Points of View celebrates 50 years of broadcasting viewers' feedback on BBC output, as Jeremy Vine explores how public opinion has changed over the course of five decades.
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Good afternoon and welcome to Points Of View
on this, our fiftieth anniversary.
Yes, the Points Of View programme in its various guises,
has been broadcasting YOUR feedback
on the BBC's TV output for 50 years.
What a wealth of output that has been and it's stored here,
in this state-of-the-art archive.
Priceless first appearances from some of the world's greatest actors...
Yes, that is the coolest James Bond looking very uncool,
and unique documentary footage from historic international events
are preserved for all time.
Recordings ranging from the first test broadcasts,
transmitted to those rich and reckless souls
who invested in prototype 1930s televisions,
to groundbreaking footage of the natural world
and, indeed, the solar system, are all here,
in climate-controlled custody.
In a specially extended show today,
we'll be looking back at five decades of Points Of View,
reflecting TV's highs and lows
and hearing how the audience reacted to the television gems
stored in the vaults here.
But what about the stuff that we're broadcasting today?
Shelf space is tight in a place like this.
Will the current crop deserve to be stored forever?
Doctor Who, for example, still going strong,
although it is two years younger than us.
Spooks is finishing after its tenth year. Is it going out on a high?
-There you are. We need to talk.
-It'll have to wait.
The Body Farm is a spin-off from Waking The Dead,
which was laid to rest in the spring.
Mate, don't ignore me.
I swear, if I have to come out there, Robbie.
I'm actually really rather busy. I'm working with Old Tom.
Well, Old Tom can wait. We need you in the lab.
-Yeah, he's coming in with a body.
Bad scripts and bad acting -
you really are reading us the riot act on The Body Farm.
Now, this chilled and air-filtered inner sanctum
holds precious tapes from the 1960s.
Unlike today's correspondents,
letter-writers in the '60s were more measured in their feedback.
A stoic, post-war grin and bear it attitude prevailed,
as viewers just couldn't overcome that famous British reserve
and stiff upper lip and let rip.
It could be that audiences didn't quite believe
that the empire-wide monolith
that was the 1960s British Broadcasting Corporation
would really welcome criticism.
The early Points Of View was anchored by the late, great Robert Robinson
and it called for criticism, but in practice,
the show seemed a little too cosy with the BBC's programme makers,
so you sensed the audience maybe doubting
that complaints would go anywhere.
The swinging '60s.
Huge events - England won the World Cup...
They think it's all over, it is now.
..men arrived on the moon...
That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
..and Points Of View was launched into a slightly less dramatic orbit.
Good evening. Every Monday, at this time,
I'm going to read you your own letters.
I do hope they're going to be highly critical and frightfully disobedient
and so help save television from one of its besetting sins - complacency.
The world was shaken by a sexual revolution.
JFK was in the White House.
There was nudity, psychedelia.
Points Of View, however, seemed to be on a different planet.
TAB of London, SE4, says...
Depends what they write or phone to say.
Perhaps, as the '60s swung, there was a sense that all of this
was going just a bit too fast for some people.
Who you going to call? Points Of View, of course.
We got the counter-revolution. Complaints, for example,
about this shocking informality.
A letter from someone who signs herself
"A Little Bit Of Victoriana from Worksop."
I wonder if other viewers have noticed and been annoyed
by those people interviewed on Tonight and similar programmes who,
although as far as we know,
have had no previous acquaintance with the interviewer,
insist upon addressing him by his first name.
Don't they realise how impolite this is?
We don't get so many complaints about first names, now,
but one theme that started then is still going strong -
the disgraceful appearance of presenters.
Mr JF Smith of North Shields has gone broody
on the subject of Kenneth Allsop's hairstyle.
Who does Kenneth Allsop think he is with his flash haircut - Adam Faith?
A serious charge.
Mr Allsop's personal hairdresser, Mr Stanley Alwyn,
has come from Soho to answer it.
A flash haircut? No, definitely not.
This hairstyle has been designed for the smart, modern man.
I call it the classic cut.
Its outstanding features are one, it's very easy to handle,
two, needs very little dressing and three, it is always neat and tidy.
Grows on him as natural as ivy.
And if it wasn't flash haircuts,
other issues provoked outrage.
Last Saturday, Stubby Kaye appeared on Juke Box Jury.
Stand by for blasting, Mr Kaye.
