TV Shows – 1950s


1 9 5 5 (UK) 7 x 30 minute episodes This short black & white series starred Marcia Manolescue as Barbie, the daughter of a famous conductor who is away on a world tour. Barbie goes to temporarily live with her cousins, Laurel (Kika Markham) and Simon (Jonathan Swift), and her uncle (David Markham) at their(…)

Bat Masterson

1 9 5 8 – 1 9 6 1 (USA)108 x 30 minute episodes A black and white Western drama series from NBC. The exploits of lawman Bat Masterson (played by Gene Barry) in the days of the Old West were based on a real character, though it’s unlikely he was much like he was portrayed in(…)

BBC Programme Announcers

The best-known faces of the early 50s on British television belonged to the BBC programme announcers:McDonald Hobley, Mary Malcolm and Sylvia Peters. The trio first appeared in 1946 and quickly became immensely popular with viewers. The late Mac Hobley was naturally calm and debonair, but even he was ruffled when, before a 1951 political broadcast, he introduced Sir Stafford Cripps(…)

Beat The Clock

1 9 5 0 – 1 9 6 1 (USA) The very active game show Beat The Clock began on radio and transferred to television in 1950 with Bud Collyer remaining as emcee. Contestants chosen from the studio audience had to complete in hilarious stunts – which often involved pies, whipped cream and water – before the big(…)

Before Your Very Eyes

1 9 5 3 – 1 9 5 8 (UK) Arthur Askey’s Before Your Very Eyes introduced the busty ‘dumb blonde’ Sabrina to British television – who had once (believe it or not) been the junior breast-stroke champion of Manchester. Arthur Askey Diana Decker Sabrina Dickie Henderson June Whitfield Anthea Askey


1 9 5 3 – 1 9 5 9 (UK) Narrator Sylvia Peters

Benny Hill Show, The

1 9 5 5 – 1 9 5 7 (UK) 1 9 6 1 – 1 9 8 9 (UK) British TV’s saucy comedian with a flair for smutty jokes and slapstick routines. Old Fred Scuttle himself. While many British comedians of the 1950s and 1960s simply transferred their talents to TV, Alfred Hawthorne “Benny” Hill was(…)


1 9 5 0 – 1 9 5 3 (USA) “Somebody bawl fo’ Beulah?” While the premise of Beulah – about a black maid serving a white suburban family – probably didn’t elate many civil rights activists, millions of viewers (many of them presumably black) enjoyed Beulah as she dispensed wisdom to the Henderson family and to her(…)

Bill Dana Show

1 9 6 3 – 1 9 6 5 (USA) 42 x 30 minute episodes Writer-comedian Bill Dana had a very successful career on records and in nightclubs with his character Jose Jiminez (which he originated on the Steve Allen Show) during the 50s and early 60s. He brought the character to life for this series – an(…)

Billie Holiday

Born Eleanora Fagan in 1915 and abandoned by her parents as a baby, former teenage prostitute Billy Holiday’s troubled upbringing in 1920’s Maryland remains pivotal to one of the greatest jazz voices of the 20th century. Billie got a job as a maid but began frequenting nightclubs and jazz haunts and dabbling in prostitution. At(…)

Billy Bean & His Funny Machine

1 9 5 4 – 1 9 5 6 (UK) Billy Bean  Peter Hawkins Yoo-Hoo  Ivan Owen

Billy Bunter Of Greyfriars School

1 9 5 2 – 1 9 6 1 (UK) 120 x 30 minute episodes At a time when young children were enthralled by Andy Pandy, their older siblings were tucking into the adventures of Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School. Bunter was also popular with adults – in fact the show used to go out live twice every(…)

Billy Cotton Bandshow

1 9 5 6 – 1 9 6 6 (UK) The leading showman of the mid-fifties in Britain was chirpy cockney chappie Billy Cotton, and the lively Billy Cotton Bandshow became a Saturday evening favourite on BBC TV for many years. Beginning with his familiar bellow of “Wakey Wake-aaaay” and dashing through the signature tune Somebody Stole My Girl, the show(…)

Black and White Minstrel Show, The

1 9 5 8 – 1 9 7 8 (UK) No doubt this BBC show would be condemned as terribly politically incorrect in this new and enlightened age with white performers ‘blacked up’, but The Black and White Minstrel Show was incredibly popular in it’s day (up there with The Good Old Days). The show certainly seems surreal in(…)


1 9 5 7 (USA) 26 x 30 minute episodes 1 9 6 8 – 1 9 6 9 (USA) 14 x 30 minute episodes Even though Chic Young’s comic strip characters, Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead and their children, Cookie and Alexander, had been enormously successful in a series of films, two attempts to turn Blondie into a TV(…)

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