Enough of the grouching. Ten good things about the 1950s:
1) QUATERMASS AND THE PIT
The first two were rubbish, but this, the third in the series, with Andre Morell facing an invasion of the world that had taken root in people’s minds millions of years earlier and was triggered by the excavation of a ship full of giant crickets, is close to perfection.
2) RICHARD DIMBLEBY
Going off the clippage that turns up from time to time on BBC Parliament, this man was the most avuncular and reassuring front man the Corporation has ever employed. Closely followed by…
3) CLIFF MICHELMORE
Specifically as the host of Tonight. Once the rotten ‘Toddler’s Truce’ was ditched, who better to share your beans and toast with?
4) ‘FRANK SINATRA SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY’
The front cover depicts the Chairman of the Board dressed up like a Pierrot clown, and looks crap. The album itself, however, is the most perfectly-judged, sustained evocation of solitude and despair you’ll ever hear.
5) LONDON TO BRIGHTON IN THREE-AND-A-HALF MINUTES
Namely that black-and-white film done by the Beeb in 1953 for no reason other than because speeded-up telly was exciting.
6) FAST AND LOOSE
Bob Monkhouse’s first-ever series, and though it’s probably been lost from the archives for eternity, judging by what’s been written about it – the man faking a dead-faint at the end of the first episode to win more time to write the second, blowing off part of Charlie Drake’s ear – it was ace.
7) JIMMY YOUNG HAVING TWO NUMBER ONE HITS
And also being the first UK artist to have two successive chart-toppers. The first is rotten (‘Unchained Melody’) but the second, ‘The Man From Laramie’, is fantastic.
8) DAVID JACOBS
For being a legend and for being everywhere in the second half of the 1950s: Juke Box Jury, Wednesday Magazine, Tell The Truth, Make Up Your Mind, Pick Of The Pops, Dateline London, Lucky Couple, Music Music Music, Television Ice-Time, Focus On Hocus (long overdue a revival), Come Dancing, The Vera Lynn Show, On The Brighter Side…
9) JOVIAL PARTY POLITICAL POSTERS
“Whether you walk
or whether you ride
Whether the weather
smiles or frowns
when you get inside
And make yours one of
the HAPPY towns!”
10) THE GAGGIA COFFEE MACHINE
Even if you don’t drink the stuff, as a device it’s still wonderful to look at. And above all listen to.