Noele Gordon: Principal Boy to Producer

The Casual Show Spreads

TELEVIEW: It really began in Seattle when a Navy band failed to turn up for a TV broadcast.

“Never mind” said the compére, “Here, folks is a little lady from England. I’m sure she’ll have something interesting to tell us.”

Miss Noele Gordon gulped. But she filled the breach. It also gave her an idea. “This,” she thought, “is the kind of show for me.” And that’s how five months ago, Miss Gordon, ITV Producer, came to start Britain’s first lunch-time television show Lunch Box.

So far it has been seen only in the Midlands. But from Monday it extends to London (Associated-Rediffusion) and the North (Granada Television).

Soap Opera

Tunes that have been requested are mostly played. But almost anything else can happen. And frequently does. There are competitions for baby snapshots, impromptu gags, announcements of interest to women – the birth of Princess Caroline, for example – and even a mildly lunatic soap opera which pokes fun at the BBC’s Grove Family.

For this Miss Gordon transforms herself into a depressing character called Gran Groves. Otherwise, she conducts proceedings with easy unconcern. Singer David Galbraith and four musicians are the only support she has.

If anyone has to remember lines, they scribble them on paper and pin them around the studio. The show is the first to be tried out in this country on the pattern of casual, low-pressure, unscripted programmes so popular in America.

Will many people watch a lunch-hour programme? Says Miss Gordon, once a principal boy in pantomime: “They wondered that in Birmingham. We started as an experiment for two weeks. By the end of the second week, we were receiving 300 letters a day.

“Now we average 500 a day. A quarter of a million housewives switch on regularly for the show. Some husbands too.”

The Daily Mail, February 1957. Reported by Philip Purser