the New Year, with an exclusive story, from someone who worked, very closely, in the business, with him, right up until the time of his death.

So, if you want to read more of Harry Worth, don't forget to click-on Gerry George's Memories Pages...for the complete picture of TV in the Fifties.


Sunday, 17-Dec-00 16:31:46

Hey, what about David Kossoff, the story-telling tailor...does anybody remember him ?

I remember how I we all huddled around the television set, and listened, enthralled, as this typical EastEnd Jewish 'Schneider' unravelled a tale, or two, as he sat, cross-legged in the window of his tailor's shop, surrounded by rolls of suit-lengths, with his shears and sewing implements, near to hand.

What a great, and compelling actor, was our David: he did his job so well, that one of our neighbours - who came to watch the programme, in our front room, every week - thought he really WAS a tailor...and no amount of telling, would convince her otherwise.

Now that's ACTING for you !


Re: Hank
Sunday, 17-Dec-00 05:31:22

Hey Dan,

Don't get all desperate, like your cow-pie consuming namesake in the Dandy Comic: your dreams could be just one click away from fulfillment !

The BBC has a website, on which there is ample scope to ask them for, well, just about anything, and everything. And, believe me, Dan, if they can help, they surely will. They welcome viewer feedback - it's part of their PR policy, and you will find them very receptive, and really 'viewer-friendly'.

So, don't delay, get clicking-away. And, who knows, one of these days, pardner, you might well see old Hank, mounted up again...and riding off into one of those unforgettable, beautiful Canadian sunsets.

Happy Christmas, to you, and all your super folks, in the land of the Maple Leaf.


Re: Bransby Williams
Saturday, 16-Dec-00 15:41:59

Dear Bransby,

Well, your namesake was indeed one our greatest classical actors, and - in the early 195Os, when he was a regular performer, on BBC TV, he was already a respected elder statesman of the British Theatre.

If you think of what our own Simon Callow is doing, today, with his 49 different Dickensian characters - in 'The Mystery of Charles Dickens', currently running at London's Albery Theatre - then that show runs a close second to what Bransby Williams was famous for.

Every week - standing alone, before a lectern - he would bring to our TV screens, a whole host of Dickensian archetypes, drawn direct from the pages of the Master. A true chameleon, in every respect, Williams would never step out of character - and become 'himself' again, to introduce each one - rather, he would leap-frog, from Pickwick to Bill Sykes; from Grandgrind, to Copperfield, and so on, until you had almost lost count of the characters he had become. He was an amalgam of pure genius, and inherent talent, not only as an actor, but also as a raconteur...a natural storyteller. And that's just what he did, in the Fifties, on television: and he held us spellbound, for 3O minutes or so, while he weaved the magic...and we talked about it, for the rest of the week.

How nice that we are thinking of Bransby Williams - and of Dickens - at Christmas...because, apart from Jesus, no two people could be more aptly-linked to this festive occasion. Merry Christmas, Bransby: and, in the words of Tiny Tim: "God Bless Us; Everyone !"


Ted Cavanagh's Lampooning Puppet Show
Sunday, 10-Dec-00 02:08:17

Can anyone remember a puppet-borne, politically satirical programme, that was was piloted on BBC TV, in the early 195Os, written by Ted Cavanagh, the father of Tommy Handley's ITMA ?

It was a brave move, by Cavanagh, and his sinister little characters - one I recall rejoicing in the name of 'Scunthorpe' - were very much forerunners of those featured in the subsequent 'Spitting Image' lampoon; and which were not to pop their cheeky faces out, for another three decades.

Come on you television buffs, get scratching your heads, and see if you can tell me the name of this pioneering programme, that was probably ditched, because it asked too many sensitive questions, and rocked too many boats.


Re: The Carolle Levis Show
Saturday, 09-Dec-00 23:24:56

I am a former Carol Levis Discovery competitor, but - at the time Pat refers to - I was doing my 'square-bashing', at RAF Wilmslow, with the Royal Air Force, and didn't pay much attention to what was then on the burgeoning ITV.

Here's an idea, though: Pat might get some joy, were she to contact BBC Publications, and ask to view a backnumber of the Radio Times, covering the period in question.

