Archive for the ‘TV listings’ Category

Rathborne’s Dr Who portrait was worth the wait

May 3, 2017
Ray Rathborne's Radio Times cover of Jon Pertwee as Dr Who

Ray Rathborne’s Radio Times cover of Jon Pertwee as Dr Who

Ian Jack has done a fine obituary for The Guardian of Ray Rathborne, the photographer who took this striking, eye-popping portrait of Jon Pertwee, who had just taken on the eponymous role in Dr Who in 1970.

Jack notes that Rathborne ‘was driven by a search for perfection that occasionally tested the patience of those who worked with him’. I know the feeling, but when you get results like this, it was clearly worth the wait.



Radio Times and the dark recesses of the web

March 31, 2017
The Radio Times has been around since 1923

The Radio Times celebrated its 70th anniversary in 1993

One of the Radio Times gurus contacted me after seeing my post about tracking down copies of magazines. He makes some interesting points about the post, which used the example of tracing a copy of the Radio Times that carried  an article about a 1974 play, Penda’s Fen:

A link to your blog post was given on a Facebook page that I dip into and I was immediately hooked as I noticed the graphic of the first issue masthead at the top. An interesting post, but one thing most miss with Genome is the facility to see the listing result in context within the day’s listings for that channel:

Scroll right up to the top of that page, and there, on the right, are the details of the issue and page numbers for the listing, making life very easy if you are then planning to look for a copy of the magazine that contains the information, either to buy or in a library:

Appears in
Issue 2627
14 March 1974
Page 43

Lynda Kelly’s website,, has thumbnails of all the editions she has for sale, but she does have unlisted stock, so it is always worth giving her a call to check. Even if she no longer has a copy, but once did, the thumbnail may be lurking on the web, so a quick search on Waybackmachine or just Google with the right publication date or schedule range may grab it from the dark recesses of the web.

Some nice tips there.

MagCulture’s Jeremy Leslie on BBC Radio 4

November 30, 2016

Jeremy Leslie runs the MagCulture blog and shop

Jeremy Leslie is on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought tonight, giving a 15-minute explanation of why reports about the death of magazines are so exaggerated. Anyone interested in magazines will have noticed all the niche print titles that have opened up even as the behemoths close down.

The state of the mainstream men’s sector is a classic example – with the likes of Loaded, FHM, Maxim, Nuts and Zoo going to the wall, while a thriving independent sector has ensured there are more titles around than for decades.

The designer and  MagCulture founder will address the questions of why this has happened even in the face of the digital onslaught that’s at the top of the media agenda and whether the trend will continue (of course it will!).

I was at the MagCulture shop  when the recording was made this month – with a certain level of irony because I’d just just come from the Printers Unite conference at the Karl Marx Library where I was delivering a paper on how magazines and newspapers responded to print disputes.

Tracking down a magazine – Radio Times

June 1, 2016
Masthead of the 1923 first issue of Radio Times (RT Archive)

Masthead of the 1923 first issue of Radio Times (RT Archive)

Richard has emailed me trying to track down copies of the Radio Times from the 1970s. Here’s his query:

Hello Tony, I’m hoping you can help me as I’m desperately trying to get hold of the copies of Radio Times for 10th – 22nd March 1974. I believe one of them contains the programme details and an article about the Play for Today episode ‘Penda’s Fen‘ that was broadcast on 21st March 1974. The listing should be in the issues I’m looking for. However, the article, which is what I’m really after, I’m not sure.

As I say, I am struggling to find it anywhere and maybe you know of someone or an outlet that I am not aware of (I’ve looked at eBay, general internet search). Fingers-crossed. Thank you for your time.

My first thought is to do an eBay search for:

Radio Times” 1974. The quote marks find Radio Times as a phrase rather than separate words.

