Member’s Lunch Meeting – Wednesday 4th September 2019

Behind the Scenes of Television’s Golden Years by Wilf Lower.

Growing up in a family home providing ‘pro digs’ for music hall and variety performers appearing at local theatres, it was hardly surprising Wilf Lower acquired an intimate knowledge of ‘the business’. He  joined BBC television in the 60s where he worked behind the scenes in management for many years – including the ‘golden days’ of the seventies and eighties. 

Wilf started his talk by setting the scene from the early days of BBC TV at Alexander Palace. The operation then moved to White City into a building famously called the “concrete donut’  Wilf explained that he was responsible for Scenic Operations – the scenery, props, and ‘working’ the shows, essentially everything seen on the screen except the performers, their costumes and make-up! 

Will reminded the audience of many of the most popular shows including the Black and White Minstrel Show which attracted millions of viewers on a Saturday night to Alf Garnet in Death do us Part. Both shows would not be aired today in the politically correct climate indeed not like some shows such as Dad’s  Army which are still regularly repeated. 

Wilf, illustrated with photographs and video clips, some of the most popular plays such  Abegail’s Party, through to comedy double acts Morecambe & Wise, whose Christmas Specials attracted record viewers, 28 million one year. He continued with the Two Ronnies, Terry & June, Till Death Do Us Part and The Good Life?  Dramas like the Forsyte Saga, Pennies from Heaven and When the Boat Comes In; music from Top of the Pops to the Last Night of the Proms; and the pageantry of Royal events. 

Series like Porridge, Fawlty Towers to the Monty Python Flying Circus all changed the face of British comedy TV for ever.  All lit up our screens  and gave pleasure to millions. An interesting and amusing talk full of nostalgia  in what can be truly described as television’s ‘Golden Years.

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