If not, ITV's equivalent publication,'TV Times', could hold the key. The weekly listings would tell Pat, when the show went out, and, from where ?

Traditionally, Mr. Levis toured, from town-to-town..unlike dear old Hughie Green, who stayed put, in the studio.

That's the best I can do, but - if Pat is hoping to garner some recorded footage - I would warn her, in advance, that it is most unlikely that this programme would have been taped, then, because video footage, albeit in its crudest form, was not generally in use, until well into the middle of 196O.



Re: Café Continental
Sunday, 10-Dec-00 05:48:26

Dear David Lincoln,

I read your fascinating piece, about your visit to Pierre Auguste's Soho restaurant, and how you eventually presented the menu bearing his autograph, to the restaurant overseas. That was a really generous gesture, and I am sure it will still occupy a place of honour on the wall, there. I couldn't wait for 'Cafe Continental' to come around, in that 'Fifty-something' era.

I was six years older than you - about 13 - when the programme was at its zenith, in 1952, and I really loved every minute of it. I imagined I was right 'there' - in the cabaret - and, from the moment the commissionaire raised the blind on my 'taxi', I was overwhelmed by the ambience of it all. My widowed mother would go crazy, because I insisted on placing a round coffee table, that I had made at woodwork classes, right in front of me, in the sitting room, and on it I would have a large bottle of Tizer, and a long-stemmed champagne glass. "Mark my words", my Mother would caution, shaking her head, "that lad will become a drunkard, and end his days in the gutter."

Well, I am not so sure about the gutter, bit, but at least I didn't become a drunkard. In fact I have been tee-total, these last 13-and-a-half years.(giggle).

Helen Cordet was wonderful, wasn't she ? And Pierre Auguste was supreme: especially when, in an upstage broad 'Frenchified' guttural accent, he would say: "Your ta-ble is 'hhr-reserved', as al-ways." I loved the verbal tennis match, that Helen Cordet seemed to stir-up, between herself, and the audience...and, of course, I adored all the fabulous continental acts, and, oh, those gorgeous, leggy showgirls, whew ! By the time the cameras ushered me through those swing-doors, and the commissionaire, drew down the blind on my taxi - with all the credits emblazoned upon it - I was glowing with joy and happiness: it really was a great show.

I've never known anything like it, since. Oh happy days, of early BBC Television: if it were only possible to wave a magic wand, and have them winging their way back. For my part, I'd be out with that coffee table, the Tizer, and the champagne glass, before you could say: "Voila !"


Re: Re: John Slater
Sunday, 17-Dec-00 07:37:56

My recollections of John Slater, were in the persona of an archetypal Cockney Jewish raconteur, with all the humour and pathos, that only people of that long-suffering race can convey, with such innate poignancy and fluency.

His early storyteller role, was indeed that of a barrow-boy, heralded by the cry: "Apples a pound, Pears", and, it's worth noting, here was a true EastEnder, one of a lost species that disappeared in the same decade as his programme, with the ominous emergence of the demolition ball, and the protracted and sinister spewings of 'high-rise' concrete.

My family never missed his enthralling tales. He was a wonderful storyteller, and a respected actor, of considerable experience.


Re: Golden Days of T.V
Sunday, 10-Dec-00 02:35:16

Dear Bob,

The surest way of getting YOUR point across, is by contacting the BBC, at their own website: they have a section specifically designed for this very purpose.

I am just an jobbing actor, and writer - and in no way connected with the 'Beeb' executive - but I have to tell you, that the BBC is very genuinely interested in what you, the viewer, have to say, and what you want to see. They actually take your comments along with them, to programme formulation meetings, and they listen to the ideas you have advanced, and do their best to implement them, if they possibly can.

In just this way, I, only recently, successfully persuaded them to re-run 'Oh Daddy!', an all-British, hilarious light musical comedy 'talkie' of 1936, vintage, starring the lovely Frances Day, and the legendary comedy actor, Leslie Henson. So, go-for-it, Robert, me boy...it can be done !