This turns up 74 results. One problem is that some sellers only put up the year, so you have to open up each lot to find the March issues. You can search within a page using Ctrl+F for the month, but use ‘Mar’ rather than ‘March’, because some listing only use the abbreviation. One of the lots that comes up is for the Radio Times of 23-29 March 1974, with Arthur Askey on the cover. The seller, sprocketflange40, not only puts the date in the listing headline but also lists the main articles – really useful for tracking things down. Richard can then contact the seller to see if this is the correct issue.

As Richard mentions, he’s not totally sure which issue he wants, so narrowing things down is really useful. A trick here is to look at completed listings:

“Radio Times” 1974 – completed listings .

This shows me pictures of the issues carrying the schedules for the weeks of Saturday, 2 March and 30 March. I can save the images so I know what the target issues look like. All of these listings are by Sprocketflange30, so he is definitely worth emailing. Go to my Collecting Magazines page if you’re not familiar with building eBay searches.

Radio Times from 2 March 1974 Radio Times from 9 March 1974, The last Caesars


Radio Times from 23 March 1974, with Arthur Askey on the cover Radio Times from 30 March 1974
2 Mar in completed listings search 9 Mar in completed listings search 16 Mar

not found

23 Mar from live listings search 30 Mar in completed listings search

Once you know each cover, it makes going through listings much quicker.

If you’re lucky, you might just find a digitised image of the listings page you’re after on Flicker. This is mainly because fans of Dr Who put the issues online.

The next stage is to look for specialised magazine sellers. I list these on my Collecting Magazines page. For this post, I started on Tilleys and my search produced 20 results, including a copy of the Arthur Askey issue.

If going to the specialists turns up nothing, you can do a picture search on “Radio Times” 1974 on Duckduckgo, Google and Yahoo and immediately see if there are more around on collectors’ websites or other retailers. Notice how different the results are for the various search engines.

All these techniques can be applied to any magazine. But the Radio Times is one of the biggest titles in the history of periodicals and there are many dedicated resources online to help Richard out. Three in particular stand out:

The BBC’s Genome project

The BBC’s Genome project has digitised all the listings text from the Radio Times for 1923-2009 and put it up free online. It is not a scan of the pages, however, so there are no illustrations; and the articles are not included. But Richard can use this to confirm he has the right issue. If you just need the text of the listing, it is there (a boon for those Dr Who fans!). Some of the programmes can be watched or listened to.

A search on Penda’s Fen produces three results:

  1. a discussion with David Rudkin, the author, that was broadcast after the play’s airing.
  2. the play’s first broadcast (21 Mar 1974). Clicking on the title takes you through to the details of the actors, etc.
  3. the repeat broadcast on 13 February 1975.

It’s worth noting a line at the bottom of the web page under ‘Tell us more’: ‘Do you know whether this programme was actually broadcast as scheduled?’ It is possible that a scheduled programme was not actually broadcast – remember that the Radio Times goes to press a fortnight before it appears in the shops and a lot can happen in that time!

Radio Times Back Numbers

Lynda Kelly of is one of the experts on radio and television literature of all kinds. Her site sells back issues and has menus that are easy to drill down through (title/decade/year) as well as a general search. Again, there’s a copy of the Arthur Askey issue, but note the technical detail in the listing:

RT 2628 – 21 Mar 1974 (23-29 Mar) (England).
This tells you:
– the issue number (2628)
– the date of publication (21 Mar)
– the week covered (23-29 Mar)
– which of the regions is covered (England). Some programmes would not be shown in all the regional editions, which include North, England, National and London.

Furthermore, publishes several books about the Radio Times.

