TvI AM al w ay s nervous of readers imagining that because I so often decry TV's light entertainment, I am the kind of highbrow critic who has no use for comedy and fun. This is anything but the case, and I am very glad this week to be able to congratulate that charming personality with the modest smile, Henry Hall, for teaching television one way of handling the lighter fare.
Last Saturday's final edition of "Face the Music" was absolutely first class. One would have willingly paid money to see it. Not that every turn gave equal pleasure to everyone. That is impossible. But one could recognise the merits of even the parts not so much to one's own personal taste.
For me, Marcel Cornelis with his brilliant mimicry was tops. And note that Mr. Cornelis gets his excruciatingly funny effects without a single prop-though he needs the music. What a lesson to the people who seem to believe that the more you spend the better the result.
Turner Layton was also magnificent, and as for Elsie and Doris Waters, they have never been better. It can be done, but it takes imagMation and creative power, rather than ostentation, money and robot audiences.
'Talking about audiences, I was glad to see that the audience was forcibly restrained during Sunday's "What's My Line?" But a restrained
audience seems more useless, if less trying, than an unrestrained one. Why not eliminate it altogether, and get the panel to play with the family circle? In that lies the special genius of television.
The choice of the drama department is one of those unfathomable mysteries. Why that idiotic and outdated skit on Hollywood whose name I cannot even remember, on Sunday and Tuesday? American humour and British humour are totally different, and it is not without significance that the only really funny bits (to us) came when the frustrated English author was in the picture. I will not deny that I did have to laugh occasionally at other incidents, but it was the sort of external laughter which one feels on reflection was never worth the physical effort involved. Contrast with "Vice Versa."
"Any Questions?" from Bristol was good, if rather slow. It is right that the panel should not see the questions, but the selection of questions which, I imagine, is artificial, might be very much better.
I was glad to see Major Lewis Hastings giving us sound horse sense (without the curious contortions of the self-conscious A. G. Street), but few of the questions really suited him.
Look out for Clifford Sax's grand historic play "The Rose without a Thorn" on the Sunday after Christmas.