Tonight's Juke Box Jury was spoiled by Stubby Kaye.
He was disgusting. Betty Wilkinson, Sale.
What did he do? Use filthy language?
I was disgusted and horrified
at the bad manners of Stubby Kaye last Saturday.
Ann Tallerton, Blackpool.
Did he have some buttons undone?
We were having a meal whilst watching Juke Box Jury
and it made us sick to see him. E Hancock, Selling.
Did he belch, perhaps?
What a revolting spectacle Juke Box Jury presented
to the viewers watching Saturday's programme. Mrs Cox, Sheerness.
For those of you who didn't see Juke Box on Saturday,
we won't keep you in suspense any longer.
Stubby Kaye was chewing bubble gum and blowing great, lathery bubbles.
All that build up and no clip?
What a tease!
But in the '60s spirit of the authoritarian BBC,
that didn't seem to be a priority.
However, a certain sports broadcast, with a clip to illustrate,
had the viewers spitting.
Is it absolutely necessary for the cameras
to show a boxer's corner between rounds
and give the viewer an uninterrupted view of gargling, spitting,
nose-blowing and nose-wiping in the facial towel?
It isn't pretty. It isn't important.
But don't you find it illuminating to see how a man spits and gargles?
To see him doing something as intimate, as unrehearsed as that?
And one viewer was up in arms about a rather racy reference.
Finally, an arresting communication from a joker in Kent.
Last night on BBC television, during a peak viewing hour,
the word "armpit" was used, quite openly and blatantly,
at a time when millions of children, not to mention grown adults,
must have been watching.
Heaven knows there's enough pornography masquerading as art,
but surely this is going too far.
If he sent that in for a bet, he won. Good night.
Robert died this year. What a professional.
A brilliant writer who's missed.
We've all heard the outcries from fans
over crucial TV firsts lost forever because tapes were wiped
and the excitement when long-lost footage turns up at a jumble sale.
Sadly, there was a scandalous lack of foresight by early BBC producers,
saving storage space and the recycling of tapes
was thought to be more important than the priceless content being made.
But now, when TV gold is unearthed in the most unlikely of places,
it is sent here, where it's restored and transferred
onto broadcastable formats for mass viewing once more.
So, what have we got here?
Well, this particular film was sent in by a private collector.
It's from 1964
and it's called Kipling
and the reason we're so thrilled to get it back
is the fact that it stars one of our most famous actors
in his first credited screen appearance.
I can recognise him - Ian McKellen.
-And that was that.
-And how big was it?
Oh, I'd say 11 feet.
It's a painstaking process
but it is worth the effort for such iconic content.
Is TV better than it was?
Unfair to compare a week now with a decade then,
but you do wonder if what we're watching these days
will be remembered so fondly. Masterchef, for example.
We have made our decision.
The first person leaving the competition...
..is Margi. Sorry, Margi.
And this one's misnamed.
The Queen's Palaces could, by all accounts,
be the Fiona Bruce Show.
Inside, Mary would have found the chateau lavish...
..with every surface decorated.
Dinosaurs and digital graphics are a sure-fire winner. Aren't they?
The most common plant eater in this region
is the highly social Edmontosaurus.
They're the largest duck-billed dinosaur in North America...
..and they are the perfect prey for a very different type of predator.
You wouldn't think ten years could make such a difference
to a subject that's been around for millennia.
But now, let's rewind three decades.
Behind this high security, climate-controlled portal
are gems from the 1970s -
the era when the woefully non-PC sitcom abounded.
Such blatant sexism, homophobia and cliched hatred of mother-in-laws
triggers a sharp intake of breath these days.
But they were guaranteed ratings winners then.
Thick people like her next door can't even light a fire for you
or make a cup of tea or wash a few dishes even!
Unfortunately, this chink couldn't speak a word of their language, now.
It's about Mother, Reggie.
Some excerpts from David Croft's work there, who died this week.
What was Points Of View up to in this decade?
Well, after bouncing around the schedules as a filler in the 1960s,
POV was rested altogether in 1971.
Mind you, Mary Whitehouse was doing the job for us,
ensuring enough news bulletin space was devoted to TV standards
to keep them in the public eye.
After the eight year break, in 1979,
Barry Took launched a brand new POV.
This was the punk era
and whilst Barry did dispense with the '60s stuffed shirt
and took himself a little less seriously than his forebears,
missives from the Points Of View studio
still seem pretty at odds with life on the streets.