The Radio Times archive

The Radio Times Archive carries articles about what’s happening now as well as the magazine’s history. It has pages of mastheads, and facts and figures as well as links to resources such as a PDF of the first Radio Times from 1923. The archive is ‘produced with the permission and support of The Radio Times and financial support from the Shiers Trust’ but I don’t know who actually runs it (the author is always just ‘I’). The archive credits several collectors:

Ralph Montagu, Head of Heritage at The Radio Times, a host of private collectors including Roger Bickerton (who set up the Vintage Radio Programme Collectors’ Circle in 1996, now the Radio Circle), Penny Fabb (The Complete Guide to Science Fiction on British Radio), and Ken Clark, and the staff at the BBC Written Archive Centre near Reading.
A large part of the work would not have been possible without the help of Lynda Kelly.

Hopefully, this page will be a help to you in your searches.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design




The shape that inspired the Daleks

June 15, 2015
Maxwell Wood Astra coffee set from the 1960s - favourite for the Dalek shape

Maxwell Wood Astra coffee set from the 1960s – favourite for the Dalek shape. Note the bobbles down the ‘skirt’

I mentioned last week in a Radio Times/Dr Who piece that the BBC designer Raymond Cusick had been quoted as saying that he got the idea for the look for Terry Nation’s Daleks ‘while fiddling with a pepper pot’. But it just doesn’t ring true. Top of my list of potential inspiration for the iconic aliens are the above 1960s Maxwell Wood coffee pot, called Astra, and conical kulfi moulds, below.

Mould for kulfi, the Indian ice-cream, with its screw-on lid. Definitely Dalek

Mould for kulfi, the Indian ice-cream, with its screw-on lid. Definitely Dalek

Kulfi moulds also used to have bobbles on the side. I’ve seen these in Britain and as far afield as Indonesia (where I won a symbolic 50p bet on the shape of the ice-cream in an Indian restaurant in Jakarta with a former editor of New Scientist!).

In a BBC obituary piece, Cusick is quoted as being more vague, and that the pepper pot was used during a lunch to describe how the Daleks should move:

[Cusick] explained that, in fact, the pepper pot detail came from a lunch with Bill Roberts, the special effects expert who would make the Daleks, when Mr Cusick picked up a pepper pot and moved it around the table, telling him: “It’s going to move like that – no visible means.”

“Ever since then people say I was inspired by a pepper pot – but it could have been the salt pot I picked up,” he said.

Incidentally, the pale green colour of the Astra pottery is ‘celadon’, the theme colour chosen for the revamp of the Savoy Hotel in 2010.

Emma Peel wins the day over Marilyn Monroe

June 9, 2015
Diana Rigg as The Avengers' Mrs Peel on the cover of TV World in 1965

Diana Rigg as The Avengers’ Mrs Peel on the cover of TV World in 1965

Who is the most popular cover star? Joan Collins, Marilyn Monroe? To judge by two recent eBay sales, it’s actually the 27-year-old Diana Rigg – as Emma Peel in The Avengers.

Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Blighty from 1956

Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Blighty from 1956

The evidence is the £147 that a 1965 copy of TV World fetched. There were no less than 18 bids from 4 people. In contrast, a 1956 Blighty with Monroe on the cover brought in a mere £46 (12 bids from 4 people). A copy of the same issue of Blighty fetched £70 on eBay in April.

When it comes to collecting magazines and TV memorabilia though, Mrs Peel and Steed have a long way to go to catch up with Dr Who and the Daleks – a copy of the first Radio Times cover for Dr Who has fetched £509.99.

Emma Peel in one of her leather jumpsuits in a spread from TV World

Emma Peel in one of her leather jumpsuits in a spread from TV World

TV World listed Midlands ITV programmes and this issue covered Saturday December 25 to Friday December 3. Inside there was a double page interview with Rigg – who had found that ‘sudddenly, everybody wants to marry me’ since she featured in the spy series. The seller, Brogan2040, specialises in film and TV.

Other articles covered Noel Gordon and Anthony Morton in Crossroads, a Stars Snakes and Ladders game and an interview with Mark Goddard of Lost in Space. The listings include episodes from The Avengers, Gerry Anderson’s Stingray and Patrick McGoohan as Danger Man.

