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BBC Documentaries

Season 1969 1969

  • 1969-03-03T20:00:00Z on BBC
  • 60 mins
  • 9 hours, 0 mins (9 episodes)
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary, Special Interest

Documentaries produced by or for the BBC.

9 episodes

1969x01 How They Dug The Victoria Line

  • Season Premiere

    1969-03-03T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

First transmitted in 1969, this documentary follows the construction of the world’s most advanced underground system. Macdonald Hastings narrates the story of one of the most complex tunnel engineering feats of its time. He reveals the isolation felt by the miners who spent six years burrowing deep beneath the streets of London, shows what they did beneath one of London's most famous department stores and explains why the ground at Tottenham Court Road had to be frozen during the hottest weeks of 1966.

The result is a brave new world of transport with automated trains, two way mirrors, automatic fare collection and closed-circuit television, all choreographed by a computer programme played out by an updated version of a pianola located in a control room somewhere near Euston station.

1969x02 I Love This Dirty Town

  • 1969-01-04T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

This personal plea from Margaret Drabble is a lament for the death of the city, which questions whether 'civic redevelopment' is tearing the heart out of our cities. Are tower blocks, giant supermarkets and an ever expanding suburbia the way forward? Margaret Drabble thinks not and argues that a successful city combines areas where residents and office workers share a space and a multiplicity of shops serve their needs. She also challenges the myth that streets are traffic arteries and unsavoury places to be in, especially for children, arguing that it's traffic that's the problem, not kids.

The documentary was based on Jane Jacobs' work "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" (1961), an influential book on urban planning in the 20th Century.

With Angels and Skins neck and neck in the contemporary Folk Devil stakes, presenter Harold Williamson decides to meet and talk with members of each group and, crucially, to speak to their parents, in order to find out what they’re really like.

This film looks at a handful of the 280,000 railwaymen who work in Britain, especially the men who worked on the former Midland and Great Central routes, as they reflect on their changing industry.

Inside Sheffield Railway Men's Club former steam locomotive crew discuss the transition from steam to electric and diesel engines, and heatedly debate their respective merits. Meanwhile, on the Manchester-Sheffield line a former steam locomotive driver remembers what it was like to go through the Woodhead Tunnel, where driver and fireman had to crouch down to avoid the fumes and get breathable air. Signalman Michael Gatonby reveals life inside the signal box, one of the loneliest and busiest jobs on the railway line.

1969x05 Jumbo

  • 1969-08-12T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

In just four months, the world's first jumbo jet goes into regular service over the Atlantic. Already 200 have been ordered by the world's airlines. Each is designed to carry nearly 500 passengers. The jumbo has been called a 'pilot's dream.' But will it also be an airport's nightmare?

By next year, half a dozen of the giants may be queuing at peak hours to disgorge their passengers at London Airport. Round the world, airports face their biggest jam in history. Jumbo jets will revolutionise airport design. But they may also speed up other travel developments, with far-reaching effects on the design and peace, of our cities.

1969x06 The Northern Lights

  • 1969-06-10T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

For the Safety of All. There are seventy-two manned lighthouses around the Scottish coast and it takes a vast and complex organisation to administer them. The isolated rock stations are serviced by four ships. These ships are crewed by seamen who know every rock in the gullies which are the hazardous landing places. This documentary is a story of storm and danger-and a story of lonely living.

The Northern Lights followed the Pole Star, a Northern Lighthouse Board relief vessel and her crew as she serviced some of Scotland's most remote and inaccessible lighthouses. Although the Northern Lighthouse Board had begun the process of automation by then, several manned lighthouses remained and the crew of the Pole Star had the crucial role of taking relief crews and supplies to these lighthouses. In this programme, the Pole Star visits the Sule Skerry and North Ronaldsay Lighthouses in Orkney as well as the mysterious Flannan Isles Lighthouse where three lighthouse keepers disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 1900. Narrated by Tom Fleming

1969x07 Pop Go the Sixties!

