When I’m Sixty-four…commercial TV, that is.

Television is almost as old as radio, experiments beginning in the early 1900s. From September 1929, the BBC issued test transmissions “by the Baird process” daily at 11am and on 14 July 1930 sent out the first trial of a scripted play.Regular TV broadcasts in the London area began in 1936, only ceasing when war broke out, as it was feared the signal might act as a beacon for enemy aircraft. Normal service, to quote a common phrase, was resumed in 1946 with broadcasts now relayed across the nation. Of course, news and entertainment could always be had from the well-established wireless (radio) programmes.Before telly – Dad tunes in the trusty wireless in December 1939, wondering if the war will be over soon

The real boost to domestic TV came in 1953 when the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II became the first such occasion to be televised live. My parents were among those who rented a 12-inch set, mounted in a nice walnut-veneer cabinet. This would typically cost around 13s (65p) a week to rent, or about £65 to buy (over 2 months pay for many people). Most chose to rent, being cautious about the reliability of these early sets, not to mention their relatively high cost. By 1960, the same £65 would buy you a 21-inch set, complete with a set of legs.

Independent Television (ITV) made its debut in November 1955 in London and the Midlands, giving viewers two novel experiences – a choice of channels (wow) and TV advertising. The existing BBC programmes used a pair of frequencies, one for the video signal and one for audio, together known as Channel 2. Now, with a new set or by plugging in a ‘channel adaptor’, we had Channel 9 as well.

The new network consisted of four regional franchises, co-ordinated by Associated Rediffusion, who oversaw the relaying of programmes from one area to another. All the broadcasts, of either channel, were in monochrome only, using a 405-line screen scanning resolution (low definition by modern standards but actually quite good quality).

Manchester had to wait until Thursday, 3 May 1956 when Granada TV put out its first broadcast from the brand-new studios on Quay Street, via a regional transmitter at Winter Hill. This prompted another rush to acquire TV sets. My family had recently moved to New Moston from Salford so it gave them the excuse to upgrade to a 17-inch set, with a channel knob!Lying face down in front of the fire, chin on hands, I goggled up at the new set. To be honest, I can’t personally remember what was on, but newspaper reports said it was an introductory live show hosted by American presenter, Quentin Reynolds, who (it turned out) was blind drunk; only some timely ad-libbing by guest Arthur Askey saved the show. Fifteen minutes in brought the first advert (for chocolate) and a quip from Arthur, “don’t worry – it’s not all as bad as this!”

The new channel soon settled into a routine and, as well as a crop of H-shaped VHF aerials, spawned another magazine, the TV Times, launched in 1956 and quite separate from the Radio Times (founded in 1923). They cost 4d and 3d respectively.Covers of Radio Times and TV Times, both from 1956

Programmes on either channel were still very sparse, as a typical listing for Monday, 6 May 1956, shows:-

BBC

3:00pm Countrywise; 3:45pm Watch With Mother; 4:00pm Close Down; 5:00pm Childrens Programmes; 7:00pm News & Weather, with Newsreel and Highlight; 7:30pm Adventures of the Big Man; 8:00pm What’s My Line?; 8:30pm Panorama; 9:15pm Festival of British Popular Songs; 10:00pm News & Weather; 10:15pm Soviet Visit; 10:30pm Close Down

Granada

4:00pm Travelling Eye; 5:00pm Monday Club (Roy Rogers, Space Club and Sportspot); 5:55pm News; 6:00pm Close Down; 7:00pm News, then Count of Monte Cristo; 7:30pm I’ve Got a Secret; 8:00pm Seagulls Over Sorrento (play); 9:30pm Cross Current; 10:00pm Weather, then Liberace; 10:30pm Pub Corner; 10:45pm News; 11:00pm Close Down

“Watch With Mother” was my personal pre-school favourite. This 15-minute afternoon slot had a different theme each weekday. Monday was Picture Book, Tuesday Andy Pandy, Wednesday Bill and Ben, Thursday Rag, Tag and Bobtail, with The Woodentops on Friday. Who remembers Looby Loo, Little Weed and Spotty Dog? Ah, such innocence…Living room TV, 1960s style (photo by Steve Wilson)

In the mornings just a test card would be shown. After the last evening programme, the screen would gradually shrink to a small white dot, followed by blackness and an irritating whine, to remind viewers who may have nodded off to turn off their sets!

Now, we have 24-hour, high-definition colour and over 480 channels. Back on Christmas Day 1953, the first of the Queen’s afternoon speeches went on air. It is perhaps pertinent to reflect on this continued tradition and the huge changes in media technology that have come about during the reign of one monarch.

Taking nothing for granted

I rarely read newspapers or watch news programmes. Truth is I avoid them. Now and then, though, something catches my attention, like the fires raging out of control in the Amazon.Far away on the other side of the world the Amazon rain forest was a place I read about at school or saw on TV documentaries. A permanent fixture so ancient and vast, it would always be there and always flourish. Then, there’s the oceans, all that plastic rubbish… and dying fish.

I took these places for granted.