Re: Billy Bunter
Sunday, 10-Dec-00 03:05:03

Dear Bernie,

Gerald Campion's 'Billy Bunter' made a similar impact of me, in the mid-195Os. Repeats ? Films ? Tapes ? - well, in the words of radio comedian, Al Read: "Ah-say: you'll be lucky" - because, of course,video, although already invented, was not generally in use on BBC TV, until well into the Summer of 196O.

It might be, however, that the BBC might have some fragments of the series, in film cans, but I doubt they would have the entire series. But, there's one sure way to find out: click-on to the BBC's website, and then on to 'programme information', and they will come back to you with the answers. Don't think they are not interested in what you have to say, either; because they are. Make your case, to them, for re-showing the series: whatever happens, you will receive a sensible answer from them, because they take all such ideas and suggestions, from viewers, dead seriously, and what's more, they often act upon them.

So good luck, Bernie, and - who knows - with a bit of luck, the Fat Owl of Greyfriars might soon be back on your screen again, larger than life, as ever Frank Richards portrayed him


Re: Re: Re: Diana Decker
Sunday, 10-Dec-00 00:52:58

Dear David Lincoln,

The delightful Diana Decker, that I know of, was a successful danceband, and recording singer-turned-actress, who starred with Tommy Trinder and Sonnie Hale - as two sailors and a Wren, sent back in time to Ancient Rome, after lightning strikes Stonehenge, where they were sheltering - in the 1944, Ealing Studios, film Comedy: 'Fiddlers Three'.

If you want to see Diana, at her sweetest, and best, you must watch this film...especially if it gets a return-showing on television.

I saw it, at the Pictures, in early 1945, and was similarly infatuated with Ms. Decker's charm and loveliness...as I was also with that of the gorgeous Frances Day, who also featured in this 'talkie', along with the Elisabeth Welch, and the gross Frances L Sullivan, who played, Nero.


Re: Michael Bentine's Potty time
Sunday, 10-Dec-00 00:31:22

Write to BBC Publications - I'm not sure whether it was a Beeb production - but, if they can't help, I am sure they will try to point you in the right direction. Another way, is to write a similar letter, to ITV programming: they are also very helpful.

Did you know that Michael Bentine's daughter 'Fusty' was a film star - it must have been, literally, around her own 'Potty' times - when she starred, as a tiny tot, with Kenneth More, and lovely Jan Miller, in the 1957, Shepperton comedy: 'Raising A Riot' ? The film was shown on BBC, a couple of years ago, and I found it just as amusing, as when I first saw it, at a Lancashire cinema, in 1958.


E-mails regarding: Parts for an old Phillips Television

Dear Gerry,

Thanks you for your email regarding the Phillips set. Much to my dismay, it arrived quite mangled. I spent the better part of an hour laying out the pieces on my basement floor like an archaeologist on a dig. Being this set as I found out is a 1959, I don't know what help Phillips can be, but it's worth a shot.

I have attached a picture of how the set looked upon arrival. As I said, I will restore her and make her operate on the NTSC standard as I believe this is a 405 line set, but it will be a challenge nonetheless. Fortunately the cabinet, back, and glass front remained intact. I have been contacted by a fellow that has informed me that there is an American equivalent to the UK picture tube, so with any luck I'll be able to scout one up. It's got to be easier to find one of those than a UK model, for me, anyway.

I am co-curator of a television museum to be opened in Shelburne, Ontario, Canada within the next year or so. Our link is www.area31.org/vintage.html.

We are always striving to preserve something that has been thought of as "throw-away" technology. We dedicate our interests and efforts to the engineers and scientists who designed the forefathers of the technology we enjoy today. May we who work with their antiquated equipment gain a true appreciation of their genius.


Tim Poliniak


Dear Timothy,

What a brave gesture: you must be a Philco fanatic !

I thought you folks in the States were totally Phillips orientated: after all, didn't dear old Bing, host 'The Philco Radio Hour', and simultaneously, push the Philco Portable, and the amazing Philco '4O1' console, in the late Forties ?

I have several audio tapes - lifted from Forties wire-tapes - in which Mr. Crosby, literally, sings the praises of Philco, joined by such stars as Jimmy Durante, and 'The World's Greatest Entertainer', Mr. Asa Joelson (Al Jolson), no less !

