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Keeping the Children Happy and Informed

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1965-01-23 Times.jpg


Mr. Michael Segal's programme for children, Write a Play! on Rediffusion, has been receiving up to 700 scripts a day. They range from hopeful, illegible one-page manuscripts sent in by five-year-olds to a significant number of serious attempts to treat dramatically the urgent topics of the day. This week saw a piece on the H-bomb, and other submissions have dealt with race relations and the communication (or lack of it) between teenagers and their parents. Fairy tales and social plays have been arriving in approximately equal proportions: the only area in which there has been a marked falling off is in the thriller category. It seems that neither burglars nor ghosts provide a fertile source of inspiration for young writers. The series, which is scheduled to run for 13 weeks with Mr. Jimmy Hanley as compere and Lord Willis as judge, brings into focus both the educative and entertainment functions of children's broadcasting, emphasizing and partly solving the problems endemic to both.

The important thing about plays written by children is that they are most unlikely to talk down to children. The language tends to be matter of fact : the material, as often as not, ambitious. Consequently their entertainment value is assured, for with so many entries to choose from Mr. Segal can afford to pitk only the cream, which has the classic quality of appealing to children and adults alike. The educational significance of such a programme, particularly to its child authors, should be obvious. Yet it has to overcome the same kind of prejudice as was tendered towards the idea of introducing full-time drama teachers into comprehensive schools.


There are variously estimated to be between 35,000 and 40,000 schools of all kinds in the country, of which some 23,000 are primary schools. Yet only 8,000 odd are registered with the Independent Television Authority as regular users of schools television, and relatively few even of these are primary schools, which, with their broad, non-specialized curricula could perhaps be expected to benefit the most.

Assuming a similar following for the B.B.C., and allowing on the one hand for duplication and on the other for unregistered users, it still seems that less than half of all the schools in Britain take advantage of a medium which can, as no other, take the burden of demonstration away front the teacher, help to overcome thy problem of large classes, and supply an effective introduction to anything from geography to applied physics.

Yet this oddly cool response is not due to lack of information. All schools are sent advance information on projected programmes and invited to supply for the free set of teachers' aid leaflets which supplement each broadcast. The current series on Independent television includes One World, The World Around Us, Finding Out. Afternoon Edition and Primary Mathematics. One difficulty may be finance: to equip a school with half a dozen television sets is a costly undertaking though there is no reason why they should not be rented. But the root cause of mistrust is probably misunderstanding: it is still widely believed that schools programmes are designed to take the place of the teacher rather than—as is the case—to assist him.


The amount of time to be devoted to schook broadcasting is not prescribed. The independent companies at present supply about 65 minutes a day from Monday to Friday inclusive and B.B.C. 1, whose first transmission sometimes begins as early as 9.10 a.m., about two hours On the entertainment side, B.B.C. also devotes rather more time to children, with two daily editions of Watch with Mother, and the morning Play School on B.B.C. 2, in which Mr. David Kossoff has been acting as raconteur with the same admirable clarity and simplicity as he does on the excellent —Associated Television Storttinte on Sunday evenings. The independent companies have the edge in " pop " music: both Thank. Your Lucky Stars and Ready. Steady, Go ! have a pulse and resilience that is usually missing from the more staid Juke Box Jury, which stresses panel personalities at the expense of the songs which (often quite inarticulately) they assess. Ollie and Fred's Five O'Clock Club, on Rediffusion, is an old favourite realigned to a slightly more senior age group: with Miss Muriel Young as resident commère, it continues to deliver .a disarming blend of fact, fantasy and beat music.

The strongest weapon in the B.B.C. armoury, by contrast, remains Dr. Who: the departure of the Daleks has broken small hearts all over the country, but the new series, with Miss Jacqueline Hill and Mr. William Russell in the hands of the slave traders, promises well. Miss Verity Lambert's production is once again flawless. Dixon of Dock Green. on the other hand, has serious competition in A.T.V.'s Bonanza, half an hour later, and I know several children who make a practice of switching over in mid-programme.

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  • APA 6th ed.: (1965-01-23). Keeping the Children Happy and Informed. The Times p. 5.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Keeping the Children Happy and Informed." The Times [add city] 1965-01-23, 5. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Keeping the Children Happy and Informed." The Times, edition, sec., 1965-01-23
  • Turabian: "Keeping the Children Happy and Informed." The Times, 1965-01-23, section, 5 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Keeping the Children Happy and Informed | url= | work=The Times | pages=5 | date=1965-01-23 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 July 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Keeping the Children Happy and Informed | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 July 2024}}</ref>