  • 1969-12-31T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

Pop Go The 60s! was a one-off, 75-minute TV special originally broadcast in colour on 31 December 1969,to celebrate the major pop hits of the 1960s.[3] The show was a co-production between the United Kingdom's BBC and West Germany's ZDF broadcasters. It was shown on both stations on the same day, with other European stations broadcasting the programme either the same day or later. Although a co-production, it was primarily produced by the BBC and recorded at the BBC's Television Centre in London, in late 1969, featuring largely only British pop acts and hits.

The show (which went out at 10:35pm) was presented by Jimmy Savile and Elfi von Kalckreuth. The two presenters introduced each act (with the exception of Cliff Richard), but neither was present in the studio recording with the artists, their links being added later. Savile spoke English, whereas Elfi von Kalckreuth speaks in German throughout.

The BBC's Johnnie Stewart produced the show, while Stanley Dorfman directed. Both men were involved with the regular production of BBC music show Top Of The Pops and this show had a very similar look and production style. The artists performed on rostra, surrounded by a standing audience who danced along with the music. Klaus Weiding was the co-producer for the German station. The end titles are in both English and German.

Some of the artists present in the studio performed live, singing with an orchestra directed by Johnny Harris but many mimed to their original studio recordings. The Ascot Dancers appeared with a large number of the performers. Although a British-West German co-production, only one West German artist appears and that is on a pre-recorded film insert. The only song performed in German is by Sandie Shaw, who performed incomplete versions of two songs.

The participating artists were (in order of appearance):[4]

The Who - I Can See For Miles
Adam Faith - What Do You Want?[5] & Someone Else's Baby
The Tremeloes - Silence Is Golden
Lulu - Boom Bang-a-Bang
Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen - Midnight in Moscow
The Bachelors - Charmaine & Diane
Sandie Shaw - (There's) Always Something There to Remind Me & Wiedehopf Im Mai (German-language version of Puppet On A String)
Marmalade - Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
The Johnny Harris Orchestra & The Ascot Dancers - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
The Kinks - Days
Horst Jankowski - A Walk In The Black Forest
The Hollies - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
Helen Shapiro - Walkin' Back to Happiness
Tom Jones - Delilah
The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
Cilla Black - Anyone Who Had A Heart
The Shadows - Apache
Cliff Richard & The Shadows - Bachelor Boy
Cliff Richard - Congratulations
The Beatles - I Feel Fine & Help!
Dusty Springfield - You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
Adam Faith's song What Do You Want? had reached number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1959, but was the first number 2 record of the 1960s.[5]

Tom Jones had to withdraw from the recording at short notice, resulting in the inclusion of an earlier performance of his song from Top Of The Pops. This footage was a film recording in monochrome and was shown on a giant screen in the studio, with the audience dancing to the soundtrack. Horst Jankowski appears in a, rather soft, film insert shot in a snowy landscape in West Germany. Neither The Rolling Stones nor Cilla Black were present for the recording either. Their performances were recorded (in colour) in other studios without an audience and cut into the final edit.

The Rolling Stones song Gimme Shelter was the only track included in the show that had not been a hit single but instead an extremely popular album track. The Beatles performances were also archive clips, taken from the film The Beatles at Shea Stadium. Although presented back-to-back, Sandie Shaw undergoes a costume change between her two performances. Most of the full programme recording has survived in the archives, together with out-takes and a re-recording of The Shadows performances. The only missing footage is that of Dusty Springfield, which is no longer available.[4] The show has been repeated on both BBC Four and The Yesterday Channel in the UK and often on other European stations. Due to rights issues, the repeats have often been forced to omit The Beatles footage. The most recent repeat on BBC Four (in 2015) was edited to remove all appearances of Jimmy Savile. Each song originally introduced by Savile (shown in a completely random order compared with the original production) was introduced by an on screen caption, although Elfi von Kalckreuth still appeared in the edit.

1969x08 Nobody Ever Asks Why

  • 1969-07-12T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

James Cameron documentary relating to the cultural impact of the Apollo programme.

1969x09 One Small Step for Man

  • 1969-07-20T20:00:00Z — 60 mins

Original footage of the Apollo 11 full moon walk and commentary transmitted by the BBC on 20th and 21st June 1969.