Indeed, in one tape, Bing, and dear old Al - performing 'live' - make a real old hash of one of their Philco jingles, and fall apart in fits of laughter, at the shame of their, albeit temporary lapse, in broadcasting professionalism

The only practical suggestion I can offer - as a completely naive, and, utterly non-technical, former Phillips TV viewer - would be for you to get in contact with the PR department, of the Netherlands-based headquarters of Phillips Europe.

You see, as far as I can recall, Phillips only DISTRIBUTED from the UK, in the Fifties: their manufacturing base, for Europe, being Holland.

Phillips, is a DUTCH company - still - as far as I know.

Best of luck with your endeavours, and may I say how I do admire someone, like you, who is prepared to save, recognise, and preserve, something of our past: here's strength to your elbow - as you Shuffle Off To Buffalo, with your salvaged TV receivers - and long may you prosper.

Every good wish, Timothy, oh son of Americana !

Sincerely, always,

Gerry George (Actor/Writer)


Dear Tim,

Heaven help us: this is identical to the set we took delivery of, on my return from Royal Air Force Christmas Island, in January, 196O ! Ours was supplied by F & M Wilson, of Market Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire, England: It was considered 'state-of-the-art' - at that time - and, believe me, it remained that way...for the next 1O years, and it packed up, coincidentally, when my mother died !

Wilsons were Phillips main dealers, and had an impressive PR and Marketing style, which was in advance of its time, for a small, provincial retail, dealership. I suspect Frank Wilson had been a corporate marketing man, before he went retail, because he was very 'professional', in his modus-operandi, and really effective.

Everybody bought from F & M Wilson...and everybody went for a PHILLIPS !

Before the war, my dad - who died in 1954 - made his own television receiver. He had a country electric shop, in the tiny village of Chinnor, near Oxford, and, although he spent most of his time, charging-up people's acid accumulators, he did sell a range of radios.

These ranged from great hulking 'battery' Cossors - which used light bulb-sized battery valves, seated into dinner tray-sized, alloy chassis frames - to the more 'streamlined' floor-standing, AC/DC mains version consoles, that bore all the dimensions and appearance of burr-walnut cocktail cabinets, rather than something you would listen to the BBC on !

After he returned from the war - we were living in Ashton-under-Lyne, a cotton town near Manchester, by then - he went 'radio-barmy' again, and continued to buy scores of radios and loud-speakers, and baffle boards, which literally filled every inch of floor-space in his attic den.

He was on trooping duties, on the Atlantic Convoys, during the war, and - frequently visiting the USA - he would bring back loads of electric stuff: one such 'find' was his prized, brand-new Echophone EC4, metallic cased, communications receiver, which he kept alongside him, even after his paralysing cerebral stroke, in 1951 (at aged 53) , and no-one was allowed to even so much as touch that hallowed apparatus, until after his death.

Only weeks after the stroke, that paralysed him all down one side, television came to the North of England, via the Holme Moss Transmitter (before then, all you could receive were terrible 'snow-storm' pictures, from Birmingham), and, despite his indisposition, dad insisted on us having a television set.

Our first acquisition was a 9-inch Bush table top model. It looked like a pre-war American juke box, and was made of dark brown Bakelite, in a burr-walnut effect, art deco cabinet. But dad's lust for the best resulted in this being 'switched', within a matter of days, and we soon took delivery of a Ferguson 12-inch table top model - 'Fine Sets, These Ferguson' - and, by Christmas, we presided over a real status symbol, when we opened the wrappings on a luxurious 14-inch, floor-standing Ferguson console, which was the pride of our road.

That set had hinged front doors, and looked more like a Frigidaire ice-box, rather then anything you would watch television on !

Well, that set went on doing its stuff, long after my father passed away, and, apart from a Radio Rentals set, which we hired 'pro-tem', in 1958 - just before I went abroad, on the Draft - that's how we managed...until we took delivery of the Phillips, in January 196O.

