In Crisis, 1974

The TV Times Archive.

The TV Times Archive.

A rainy Saturday just after New Year and Sarah and I make our first visit of the year to our best present from 2013, the still new Liverpool Central Library. Books soon chosen me and my camera get down to the serious business of ransacking the Library’s TV Times archive for this time, forty years ago. Why? Because it’s there.

Early days of treating the soaps as if they're real news.

Early days of treating the soaps as if they’re real news.

With Christmas gone minds are, as ever, turning to summer holidays. Pricey do though.

With Christmas gone minds are, as ever, turning to summer holidays. Pricey do though.

And look at all those places you can get to from Liverpool Airport.

And look at all those places you can get to from Liverpool Airport. Belgium, imagine that?

Or perhaps it’s time for a bit of self-education?

Well, people will always need encyclopaedias, won't they?

Well, people will always need encyclopaedias, won’t they?

Or a bit of DIY?

Or a bit of DIY?

These are, after all, the days of perfectly good houses being enthusiastically botched up, and TV Times is carrying weekly articles on how to do it.

Or maybe a new rug's more your line?

Or maybe a new rug’s more your line?

Or what the american programmes are calling a rug?

Or what the American programmes are calling a rug? And we’re calling ‘The Stag!’

Yes, I’m ransacking the TV Times rather than the Radio Times because its got the adverts. And the adverts give us more clues about what matters at the time than most of the programmes. Still streams of ‘light entertainers’ guesting on each other’s shows. Val Doonican and Rolf Harris particularly dominant early in 1974.

But sport is of course always important.

But sport is of course always important.

Best part of an hour of wrestling there, every Saturday afternoon before the football results.

Magpie still going.

Magpie still going.

This was ITV’s version of ‘Blue Peter and marks the historic first appearance of Susan Stranks on this blog. I’m nearly 20 by this time and so have stopped wanting to marry her. Always good to see her though.

Tony Bennett, yes good. But not one of their stronger line-ups.

Tony Bennett, yes good. But it’s never a strong line-up with Dana third on the bill.

Oh well, back to the adverts then. And doesn’t the title of this post mention something about a crisis?

A food crisis?

A food crisis?

A bad breath crisis?

A bad breath crisis?

As you can see, some people have been eating ‘rich meals’ containing garlic and spices. Not in our house they aren’t.

Oh, here's the crisis. There's a General Election. In February?

Oh, here’s the crisis. There’s a General Election. In February?

Caused by the fuel crisis of 1973 and 74.

Caused by the Fuel Crisis of 1973 and 74.

In fact, at the time we’re reading all these amusing adverts the nation is on a 3 day working and schools week and all sorts of other emergency measures are in place.

The miners are striking for higher pay. The price of oil having increased dramatically.

The miners are striking for higher pay. The price of oil having increased dramatically.

So Prime Minister Ted Heath has called a 'Who's running the country?' election.

So Prime Minister Ted Heath has called a ‘Who’s running the country?’ election.

Answer? Well, not him. And not truly anyone else until a second General Election later in the year gives Labour a workable majority.

And Mary and Harold Wilson return to No. 10.

And Mary and Harold Wilson return to No. 10.

Meanwhile someone else is watching all of this very carefully. And things will never be quite the same again.

Meanwhile someone else is watching all of this very carefully. And things will never be quite the same again.

So we’re at the end of the post-war consensus in British politics, the end of ‘it might be your country but it’s our oil’ in the Middle East, and, did we all but know it, the beginning of the end for coal mining in Britain.

So, a moment of genuine change and crisis then. Thank goodness the TV Times is here to reflect how the nation is coping with it all.

Yes, just the time to get a fake sun-tan or that steady police job you've always promised yourself.

Yes, just the time to get a fake sun-tan or that steady police job you’ve always promised yourself.

Or that lovely new brown car. Fuel crisis, what fuel crisis?

Or that lovely new brown car. Fuel crisis, what fuel crisis?

OK then, maybe do a bit more walking?

OK then, maybe do a bit more walking?

Or Yoga? Be 'fitter and gayer'

Or Yoga? Be ‘fitter and gayer’

Oh sod it, let’s get the home brew going…

And wait for Jimmy Young to come on.

And wait for Jimmy Young to come on.

Standing here in the Central Library looking through all this it seems horribly familiar and yet also like looking at a different lifetime.

And I could go all cultural and nostalgic on you and reminisce about going to the Everyman in those days.

And I could go all cultural and nostalgic on you and reminisce about going to the Everyman in those days.

Which I did every time this wonderful company of actors put on a new production.

Which I did every time this wonderful company of actors put on a new production.

But much more of my time is spent moaning about Val Doonican and Rolf Harris and wondering whether my Dad’s worn out old boots will burn very well on the fire now that the coal has run out? Bizarre days.

4 thoughts on “In Crisis, 1974

  1. Helen Devries

    Ah yes, the heady days of cleaning your teeth in the dark and taking a bath together…..and now I gather that the energy companies have updated this to taking a shower together while their bosses shower themselves in money…
    Where’s the ‘unacceptable face of capitalism’ now?

    Reply
  2. Ronnie Hughes Post author

    Yes, austerity wasn’t truly the answer then or now. But we seem fated to be expected to fall for simplistic solutions to often complex political situations – while the rich carry on getting richer anyway.

    Reply
  3. Jan Hasak

    What a fantastic trip through memory lane! And what a fantastic library! I’m sure you will be spending many more hours there pouring through its cultural treasures. Sorry I haven’t been posting in a while; got a bit busy with the holidays.

    Reply

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