by JAMES GRAHAM
A GOOD deal of cheating is
practised in television. Much of it is harmless enough. But as the sleight of hand gets cleverer, the hazards grow more dangerous.
To begin with the relatively innocuous, not many people object to singers miming to their records, Thank Your Lucky Stars, the ABC programme on a Saturday evening is a prodigal user of the device. The Dick Emery Show on BBC and of course The Black and White Minstrel Show when it is on the air, also use it frequently.
The advantages from the performers' point of view are fairly obvious. If singers really sing their hit numbers on the air, the television sound engineers find it almost impossible to reproduce the right noise.
So many new records rely heavily on their electronic effects as well as the performers' talent, and while this can be simulated in the studio, it is only at the cost of enmeshing the singers in the same thicket of microphones that were present at the original recording.
If this happens, firstly it obviously restricts the variety of the show, and secondly it rivets the group to their battery of hearing aids for the entire programme. To get over this difficulty the engineers transmit the singer's own disc, while he and his instrumentalists mime to it as best they can.
It must look hilarious in the studio. I can't understand why the sight of it doesn't reduce the studio audience to helpless hysteria. For us at home, we are intended to accept the deception as pant. of the show.
I think we should be quite prepared to do that if only they would make a better job of it. No one imagines that this white lie threatens the integrity of television, but we do expect them to be a bit more professional about it.
The singer ought to make some effort to learn the words. And the set designers should bear in mind that it is no use designing a country garden setting when the record to be played has been recorded in an echo chamber,
Full marks on this score to Sunday'Alight at the London Palladium, They don't allow it. Although I must add that last Sunday the Dave Clark Five singing 'Glad All Over' minus electronics, was a disaster.
But while this miming may look silly, it is hardly dangerous. And the Saturday afternoon farce of wrestling is probably not against the public interest even though the elaborate pattern of falls, grips and contortions does suggest at least partial 'rehearsal'. No, Greater doubts arise in advertising.
For example. the shirts that are said to be whiter than other shirts.
The television camera records only black and white and shades of grey in between. Some of the socalled white shirts can, in fact, be a quite different colour—say a grey check—and still look off-white on the screen.
So plainly a white or cream shirt will appear shining and spotless by comparison, thus "proving" that Brand XYZ of washing powder washes whiter than anything else. In fact, neither shirt need to be white at all.
Can the advertising agencies tell us if that is how it es done? And, if so, would it be a harmless deception, hurting no one? Or would it be putting one over on the public?
Individuals would, of course, answer such questions for themselves. But a bigger difficulty is how television as an industry keeps its house in order
I don't know the best way. But I am sure I know the worst, And that is to set up a committee.
In that spirit I greet the new Independent Television Authority Advisory Committee, which met for the first time last week. They may be a unique assembly of profound thinkers, balanced moralists and informed critics. I hope they arc.
But in the past the first sufferers at the hands of these vigilant cornmittees have been public affairs and special feature programmes. These are the only ones that have anything to say, so are splendid windmills for neophyte committee knights to tilt at.
They object to an attitude here or an emphasis there, which they don't happen to like, and ir they are lucky enough to find an inaccuracy somewhere, then all the chariots ci hell arc let loose on the unhappy offender. And on their way to mete out punishment, they will, of course, pass blindly by the real culprit in 1964 television the monster TRIVIALITY. This is the beam in television's eye which should be struck before any motes are prised out, I hope that the new committee and their older and greyer counterparts at the BBC will bear in mind that it is not the occasional lapse in ambitious programmes that worries people about television. It is the roundabout of
endless n ur after
hour of easily digestible quizzes, parlour games, nevernever land serials and comedy series. Let them spend their times on those.
Look and Listen
BBC RADIO: Sunday: Morning Service from St, MacNissi's College, Garron Tower, N,I. Home Service, 9.45 a.m.
BBC TELEVISION: Sunday: Appeal on behalf of Cheshire Foundation, by Leonard Cheshire, V.C., 6.50 p.m. "Waugh at 60"— Evelyn Waugh interviewed on Monitor, 10 mm,
ITV: High Mass from St. Patrick's Church, Felling, Co. Durham, 11 a.m. Tyne Tees TV,