I tell you, Tim, you would have had a field day, in my dad's attic: I cleared it out, after he died, and what I threw out, would probably have made you a millionaire, today. I did try to pick up where dad left off - and bought 'Wireless Questions And Answers', and struggled, to construct a superhet, or two - but no go: I just didn't have what it takes. So out everything went...to my mother's unending delight.

With it, of course, went the Goodman's Horns, the Cossor Radios, the interminable number of alloy chassis frames, the potentiometers, the alloy cased condensers, the thousands of resistors, and millions, and millions of screws !

I only wish I had known you then, old lad.

Gerry George (Actor/Writer)


Dear Gerry,

Thank you for that beautiful story! I am going to keep a copy of it with the television and carry on the story to those who express an appreciation for the set. I'm guessing it may be the only surviving (well, somewhat) model in the USA.

Your father must have been a fascinating man, probably like all of the technical types like myself that save what most consider the most worn out pieces of junk "in case I'm in need of a part someday". Luckily, I guess, a wife, an 8 month old baby, and a smaller house have changed my pack-ratlike nature to some degree. It's still in the blood, though, believe me.

Per chance, do you know how much a set of this type would have sold for new?

I'm assuming, since your story confirms its 1959-60 vintage, that it was designed to receive 405 line broadcast. That just means it's that much more special, and, it's going to take a bit of creative ingenuity to make it function normally.

Your mention of the Cossor set brings to mind a certain Cossor I'd love to own, a television I once saw that had a small round screen on the left, speaker on the right, and a vernier dial down the middle. Haven't seen one in many years, but the image has always stuck with me.

So, as an aside, I thought I'd send you a picture of my driveway after the last major snowstorm we had here in Buffalo NY on November 20. I was personally stuck for 17 hours in a traffic jam on a normally 15 minute commute. My little Volvo 240DL made it through the snow like a champ, but the cars around me were not as fortunate. I ended up walking home three miles through waist high snow drifts to get home. It took me three days to get my car. We had a total of 27 inches of snow in 24 hours.

How's the weather there? :)




Dear Tim,

The Phillips TV cost £59, which was a lot of money, back in 196O...but then, we certainly didn't regard it as old, then, indeed, it was big - 17inch, I think - and, as it didn't have any controls, visible on the front, it was considered far ahead of its time, for the period.

It was, of course, a 4O5-line set, and it would be several years before 625 came to England. The Cossor Television set, you mention, I can well remember: if only because it bore an uncanny resemblance to dad's Echophone EC4 radio; only the tv screen, was where the square dial was on the Echo Communications Receiver.

Years before we got television, I used to stare at that dial, and imagine what it would be like, if it were a television screen.

Before I forget: I often see old telly's in junk shops around here; so, if I ever see anything interesting, you may be sure I will snap it up for you.

What you said about garnering old bits of radio, made me smile: it immediately conjured-up a picture of my dad - scrummaging about on the attic floor, on his hands and knees, in his shiny, worn-out khaki service-dress trousers - cussing his head off, as, in vain, he searched for some elusive resistance or other,amid a pile of dust, woodshavings, screws, old loudspeaker cones, bumping-weight condensers, and three-gang potentiometers.

He really WAS a chronic TV and wireless fanatic: he couldn't stop buying loudspeakers, and he actually commissioned Goodman, himself, to construct for him, a special sound system, which pre-dated hi-fi, and stereo, by nearly two decades !

The nearest thing, to the weather you have now, I experienced, on my way back from Christmas Island, in the Mid-Pacific, exactly 41years ago.

The Kennedy primaries were under way, as, on December 4, 1959, I boarded one of the new Boeing 7O7s, and flew, via Honolulu, to Calgary, Alberta, with a planeload of demob-happy RAF-chums, like me, who were headed for Blighty (the UK).

When we put down, in the Stampede City, it was 'below zero', and the snow was everywhere. But despite this, the city folk stopped their automobiles in the street, and asked us if we wanted to: "See the town ?" Well, I leapt into a Pontiac, and a very kind family took me all the way to Banff, in the Canadian National Park. It was dripping in icicles, and it looked, well, just like Fairyland.

The nearest scene to compare with it, I saw - when I turned on BBC TV, when I got home - and watched the snowscene, in the circa 1936, RKO, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movie: 'Swingtime'...that was Wednesday, December 16, if I remember rightly !