Despite this, those who did write in were no longer shy to voice opinions.
They demanded their rights to quality programming
and reflected the 1980s obsessions with working women,
sex, power and money.
The '80s - they were all about individual empowerment.
People with very large phones calling other people.
Did you see that on the TV?
It was the perfect time for us to be back on your screens.
And there were television moments you just wouldn't see now.
Who would ever approve this?
Like millions of women,
she's a regular shopper at Marks And Spencer.
-Do you love their underclothes like the rest of Britain?
-Yes. Who doesn't?
Through their choice of prime minister,
the voters had made a powerful statement about female equality,
but TV was yet to catch up.
We start with this.
Mr GP Simpson of Crewe also makes a feminist protest about...
Cricket commentators referring to scoreless overs as MAIDEN overs.
This is anti-feminine with the sexist inference
that the batsman has failed to SCORE.
Thank heavens there's more to television than smut. There's...
Actually there were some epoch-changing events in the world of charity
taken by television live to the whole world.
There are people dying now, so give me the money.
One thing you do notice from back then, complaints got tougher
and your presenter occasionally bit back.
What's the point of Points Of View?
Mrs Alders, under the impression that I am part of the BBC management team,
I am not, I am a freelance writer and broadcaster, asks...
For now, let me say for the last time,
that Points Of View is here to express opinions, ANY opinions.
For the last time, I love that.
Hey, new titles, the programme became informal in the '80s.
Viewers took no prisoners
and the presenter didn't take himself too seriously,
especially between takes.
OK. Wonderful, it's going to creep in, dear. It's going to creep in.
If it plunges in, we shall be impervious, we wait till it creeps.
Imitation is apparently the sincerest form of flattery
and dear old POV has proved fair game
to impressionists and comedians alike over the years.
The temptation to parody has proved just too hard to resist.
The next topic is...
Why, oh why, oh why,
is the structure of my chromosomes.
Dear BBC, I can't help noticing
that whenever Terry receives a letter from a woman
he doesn't seem to take it seriously. As a woman...
And she continues in that vein for 2 1/2 pages.
Hello, I'm Anne Robinson.
Welcome to another edition of Pointless Views.
and welcome to another of your old favourite Points Of View.
Or as it's better-known to the thousands of you
who've just turned your television on this Sunday afternoon,
-it, I've missed the EastEnders omnibus again.
Dear Points Of View, I would like to complain about
the weird voice you are reading out my letter in.
Again it makes you compare comedians then and now.
Were the old ones built to last better,
or are the new ones sharper, cuter, more original?
I am currently seeing a hypnotist to cure me
of my compulsion to visit hypnotists.
There's always been terrorism. When I was growing up was the Irish.
Are you sure? The Irish?
People like Graham Norton and Jedward?
Hello, welcome. Yes, my name is Rhod Gilbert.
My job is to answer the questions that keep us all awake at night.
The 1990s saw the spotlight focus firmly on the viewers.
Not only were they now replacing professional presenters
as the new swathe of docusoaps were launched -
yes, Maureen and co were born -
but the consumer voice of the angry viewer finally reached full volume.
The '90s recession had forced us all to chase value,
and now there was a growing consumer awareness that yes,
you could return a product and ask for your money back.
With Anne Robinson at the helm the voice of the viewer
was finally heard both on and off camera.
The economic boom of the '80s gave way to recession gloom in the '90s.
But the launch of the National Lottery gave us all a glimmer of hope
and helped to spice up our lives.
And in TV terms the people had the power.
Normal people rather than celebrities
were well and truly in the driving seat.
We followed drama on the tarmac with the likes of Jeremy Spake in Airport.
I'm prepared to give you a discount on your excess baggage.
And a humble Yorkshire lass turned nation's sweetheart
with The Cruise's Jane McDonald.
It's another corridor. But this is absolutely beautiful.
Well, actually being in control of animals made for popular viewing back in the '90s.
Let us briefly return to Trude, the Norwegian student vet
whose link with getting the hang of things
was tenuous to say the least
in Vet School.
Oh, I'm doing it again!
'I started to wonder whether I should actually let the BBC use it.
'I just trust and hope everybody knows that all vets have to train.'
It happens all the time but I happened to be put on camera doing it.
And the viewer voyeurism continued with the dawn of the makeover show.
Dimmock curve around here, or curves.
