Looking Back At... The Dalek Invasion Of Earth

Back in 1964, The Daleks really were The Masters of Earth. You might think it's a big event when the BBC unveil the trailer for the trailer for the 'minisode' preceding the new series of Doctor Who, but that's got nothing on the runaway levels of sheer excitement that greeted their first ever return appearance. At that point, with the possible exception of The Beatles (and that's only 'possible'), The Daleks were pretty much the biggest thing on the planet. They didn't call it ‘Dalekmania’ for nothing, you know.

World's End, the first episode of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, was transmitted by BBC1 at 17.40pm on 21st November 1964, and judging from the accompanying publicity it's probably safe to say that one or two people were reasonably keen on seeing it. But what else might they have watched or listened to whilst whiling away the Dalek Hours until it was on, or indeed afterwards while trying to chill out and stave off the big Post-Dalek Comedown? Well, get warming up your set - television or wireless - as we're going to be taking a look at some of the highlights of what else was on offer that day. As well as one or two that were absolutely not highlights in any way whatsoever...

7.15 On Your Farm (Home Service)
"A weekly review of the agricultural scene introduced by Charles Jarvis". The Weekend Starts Here!

10.0 Saturday Club (Light Programme)
A special edition of what was then the BBC's then-flagship pop programme - it was actually still more popular and influential than Top Of The Pops for a brief while - as Brian Matthew takes a Fab Four-inspired trip to Hamburg to catch up with John, Paul, George and Ringo's reissue-friendly former bill-sharer Tony Sheridan. He also found time to have a chat with Wenn Doch Jede Woche Mal Der Erste Wär hitmaker Gus Backus, popular beat combo The Rattles, and 'Rocking Stars'-toting bandleader Günter Fuhlisch, whose collective fans quite possibly included the stars of...

12.30 Komm Mit! (BBC1)
The BBC used to make loads of these light drama-based foreign language instruction courses - see also Cold War-tinged ski resort thriller Suivez La Piste! and Cold War-tinged alien-on-Earth thriller Slim John - though there was probably slightly less in the way of Eastern Bloc allegory on the agenda as ‘Heidi’ and ‘Dieter’ attempted to obtain tickets for the opera, doubtless with mildly amusing consequences. Incidentally, ‘Komm Mit’ means, essentially, ‘Come With’, so at least you've learned something today.

1.40 Desert Island Discs (Home Service)
Honor Blackman chats to Roy Plomley and judo-throws a load of classical and jazz waxings – not to mention Johnny Dankworth's original The Avengers theme, which is good and not rubbish like you think – overboard from the sinking ship. She also wants Michelangelo’s David as her luxury item for some reason. Can't possibly begin to imagine why.

4.0 Open House (BBC2)
Time for the first big ‘I... what?’ moment of the day, as Gay Byrne presides over a bafflingly disparate collection of 'People-Places-Pops' which takes in Marvin Gaye, The Merseybeats, Valerie Masters Tony Osborne And His Orchestra and that hep cat all the kids were going crazy for, Dr. Michael Winstanley, alongside some prominently-billed extracts from the big screen version of Lord Of The Flies. We can but hope that this was all more hip and happening than it sounds.

5.15 Juke Box Jury (BBC1)
David Jacobs presides over the typically unlikely combination of Spike Milligan, Alma Cogan, Pete Murray and a very young Liza Minnelli - then appearing with mother Judy Garland in a 'songs from the musicals' extravaganza at the London Palladium - venturing their opinion on a handful of the latest pop waxings, including top discs from The Everly Brothers, Sandie Shaw, Herman's Hermits, Frank Ifield, and those Beatle Boys with their new offering I Feel Fine. As you can see from this still from the single's promo video, Ringo wasn't even the best exercise bike rider in The Beatles.