Sincerely, always,



Dear Gerry,

> Just thought I'd tell you of a trip that I took yesterday to the Museum of Television in Toronto, sponsored by a conglomerate of broadcasting stations, Sony, RCA, and the like.

What a fascinating place!  Their set collection cost in the neighborhood of $2,000,000 dollars to assemble.  They have such rarities as Marilyn Monroe's TV, the display sets from the 1939 Worlds Fair, and the Baird televisor, invented right in England.  They also had a floor model UK color TV that looked like a huge white golf ball.  Ever seen one?  I'd love to get my
hands on one of those!

The curator, Michael, was quite affable after getting to know myself and my friend Rob a bit (you find that in this collecting circle people are a bit stand-offish until they can surmise your intent, a preservationist or someone who needs a cash cow).  Unfortunately, they wouldn't let us take photos inside as they have had problems with people publishing without prior consent.

So, on the way back from the museum, the snow hit again.  The Toronto metro got 40cm of snow, followed closely by freezing rain.  Here's a pic on the ride home (taken from the cockpit of the wife's 1992 Volvo 960, we are a Volvo family too!).  Thank God she's got a good set of Nokian snow tires....we need them in these parts.  It turned a 2 hour ride home into a 5 hour trek.

The things we do for love.........



PS- if you have .zip capability, I can send you some other shots you'll enjoy of our "lovely" winter.


Hi, Tim !

What a fantastic 'Aladdin's Cave' the Museum of  Television, Toronto, must be: Wow !

When you  talk about the 1939 World's Fair, it conjures-up memories of dozens of monochrome, and coloured brochures - which I found in my dad's attic - of just that occasion, in which numerous streamlined exhibits were illustrated.

Those illustrations - which displayed, almost exclusively, models using the Marconi/EMI system - were considerably at variance to the sets, pictured in my dad's contemporary copies of Wireless World, when elegantly styled consoles, offering pictures via a mirror, secreted under the cabinet lid, came as one of two British alternatives; one relying on the Baird system.

As you know, Marconi won the day, and poor old John Logie Baird's system was trashed, but - never to be outdone - the determined 'braw' Scot, went back to the drawing board.

It's worth mentioning, that - by 1951, when we were contemplating investing in a television set - their was a conventional receiver, on the British market, which bore the famous Baird name.

And, oh, one of them - like that Cossor you mentioned - had the speaker on the left, with a 6in x 6in rectangular cathode tube, on the right of the set, with the controls traversing from left to right, underneath.

Whatever became of those brochures, I'll never know: I did preserve them, in a my late father's cabin trunk; but when our old home in Ashton was burgled, just about everything, including the bath and the cast-iron kitchen range, was snatched by the scavenging intruders.

You make me envious, when I hear about your lovely, Volvo: what fabulous cars they are.  As far as I am concerned, they beat the pants off any Mercedes Benz, and - given a Volvo - I wouldn't give a Rolls Royce a second-look !

Mind you, you DEFINITELY need a good car - with road-hugging tyres - to master those unforgiving winters: Oh I know what they're like...well, didn't I first start reading about them, 55 years ago, in the Life Magazines, which my dad brought back from the States ?

Another super 'find' amongst my father's hoard, was a magnificent souvenir brochure of Radio City Music Hall, New York,
which he brought back with him, from one of his convoy voyages, back in 1943.  I certainly wish I could lay my hands upon THAT now !

When I was a kid, I used to scan through those pages, and - raving over leggy full-length shots of those fabulous 'Roxy Usher' archetypes - I planned for the day when I would cast-off from these monotone shores, and head for heights sublime, in the Land of the Free...and the Lovely !

Sadly, it was never to be: at 17, the US Embassy rejected my impassioned pleas to become a US Citizen - whilst, simultaneously my mother went ballistic, at my madness for applying, in the first place - and that was when I finally accepted the fact that I was doomed to be British for the rest of my natural life ! (giggle).