I don't know whether to be flattered or not.
I'll make the curves bigger then!
The tackier the result, the better the viewing.
I hate it. I hate skins and prints and things like that.
It is overtacky, it'll have to go straightaway.
Makeover TV became such a '90s phenomenon,
even national headlines gave their points of view.
As they say in newspapers, correspondence on this is now closed.
Which brings us to the noughties
and the reign of someone far naughtier than me,
my Radio 2 colleague, Sir Terry Wogan.
Terry won't even answer his mobile phone
although come to think of it maybe he's got me on call barred.
But despite his aversion to modern technology
he was the custodian of POV when we all went digital.
With the launch of BBC Three and BBC Four
he had double the territory to patrol.
In 2006 HD gave him the great big
as well as the very little pixel debate to police.
And what with iPlayer, red button, programme websites
and the march of the digital switchover, his inbox was bulging.
But let's not go there just yet.
The digital age... more or less landed on my lap.
And it couldn't have landed on a more receptive lap than mine.
Because, as is well known,
even in my declining years,
I, in fact, am right there on the cutting edge.
And I knew absolutely nothing about what was going on.
The BBC started to sprout.
We were there for the beginning of Three and Four.
Heard about the six new BBC channels?
Haven't got a telly.
And, naturally, the public, initially,
enthusiastic...thinking we have got a bit more variety here,
a bit more choice, quickly changed their mind.
And all I can say is Torchwood.
Yes, all right, quite enough of that.
As those trails hit fever pitch,
the Points Of View phone went into meltdown.
You can never do right for doing wrong.
The British public pay a licence fee.
And they know that they are entitled to the best.
Television was like a moody teenager
going through incredible changes and shouting at everyone.
Points Of View copped the flak.
And with so many new channels, they all needed identifying.
But on-screen graphics did not go down well with the viewers.
Why do TV channels insist on putting static logos on our TV screens
while we are watching?
When HD started, the British public leapt at it
and said this is terrific, great definition,
we can see everything as clear as a bell,
and oh my god, just look at Terry Wogan's complexion.
I would like to ask the BBC what criteria they use
to decide which programmes to record and broadcast in HD, and which not?
I think they should probably get out more.
Then came the red button.
I had to make it clear to the great viewing public
that it was the other red button,
because people kept switching the television off.
The red button is the one that gives you alternative viewing.
After solving the confusion over the launch of interactive services,
he found another use for the red button.
Loud background music has long been a bugbear,
and Terry got viewers the option to turn it off.
The red button option to switch off the music.
So if a lot of peak-time BBC One TV
handed over for you to control is not Points Of View people power,
I don't know what is.
Another breakthrough was the iPlayer.
And frankly I still don't use the iPlayer because I don't know how.
But I mean, you're talking about an old geezer,
who is right there on the cutting edge.
But...it has become enormous.
The only incident Points Of View was unable to get an apology for
was a wardrobe malfunction in 2007
which we won't trouble you with again.
Well, OK, blink and you miss it.
Good afternoon. There's one thing you can't accuse Points Of View of -
It was a trick of the light.
A trick of the light.
And people claim they saw something that simply wasn't there.
But is that must-watch good, or must-watch bad?
Don't ask me how it happened or why, you know!
Although it was enormously flattering, of course.
So, 50 years of Points Of View
and I am sure that was the quickest TV tour imaginable.
There is some great television output these days, of course there is,
but the complaints are getting louder.
The BBC gets busier,
and those with something to say say it with more assurance than ever.
Hey, that's good business for us.
We are back to normal next week.
We'd love your views on the BBC's newest programmes.
We'll be talking about Merlin's magical reappearance
and Strictly of course, glitter balls and Zoe Balls.
Do get in touch. You can write to us at this address.
You are also more than welcome to e-mail. Here is the address for you.
Or jump on the message board.
Or phone us. The number is charged as a local rate call from a landline.
Here it is.
Now over the 50 years some other presenters occasionally stood in,
don't want to miss them out, so goodbye from them and from me.
-I'll bid you farewell.
Me, I'm off to buy myself a silk blouse, good night.
-End of story.
-It's goodbye from them, and from me.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
Points of View celebrates 50 years of broadcasting viewers' feedback on BBC output. In a specially extended programme presented from the BBC's new archive centre, Jeremy Vine examines how the programme and the opinions of the audience have changed over five decades. Includes up-to-date review of this week's output.