Posts Tagged ‘radio times’

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.

 

 

On this day in magazines: Aeroplane and Eric Fraser in 1960

February 12, 2017
Eric Fraser cover for Aeroplane magazine of a Lightning jet from 11 February 1960

Eric Fraser cover for Aeroplane magazine of a Lightning jet 

Apologies for the small illustration, but I can’t find the actual issue of  The Aeroplane and Astronautics from 12 February 1960.

I wanted to use this cover for two reasons. First, as an example of an advertising cover, and second as an example of Eric Fraser’s artistry, outside the magazine for which he is best known, Radio TimesAeroplane, a ‘weekly magazine for the aviation enthusuiast’, invariably used illustrated covers. I don’t know how they were commissioned but there must have been co-operation between the advertiser and the magazine.

The Eric Fraser cover here is for the English Electric Lightning – Britain’s main fighter jet in the days when the country could afford to build its own rather than buy from the US or go into co-operation with Europe.

The Chris Beetles gallery  has held exhibitions of Fraser’s work. This is how the gallery describes him:

Eric Fraser is one of the most significant British illustrators and designers of the 20th century, who produced work that is at once wide-ranging and highly distinctive. Developing an assured technique and an impressive general knowledge, he could adapt his style to almost any subject matter, from ancient to modern, and any mood, from the whimsical to the tragic. He was also industrious, meticulous and dependable. As a result, he defined the look of Radio Times for over four decades and became a mainstay of JM Dent’s Everyman’s Library while also creating impressive murals and stained glass windows and an astonishing variety of advertising.

Fraser was also chosen to illustrate the May 1953 coronation number of the Radio Times. This was an unusual issue because he drew not only the heraldic illustration on the front, but also the back cover advertisement for Batchelors Foods in a similar style. The event marked the first time the BBC’s listings weekly had used colour since before the war. The Batchelors advert was also used on the back of that week’s Listener. Fraser drew for the Radio Times from 1926 until 1982, the year before his death.

He was a member of the Society of Industrial Artists, which was founded in 1930 at the Ye Olde Cock Tavern in London’s Fleet Street, and has evolved into today’s Chartered Society of Designers, complete with royal patronage.

An Aeroplane magazine cover of a Fairey Battle from 13 April 1935

An Aeroplane magazine cover of a Fairey Battle from 13 April 1935

The Aeroplane and Astronautics was published by Temple Press and in the 1940s claimed to be ‘the most influential aviation journal in the world’. Temple was founded in the Victorian era with titles such as Cycling and Motor. In 1949, it became part of George Newnes and then part of the IPC conglomerate in the 1960s.

Aeroplane has a history of great covers, which like many trade and technical magazines, carried advertising.

Although the cover is the prime place for gaining such revenue, most consumer magazines and newspapers moved away from front page advertising, a trend that accelerated after the Second World War. However, it’s a tactic that is returning, particularly among free titles, but even the biggest newspapers are now giving their covers away as wraparounds, and back covers are now often adverts.

 


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

 

 

 

 


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 RadioTimesBackNumbers.com 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, Kellybooks.com 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

 

 


 

A Nation in thrall to the Daleks

June 13, 2015
The first Radio Times cover showing Dr Who in February 1964

The first Radio Times cover showing Dr Who – with Marco Polo and devious enemy Tegana – in February 1964

Doctor Who took to the nation’s TV screens in November 1963. The arrival was covered inside the Radio Times, but the first cover was not for another three months, in February.

The first Daleks cover for Radio Times in November 1964

The first Daleks cover for Radio Times in November 1964

In November that year, the Daleks got their first Radio Times cover treatment after the success of their first outing a year earlier. The article inside, below, noted that ‘Currently the robots are multiplying like rabbits for Christmas…’, a reference to the Dalek toys that were appearing the shops.

The Radio Times Dalek article showing the cyborgs on Westminster Bridge

The Radio Times Dalek article showing the cyborgs on Westminster Bridge

In 1965, the Daleks appeared in a comic strip in the comic TV Century 21 that was licensed by Dr Who writer Terry Nation. The story lines are totally different to the TV series because Nation owned the rights to the Daleks and some of the other early monsters, but not the Dr Who character. The two sides fell out in a big way and even 20 years later when the BBC launched its first Dr Who computer programs for the BBC Micro there was no mention of the Daleks.

