TVI am sure that few things can have given greater pleasure to millions of viewers than Wilfred Pickles's surprise item— bringing Miss Gracie Fields again to us. How well she sang How grand she looked! Surely soon to be Dame Gracie Fields.
But Wilfred Pickles seems to be Infinitely resourceful in a programme that makes magic carpets look like old, moth-eaten rugs. To think of what can come from one single good idea ! The simple, the homely, the human—that is the real food of the best in this strange new world of the magic home screen.
I thought Peter Ustinov's brilliant table-talk, when first shown, was one of the best things I had ever seen on TV. What was my surprise to read a fierce criticism of it in a highbrow paper! I hope that TV's telerecording of it was a sign that the masses of viewers shared my opinion of it. It was even better the second time,
Another programme we can never have too much of is the African filming of the Denises. Again it is a case of the human, imaginative touch with, surely, TV audiences in mind.
A sad lot
How popular, i wonder, are the swanky "Grove Family" in the form of the "Whiteoak Family"? The B.B.C. seem to have put their money on the latter, what with genealogical tables and everything; but surely they are a sad and inhuman lot with little indeed that corresponds to life as it is lived.
"The Grove Family," on the other hand, gets better and better; but the items are too short. They should last at least half an hour each. And surely the difficulty of keeping the actors together for a long enough time would be solved by doing a long series of telerecordings. There will be a big gap in many a home when the Groves return to their ordinary life. M. B. RADIO. Our biggest laugh this week has only indirectly come from the wireless set. We have been reading Marghanita Laski's perfect take off of "Any Questions" in Punch. It was so good that it spoiled the programme a little for me this week. I kept thinking how right she was every time one of the panel uttered some of the commonplaces that the poor things are bound to utter from time to time. They do get asked pretty well the same questions every week, and it must be difficult for Ralph Wightman, say, to stop being Ralph Wightman. Outside "Any Questions," however, Ralph Wightman has other characteristics. Ardent followers of the "What Do You Know?" contest on the Light Programme on Saturday evenings, where three competitors have a general knowledge quiz and different sections of the British Isles are fighting against each other week by week, will have heard him acting the clown when he became a competitor at short notice. When he didn't know the correct answer (and that was surprisingly often), he just made up answers or 'roundly denounced the questibri master as wrong.
His serious side is very 'much in evidence in the series he has been doing on Sunday mornings (Home) called "Rural Rides." Here he has been at great pains to visit the same places as William Cobbett and to follow up as far as possible the people mentioned by the great man.
A programme that invites "takingoff" week after week is "The Critics." Last week's session of these folk seemed to reach its capacity for producing meaningless phrases or what must he considered by a large number of people as a completely detached view of everyday life. Possibly the present team is duller than previously. as t usually find at least something amusing or interesting in what they say. I feel I could do with larger doses of Paul Dahn's sparkle and of Freda Bruce Lockhart's common sense.