Nick Buckler, the Blighty seller, also has a July 1957 copy of Fiesta on ebay with a Monroe cover and centre spread.

Time UK closes TV Easy

September 28, 2014
What's On TV and TV Easy

Dummy cover of merged What’s On TV and TV Easy

Time Inc has marked the killing off of the IPC name with two changes. First is the closure of its compact TV listings weekly TV Easy, with some features of the magazine being taken on by What’s On TV, its best-selling TV guide. The first combined issue will be on sale on September 30.

As is typical in such mergers, What’s On TV will carry a cover flash to highlight the changes and try to retain TV Easy‘s readers. The merged magazine will also be given a design ‘makeover’.

Woman and Home Fashion magazine

First issue cover of twice-yearly Woman and Home Fashion magazine (autumn/winter 2014)

The second change is better news, with the launch of the third Woman & Home spin-off, a twice-yearly fashion glossy for the magazine’s over-40 readers. Woman & Home Fashion joins Feel Good Food and Feel Good You, covering health and wellbeing.

TV magazines history

WATCH OUT for my book on British Magazine Design from the V&A

Brooker’s Dark Mirror

December 2, 2011

Great piece in today’s Guardian G2 from Charlie Brooker on his drama series, Dark Mirror.  Here’s a sample:

Just yesterday I read a news story about a new video game installed above urinals to stop patrons getting bored: you control it by sloshing your urine stream left and right. Read that back to yourself and ask if you live in a sane society.

Couldn’t agree more.Though the rest of G2 seems to have lost its way – 4 pages on Amazon’s warehouse! How many times have I seen that piece before? PR, pure and simple.

Someone even tweeted: ‘Charlie Brooker’s Dark Mirror has a twist that made them physically sick’.

Dark Mirror, Channel 4, Sunday 9pm.

BBC sheds magazines

August 16, 2011

BBC Worldwide has reached agreements to sell or licence its magazines to Exponent, a private equity firm that own Magicalia, for £121m and offload its joint venture in India.

Essentials of the deals include:

  • Exponent buys all non-BBC-branded magazines – including Radio Times;
  • Exponent to publish BBC titles under licence or as  contract  magazines;
  • Exponent to take subscriptions  and distribution businesses, Dovetail and Frontline;
  • BBC stake in Bath-based Origin also to go to Exponent;
  • Bennett, Coleman & Co, owner of Times of India, buys BBC’s half stake in Worldwide Media, a joint venture in India.




Birthday honours for the magazine world

June 11, 2011
Radio Times Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice Jennifer Earle

Colin Firth and Jennifer Earle from 'Pride and Prejudice' on the cover of 'Radio Times'

Some gongs for faces in the magazine world this morning (though not many). Top of the list is Helen Alexander – who becomes a dame – and recently stepped down as CBI president. She was chief executive of the Economist Group for 11 years and is chair of trade magazine group Incisive Media. Alexander followed Marjorie Scardino into the Economist job after ‘Marge in charge’ took over as chief exec of Pearson (and also follows Marge in becoming a dame). The Financial Times (a Pearson company) has reported that Alexander would love to chair a FTSE 100 company (Pearson is one of them), ‘one day’ but ‘I don’t think it is necessarily the right next step’.

Telegraph fashion journalist and US Vogue contributor Sarah Mower is awarded an MBE , as is Clive Collins, cartoonist and illustrator who contributed to Punch from 1964 to its closure, before becoming the Sun‘s political cartoonist and later moving to the Sunday People and Evening Standard.

Jenni Murray, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, also becomes a dame.

One for the female viewership is a CBE for actor Colin Firth. Although The King’s Speech is on everyone’s lips at the moment, it was the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice that established his heart-throb status. Letters to the Radio Times said:

‘Colin Firth is the sexiest person on the screen … The scenes with Jennifer Ehle are truly erotic, and they hardly touch each other.’

Full list of Birthday honours