The return of the Daleks to Dr Who in 2005 sparked this gatefold cover for the Radio Times

The return of the Daleks to Dr Who in 2005 sparked this gatefold cover for the Radio Times

The return of the Daleks to Dr Who in 2005 sparked this gatefold cover for the Radio Times, which recreated the 1964 scene of the Daleks on Westminster Bridge. It was voted the best magazine cover among 10 covers nominated by editors in a competition organised by the PPA, the magazine publishers’ trade association, for its 100th anniversary. Kate Moss, Darth Vader and Dennis the Menace were among the vanquished rivals.

Despite the appearance of Dalek as a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, US software packages and computers – Macs and iPads included – usually treat it as a spelling error and try to change it to ‘dales’ or something similar.  Strangely, though, trademarks such as Microsoft and iPad are accepted as valid words.

The OED entry is worth repeating here for its list of mentions of the word and statement of what inspired Nation to invent the name:

1963 Radio Times 26 Dec. 11/1 Dalek voices: Peter Hawkins, David Graham.
1966 BBC Handbk. 39 The main activity over the period in this ‘merchandising’ operation concerned the widely popular Daleks from the ‘Dr. Who’ series. Some sixty licences for the production of Dalek-inspired articles were issued.
1969 C. Hodder-Williams 98·4 iv. 49 Under what interesting new law do you propose to enforce this regime? Or have you hired the Daleks?
1971 Radio Times 30 Dec. 10/1 Who are the Daleks? Dr. Who’s most dangerous enemies, written into his second adventure in 1963 by Terry Nation, who named them after an encyclopaedia volume covering dal-lek.

The BBC designer Raymond Cusick has been quoted by Asa Briggs as saying that he got the idea for the look of the Daleks ‘while fiddling with a pepper pot’.

The best magazine cover

December 24, 2008
Voted the best US cover of the past 40 years

Best US cover

This year, there was some fuss about the PPA’s favourite magazine cover vote. Magculture, for example, set out its best recent covers from a designer’s viewpoint.

The ASME/MPA in the US ran a similar project a few years ago with Annie Leibovitz‘s Rolling Stone portrait cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono published just after the Beatle’s murder taking the prize there.

There was no attempt by the PPA to add any historical context and, to my mind, the Dr Who cover from the Radio Times proposed by BBC Gardeners’ World editor Adam Pascoe was a worthy winner within a very limited framework.

THe PPAs vote winner

The PPA’s vote winner

So, I took a look around my archives and was struck by Alfred Leete’s brilliant image from 1914 for London Opinion. Of course, this was an era before radio, TV, colour newspapers or the web, so any magazine cover today immediately starts off with a lot more competition.

Look familiar? Alfred Leetes Kitchener cover

Look familiar? Alfred Leete’s Kitchener cover

However, how many images, whatever their source, are so familiar – from Russia to Italy to the US – as Leete’s, 95 years after they appeared? And today’s publications (and even many others in 1914) have the advantage of colour, glossy paper and time (remember  London Opinion was a weekly). As an image, it echoes around the visual universe in the same way as Big Brother or Clockwork Orange.

And although few people have heard of London Opinion now, it was a leading title of  its day; a racier Punch and in the 1950s, ‘probably the funniest magazine of its era’, for Dennis Gifford. In 1907, London Opinion had introduced limerick competitions and started a ruckus comparable with today’s Celebrity Come Dancing phone-in and the National Lottery combined. So many people had a go that the Post Office nearly ran out of the 6d postal orders needed for entry – 1,140,000 were bought in six months against a normal sale of 700,000-800,000. It was debated by MPs and legal action started to try to have the competitions banned as illegal lotteries.

Does London Opinion have any relevance today? Two examples prove its undying influence for me. First, the US version of the wartime poster was the basis for an Economist cover in September. Second, on a walk last week in Sarratt Bottom in Hertfordshire, what should be staring out at me from a poster but Leete’s Kitchener, calling on the locals to do their bit for an event in the village. You just can’t get away from it.


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


More on London Opinion

Radio Times theory to Jill Dando murder

June 9, 2008

Jill Dando on radio Times cover
The retrial of Barry George rekindles one of the early theories about the 1999 murder of BBC presenter Jill Dando – that the killing had been sparked by that week’s Radio Times cover. The usually wholesome Dando was shown in a leather catsuit standing in front of an Aston Martin below the headline ‘VROOOOOOOM!’ On the back cover was a supposed message in an advert for a book club – ‘Murder’.

The Observer of May 2 suggested:

A stalker, on the other hand, may have thought he had good reason. Her impending marriage and her appearance last week on the cover of the Radio Times wearing a leather jumpsuit and not looking at all like the girl next door of his obsessions may have tipped him over the edge.