5.50pm Thank Your Lucky Stars Special (ITV)
And speaking of I Feel Fine, The Beatles were also busy belting it out on the 'other channel' along with She's A Woman, I'm A Loser and Rock'n'Roll Music, while Brenda Lee and Freddie And The Dreamers waved haplessly from the corner. In fact it was audience-chasing all the way on ITV tonight, with Thank Your Lucky Stars followed by Danger Man grappling with The Colonel's Daughter at 7.25pm, now forgotten big comedy name of his day Arthur Haynes at 8.25pm, now even more forgotten Good Honest Copperin' action serial Gideon's Way at 9.10 pm, light-hearted Rantzen-purloined current affairs reports from On The Braden Beat at 11.05pm, and a repeat of five-year-old drama series HG Wells' The Invisible Man at 11.30pm. And that's literally all that we can find to say about ITV on that day, in an article with the primary purpose of celebrating the odd, the unusual, the inexplicable and the just plain uncelebrated of television of yesteryear. This should be printed out and stapled to the foreheads of anyone involved with those boneheaded 'Dismmantal Biassed BBC NOW pls' campaigns. You won't know what you're losing until it's gone so fight them while there's still time. Though, in fairness, they do have such powerful and overwhelming evidence of the need for 'reform' at their disposal...

6.0 Historic French Organs: 3: Saint- Maximin (Third Programme)
“Music by Couperin played by Michel Chapuis on a gramophone record” BBC FAKERY

6.30 The Beat Room (BBC2)
Top of the Pops
’ more musically credible EPs-and-live-bands-based counterpart weighs in with Pat Campbell introducing performances from The Rockin' Berries, Jackie De Shannon, Heinz and The Paramounts, all of whom were pretty big names at the time but whom only shortly afterwards would be left mumbling “I have a horsey... neigh... neigh” in the wake of Rubber Soul. And, erm, Peter And The Headlines, who weren't. Incidentally, you can read all about David Bowie's early appearances on The Beat Room in The Camberwick Green Procrastination Society.

7.30 Starlight Hour (Home Service)
It's slightly strange to think that radio variety shows were once such a big deal, but they were and here's one of the biggest of them. Kenneth Horne introduces singers Janet Coster, Maryetta Midgley and John Hauxwell, violinist Alan Loveday, comics Kenneth Connor, June Whitfield and Ronnie Barker, proper ac-tor Naunton Wayne, and The Starlight Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Lockyer, with a script provide by Rentaghost creator Bob Block. All of the above doubtless had much more high profile things to be getting on with at the time, which gives some indication of just how high esteem radio was still held in back then. In fact, we can see some of those high profile things now; “Naunton Wayne is in ‘The Reluctant Peer’ at the Duchess Theatre; Kenneth Connor in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum’ at the Strand Theatre; Maryetta Midgley in ‘Camelot’ at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London; John Hauxwell broadcasts by kind permission of the Sadler's Wells Opera Company”. What's more, Naunton Wayne was also the lead in a translation of Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini's on-your-bike-Black-Mirror dark sci-fi comedy The Memory Machine on The Third Programme earlier in the evening. Stitch that, Live at the Apollo!

7.50 The Black And White Minstrel Show (BBC1)
It'd be preferable not to even mention this, except that... "'The Black and White Minstrel Show' is appearing at the Victoria Palace, London and at the Grand Theatre, Leeds". The actual programme?!

10.05 Jazz 625 (BBC2)
Coleman Hawkins tootles out some high-definition sounds with the aid of Jimmy Woode on bass, Jo Jones on drums, Sir Charles Thompson on piano and Harry 'Sweets' Edison on trumpet. The Jazz Names Shop had evidently closed just before they got there.

10.20 Not So Much A Programme, More A Way Of Life (BBC1)
The toned-down replacement for That Was the Week That Was, which the BBC had cancelled earlier in the year due to governmental pressure (though they face-savingly, or if you will misleadingly, claimed it was due to a need to remain impartial with an election in the offing - how times have changed) came in for such a bashing from the wider satirical community – most infamously Private Eye's flexidisc Not So Much A Programme, More A Shower Of Shit – that today even dedicated comedy historians seem to know little about what went on in it. This is particularly astonishing given that more or less every edition – including this one – still exists. So what would Frost, Rushton, Bron, Bird, Hudd, Sherrin and company have been casting their Friday Night Armistice Satirical Eye over this week? Well, British Troops were finally withdrawing from Kenya, Pope Paul VI had postponed a vote on Religious Liberty, and The Times had just published an article declaring that the Satire Boom had outstayed its welcome. And then of course there was the return of those Dalek characters...

The Camberwick Green Procrastination Society, featuring tons more about old TV and sixties pop music, is available in paperback here, from the Kindle Store here, or as a full-colour eBook here.