I’m very lucky. I live a short tram ride from an amazing city and am free to enjoy all it has to offer from theatre, music, shopping, cafes and bars. The nearest airport is half an hours drive. Most of the best known supermarkets are within easy walking distance… and I take all that for granted too.But it doesn’t end there. Moston and the neighbouring areas have art, music, dance, theatre, a radio station, football stadium, fishing, cycling and running. With a range of social clubs to entertain and activities to engage all ages, whether you’re a cub scout, on a diet, a boxer, gardener, a champion bowler, love photography or a gripping game of chess, there’s something for everyone.Not to forget the parks, several large open green spaces, the Rochdale Canal, Moston Brook. Even a nature reserve; our very own piece of countryside.

How lucky are we? This weekend alone there’s been:

A Nature Day event next to the Lower Memorial Park.

FC United drew against Atherton Collieries in an FA Cup match.

Wayne Jacobs broadcast live reggae from the Miners Club Radio.

North West Theatre Arts Company performed at Openshaw’s Festival

At Boggart Hole Clough Simply Cycling were out in force. As were North Manchester Fitness walking group (one of their members was elsewehere at the Great North Run) and King William IV Angling Society Juniors were, oh yes, angling. The cafe was busy as ever.As for me, I nipped across the fields to the Nature Day. The carrot cake on the cake stall was to die for. A young lady, who I thought was there to help serve them up, delivered a pitch that would have had Alan Sugar ditching his diet.

Birds from Vale Royal Falconry put on a fabulous display, you could cast a fishing line, try your hand at wood carving, weaving, all sorts.Back across the fields again and through the park. The sun was out and it looked glorious.

I don’t take it for granted.

If you’ve been busy, missed out and want to find out what’s going on, have a nosey at the noticeboards in the supermarket and library. Or search Facebook and check out some local groups. Here’s a few:

Moston Brook Friends Group,  Lakeside Cafe – Boggart Hole Clough,  Miners Community Arts,  Broadhurst Community Centre,  Harpurhey Neighbourhood Project – The Centre,  Simply Cycling,  North Manchester Fitness, King William IV Angling Society,  Forever Harpurhey and Moston,  NWTAC,  Vale Royal Falconry.

Photos: Vale Royal Falconry, Piccadilly Gardens Manchester, the guys from King William IV Angling Society, Lower Memorial Park Failsworth

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Carers Week 2019

It’s like waiting for a bus. You go ages doing the same old thing, week in week out, then everything happens at once. That’s Carers Week for you. Good fun but I’m half glad it’s over, I’m knackered!

First off, a trip to the Bridgewater Hall for the Halle Orchestra performing The Lark Rising, including a mini tour and buffet. What a treat. What a spectacular building and how lucky are we to have such talented musicians in our city. The ice-cream tubs (I mean it would be rude not to) were divine.Next up, Walking Football at Manchester City Training Stadium. Walking Football, if you didn’t know, is an actual thing that people do. The game has its own set of rules, even its own league and the Man City trainers run these sessions twice a week. It was a brilliant afternoon, the training facility was awesome and the buffet… delicious.The third event on my list was an Italian meal at Dom’s Tavola Calda on Deansgate. I decided to make a day of it and took an early tram into town. Had a rare mooch around the Arndale before meandering through M&S to the restaurant.Tucking in into Italian??

I soon spotted someone I knew, plonked myself down and had great time. Fabulous atmosphere, like being on a works do. Finished with a tiramisu as light as air, washed down with a glass of vino blanco – bellissimo!

Finally, and much needed after all that food, the week rounded up with a brisk walk, courtesy of Manchester and Salford Ramblers, around Salford Quays and Media City. It was easy to get to on the tram and the weather was perfect.

The walk took us past the Imperial War Museum and Ordsall Hall, both of which are free. I had a meander through the Blue Peter Garden and a nosy around the Lowry Shopping Centre. Thoroughly impressed and I’ll definitely go back.Somewhere near Salford Quays

There were lots of other things going on that week that I didn’t get to but a massive thanks to the organisations involved for their time, funding, facilities and hard work.  I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to get out, have some fun and meet new people.My fellow walkers outside Ordsall Hall

Carers Week isn’t a one-off. There are regular meetings, trips out, free training sessions, coffee mornings and activities going on all across Manchester all through the year and you can easily access them as well as get advice, information and support.

Not sure if you’re a carer? This might help…If you are local to Harpurhey/Moston, workshops run by Manchester Carers Network have been held at Broadhurst Community Centre. Manchester Carers Forum hold monthly meetings at The Avenue Library and Learning Centre in Blackley, Age Exchange run an activity club at EachStep on Charlestown Road and there are rumours that Manchester Carers Centre will be running sessions at Harpurhey Wellbeing Centre on Church Lane starting next month.

Further information on other localities and details of future events can be found by clicking on the links below:

Manchester Carers Network, Manchester Carers Forum, Manchester and Salford Ramblers, Manchester City Walking Football, Broadhurst Community Centre (FB)Imperial War Museum North, Ordsall HallAge Exchange, Bridgewater Hall.

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