I've got the makings of a 'zip' capability, but, the trouble is, I am afraid to install it...because I don't know enough about computers, to be sure I don't upset something else.  So, the answer is, 'no', I haven't got a 'zip' capability !  Shame.

The thing I forget to mention, in my mail, the other day, was: my father had, literally, hundreds of Transformers.  Yes, transformers were his main collecting item, and - when he died - I had to get rid of them, by the wheelbarrow load.

Fortunately, the local Catholic priest, at that time, was a bit of a radio 'ham', so he took a few off my hands: what for, the Lord only knows.  I often used to reflect that he might be amassing them, to build some sort of field force, to divert all us wicked sinners into heaven's path...but I never did find out.  (giggle, again).

Yesterday afternoon, I was at the BBC Television Centre, joining a televised discussion forum, about the ever-changing face of comedy.

It was hosted by the famous link-lady Esther Rantzen, with a team of four comedy celebrities on the podium, with questioning being directed from them, to the body of the floor, where I was seated with a host of other actors, writers, and comedic professionals.

Of course, that old 'chestnut' POLITICAL CORRECTNESS was soon unveiled, and, once again, began the inter-action, between the die-hard Puritans, of the 'hair-shirt and brown rice brigade', and the rest of us 'normal' folks, who don't see anything wrong in having a bl--dy good laugh, at who cares what, as long as it entertains, and lifts people out of their misery.

But after a lively, and friendly discussion - during which 'nothing in particular' was resolved - everybody went back to the Green Room, ate their vol au vents, and drifted away, full of seasonal cheer, and good fellowship, all round !

Well, Tim, the hands of my clock have now advanced to 5.17am, so I had better start 'getting up', and making ready, to start another new day !

Every good wish, Oh American brother !  Great to hear from you and your burgeoning family...and not least that lovely Volvo 1992, Volvo 96O, which - if I know anything about Volvos - is likely to go-on, and keep going-on, forever !

Sincerely, always,



Re: Charlie Drake

Dear John Quinn,

Charlie Drake made his TV debut - as far as I know, anyway - in 1951, on Children's Television, as one half of the Mick and Montmerency duo.

I'm surprised you didn't spot the reference to Charlie - and the MM-duo - on the A-Z index, on this super site: it does mention Charlie, by name, and shows some pictures.

He certainly gave us a great deal of fun and laughter, and, soon after branching-out on his own, Charlie had his own regular weekly show on BBC TV, which ran-and-ran, during the Fifties; until, in fact, a head injury - sustained on-set - laid him off for quite a while.

I am a pro, myself, and heard that, quite recently, Charlie had moved into a residential home, for members of the theatrical profession.

He is a great character - and a really nice man - so, right now, he must be giving his fellow-residents a very jolly time, one way, or another !


Re: Leslie Mitchell
Sunday, 10-Dec-00 01:26:15

Dear Peter,

Well, Leslie Mitchell was - as I remember - the commentator for the Gaumont British newsreel, and subsequently, the British Movietone News, in which his voice was heard, over the soundtrack, both before and after the war.

One particularly memorable 1938 newsreel - which I saw, re-broadcast, on Granada's: 'All Our Yesterdays', introduced by Brian Inglis, in the late Fifties - has him covering the launch of 'Me And My Girl', in London's West End, when light musical comedy star, Lupino Lane, went out into the streets, and, joined by his adoring public, led them in 'The Lambeth Walk'.

In postwar television, Leslie Mitchell co-hosted Joan Gilbert's 'Picture Page', for a short time, before returning to his familiar spot, at the cinema. I remember him as a delightful man: thoroughly professional, in every respect...and, what's more, a true English gentleman.

There are not many of his like, around now, in the industry, or anywhere else for that matter...and more is the pity !


You can read some more recollections, from me, on the 'What's My Line ?' website; along with some general memories, on the companion Memories site.

Here is the link to the main site: http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/index.htm

and here is a direct link to my page: http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/tv/memories.htm

here is the What's My Line? page: http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/tv/adults/quiz/whatsmyline.htm

Every good wish folks: I hope you enjoyed reading these letters, and answers. Keep 'em coming, and - if I can - I will try my best to help you.

Sincerely, always,

Gerry George (Actor/Writer)

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