Dr Derek J. Ripley looks back on early TV viewing habits in Lancashire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 March 2015 | UPDATED: 17:50 19 January 2016
Part Two of our resident historian Dr Derek J Ripley's look back at an offal period in Lancashire's history
Television started in 1950. My parents we were too poor to afford one but that didn’t bother me as I wasn’t born until 1952. I’ll never forget the fateful day I came home from school and saw something in the corner of the living room which I had never seen before; the one-eyed monster. My father beat it to death with a broom but to this day I have no idea what it was.
A couple of weeks later, we got our first television. I was transfixed. I watched everything, including the test card, which was more entertaining than most of today’s programmes. I even watched it when it was switched off. It made a pleasant change from staring at the walls or looking out of the window.
I would rush home from school, desperate to get back in plenty of time to give the TV a chance warm up before children’s programmes started at 5pm. The first words I heard when I switched it on for the first time are etched on my memory - “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin”. It was with these words that chancellor of the exchequer Peter Thorneycroft introduced the 1958 Budget broadcast.
This was the golden age of children’s TV. Who could forget programmes such as Natterjack, Jackdaw, Jolly Roger and Tales of the Ship Canal? Or characters like Korky and Porky the flying pigs, Colonel Hogwash, Dr Dick Green the flying doctor, ‘Professor’ Maurice Desmond and his performing chimps and, of course, the inimitable Little Billy Protheroe, aka The Protheroe Kid?
One programme which regularly slips under the radar whenever people reminisce about their childhood favourites is Tripe Club. First broadcast on 16 October 1958 on BBC TV, it was introduced by Lady Margaret Hall or Auntie Margaret as she was known.
It started as a magazine-style programme featuring Danny and Connie Braddock, the first ever TV chefs, cooking their favourite tripe-based recipes and the cartoon adventures of Tommy Tupper and his dog Sam. Tommy was a strong, heroic character who ate tripe every day and was popular with the girls whilst his rival Reggie the Veggie was so puny because of his tripe-free diet that he was frequently knocked over by a gust of wind.
The programme would conclude with Auntie Margaret reciting the first part of the rousing tripe catchphrase: “If at first you don’t like tripe..” to which the studio audience would reply at the top of their voices, “Try tripe again!!”
Market research conducted by the British Tripe Council found that there was a huge increase in tripe sales the day after the programme was broadcast; children would pester their mothers to buy tripe so they could become big and strong like Tommy Tupper. (Detailed analysis found that most was thrown away or fed to the family dog.)
On January 1 1960, on the stroke of midnight, the Swinging Sixties started. Everybody started growing their hair, driving Minis, and wearing short skirts, particularly women. Children began to find Tripe Club rather old fashioned and viewing figures slumped. They abandoned it in favour of the much cooler Captain Cod’s Fish Finger Club on ITV. Something had to be done.
When it was revealed in Wigan on Sunday that Lady Margaret Hall was a divorcee, British Tripe Council chairman Sir Roland Pratt seized on this as an opportunity to sack her. He replaced her with Dorothy Pendleton, a former Lancashire Games weightlifting bronze medallist. Thus began the next phase in the history of Tripe Club.
Contact Dr Ripley with your tripe memories via twitter @Mr_Lancashire